With so many acoustic guitar strings on the market, it can be tough to decide which is best suited specifically for playing country and bluegrass music. That’s why I decided to make a helpful post diving into all the details of what to consider when trying to find the best guitar strings for playing country and bluegrass on your acoustic.
My number one recommended acoustic strings for country and bluegrass are the Elixir Nanoweb series. These guitar strings feature Elixir’s famous Nanoweb coating, which consists of a thin polymer around the surface of the strings. This results both in a smoother string feel, but more importantly, in much longer lasting strings.
Many guitarists find that their Nanoweb strings can last for months at a time. And, most important of all, the nanoweb’s have the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic country and bluegrass music is known for.
Now that you know my number one string recommendation, there are a few more important things to consider when picking out acoustic strings for your country and bluegrass guitar playing. In particular, I want to help you understand which string gauge sounds best for country and bluegrass, and what to do if you prefer uncoated strings.
The Best Uncoated Acoustic Strings for Country and Bluegrass
You know now that my number one recommendation are the Elixir Nanowebs, but I don’t want to alienate any players who prefer uncoated strings on their acoustic.
If you’re new to the differences between coated and uncoated strings, I wrote a full post on those differences, and whether or not coated strings are worth the extra investment. In short, coated strings have a polymer coating that makes them last a lot longer, but also causes them to be a bit more expensive.
Some players prefer the feel and sound of uncoated strings, and are okay with having to change their strings more often if it means they can really nail the tone that they are looking for. I totally understand! I still use uncoated strings myself from time to time.
My favorite are D’Addario’s EJ11 acoustic strings. These uncoated guitar strings strike an ideal balance of tone and playability. D’Addario’s packing is also corrosion resistant, which ensure the strings are as fresh and long lasting as possible. Lastly, their strings are all made in the U.S.A., ensuring high quality and performance you can trust.
What String Gauge Is Best for Country and Bluegrass?
Now that you know my two favorite choices for coated and uncoated acoustic strings for country and bluegrass, there’s still one more thing left to answer. What string gauge is best for these genres of music, and for your acoustic guitar in general? The answer depends on what you prefer, what sound you are looking for, and how long you’ve been playing guitar.
Lighter gauge acoustic strings are easier to play, and thus allow for easier finger, bending, and fretting of individual notes and chords. They are also prone to exerting less tension on the neck of your guitar, which makes them a good choice for vintage guitars, so that you can prevent a future neck reset.
However, the lighter gauge strings also produce less volume and sustain than heavier gauge strings. Even though heavier gauge strings are usually a bit more difficult to play, they can make up for it by producing a richer tone.
If you are a beginning guitarist, I’d recommend sticking to light gauge strings. As you develop your skills (and your calluses!) you can slowly move up to heavier gauges if you want to experiment with how they sound.
If you’re a bit more advanced, and if your country and bluegrass playing involves a lot of heavy strumming, it might make more sense for you to give medium gauge strings a shot. Though they require more finger pressure, they may add more depth to your chords and rhythm playing.
If you’d like to hear a comparison of different acoustic string gauges, the guys over at Acoustic Letter made a handy video playing through the different gauges. Hopefully this helps you decide which string gauge is right for you and your style:
Still Can’t Decide?
Now you know the best acoustic guitar strings for country and bluegrass music! But I know it can be tough to pull the trigger on decisions like these, so I’ll break it down to brass tacks.
If you want to pick up some coated acoustic strings, go with the Elixir Nanoweb series. And if you instead prefer uncoated, grab D’Addario’s EJ11 acoustic strings. If you’re relatively new to the world of acoustic guitar, it probably makes the most sense to grab both and see what you prefer! You won’t be disappointed with either brand of strings.
When it comes to guitar string gauges, stick with light if you’re just starting out. You can work your way up to medium over time and see if the tone difference is worth the extra effort from your fretting hand. More experienced players can opt for medium, or again try both and see what they prefer.
If you’re wondering what the best acoustic guitar is for bluegrass, I can help with that too. Check out this guide to the Top 3 Bluegrass Guitars.
Looking to Learn Country and Bluegrass Guitar?
Check out my other articles for more help with bluegrass guitar:
- How to Learn Bluegrass Guitar: 7 Simple Steps
- The 3 Best Acoustic Guitars for Bluegrass Music
- The 30 Best Bluegrass Flatpicking Guitarists Of All Time
- The 25 Best Country Songs for Acoustic Guitar (with Chords + Tabs)
Ready to Get Better at Guitar, Faster?
Whenever you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, check out my favorite resources below:
Elixir Nanoweb Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Unique polymer coating allows strings to last for months or years at a time, making for an exceptional value.
- Provide the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic music is known for.
- Beloved by everyone from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot, the D-18 is one of Martin’s most legendary guitars ever.
- An excellent, premier quality acoustic guitar for bluegrass, country, folk, rock and more. This is what I play myself.
Chords, Tabs & Lessons for 100 Songs
- This free guide from Acoustic World gives you chords, tabs, and video lesson for the 100 best songs to learn on guitar.
- I spent hours putting this together all by myself to help you get better at guitar, faster!
Fingerpicking vs Flatpicking Guitar
- Learn which picking style is right for YOU by exploring examples, history, and popular players of each style.
- Discover essential techniques and pros and cons of each approach.