I'm a beginner on electric guitar. My current strings are 9-42 gauge nickel plated and I'm having a hard time bending them plus my hands get tired easily. I've been looking at coated and lighter strings (8-38 gauge) online but can't find that combo and can't get a straight answer from any website.

My question is, does any company out there make a 8-38 gauge coated string, and is that combo even feasible?


5 Answers 5


It's more common to bend each of the top three - E, B and G -strings, so maybe you could consider keeping the lower three. There are sets out there with something like 'top skinny' as a guide. Otherwise, do as I do, and have for 40+ yrs, buy individual strings. Ever so slightly more expensive, but when you've decided exactly what gauge you need for each, 10 at a time works out well. Another alternative, used by many, is to tune down. A semitone may do it, or try a tone.

Another thought - when bending, it's better to use two or three fingers on a string, and use wrist movements rather than finger muscles: they're stronger.Make and model of guitar is useful info. to us as well.

Yes, is the answer - coated .008-.038 sets are available. Ernie ball. Feasibility - yes again, but subjective.

  • useful info but you didn't answer the question. Oct 4, 2016 at 11:58
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    @Alan sparks - It took 20 seconds to establish that they are available, via google. I felt that this info was possibly of more use. Coated strings will be no easier to bend, although lighter gauge will. Sorry!
    – Tim
    Oct 4, 2016 at 12:13
  • I wanted the coating for longevity. I went to Ernie Ball website and found them, thanks. The problem now is stores don't carry them but I was able to order them special thru Sweetwater. Appreciate your help, you solved my problem. Oct 4, 2016 at 13:21

They do make 8s but you run a big risk breaking the high E string IM not sure about the question you want to bend the string to a higher note as with all guitar you have to practise as you do your hands will get stronger and build dexterity a number 9 is pretty thin and should be easy to bend when you bend use all 3 of you fingers examble if I bend the high e on the 3rd fret my middle finger on e string 3 rd fret my ring finger on e string 2 nd fret an pinky behind it use all 3 fingers to push string up to desired pitch

  • Hi, Corky. Welcome to music.se! I've changed your term "bottom E" to "high E", which is more consistent with common usage IMO. +1 3-fingers & wrist-power are the right answer IMO. Oct 12, 2016 at 21:00
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    Having used .008s for the last 40 years, there is no big risk involved. Only ever broke a couple when replacing strings - put that down to a bad batch! In fact, why should a thinner string break when bent any more than a thicker string already under more tension?
    – Tim
    Oct 12, 2016 at 21:59

Yes, Ernie Ball makes the combo you're looking for and a lot of players who are into very fast shredding use them as their main strings as they make very technically intense parts less painful.

However, I wouldn't suggest starting on those, especially if you're a beginner you just need to hold on a bit more and your fingers will just get stronger and you will find it easy to do bending on those. Most teachers suggest to start on 010 and eventually switch later, so 009 is already lighter than that.


There are a couple of dozen options for 8 gauge strings, but only one that I know of that's coated - the Ernie Ball 3125 coated Titanium Slinky. Here's the manufacturer's page for the strings: https://www.ernieball.com/guitar-strings/electric-guitar-strings/slinky-rps-coated-titanium-electric-guitar-strings#P03125


A Google search on coated electric guitar strings 008 got me started toward sites. I think the combination of coated and 8s is going to be very hard to find, so you might want to choose one or the other.

But that seems also to be a very non-beginner set of requirements. Coated implies that you know your skin chemistry makes strings go dull quickly, which is a very experienced piece of knowledge, as is the fact that you can't bend easily with 9s or 10s and your hand gets tired. A beginner move would be to squeeze too hard, tiring the hand and making all the notes sharp. Knowing that you want to bend and that it tires your hand shows you're at least at novice.

We don't suggest gear here. It's a rule. There are reputable brands and suppliers, and searches like I mentioned above should get you started, but you may need to go either-or, not both.

My go-to advice is to go for medium picks and strings until you can formulate a sentence starting with "I ..." to justify the change. You have that, and as B.B. told Billy Gibbons, "why do you want to work so hard?"

But I can't help thinking it's technique not string gauge that's your problem, but not knowing you, I can't watch and figure out what the fix is.

Anyway, good luck.

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