Choosing correct strings for your preferred tuning

Calculated values for mathematically correct gauge of string for each string and each tuning, closest matching standard string sets at the rightmost column.

W-letter after string guage indicated a wound string.

My personally recommended string set for each tuning is at brackets, more info under each table for * -marked string sets.

All values calculated for 17 pounds (ca. 8kg) of tension and for 25.5“ scale length. For shorter scale lenghts (such as Gibson 24,75“ and PRS 25“) use slightly thicker gauge strings.

For thinner (unwound) strings, less tension is often preferred since the tension is concentrated on smaller surface area on finger, which causes more focused pressure and therefore might seem painful / unpleasant to play.

For lower tunings (C-standard and lower), I recommend using wound 3rd (G) string. This is due to ca. 0.020“ and thicker unwound strings tend to have intonation problems, they don’t sound good, and can feel uncomfortable to play.

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Guitar – 6 stringed standard tunings

Tune 1st. / E 2nd. / B 3rd. / G 4th. / D 5th. / A 6th. / E Closest standard string set
E 10 14 18 25w 34w 45w 9-46 / [10-46]
Eb 11 15 19 27w 36w 47w 10-46 / [10-48] / 11-50
D 12 16 20 28w 38w 50w 11-50 / [10-52] / 11-52
Db 12 17 21 / 22w 30w 40w 53w [11-52] / 12-54 / 9-52 7-stringed*
C 13 18 24w 32w 42w 56w [10-56 7-stringed*], 13-56, 12-60
B 14 19 25w 34w 45w 60w [10-60 7-stringed*], 11-60 7-stringed, 12-60
Bb 15 20 27w 36w 47w 63w [11-65 7-stringed*], 13-62
A 16 21 / 21w 28w 38w 50w 67w [11-65 7-stringed*], 14-68

* 7-stringed sets without the thinnest string, for example 10-56 7-stringed set (10-13-17-26w-36w-46w-56w) becomes 13-17-26w-36w-46w-56w

Guitar – 6 stringed drop tunings

Drop tuning 1st. / E 2nd. / B 3rd. / G 4th. / D 5th. / A 6th. / D Closest standard string set
Drop D 10 14 18 25w 34w 50w [10-52] / 11-50 / 11-52
Drop Db 11 15 19 27w 36w 53w [11-52] / 10-52 / 11-50 /
Drop C 12 16 20 28w 38w 56w [10-56 7-stringed*] / 11-56 / 12-54 / 13-56 / 12-60 /
Drop B 12 17 21 / 22w 30w 40w 60w [10-60 7-stringed*] / 11-56 / 12-60 /
Drop Bb 13 18 24w 32w 42w 63w 10-60 7-stringed* / 11-65 7-stringed* / 13-62 baritone**
Drop A 14 19 25w 34w 45w 67w 11-65 7-stringed* / 14-68 baritone**
Drop Ab 15 20 / 21w 27w 36w 47w 71w 9-74 8-stringed*** / 14-68 baritone**
Drop G 16 21 / 21w 28w 38w 50w 75w 9-74 8-stringed***

* 7-stringed sets without  the SECOND THICKEST string, for example 10-56 7-stringed (10-13-17-26w-36w-46w-56w) set for drop C tuning would be 10-13-17-26w-36w-56w

** Baritone string sets only from few manufacturers, D’Addario for example. Baritone sets should come with wound 3rd. string.

*** 8-stringed sets without the two thinnest strings, for example 9-74 8-stringed set would be 16-24w-32w-42w-52w-74w

Guitar – 7 stringed standard tunings

7str. 1st. / E 2nd. / B 3rd. / G 4th. / D 5th. / A 6th. / E 7th. / B Closest standard string set
B 10 14 18 25w 34w 45w 60w 9-62 / [10-60] / 11-60
Bb 11 15 19 27w 36w 47w 63w 11-65
A 12 16 20 28w 38w 50w 67w 11-65
Ab 12 17 22w 30w 40w 53w 71w 9-74 8-stringed*
G 13 18 24w 32w 42w 56w 75w 9-74 8-stringed*
Gb 14 19 25w 34w 45w 60w 80w 9-80 8-stringed*

* 8-stringed sets without the thinnest string, for example 9-74 8-stringed set (9-11-16-24w-32w-42w-52w-74w) becomes 11-16-24w-32w-42w-52w-74w

Bass – 4 stringed standard tunings

For bass strings I’ve used 34″ scale length and 40 pounds of tension as base, which gives the popular 45-105 set for E-standard tuning.

Please note, how fast (exponentially) the string thickness raises at lower tunings, it’s common to use lower tension on these low tuning (C and lower)

Tune 1st. / G 2nd. / D 3rd. / A 4th. / E Closest standard string set
E 45 59 79 105 45-105
Eb 47 63 84 112 45-105 / 50-110
D 50 67 89 119 50-110 / 55-115
Db 53 71 94 126 45-125 5-stringed*
C 56 75 100 133 45-130 5-stringed*
B 59 79 106 141 45-135 5-stringed* / Custom set**
Bb 63 84 112 149 Custom set**
A 67 89 119 158 Custom set**

* 5-stringed sets without  the thinnest string, for example 45-130 5-stringed (45-65-85-105-130) set for C tuning would be 65-85-105-130

** Custom sets available for example from Kalium Strings USA (personal recommendation, not a paid advertising).

Bass – 4 stringed low tension for lower tunings

This chart calculated for 33 pounds of tension on all strings.

Please note, how fast (exponentially) the string thickness raises at lower tunings, it’s common to use lower tension on these low tuning (C and lower)

Tune 1st. / G 2nd. / D 3rd. / A 4th. / E Closest standard string set
E 40 54 72 95 40-95 / 35-95
Eb 43 57 76 102 45-105
D 45 60 81 108 45-105 / 50-110
Db 48 64 86 114 50-110
C 51 68 91 121 50-120 / 45-125 5-stringed* / Custom set
B 54 72 96 128 45-130 5-stringed* / Custom set**
Bb 57 76 102 136 45-135 5-stringed* / Custom set**
A 60 81 108 144 Custom set**

* 5-stringed sets without  the thinnest string, for example 45-130 5-stringed (45-65-85-105-130) set for C tuning would be 65-85-105-130

** Custom sets available for example from Kalium Strings USA (personal recommendation, not a paid advertising).

Bass – 4 stringed drop down tunings

For bass strings I’ve used 34″ scale length and 40 pounds of tension as base, which gives the popular 45-105 set for E-standard tuning.

Please note, how fast (exponentially) the string thickness raises at lower tunings, it’s common to use lower tension on these low tuning (C and lower)

Tune 1st. / G 2nd. / D 3rd. / A 4th. / D Closest standard string set
Drop D 44 59 79 119 45-125 5-stringed* / 40-120 5-stringed*
Drop Db 47 63 84 126 45-125 5-stringed*
Drop C 50 67 89 133 45-130 5-stringed* / 45-135 5-stringed*
Drop B 53 71 94 141 45-135 5-stringed* / Custom set**
Drop Bb 56 75 100 149 Custom set**
Drop A 59 79 106 158 Custom set**

* 5-stringed sets without  the SECOND THICKEST string, for example 45-130 5-stringed (45-65-85-105-130) set for C tuning would be 45-65-85-130

** Custom sets available for example from Kalium Strings USA (personal recommendation, not a paid advertising).

Bass – 5 stringed standard tunings

For bass strings I’ve used 34″ scale length and 40 pounds of tension as base, which gives the popular 45-105 set for E-standard tuning.

Please note, how fast (exponentially) the string thickness raises at lower tunings, it’s common to use lower tension on these low tuning (C and lower)

Tune 1st. / G 2nd. / D 3rd. / A 4th. / E 5th. / B Closest standard string set
B 44 59 79 106 141 45-135
Bb 47 63 84 112 149 45-135 / Custom set **
A 50 67 89 119 158 Custom set**
Ab 53 71 94 126 168 Custom set**
G 56 75 100 133 178 Warwick Dark Lord 85-175 + 55 single string

** Custom sets available for example from Kalium Strings USA (personal recommendation, not a paid advertising).