Steel-string Acoustic Guitars
Like the name says, these strings are made of steel or other metals, such
as bronze. Steel strings gauges can vary widely, from extra-light tension to
Why the difference in gauges? It depends on the player and the style.
Heavier strings will give a thicker, beefier sound. They will also be harder to
play! Extra light gauge strings will be easier to bend, but will also have a lighter
sound. It depends on the player and the style of music played.
Yamaha steel-string acoustics come strung with light gauge strings. This is
the most popular tension, and strikes a good balance between playability and
tone. A common set would range from a gauge of .012 for string 1 through
to .53 for string 6.
Because of the high tension involved in steel strings, if you change the
gauge of the strings you are using you may need to have some adjustments
made to the guitar, including adjusting the neck, bridge or nut. If you decide to
use a gauge that is different than the gauge the guitar came with, it might be
a good idea to have these adjustments made by an experienced technician.
This is where we find the most variety in string gauges. The strings are
made of metal, although the alloys used are different than those designed for
Once again, there is a trade-off: light strings are easier to bend and do
vibrato, but have a thinner tone and are harder to keep in tune. Heavier strings
sound thicker, but are tougher to bend. There are many different gauges avail-
able, including 'hybrid' sets that use light strings for 1 to 3, but heavy strings
for 4 to 6. Most electric guitars today come with fairly light strings that can
range from a .009 gauge on string 1, to a .42 gauge on string 6.
If this is too light, you could move to a range of .010 to .046 which is also
Again, if you decide on a string gauge different from that of the original
set, you may need to have the guitar adjusted by a technician.