Guitarists are custom-fiends. We swap the pickups in our guitars, switch the tubes in our amps, mod our pedals—anything it takes to improve our tone and our playing. But up until recently, when it came to your strings you got to pick from a handful of manufacturers, and a smaller handful of string gauges.
But now, thanks to Nashville custom guitar string company Stringjoy, the possibilities are endless.
Personally, I spend half the time playing in drop D, and half in standard, but always hated how the 6th string feels loose when I tune it down to D. So I created a custom set with standard 1st-5th strings, and a heavier 6th string to compensate. With the next set, I honed in even closer on what I wanted, and came up with a set that plays better than any strings I’ve played before.
Naturally, the advantages of custom guitar strings will differ for each guitarist, depending on your needs. But if you’re serious about your playing and your tone, you owe it to yourself to consider how changing your strings could change what you do with the guitar. If you need more convincing, here are the three reasons I decided to get into custom guitar strings.
1. No two guitarists play the same
Every guitarist has their own playing style, musical taste, and touch with their instrument. It stands to reason that if there are more than twenty types of guitarists, there should probably be more than twenty sets of strings to suit them.
If you like to play heavy riffs on the low strings, but still be able to bend the high strings as far as you can, you can create a custom set of strings that works for exactly that. If you play exclusively in DADGAD, you can create a string optimized for that.
2. No two guitars are the same
We’ve all had that one guitar that constantly breaks the same string, over and over. Conventional wisdom (after checking for any physical defects with the guitar) would be to use a heavier gauge string to avoid breakage. But just because you need a slightly heavier 3rd string doesn’t mean you should have to string piano cables over that whole guitar—after all, the other strings play just fine.
With custom guitar strings, you can make small adjustments to suit the quirks of your guitar, whatever they might be.
3. You can improve your string choices over time
Your first set of custom guitar strings will probably be fairly similar to the set you typically play, with a few gauge adjustments here and there. Then, while you play on that set, you can get a feel for any additional changes that need to be made. Gradually over time, you’ll hone in on the exact gauges you need to suit your individual playing style, and you’ll never look back.
Where do you find custom guitar strings?
If you are a sworn loyalist to a particular brand of guitar strings, you can buy individual string gauges from a few online retailers, but be warned, this can get fairly pricey.
If you’re more focused on the strings themselves than the brand name, I recommend Stringjoy.com. They have both electric and acoustic strings, all made in the USA, and their custom sets of strings start at just $5, leaving plenty of room in your budget to experiment and see what combination of string gauges works best for you.
Visit their Facebook at facebook.com/stringjoy for information.