Fingerpicking is a popular guitar playing style where you pluck the guitar strings directly using your fingertips. You may also use special picks that are attached to your fingers. If you’re familiar with how songs like “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin and “Blackbird” by the Beatles were played then you know how fingerpicking is done.
Are you shopping for a good acoustic guitar string for fingerpicking? Here are some of the best strings for the job in our special fingerpicking strings review.
What are the best acoustic guitar strings for fingerpicking?
1) Ernie Ball Earthwood Light
Editor’s Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Best Ernie Ball Bronze Set Fingerpicking Guitar Strings
The Earthwood by Ernie Ball is one of the most popular acoustic guitar strings. This brand comes in light, extra-light, medium-light, medium and rock & blues varieties and are also available in packs of 3, 12, or singles.
The light is made of 80% copper and 20% zinc, wrapped around a tin-plated steel wire. Meanwhile, the plain strings are tempered-tin plated with hi-carbon steel for amazing strength and durability.
All Ernie Ball strings are packed inside an Element Shield manufacturer’s packaging. This ensures that the strings will reach you in perfect condition. This is a quality product from California, USA and therefore, you can guarantee quality and the best materials used to make your perfect acoustic guitar string for fingerpicking.
- Size/Type – Light
- Material – copper, zinc, steel core, plain strings in tin-plated in carbon steel
- Good qualities –comes inside protective packaging
- Number of strings in a pack 3 strings per pack (also available 12 strings in a pack and a single string in a pack)
2) GHS Strings VN-L Vintage Bronze
Editor’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Best Bronze Acoustic Fingerpicking Light Guitar Strings
GHS strings are known as vintage acoustic guitar strings and this one is in a light variety. GHS also comes in medium variety acoustic bronze strings. The model VN-L is made from 85% copper and 15% zinc wound around a hex core.
The sound of these light strings is warm, rich, and ideal for bright guitars. Perfect for fingerpicking, you’ll be learning all the old tunes faster with these vintage strings. To keep these classics fresh, just like the day these were packed, these are separately encased in an air-tight Nitro Pack and Fresh Pack. Because of the company’s strict attention to quality and freshness, you’ll get perfect strings all the time.
- Size – light
- Material – 85% copper and 15% zinc
- Good qualities – creates a warm and rich tone.
- Number of strings in a pack – one
3) VIBE Strings Acoustic Guitar Phosphor Bronze Light
Editor’s Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Best Light Phosphor Bronze Guitar Strings from VIBE
The VIBE Strings are made from phosphor bronze and are specifically made for acoustic guitars. Look closer and you’ll see that the strings are not tubular but hexagonal. These have a tight carbon steel middle and as a wrap, very durable, corrosion-free phosphor bronze.
Each string is wrapped in a special pack with gauges .011, .015, .023, .030, .040 and .050. With light phosphor strings, you will consistent tones and a bright crisp end. Every string is carefully labeled so it’s easier to re-string your instrument.
The packaging is corrosion-free, vacuum-packed so these strings will last for a long time. And when you purchase a set of acoustic guitar strings, you will have three picks inside the pack! This is a wonderful fingerpicking acoustic guitar string that will never rust and will never lose tune no matter what.
- Size – a pack contains strings in different gauges: .011, .015, .023, .030, .040 and .050
- Material – phosphor brornze
- Good qualities – with a hexagonal shape with a carbon-steel core, gives you a balanced effect. All strings individually wrapped inside freshness and anti-corrosion packaging.
- The number of strings in a pack – every string is inside a pack. A set of strings in individual packs are inside the box.
4) D’Addario EJ40 Folk Guitar Strings Silk and Steel
Editor’s Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Best Steel Guitar Strings for Folk Music
The D’Addario Silk & Steel edition will produce a warm and very mellow tone perfect for folk guitars. The silk inter-twines the metal to keep your fingers safe when you play. The steel strings are encased in protective, corrosion-free packaging to keep these fresh and ready to use.
Inside this packaging are stringing with gauge .011 to .047 with plain steel strings and silk and steel strings carefully preserved until you use them.
Aside from folk guitars, these strings will also work with regular acoustic guitars and when playing fingerpicking tones. The set of strings are E, B, G, D, A, and E.
- Size – .011 to .047 light gauge strings
- Material – steel and silk strings
- Good qualities – packed inside corrosion-resistant, with silk intertwinings so these are easy on your fingers.
- The number of strings in a pack – strings are individually packed and a set of strings are inside a box.
5) John Pearse 700M Acoustic Guitar Strings Phosphor Bronze
Editor’s Rating: 4.3 out of 5
Best Acoustic Guitar Strings in Phosphor Bronze by John Pearse
The John Pearse guitar strings is another acoustic guitar strings maker in the USA. These strings are very durable and will outperform other guitar strings in the market. This is because these strings are phosphor bronze coated producing a rich and loud sound.
The John Pearse guitar strings are available in a complete set with light to medium gauge. From a diameter of 0.013 to 0.056, these fine quality guitar strings are also packed in protective packaging, ready to install on your guitar the moment you take these out of their packaging. This could be the acoustic guitar strings that are great for fingerpicking.
- Size 0.013 to 0.056 in medium gauge
- Material – phosphor-bronze alloy
- Good qualities – made in the USA, all strings are individually wrapped
- Number of strings in a pack – 6 strings per pack
6) Ernie Ball Earthwood Soft Acoustic Guitar Strings Set
Editor’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Best Silk and Steel Ernie Ball Guitar Strings Set
Compared to the earlier Ernie Ball Earthwood guitar string, these are silk and steel therefore are soft and perfect for the fingerpicking. The Ernie Ball Earthwood also comes in different gauges from .009 to .046, .011 to .052, .013 to .056 and .10 to 0.05. The sound produces from these fine quality acoustic guitar strings are more mellow and very relaxing. These strings come in a set inside an efficient, corrosion-free manufacturer’s packaging.
- Size- silk and steel, 80% silk wrap and 20% metal core
- Material – silk and steel
- Good qualities – gives a mellow/relaxing tone, packed in a sealed manufacturer’s breeding
- The number of strings in a pack – six strings in a pack with every string individually packed.
7) DR Strings Sunbeam Acoustic Round Core Phosphor Bronze
Editor’s Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Best Acoustic Phosphor Bronze Guitar Strings from DR Strings
The DR Strings Sunbeam is a set of phosphor bronze-coated guitar strings made exclusively for acoustic guitars. The amazing combination of two metal creates an alloy that’s super strong, very resilient, and can withstand many hours of playing. The alloy is wound around a hi-carbon steel core.
With the round core, the string becomes more flexible and creates a very long and sustaining note that fades gradually minus the drop-offs. All DR Strings are handmade and will give you a bright and very rich sound.
This pack of DR Strings are in custom light flavor and has string sizes of 11 15 22 30 40 and 50. Each of these strings is individually packed in durable and secure packaging to ensure freshness. You’ll get all six strings in one pack
- Size – custom light, 11 15 22 30 40 and 50
- Material – phosphor bronze alloy wrap and high carbon core.
- Good qualities – comes with a steel core that’s round not hexagonal or other shapes to produce a sustaining sound that will gradually fade
- Number of strings in a pack -6 in a pack, each string individually wrapped
8) D’Addario EJ16-3D Acoustic Guitar Strings in Phosphor Bronze
Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Best Phosphor Bronze Guitar Strings for Acoustics from D’Addario
The D’Addario light gauge strings are perfect for fingerpicking. The strings are very strong steel wound with phosphor bronze, an alloy that’s very strong and will resist even the hardest-core guitar playing. Phosphor bronze strings are also known for their long and lasting tone and easy playability which is why D’Addario strings are the choice of many professional players.
These strings are light and thus are easy to fingerpick or pluck even with your fingers. These will resist corrosion so you won’t have to worry about your strings rusting. The core is hi-carbon steel with a hexagonal shape. The phosphor bronze coating is wound around this very strong steel core to create that consistent and very lasting tone you’ve been looking for. These strings come in different gauges: .012, .016 for plain steel strings and .024, .032, .042, .053. for phosphor bronze strings.
These are individually packed and are sold in a set of 6. This packaging method ensures the quality and the freshness of your D’Addario strings.
- Size – light gauge .012, .016 for plain steel strings and .024, .032, .042, .053. for phosphor bronze strings
- Material – high-carbon steel with phosphor bronze strings, phosphor bronze wound
- Good qualities – placed inside freshness packages, easy to pluck and fingerpick, very durable
- Number of strings in a pack – 6 in a pack/boxed with strings are individually packed
9) Ernie Ball Earthwood Medium Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Strings
Editor’s Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Best Ernie Ball Earthwood Medium Acoustic Guitar Strings
The Ernie Ball Earthwood in medium phosphor bronze is premium acoustic guitar strings. The Earthwood strings are available in medium, medium light, extra light, rock & blues, and light variants and you can buy these in singles, 3 in a pack of 12 in a pack strings.
The medium Earthwood gives a very rich and expressive tone. You’ll hear all the notes crystal clear. The secret is strings made from 92% copper, 7.7% tin, and 0.3% phosphorous. This blend of metals has created a very strong, reliable, and expressive string. And to fully enjoy these quality strings, these are sold inside Element Shield packs. This unique packaging method preserves the life of your strings and keeps these fresh and ready to install on your acoustic guitar. Take note that the Ernie Ball Earthwood medium strings were once sold as Power Slinky Acoustic guitar strings.
- Size – medium
- Material – made from 92% copper, 7.7% tin and 0.3% phosphorous
- Good qualities – provides a rich and expressive tone, very strong and reliable
- Number of strings in a pack – singles, 3 in a pack of 12 in a pack strings
10) D’Addario EXPPBB190GS Acoustic Bass Guitar Strings
Editor’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Best Bass Guitar Strings from D’Addario
The A’Darrio comes with the custom light phosphor bronze-coated acoustic bass strings. These guitar strings are made especially for the Taylor GS Mini Scale acoustic bass. String length is as long as 25.5 inches.
These strings are known as EXP-coated phosphor bronze that creates a warm, balanced, and bright tone. Users said that these strings were able to provide up to 4 times brighter sound.
These acoustic guitar strings are environmentally-friendly, comes in corrosion-resistant packs so that the strings are fresh when opened for use.
The D’Addario strings come in different gauges: .037, .055, .062 and .090. You’ll find a set of strings per pack from .037 to .090 custom light pack.
- Size – 25.5 inches long, custom light, gauges: .037, .055, .062 and .090
- Material – phosphor bronze
- Good qualities – creates a brighter, balanced and warm tone
- Number of strings in a pack – 6 strings per pack
Consider the following before you purchase acoustic guitar strings for fingerpicking.
Because fingerpicking is a very delicate guitar technique, you need high-quality strings on your instrument. Here is a guide on how to find the best strings that will bring out the best tone of your acoustic guitar.
All about acoustic guitar strings
To play well your acoustic guitar has to be in tune. Using the best set of strings contribute a lot to how your guitar sounds. So when buying acoustic guitar strings, always settle for high-quality strings. These add value to your precious string instrument.
Acoustic guitars and classical guitars
But before we go ahead and check out the different buying techniques, let’s first learn how to distinguish between an acoustic guitar from a classical guitar. Why do we need to do this? Because there is a big difference between the guitar strings of an acoustic and a classic guitar. Most of the time, the strings for an acoustic cannot be replaced with the strings meant for classical instruments. Take note, using steel strings on a guitar that needs nylon strings will only end in a disaster. You will only end up severely damaging the guitar especially the saddle and the bridge of the guitar.
Mostly, acoustic guitars require steel strings. Acoustic guitars are used to play music like country, rock, blues, and folk. Meanwhile, softer strings like nylon strings are for classical guitars and flamenco guitars. You can now predict that you will be learning more about steel strings in this guide since this type of strings is made for acoustic guitars.
Learning about acoustic guitar string gauges
Guitar strings are made using different guidelines and one of them is gauge. String gauge is designated in the 1,000th of an inch. Light strings are around .010 while heavy strings are around .059 gauge. Despite the very minor differences, these strings have a big influence on the sound and the playability of the guitar. Usually, acoustic guitars are shipped with medium to light gauges or 12 or 13 gauges.
Consider the characteristics of light and heavy string gauges:
• Light gauge
These strings are very easy to play and are very flexible. With light strings, you can bend notes and do a lot of fretting. There are also some disadvantages to lighter gauge strings. First of all, these break easily and may not be able to provide more volume and enough sustain. Lighter gauge strings may lead to fret buzzing which is common in low action guitars. Meanwhile, lighter gauge strings are more preferred by people with vintage instruments. Lighter gauge strings will exert lesser tension on the neck.
• Heavy gauge
Heavier gauges are a lot harder to use and will need higher finger pressure to be able to bend and to fret notes. However, heavier string gauges will provide more sustain and volume but may produce more tension on the neck and can ruin vintage or antique guitars.
The different string gauges in an acoustic guitar
Guitar string manufacturers have made it easier to shop for their products by using identifying gauges. Some use terms like light, extra-light, medium, or heavy to describe the gauges of their strings. Consider the following guidelines when you buy guitar strings of different gauges:
- Extra-light strings – .010 .014 .023 .030 .039 and .047
- Custom light strings – .011 .015 .023 .032 .042 and .052
- Light strings – .012 .016 .025 .032 .042 and .054
- Medium strings – .013 .017 .026 .035 .045 and .056
- Heavy strings – .014 .018 .027 .039 .049 and .059
The acoustic guitar string gauges are usually indicated on the product packaging. Generic or unbranded guitar strings make it hard to tell the gauge of the string and therefore, it’s always best to use only branded strings.
All about steel guitar strings
The proper use of good quality steel strings is a staple to playing your acoustic guitar well. Techniques like fingerpicking would be easier to do if you use quality steel strings. Remember the following factors that may affect your choice of acoustic steel strings
• Guitar body
Use lighter gauges for guitars with a smaller body. Large bodied guitars will do well with heavier strings. A dreadnought or a jumbo acoustic will sound better using medium strings. This type of string is best for instruments with larger bodies or chambers. Meanwhile, smaller models like the grand auditorium will sound much better when fitted with strings with lighter gauges.
• How you play your guitar
For fingerpicking and other very meticulous guitar playing styles, lighter gauge strings are better. But if you play music by strumming heavily on the strings then your instrument requires medium-gauge strings.
If you’re new to playing the guitar, consider lighter strings. Heavier strings can be tough on your fingers and nails. But if you do a little bit of both (hard strumming and some finger work) then the best set of strings would be light to medium strings set. Usually, this kind of set comes with heavy string gauges at the top and lighter gauges at the bottom.
• The tone you want to hear
Heavier gauges will enhance your acoustic guitar’s bass register to create deep and strong tones common in dreadnoughts. If you want to emphasize the trebles and focus on your strumming and fingerpicking techniques then you’ll be perfect with a lighter string gauge.
• The age and the condition of the acoustic guitar
How old is the guitar you’re playing? Antique and vintage guitars require some serious TLC. These should wear lighter gauges to avoid pulling the neck and head. But if you have a new guitar, a guitar made with laminate material then you may use heavier gauges instead.
• Common string construction materials
Metal strings are available in the following types: bronze, phosphor bronze, aluminum bronze, brass, polymer-coated, and silk and steel. Of these types, the most in-demand these days are phosphor bronze strings. With this alloy, you can achieve darker and warmer tones while maintaining a crisp sound. Strings can last for a long time when these are coated with phosphor bronze alloy.
Meanwhile, silk and steel strings come with a steel core with a wrap made of silk, copper or nylon. Silk and steel strings are commonly used by pop and folk players.
When to change your acoustic strings?
To keep your acoustic guitar in tip-top shape, you must have well-tuned strings. You must change your strings regularly as well. But how do you know that your strings need changing?
If you find that your guitar is becoming harder and harder to tune then it may be time to change the strings. If the strings are getting rusty or discolored then you might consider changing them. If you see signs of warping or unwinding and you see bits of the core then change your strings at once before you cut your fingers. If you hear flat or dead tones then it’s clear that your strings need to be changed. If you don’t remember changing the strings or if it has been a while since you changed the strings then do so ASAP!
Q and A
• How do you choose the best acoustic guitar strings?
Consider the different factors we mentioned above like the guitar body type, how you play your guitar, the tone you want to hear, the age and the condition of the acoustic guitar, and many more.
• How do you care for your acoustic guitar strings?
High-quality acoustic guitar strings are very expensive and thus, you need to care for them well so they’ll last longer. Always keep a clean cloth handy so you can wipe the strings right after you play.
Always wash your hands before and after you play to prevent dirt and sweat from destroying steel strings. Take note of the date when you changed the strings. Always keep an extra set of strings handy in case of an emergency.
• How often should the acoustic guitar strings be changed?
So how often do you need to replace your acoustic guitar strings? If you tend to sweat while performing or playing then you are damaging your strings as perspiration is acidic. If you often play aggressively or you mostly play using fingerpicking or bending then you should inspect your strings for any signs of damage at least after every session.
If you play your guitar more often or you change the tune of your strings very often then you should change the strings more frequently. And if you smoke or you play music in a smoky, polluted environment then you should change the strings once every two weeks or earlier.
We have chosen Earthwood by Ernie Ball as the best acoustic guitar string for fingerpicking. There are many reasons why we selected this brand. First, Earthwood comes in different string varieties including light, extra-light, medium-light, medium, and rock & blues varieties. Also, these are available in different quantities; very convenient for any shopper.
This is a high-quality, durable light string as it is made of 80% copper and 20% zinc, while the inner core is hi-carbon steel for distinct strength and durability. Also, we like this steel-string because all Ernie Ball products are packed in an Element Shield packaging. This ensures that the strings will reach you in the best condition. We recommend the Earthwood Light for acoustic fingerpicking. If you think that the Ernie Ball Earthwood light is the right acoustic guitar string for fingerpicking then check this product out from this link.