Once you’ve bought a guitar, you’ll quickly come to learn that it’s an ongoing expense if you want it to sound good at all times. Not only will you need to occasionally clean and condition the fretboard, but you’ll also need to replace the strings from time to time.
Fortunately, guitar strings can be quite inexpensive, so if you’re concerned about replacements becoming costly, there’s no need to worry.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide, we’ll be talking about how much guitar strings cost. We’ll cover strings for all styles, and we’ll talk about premium strings, budget strings, and everything in between.
Keep on reading if you’re trying to find out about how much guitar strings cost!
How Much Do Guitar Strings Cost?
Guitar strings typically cost anywhere from $4 to $25 for a pack of 6 for electric guitars and acoustic guitars, and between $5 and $50 for classical guitars. You can usually save a few bucks by buying your strings in a multipack, but for the biggest savings you’ll want to buy in bulk.
Can you Buy Individual Guitar Strings?
Yes, it’s entirely possible to buy individual guitar strings. You might want to do this if you’ve broken a string after recently restringing the entire guitar, rather than buying a whole set and breaking up the package. Individual guitar strings do tend to be relatively speaking, more expensive per string than you’d find even in a single full pack, but this way you won’t waste perfectly good strings by changing the whole set.
Buying individual guitar strings is also something some players like to do to get a custom gauge. When guitar strings are sold, they usually come in light, medium, heavy, etc., but some players like a blend, for example heavy gauge on the bass side and lights on the treble side.
How Long Do Guitar Strings Last?
Guitar strings can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months depending on how often you play, what the strings are made from, and how well you look after them.
If you’re a working musician, and you practice and play for multiple hours per day, your strings are going to be at the shorter end of the lifespan scale. If you rarely play, you can expect to get upwards of 3 months use from a set before they are past their best.
You can expand the life of any strings by cleaning them after each use. The oils from your fingers eat away at the plating, which will eventually wear through, exposing the steel core, which will oxidize and rust. You can use a microfiber rag to do this, or you can buy Fast Fret – a string conditioner and lubricant.
What Influences the Price of Guitar Strings?
As briefly mentioned, guitar strings can fluctuate quite significantly in price, from around $4 at the low end, to as much as $50 for high end classical strings. But why is there such a gulf? Below are the primary factors that influence the price of guitar strings.
One of the biggest factors is the brand of the strings. The more a brand spends on its R&D and marketing, the more it has to mark up its products to account for this expenditure. Brands that come with flashy packaging, or those who use exciting technology in their strings often carry something of a premium you wouldn’t find on brands that focus on more basic strings.
A great example of this is Stringjoy vs. Ernie Ball. Stringjoy are a direct to consumer company who don’t advertise as heavily as the likes of Ernie Ball. Ernie Ball also uses a lot of innovative technologies, whereas stringjoy tends to focus on simple designs.
Roundwound vs. Flatwound
The most common strings for electric and steel string acoustic guitars are roundwound. They use a round wrap wire around their core on the bass side strings. These strings are commonly available, and are the cheapest to make, and that’s why they are (usually) the cheaper option.
Flatwound strings, on the other hand, use a wrap wire that has been flattened on the outside. They have a more mellow tone than roundwound, and are often favored by jazz players. The process for making flatwound strings is a little more involved, and as a result, they tend to cost more.
Another huge influence in the price of guitar strings is the alloy used in their construction. The cheapest strings tend to have a mild steel core, with a nickel plated wrap wire. Nickel plated strings are cheap to make, and as a result are usually the most affordable.
When more exotic metals like stainless steel, cobalt, and even silver get thrown into the mix, the cost of production goes up, and therefore the retail price also goes up.
Coated vs. Uncoated
Some manufacturers coat their strings in proprietary polymers and call them coated strings. Coated strings tend to be some of the more expensive options on the market, but the cost is usually justified with greatly expanded lifespan vs that of uncoated strings, particularly nickel plated.
Coated strings aren’t only popular for their long life, but their smooth feel has also earned them a huge following from players looking for a softer touch when playing.
Cheaper coated strings are notorious for having a very thick polymer layer, which can deaden the tone somewhat and also result in a strange feel. The newer, more advanced coated strings on the market have a much thinner coating, and retain the same lifespan benefit, with improved feel – of course, this does come at a price.
Final Thoughts on How Much Guitar Strings Cost
Like anything else associated with guitars and accessories, guitar strings come in a wide range from budget to ultra premium. You can buy cheap strings, but they aren’t likely to last as long as a high end set, and with the money you spend replacing your budget strings, you’ll probably spend the same, or more in the long run!
It’s also worth noting that some strings are better suited to certain genres than others. We highly recommend trying out a few different kinds before settling on any one brand or type.