The Ultimate Guitar String Gauge Chart (Gauges 8-72): Find Your Perfect Tone & Tuning

by Brett Quattrucci on December 22, 2023

Ever been baffled by the bewildering world of guitar string gauges? Struggling to choose between light strummers and heavy bends? Fear not, tone-hungry guitar gods! Dive into this comprehensive string gauge chart and decode the mysteries of the fretboard. From whisper-thin 8s to thunderous 72s, we'll unravel the secrets of tension, tuning, and finding the perfect gauge for your unique playing style. Whether you're a fingerpicking folk hero or a shredding metal maestro, this is your map to sonic satisfaction. So, grab your tuning fork, crack open a cold one, and prepare to unleash your inner string whisperer!


Guitar string gauge chart

1. Understanding String Gauges

1.1 What Are String Gauges?

String gauges refer to the thickness of guitar strings. They play a crucial role in determining the feel, tone, and playability of your instrument. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced guitarist, understanding string gauges is essential for achieving your desired sound.


1.2 The Gauge Chart

Our extensive gauge chart covers a wide range, from 8 to 72. We’ve compiled data from top guitar string brands to create an approximation of string tension for each gauge. Keep in mind that actual tensions may vary slightly due to manufacturing differences and material composition.


2. String Tension Basics

2.1 Mass and Length

String tension results from a combination of string mass (thickness) and string length. Thicker strings have higher tension, while longer scale lengths (such as those found in baritone guitars or basses) also affect tension.


2.2 Ideal Tension Range

The ideal tension for most players falls between 12 to 20 lbs. However, this can be subjective and depends on factors like your guitar’s action, desired sustain, and personal preference. Finding your sweet spot is essential for comfortable playing.


3. Tuning and String Tension

3.1 Lower Tunings

When tuning down (e.g., drop D or lower), thicker strings are necessary to maintain proper tension. Otherwise, loose strings can lead to poor intonation and buzzing.


3.2 Calculating Tensions

To calculate string tensions for lower tunings:

  • For a half-step down, multiply the string tension by 0.891.
  • For a whole step down, multiply the string tension by 0.794.

Example: A .056 gauge string tuned to drop D (E2) with a tension of 25.2 lbs:

  • Half-step down: 25.2 lbs × 0.891 = 22.44 lbs
  • Whole step down: 25.2 lbs × 0.794 = 20.01 lbs


4. Sustain and String Gauges

4.1 Lighter Gauges and Sustain

Guitar legends like Rick Beato and Rhett Shull have demonstrated that lighter gauge strings often provide better sustain. Experiment with different gauges to find the balance between playability and sustain that suits your style.

Remember, your choice of string gauge directly impacts your playing experience. Whether you’re chasing bright tones or exploring deep, resonant sounds, mastering string gauges is a journey every guitarist should embark upon. Happy strumming! 🎸🎶


Guitar String Gauge Tension Chart

String Gauge Pitch Tension (lbs)
0.0080 E4 10.4
0.0085 E4 11.7
0.0090 E4 13.1
0.0095 E4 14.6
0.0100 E4 16.2
0.0105 E4 17.9
0.0110 B3 19.5
0.0115 B3 12.1
0.0120 B3 13.1
0.0125 B3 14.3
0.0130 B3 15.4
0.0135 B3 16.5
0.0140 G3 11.3
0.0150 G3 12.8
0.0160 G3 14.7
0.0170 G3 16.6
0.0180 G3 18.6
0.0190 D3 11.6
0.0200 D3 12.4
0.0220 D3 13.2
0.0240 D3 15.7
0.0260 D3 18.4
0.0280 D3 21.2
0.0300 D3 24.8
0.0320 A2 15.5
0.0340 A2 17.2
0.0360 A2 19.1
0.0380 A2 20.2
0.0400 A2 22.3
0.0420 E2 14.4
0.0440 E2 15.6
0.0460 E2 16.8
0.0480 E2 18.3
0.0500 E2 19.7
0.0520 E2 21.2
0.0540 E2 23.6
0.0560 E2 25.2
0.0580 E2 28.3
0.0600 E2 30.8
0.0620 E2 32.6
0.0640 B1 19.9
0.0660 B1 20.6
0.0680 B1 21.8
0.0700 B1 30.1
0.0720 B1 24.2


In Tune with Mastery: Concluding Our String Journey

As we wrap up our exploration of guitar string gauges, remember that these seemingly humble wires play a symphony of roles in your musical experience. Let’s harmonize our understanding with a few key takeaways:

  1. Precision Matters: String gauges aren’t mere numbers; they’re the architects of your tone. Whether you’re chasing the bluesy bends of Stevie Ray Vaughan or the ethereal fingerpicking of Joni Mitchell, the right gauge sets the stage.

  2. Tension Tidbits: String tension isn’t just about numbers—it’s about feel. The sweet spot lies between 12 to 20 lbs, but don’t hesitate to tweak it based on your guitar’s action and your personal vibe.

  3. Tuning Transcends: When you venture into alternate tunings, remember that string tension dances with each twist of the tuning peg. Thicker strings keep the groove tight, while lighter ones let you explore new sonic landscapes.

  4. Sustain Serenade: Rick Beato and Rhett Shull have sung the praises of lighter gauges for sustain. Experiment, listen, and find the balance that resonates with your soul.

So, fellow strummers, whether you’re riffing in a dimly lit garage or gracing a grand stage, let your strings be your allies. Tune them, feel them, and let the music flow.

Thank you for joining us on this fretted journey. Until the next chord change, keep those fingers dancing and your heart singing! Rock on! 🤘


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Author Bio

Brett, the owner and founder of Ploutone, is a modern guitarist on a mission to create a sustainable future and build a thriving community through the power of music. Brett founded Ploutone to celebrate independent artists and foster connections among guitarists worldwide. With a vision of spreading positivity and promoting sustainability, Brett hopes to inspire others to push the boundaries of their instruments and contribute to a better world.