There are different types of guitar strings for every different type of guitar and different playing style of music.
Most strings today come in a variety of gauges so you can get the right feel for your type of playing. For fingerpicking you want a heavier gauge than for playing blues with a lot of string stretching.
The different metals used in some strings won’t let you use them on an electric with conventional pickups because they need steel for the pickups to work right.
As far as I know you can use any string on an acoustic with a transducer type of pickup located under the saddle. I’ll have to experiment on that a little bit.
After trying different strings you will find a brand that you like better than the others. The brand or type all depends on your playing style and will change as your style changes.
Nylon strings are used for classical guitars or if you can find ball end nylon strings they can be used on any acoustic. The lead solo in the Beatles song And I Love Her was played on a classical guitar with nylon strings.
They tend to stretch a bit for the first week or so and then settle down.
These strings give a very nice mellow sound usually unless you are listening to a Flaminco style player who combines rhythms on the guitar body along with their playing, a very moving style.
All 3 images will take you to a Classical Guitar String Page
Acoustic Strings – Silk and Steel
Sounds like a rock group doesn’t. Silk and steel strings are good on an acoustic guitar for fingerpicking, a little easier on the fingers than just steel, brass or bronze, but not as bright sounding. They won’t pickup well on an electric with regular pickups, the silk mutes the steel.
Martin has a set of silk and steel strings. Martin Silk and Steel M-130 Folk Guitar Strings (.011, .047).
All 3 images will take you to a Silk and Steel Guitar String Page
Acoustic Strings – Phosphor Bronze
This is what most acoustic guitar strings are made of today with variations on the basics.These are normally only good on acoustic guitars because of the bronze. They are a little louder and brighter than the silk and steel type.
These strings sound like what used to be called plain brass strings, they have a bright sound. Don’t forget that each guitar is different and will give a different tone for the same string type on another guitar.
Also these string companies are always trying new materials and ways of manufacturing so as I’m writing this a new model might already be on the way to market.
All 3 images will take you to a Phosphur Bronze Guitar String Page
Elixr Acoustic Strings
This is a fairly new company that uses a technology called nanoweb and polyweb for their strings. I had these on my Ibanez acoustic when I bought it and I liked them. They cost a little more but they keep that new string sound longer so you don’t have to change strings as often.
All 3 images will take you to an Elixr Guitar String Page
Steel guitar strings are for electric guitars because of their pickups they need ferrous material. The wound strings may be wrapped with nickel. These come in more gauges than the other types from very heavy to very light.
Ernie Ball strings used to be “The” string for electric rock and blues guitarist in the later 1960’s. Eric Clapton used to and probably still does use them although newer players probably use different brands because of how technology have been speeded up by computers.
All 3 images will take you to an Electric Guitar String Page
Electric Flatwound Strings
These strings are used mostly by Jazz guitarist’s. They have a mellow sound and because they are flatwound they reduce the sliding fretboard sound you get from round wound strings.
All 3 images will take you to an Electric Flatwound Guitar String Page
Bass Guitar Strings
I put a link for bass strings here in case you play both. I have a bass guitar and it’s a nice change to play bass. You also learn a new way of listening and playing music.
All 3 images will take you to an Electric Bass Guitar String Page
Basic String – Rule of Thumb
If you want to play blues and rock and bend a lot of notes the lighter gauges are best. If you do play blues vamps you may want a heavier top(Bass) and thinner bottom strings. There are many custom combinations to choose from.
For slide guitar you want a middle to heavy gauge string. For acoustic’s phosphor bronze wound strings have a nice bright sound and are suited for most types of music. These come in a variety of gauges.
There are two types of electric strings; round wound or flat wound. Round wound is what most players use. The flat wound strings suppress the high tones like you get from round wound strings. These are used mostly by Jazz players like George Benson
I hope you found this page useful.