Strings for acoustic

Folks,My grandson has asked for an acoustic for his 11th. birthday. Ive sourced a decent guitar,but it comes supplie ith Daddarrio 12s. Are these too heavy for a youngster. Im quit happy to fit and adjust as needed,but would ask for the advice of the hive mind.

Im thinking of 9s for his early days playing.

Thanks in advance.

Martin Silk & Steels might be an even better choice. Made a world of difference when my girlfriend started learning.

Thicker than the D’Addario Xtra Lite 9s she had previously, but noticeably easier to fret.

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Is the guitar full size / full scale length? If it’s short scale then those 12s will be easier to play.

Hello @Peterctid . 12’s would definately be too thick for beginners. You have to build your calluses and strength up there before you decide if you want to use heavier strings. The cold steal on soft flesh(especially the thin strings) will give you finger pain at first. Small practice sessions are required beginning out. The heavier the gauge, the worse it is. In the end it will be a personal choice. 9’s are really light. I tried with 9’s and I found that it was just too thin to actually play descent. I would go with 10’s. That’s an excellent starting point. After your grandson has some practice under their belt, he will decide what he likes, depending on the direction of his journey , if they keep it up. Hope he will be the next big awesome player!!

Rock on! :sunglasses::+1::grin:

So why do new, beginner model guitars typically come with 12 gauge strings, when a lighter gauge is what a beginner needs? I wish the sales rep would have explained this option before I spent my early months mashing my soft fingers into heavy strings before buying some lighter ones. I guess the pain is part of the learning process…

I guess you could argue that it is best to get the callous thing over with quickly.

In my opinion, I thought thin strings felt like razor blades and would rather play something thicker even at the beginning.

My thought would be 11’s. Silk and steel or silk and bronze are a good idea, easier on the fingers. Also, lower tension strings are out there. Newtone Heritage are really low tension and another good option is Straight Up Strings.

You can essentially have a set of strings with tension closer to a standard gauge lighter.

Thanks all for the responses. I should have said its full scale.

If you fit 9s to a guitar set up for 12s you may find that you will need to adjust the neck relief by tweaking the truss rod.
Loads of info on this on the web if you ask Mr Google.

I think it’s important to recognise here that strings aren’t the only component in the mix of “how easy” it’s going to be to play a new guitar. . . strings ARE DEFINITELY an important aspect but also the set up is important as well. How high is the action?, etc. Others have alluded to these issues here but my recommendation would be to have the guitar well before your granson wants to start jammin on it and get it into a reliable luthier or other guitar shop that could do a proper set up on itand make sure the action is suitably light for a beginning player. At 12 years old, the first few minutes of your new guitar are crucial ones in determining if it’s something you continue with or not (particularly if the first few minutes are painful ones!!).

Anyway, just my two cents!! Hope he loves it!!

Yes,I totally agree. Luckily I can setbup the action and we are buying from a shop,so I will ask them to set it up . A few have suggested low tension strings,so I will explore that open.

Just recently got my grandson started with Justin… he’s 13 and got a hand-me-down 3/4 scale guitar… I strung it up with silk & steel10s & he’s doing fine with them! The action was already good so no need for a trip to the luthier.
Besides, callouses are overrated!!!

Good luck to your grandson, Grandpa!!!


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[already covered]

I cant wait for him to start. He is really excited about it. Ive already demonstrated a few songs on Justins Christmas song list.

My acoustic is tuned to open D with a capo on fret two so open E. Suddenly, many of Justins Christmas songs he can play and sing with one finger.
I want him to learn in standard,but this has been a great taster.

Wow. lots of good advice here. My input is go to 11’s. Since it is full size, anything thinner will make the guitar sound tinny (my opinion). Have a luthier set it up for the strings you choose. Finally, have him start with Justin’s beginner lessons. He has a good process to get the fingers in shape. The biggest challenge will be to get the youngster not to play too long at a time until his fingers adjust. We all went through the finger callous thing. t’s a right of passage for the guitar player.

Especially if the lighter strings give you fret buzz as they do sometimes.

I’ve never seen “acoustic” strings with a .009" high E, but D’Addario has phosphor-bronze 10’s that I really like.

Additionally, you could string the acoustic with electric 9’s (nickel-wound, etc.)

Understand that the neck may need a small adjustment when going to lighter strings.


Yes,I think I will go with 10s. I restrung my acoustic with 10s ,for him to try, and it went well.

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