While the strings for 7 string guitars are fundamentally the same as they are for any 6 string, one of the biggest issues for players of these alternative design instruments has been finding a range of different pre packaged string sets that provide options for different playing styles.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide we’ve reviewed some of the best string sets for 7 string guitars on the market today.
We loaded each of these 7 string sets into our Schecter Omen Elite-7 and played them through a RAT distortion pedal and a Bugera V22 Inifinium all tube amp. We were looking for a combination of playability, tone, and tuning stability during each review.
We’ve also provided a quick guide to purchasing string sets for 7 string guitars, where you’ll learn what to look for, and why it makes a difference.
- Our Top Three Picks
- Dunlop Heavy Core NPS – Top Pick
- Ernie Ball 7 String Power Slinky – Best Budget Option
- Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinky 7 String – Editor’s Choice
- D’Addario NXYL Nickel Wound Electric
- Elixir Nanoweb Nickel Plated Steel
- Ernie Ball Regular Slinky7 String Paradigm
- DR Strings Black Beauties
- Best Guitar Strings for 7 String; Buyer’s Guide
- Final thoughts on the Best Guitar Strings for 7 String
Our Top Three Picks
Our top pick was the Dunlop heavy core NPS. These strings are well suited to the added tension of a 7 string as well as a number of drop tunings. Despite this strength, they remained articulate and comfortable to play.
If you’re looking for a bargain, our best budget pick was the Ernie Ball 7 String Power Slinky. These strings brought everything that their 6 string equivalents did and then some. The additional range brought by the 7thstring took this set to the next level.
Anybody looking for something different, or something innovative should definitely check out our Editor’s choice award winner – the Ernie Ball Cobalt 7 String set. The tones from these strings were outrageous. We loved their feel, tuning stability, and the incredible playability.
Dunlop Heavy Core NPS – Top Pick
Heavyweight strings for heavy metal tones
With Dunlop’s Heavy Core NPS strings, Metal players will be delighted to see a 7 string set that has been designed with them in mind. We tried out this set in Heavy, which is actually the lightest gauge in this line. Dunlop’s marketing department has set the Heavy Core branded strings as either Heavy, Heavier, or Heaviest. The heavy set measures in at .010 to .060, and truly played more like a medium.
Despite the medium feel, they performed incredibly under a range of drop and alternative tunings, both for tuning stability and for tone. They kept enough tension to retain clarity when drop tuned, and yet still remained comfortable.
The quality of these strings was generally well above average. Every string is sealed in its own vapor corrosion inhibitor bag to prevent them from aging while sitting in storage or in your gig bag waiting for its turn to be strung up.
These strings are designed with a thicker core and a thinner wrap wire, which limits flexibility a little, although it really helps to prevent a lot of the buzz players in drop tunings often experience. The aim of this design is to allow the strings to vibrate side to side, rather than in a circular or orbital pattern, resulting in fewer unwanted fret strikes from the strings.
Not only does the heavy core help to improve the tone when drop tuned, but it also gave us the confidence to dig in and sharpen our attack without worrying about breaking anything, which meant we could squeeze out everything that they had to give us!
Tonally, these nickel plated steel strings were punchy in the mids, with clear, bright overtones, and a fat bass end.
Verdict: The Dunlop Heavy Core NPS are great strings if you’re strictly playing metal. The heavy cores ensure that you have huge presence, without the nasty buzz. We found that once they settled, they sounded excellent, but would definitely recommend tuning to standard pitch first to speed up the stretching process.
More presence than you’d ever expect from a budget string
As we’ve pointed out on a number of occasions, the Slinky series strings from Ernie Ball, despite being some of the most affordable on the market, are on the guitars of some of the world’s biggest artists, and it’s not by coincidence.
When paired with a 7 string, this medium string set played true to size. As the low B is relatively narrow, the whole set felt alive. Bends were easy, every string was comfortable, and best of all, they never sounded thin!
We got great balance from these nickel plated steel strings across the bass, mids, and even noticed some shiny overtones. They held up well during this test, and while they had lost a little of their edge by the end of the test, they were still bright and clear.
They took no time at all to stretch out and settle into tune and we had no issues at all keeping them at pitch thereafter. Construction wise these strings didn’t disappoint. They were as consistent as every other set of Slinkies we’ve ever tested, with great feel, decent corrosion resistance, and good build quality.
Measuring in at .011 to .058, these are some beefy strings. There’s no doubt that they can hold up on their own in a solo, but they also can provide some huge presence in the background in the rhythm section, too.
Verdict: Especially if you’re looking to buy in bulk and just not think about strings ever again, you can’t go wrong with an Ernie Ball 7 String Power Slinky set. These strings sound great, they’re available practically everywhere, and they are very inexpensive.
Everything you love about Slinkies, but with innovative new materials
This take on the Ernie Ball Slinky uses a cobalt and iron alloy rather than the typical nickel plated steel, and the result was mind blowing. We absolutely loved everything about these strings.
The special cobalt and iron alloy has a bigger impact on the magnetic field generated by your pickups than standard steel or nickel plated steel equivalents. The result is a unique tone, and incredible precision. The low B on many 7 strings can get pretty muddy, but with these strings there was no such concern – we still got enormous earth moving lows, but they retained articulation, and bell like clarity.
Of course, the lows and bass register were enormous. We spent quite a long time playing metal riffs through these strings and found that they’re impossible to get bored of! Mids were compact and tight, making it easy to cut right through even a complex mix.
The cobalt alloy also proved to have great longevity properties. They retained all of their clarity and brightness for the duration of the test, even after a lot of long, sweaty sessions. Attack was sharp with a pick, and warm, yet responsive when we played with fingers.
Even when drop tuned, we loved the tuning stability. They’re best described as rock solid, and even without locking tuners they settled right away and stayed right where we put them. Feel was another area we loved with these strings – these .010 to .056 gauge strings were pliable enough for big bends, and comfortable enough for smooth vibrato.
Verdict: Cobalt is a much more exotic metal than nickel, hence the price increase, but we really think it’s worth every penny. The tones that these Ernie Ball 7 String Slinky Cobalts can produce are phenomenal, and the boost in pickup response makes you feel like you’re playing a different guitar. Whether you’re playing folk or doom metal, you’ll find these strings to be articulate with excellent note separation, and superb playability.
Huge tone and incredible longevity
If you’ve read any of our other string reviews, you’re probably already aware of how much we love D’Addario NYXL strings, so it came as no surprise to us that this set was also fantastic.
The D’Addario NYXL Nickel Wound 7 String set react with ease to whatever genre you’re playing. If you want a sharp attack, they’ll respond accordingly. If you’re playing something a little more mellow, or even fingerstyle, they will still give you their full tonal range and slice through any mix.
We strung our test guitar with a medium set – strings in this pack range from .011 to .064, and were great for chords, but especially at the bass end, the tension did slow down expressive e playing and make bends a little uncomfortable.
The lows on these strings were enormous, and the mid range punch was pretty special, too. We’d advise against having tone rolled down too much though, as they wandered dangerously close to muddy territory at times. Having said that, with your pots and your amp set up right, these strings are monsters for metal.
The nickel plated steel winding is pretty typical for an electric guitar string, but thankfully, they avoided sounding too generic. We noticed the brightness and clarity that you’d expect from nickel plated steel, but we also felt that the harmonics shone through better than the average string. This is likely down to the increased magnetism of the high carbon steel core.
Feel was another strong point for these strings. Tension was consistent across the strings, and they felt great under the fingers. They use a proprietary nickel plating, and it reminded us a little of an Elixir coated string at times. We didn’t notice any tone loss over the test period, which is pretty typical of a NYXL string.
Verdict: There’s no doubt that these D’Addario NYXL Nickel Wound Electrics are great strings. They’re versatile, and if you’re used to a heavier string, then you’ll probably love these! While they’re sold as a medium, they definitely play closer to a heavy gauge, so bear this in mind when making your purchase.
A fine coated string option for your 7 string guitar
Elixir’s Nanoweb coated strings are one of, if not the best coated strings on the market. As a brand, Elixir have been at the forefront of guitar string coating technology since the 90s, and their Nanoweb coating is the culmination of decades of research and development.
They are made with an ultra thin polymer coating just 5 thousandths of an inch thick (5 nanometers). We loved that they retained the tactile feel of an uncoated string, while reaping the benefits of an extremely long lifespan. Between installation and the end of the review, we seriously couldn’t tell the difference in tone.
Not only was there no loss of tone, but we also noticed close to no finger squeak, which is something that those of you who plan to record will love, as there will be less unwanted noise to edit later on.
Tuning stability was great, and we had no problems in getting them to settle and hold pitch for extended periods of heavy duty use.
Tonal longevity wasn’t the only benefit. Despite the light gauge (.010 – .056), these strings held strong with no breaks, and no signs of weakness by the end of our extensive testing process. There are very few, if any strings on the market than can compete with Elixir on the longevity front.
The trade off with the coating, however, was a slight loss of brightness. Nothing too extreme, but particularly on the low B, there was noticeably less shimmer than on the uncoated strings we tried. Despite the slight loss of brightness, sustain was still great, and as under the coating they are made from a nickel plated steel, they have the typical mid range punch you’d expect from this alloy.
Verdict: If you’re hard on your strings, these Elixir Nanoweb Nickel Plated Steel Strings might just be perfect for you. Their corrosion resistant properties make them more resistant to breaks, and of course, more resistant to tone loss over time. They’re a more expensive option, but as you’ll change strings less frequently, they are still solid value.
So strong, they come with a replacement guarantee
Ernie Ball gave these Paradigm Slinky 7 String Electric strings to some of the most notoriously hard rocking players in the world to see if they could even come close to breaking them. Spoiler – no one could. As with all other EB strings, you’re getting consistent quality and wide availability.
We are hard on all of the strings we try, we put in the work so you don’t have to find out the hard way, and we found that these Paradigm strings lived up to the marketing hype. They feature Ernie Ball’s proprietary polymer coating, which, while more noticeable than the Elixir Nanoweb, it wasn’t obtrusive. We experienced no drop in tone throughout the test, and no breaks after some frankly abusive playing.
These strings were tonally quite balanced. Most of their presence was in the mids, but the low B really masked some of the shimmer from the treble strings, making them sound a little dark at times.
Where these strings did really struggle was with sustain. They didn’t ring out anywhere near as long as the uncoated strings on test, and the Elixirs beat them handily here. Again, not everybody is looking for massive sustain, so it’s far from a deal breaker for many, but we did feel it was worth sharing.
Verdict: These Ernie Ball Regular Slinky 7 String Paradigm are great coated strings, no matter which way you look at it. If the tone profile sounds like something you’d like, you should absolutely give them a go. The best part? If they rust or break in the first 90 days after purchase, Ernie Ball will replace them for free!
Hand made strings with a unique black coated finish
DR Strings have become renowned for high quality hand made strings. Obviously the finish was the most striking part about these strings – the black K3 coating made our test guitar look sinister, and we loved it!
We’ve reviewed other DR strings, and we weren’t hugely impressed by their feel, but, we’re happy to report that these Black Beauties had a smooth and even texture, and were very comfortable.
DRs claim is that they feel uncoated, but we’d have to disagree – this isn’t a bad thing, but we could absolutely tell that these were polymer dipped strings. String squeak was a bit more apparent with these than with the Elixirs, and even the Paradigms, but was still far less noticeable than the uncoated options on test.
As far as tuning stability was concerned, they took the longest of all the sets on test to stretch, and we found ourselves adjusting up to the end of day 2. While tuning we heard quite a few pings from the top end strings, which didn’t fill us with confidence! Thankfully, we got through the review of this medium gauge set, measuring from .010 to .056., without any breaks.
Unfortunately, tone was the biggest let down with this set. While they didn’t sound dead, they had virtually no shimmer, and no fullness in the lows, which ultimately led to them sounding just a little too bland.
Verdict: If looks are particularly important to you, the DR Strings Black Beauties are a pretty cool looking string set. The black coating definitely sets them apart. We did really like the feel of these strings, but were left unimpressed by the tonal range.
Best Guitar Strings for 7 String; Buyer’s Guide
Shopping for strings for your 7 string guitar is actually incredibly straight forward. For the most part, you’d shop as though you were buying strings for your preferred genre on a 6 string. The addition of the 7th string doesn’t hugely impact the criteria for selection. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the factors that impact how strings feel and sound so you can make the most informed decision!
7 String guitars can use the same gauges of string as 6 strings, of course the difference is that the thickest string is no longer the low E, or 6th string, rather, it is the low B, or 7th string. The low B is a very thick string, and on some ultra heavy sets can even start resembling a string from a bass guitar!
If you’re looking to keep your 7 string useable for a wide range of genres, it’s always advisable to have a medium gauge set on your guitar. You’ll have the flexibility and comfort you need to play solos, and you’ll still be able to manage some alternative tunings.
If, however, you’re using your 7 string for metal and you’re likely to keep it drop tuned most of the time, stick with the heavy and extra heavy strings. These strings hold more tension than lighter gauges do, allowing you to retain proper intonation even when tuned down.
The material that your strings are made from will also have an impact on your overall tone. When we refer to the metals used in string making, we call them alloys. Alloys are mixtures of different elemental metals that when combined provide specific properties. In the case of strings, different metals are blended for their sonic, or strength properties, or in many cases, for a mixture of both.
Coated strings have really come a long way. If you’ve never played a set because you listened to a friend who tried a set 15 years ago and didn’t like them, we strongly suggest you try them for yourself. Especially for players who are hard on their strings, having a coated set loaded up will go a long way to reducing string break anxiety on stage.
Coating adds a layer of polymer, typically Teflon or a Teflon equivalent to the outside of the string. Much like Teflon stops food from sticking to pans, it also prevents dirt and debris from sticking to your strings. On uncoated strings, that same dirt and debris accumulates, causing a loss of tone, and ultimately accelerates corrosion, leading to breaks.
Of course, coating isn’t a perfect solution. Not every player likes the feel of coated strings, despite the nanotechnology that is now used to make the polymer layer literally microscopic! On top of that, there’s no denying that there is at least some tone loss, and loss of sustain. With the best coated strings, this may even be inaudible, but if you’re recording, it may become more apparent.
Final thoughts on the Best Guitar Strings for 7 String
We really enjoyed this review! Getting hands on with products for our readers is always great, but given the lack of information out there on the best pre assembled string sets for 7 string guitars, this one was particularly important to us.
To recap our top choices, players looking for a great all round set of strings that can handle standard and drop tuning with ease, the Dunlop Heavy Core NPS are a great choice.
If budget is a big concern for you, but you aren’t willing to sacrifice quality or tone, go with the Ernie Ball 7 String Power Slinkies.
If you’re simply looking for the best of the best, we can’t recommend the Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinky 7 String set enough! They had tone, strength, comfort, and stability in bunches, and we truly loved playing them.