All electric guitar strings are made using steel, nickel, or other magnetically conductive metal alloys since they’re essential for transmitting string vibrations to the magnetic pickups. The type of plating or coating applied to the steel alloy has a significant impact on the strings’ sound. Here are some general tonal characteristics of the most common types of strings:
- Nickel-Plated Steel: Balanced brightness and warmth with more attack
- Pure Nickel: Less bright than nickel-plated steel with added warmth
- Stainless Steel: Bright, crisp, “edgy” tone with sustain and corrosion resistance. Less prone to finger squeaks.
- Chrome: Warmth with less resonance; often chosen by jazz and blues guitaristsTitanium: Fairly bright tone with excellent strength
- Cobalt: Wide dynamic range with notable brightness and pickup response
- Polymer-coated: Less sustain than equivalent uncoated strings; corrosion-resistant
- Color-coated: Some coatings have added colorants for visual appeal; tonality varies