The Best Guitar Strings for Bending

Bending is a common technique used in many different styles of guitar playing. But for some people, especially beginners, it can be painful and difficult to perform correctly.

In this guide we will start by going through the best strings for bending on electric and acoustic guitars (hint: go for a lighter gauge). We will then go through the downsides of these strings and some other things you can do to make bending easier.

Best Electric Guitar Strings for Bending

Guitar strings are very subjective and the only way you can find the best ones for you is by trying them out. Below are 5 of the best light gauge electric guitar strings. All of these strings are excellent choices if you’re looking for strings that make bending easier.

Ernie Ball Super Slinky Nickel Wound Set, .009 - .042
Fender 250L Nickel Plated Steel Electric Guitar Strings - Light
Elixir Strings Electric Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Super Light...
D'Addario NYXL0942 Nickel Plated Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light,09-42 -...
D'Addario EXL120-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light, 9-42, 3...
Strings
Ernie Ball Super Slinky Nickel Wound Set, .009 - .042
Fender 250L Nickel Plated Steel Electric Guitar Strings - Light
Elixir Strings Electric Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Super Light...
D'Addario NYXL0942 Nickel Plated Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light,09-42 -...
D'Addario EXL120-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light, 9-42, 3...
Gauge
9 - 42
9 - 42
9 - 42
9 - 42
9 - 42
Price
from $0.25
from $3.47
from $7.44
from $6.00
from $1.94
Ernie Ball Super Slinky Nickel Wound Set, .009 - .042
Strings
Ernie Ball Super Slinky Nickel Wound Set, .009 - .042
Gauge
9 - 42
Price
from $0.25
Fender 250L Nickel Plated Steel Electric Guitar Strings - Light
Strings
Fender 250L Nickel Plated Steel Electric Guitar Strings - Light
Gauge
9 - 42
Price
from $3.47
Elixir Strings Electric Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Super Light...
Strings
Elixir Strings Electric Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Super Light...
Gauge
9 - 42
Price
from $7.44
D'Addario NYXL0942 Nickel Plated Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light,09-42 -...
Strings
D'Addario NYXL0942 Nickel Plated Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light,09-42 -...
Gauge
9 - 42
Price
from $6.00
D'Addario EXL120-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light, 9-42, 3...
Strings
D'Addario EXL120-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light, 9-42, 3...
Gauge
9 - 42
Price
from $1.94

Best Acoustic Guitar Strings for Bending

Below you can find some of the best light and extra-light acoustic guitar strings, perfect for easier bending. It’s worth trying out a few different sets to find the best ones for you.

D'Addario EJ11 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 12-53
Martin Acoustic Guitar Frets (M530)
Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze Extra Light (10-50) Acoustic Guitar Strings...
John Pearse P500XL Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Extra Light
Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w POLYWEB Coating, Extra...
Strings
D'Addario EJ11 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 12-53
Martin Acoustic Guitar Frets (M530)
Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze Extra Light (10-50) Acoustic Guitar Strings...
John Pearse P500XL Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Extra Light
Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w POLYWEB Coating, Extra...
Gauge
12 - 53
10 - 47
10 - 50
10 - 47
10 - 47
Price
from $2.00
$15.89
from $3.99
from $7.69
from $7.56
-
D'Addario EJ11 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 12-53
Strings
D'Addario EJ11 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 12-53
Gauge
12 - 53
Price
from $2.00
Martin Acoustic Guitar Frets (M530)
Strings
Martin Acoustic Guitar Frets (M530)
Gauge
10 - 47
Price
$15.89
-
Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze Extra Light (10-50) Acoustic Guitar Strings...
Strings
Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze Extra Light (10-50) Acoustic Guitar Strings...
Gauge
10 - 50
Price
from $3.99
John Pearse P500XL Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Extra Light
Strings
John Pearse P500XL Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Extra Light
Gauge
10 - 47
Price
from $7.69
Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w POLYWEB Coating, Extra...
Strings
Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w POLYWEB Coating, Extra...
Gauge
10 - 47
Price
from $7.56

What Makes Guitar Strings Easier To Bend?

When you’re looking for guitar strings that are easier to bend, you want to choose strings with a lighter gauge. Look for light or extra-light strings. The thinner gauge means they will have less tension which makes it much easier to bend the strings.

For electric guitar, the lightest strings are usually 9 gauge (0.009 – 0.042). For acoustic guitar, the lightest strings are usually 10 gauge (0.010 – 0.047). Acoustic guitar strings are usually thicker because you rely on getting the full sound purely from the guitar.

How Much Do Lighter Gauge Strings Help?

The extent to which lighter gauge strings will help your bending really depends. For example, if you currently use very heavy strings, then switching to a light set will make a significant difference. However, if you currently use 10 gauge strings and switch to 9 gauge strings, you won’t notice much of a difference.

If you are already using lighter gauge strings and still struggle with bending, the problem most likely lies with your technique and lack of practice. Further down on this page we have a few other things you can do to help with bending that are worth checking out.

Are There Any Cons of Lighter Gauge Strings?

Yes. Although lighter gauge strings are easier to bend, there are some downsides to using them. Make sure you take these into consideration before deciding whether or not you want to use a lighter gauge string:

  • Harder to maintain intonation – The problem with strings that bend easily is that they can sometimes bend when we don’t want them to. When you use lighter gauge strings, it can be quite easy to accidentally bend the strings making it sound like you’re playing out of tune.
  • Brighter, thinner tone – Okay, so this one isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it is worth considering that lighter strings will have a brighter, thinner tone. If that’s what you want – great! But it isn’t ideal if you want a thick, full tone.
  • They will break more easily – Obviously, thinner strings are going to be weaker. If you’re a frequent string breaker, you’re going to find you will break even more strings if you use a lighter gauge. Although to be honest, you should be changing your strings before they get to the point of breaking anyway.

What Else Helps Make Bending Easier?

Even if you use light gauge strings, you might still find bending to be difficult. Or maybe you’re not keen on the downsides of lighter gauge strings and would prefer to use heavier strings. Either way, here are a few other things you can do to make bending easier:

  • Practice, practice, practice – Make sure you continue to practice bending. It can take a while to build up the muscles involved, but when you do, it becomes second nature.
  • Use the correct technique – Practicing is all well and good, but it’s vital that you practice the correct technique. Make sure you use more than one finger to bend, and you should be using your wrist more than your fingers.

  • Tune down – This one isn’t always practical. But if you can, tune your guitar down half a step or so. The strings will have less tension and will be easier to bend. This is especially useful in the early stages when you are practicing your technique.
  • Higher action – Finally, how your guitar is setup can affect how easy it is to bend. Most people find having a higher action makes bending easier. If you want to try changing the setup of your guitar, make sure you get a professional to do it unless you know what you’re doing.

Conclusion

To wrap it up, there are various things you can do to make bending easier. Strings with a lighter gauge will definitely help, whether you have an acoustic or electric guitar. But there are other things like practicing the correct technique that you can do too. Hopefully, this guide has helped you and make sure to leave a comment if you have anything to add to the conversation!

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