Difference Between Acoustic & Electric Guitar Strings

By Candace Horgan

Guitar strings can be made of a variety of materials. Acoustic guitars can use both nylon strings and steel strings, though these strings are designed for specific types of guitars (classical guitars for nylon string, for example). Electric guitars also use steel strings, but there are differences between steel strings for electric and acoustic guitars.

The Wound Third

The third string of the guitar, the G string, is a wound string on an acoustic guitar. On an electric guitar, the third string is a plain steel string.

Ferrous Metals

On electric guitar, ferrous metals, such as nickel, are used for the windings on the bottom three strings. This is to help the pickups sense the vibration of the string magnetically.

Bronze

Acoustic guitar strings are usually wound with non-ferrous materials, such as bronze or phosphor bronze, to give better tone when played without amplification.

Gauge

On an electric guitar, players often use thinner gauge strings to help with leads and bends. On an acoustic guitar, the strings are thicker to help with projection.

Windings

The windings on the upper strings on an acoustic guitar are almost always roundwound, giving more brightness and better tone. On an electric guitar, many players, especially jazz musicians, prefer flatwound strings for ease of playability. With an electric guitar, the loss of tone from flatwound strings is not as pronounced.

About the Author

Candace Horgan has worked as a freelance journalist for more than 12 years. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Denver Post" and "Mix." Horgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and history.