I have a semi-acoustic guitar with electric strings, and I want to continue having electric strings, but my high e string has just snapped, and I need to get another.

However, being kinda new to this whole "guitar thing" and seeing how many different strings there are, I need recommendations as to which strings i should get.

  • can you please confirm if you have a hollow body electric or an acoustic with pickups? also do you happen to know what gauge strings are on there now?
    – b3ko
    Jul 30, 2018 at 15:11
  • Its an acoustic with pickups, and no I don't know the gauge.
    – Misha B-H
    Jul 30, 2018 at 15:30
  • How do you know the current strings are electric strings? Is it the color? What is the make and model of the guitar? Jul 31, 2018 at 18:11

4 Answers 4


Do not throw the old string away! Take it to the guitar string shop, and ask for another of the same gauge. If it's too late, take the guitar in, and they should be able to tell which string set is on. Do not buy one string. Always have enough spares for all.

If you're a little unhappy because they're hard to finger, you may decide to go for a slightly lighter gauge set. If, for example, there's a set of .012s on now, you could try a set of .011s instead. they won't be quite as tight.

  • also, if you have never changed a string before ask them to show you the correct way to do it.
    – b3ko
    Jul 30, 2018 at 15:40
  • It might be useful to buy a new set AND a single replacement, so you have a full set of replacements and are not missing the E if it breaks again. Also, you might want to try some of the other types of strings other than "electric" for different tone. The electric strings are made with Nickel, which is brighter, but since you have a semi-electric, you might try phosphor bronze or 80/20 bronze strings in the same gauges you have now for a warmer tone. Jul 30, 2018 at 19:26
  • @AlphonsoBalvenie - it's semi-acoustic, not semi-electric. Not heard that one. If it is indeed electric, phosphor bronze may not make the pup work., depending whether it's a piezo or other sort. It's always possible to put proper electric strings on just about any guitar - except classicals, safely - I've done it for 50+ yrs.
    – Tim
    Jul 31, 2018 at 6:38
  • @Tim Phosphor bronze strings will make magnetic pickups work, they have a steel core just like nickel wound. I have used PB strings on my electric instruments when I wanted a "fatter" rhythm sound. The reason I suggest them for an electric/acoustic instrument is that especially with the thin body varieties they tend towards a thin and "brittle" sound, loosing some acoustic properties in trade off to electric considerations. PB strings can give you a warmer, fuller sound on these types of instruments. Aug 3, 2018 at 2:46

It is almost impossible to answer this question without having the instruments in ones hands. And most of all, it's impossible to say what You will prefer!

However, there are some general notions that are relevant in all cases.

  1. There is no difference between plain accoustic and electro accoustic, as far as the strings are concerned
  2. Strings that are made of phosphore and bronze sound better than strings that are made of bronze only. D'addario and Elexir make those, so does Martin. If you can find Kerly, they're awesome strings too.
  3. Experiment on brands and gauges until you find a set-up that you like
  4. learn how to change your strings yourself, because you're going to have to
  5. change your strings on a regular basis (it's a bit of a budget, but it completely changes the playability and the tone of your guitar). Basically when your guitar sounds dull, it's time for a change.

Last but not least, there must be a local guitar tech (maybe in a store) in your area. You should have him set-up your guitar: flatness of the neck, action of the strings... this will completely change the way your guitar feels, so obviously this will have an impact on your final decision about your strings.


You mentioned in your answer that you wanted to keep electric strings on your acoustic electric guitar. You did not provide a reason for this.

Electric Guitars usually have magnetic pickups which work by picking up on the magnetic strings vibrations. There is a pole piece under each individual string.

In order for these magnetic pickups to react to and process the vibration of the guitar string, the string must be a type metal that responds to a magnet. Electric guitar strings have a steel core and the wound strings are wound in nickel instead of bronze. Nickel wound strings do not produce the resonance preferred in an acoustic guitar and tend to sound dead when played acoustically. This is not an issue with an electric guitar because it is intended to be played using an amplifier to produce the sound the listener hears.

In contrast, most pickups for acoustic electric guitars are of a non magnetic variety and detect vibrations either in the saddle (under saddle piezoelectric) or the top (body sensing pickups also using piezoelectric technology). Some systems designed to allow an acoustic guitar to be amplified use a microphone inside the body to literally mic the acoustic sound.

Therefore you can use acoustic guitar strings on acoustic guitars with non magnetic pickups. Acoustic guitar strings have bronze windings. The bronze or phosphor bronze winding material does not respond to the magnets in magnetic pickups.

Some acoustic electric guitars come with factory installed magnetic pickups and there are a number of magnetic sound-hole pickups that can be mounted on most acoustic guitars to allow them to be amplified.

If your guitar uses one of the less common magnetic pickups, then you will get better results from the amplified sound using electric guitar strings. However, when you play the guitar acoustically, it might not sound as good.

The high e-string that comes in an electric set and in an acoustic set of strings is made of the same material - usually steel. The only difference is in the string gauge which is often lighter in electric sets to allow for more bending. But you will find electric sets with the same string diameter as some acoustic sets.

The gauge of the steel string high e used to replace the broken string should be consistent with what would be used in combination with the gauge of the remaining strings. This will maintain a consistent feel and playablity across all 6 strings.

Unless the other 5 strings are almost new, it would probably make sense to buy an entire set. The type strings you choose is highly personal and the only reason to limit your selection to electric strings is if your guitar does in fact have a magnetic pickup. Otherwise you may get better sound overall (both acoustic and amplified) by choosing an acoustic set which comes in a multitude of varieties.

The slots on your nut (at the base of the headstock) will limit the diameter of strings you choose for your guitar. Too thin and they will move around too much inside the slot. Too thick and they will not fit in the slot. Most nuts have slots that will accommodate a range of the more common string gauges.

You should probably visit a guitar shop and discuss the pros and cons of various type strings, play some guitars in the shop with different string types and if you can afford to - have a qualified guitar tech do a full set up on your guitar based on whichever type strings you decide to go with.

Good luck and keep it fun.

  • 1
    Nearly all metal based guitar strings have steel cores. The steel core will work with magnetic pickups despite what it is wound with. The winding material is plated with an alloy such as Nickel. The disadvantage to using bronze or brass wound strings would be a lower output on the wound strings. Aug 3, 2018 at 3:00
  • @AlphonsoBalvenie You are correct about the steel core. But If you have ever tried bronze (or brass) wound strings with magnetic pickup then you know that the results are far from satisfactory. Your bass strings will not be very loud compared to the unwound strings (top 3 on most electric sets). The bronze wingdings shield the steel core and dramatically limit the pup ability to react to the string. I have an acoustic with magnetic pu and I had to switch to nickel wound bass strings to get any volume out of the bass side when amplified. Results on electric guitar would be even worse. Aug 4, 2018 at 14:56
  • I agree that brass and bronze wound strings are less than optimal with a magnetic coil pickup. I only bring it up that they still work because there is a misconception the they don't work at all, and in the context of finding a string solution for an electric/acoustic hybrid guitar, the bronze/brass strings are an option depending on your primary use and tonal focus of the instrument. I own some quirky prototype instruments that I have used a mixture of brass and nickel strings, downsizing the plain steels, to create a balanced tone across the piezo/coil mix. Aug 4, 2018 at 18:45
  • @AlphonsoBalvenie You can by Zebra Strings which are hybrid strings made for a guitar such as you describe that might have piezo and magnetic pups. They have an alternating bronze and nickel winding so they are a little bit electric and a little bit acoustic strings. Aug 5, 2018 at 19:59
  • zebra strings are not a product I was aware of. Nice tip. Aug 6, 2018 at 6:40

I just guess that semi-acoustic means that you have put electric guitar strings on your acoustic guitar ( with a rod in the neck).

There is a great misunderstanding, that thinner string is easier to play on.

In reality, the thicker the string like .011 - 013 gauge, the more you can lower the strings ( turn the rod clockwise, just 10min - or take it to a reliable repair shop where they do it - I strongly advise it if you are a beginner, especially you buy the string there :) the probably do it free of charge)

With thicker strings actually easier to play + they do not slip so you play more clearly.

The downside of thick strings that you can forget about bending a whole note. You can be happy with a half note bending.

You cannot rid two horses at the same time. if bending, hammer-ons, etc. important, then you should buy an electric guitar.

So eventually you will en up with several guitar as most guitarists :)

Have fun!

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