The Best Strings for Shredding

Updated April 17, 2017

Shred guitar is the blazing fast hard rock/metal style performed by great guitarists such as Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Zakk Wylde and others. Shredding takes a tremendous amount of skill and dexterity. The speed and accuracy needed to play shred guitar is developed by practicing scales and exercises for longer than normal periods of time. Using the right type of guitar strings can make shredding a little easier, but no string type can replace consistent practice.

String Gauges

The most important factor in choosing the right guitar strings for shredding is the string gauge. The string gauge is the actual size or thickness of the strings. Lighter or thinner strings can make some of the of the shredding techniques easier. As for gauges, the standard gauges used by guitar players are heavy, medium, light and ultra light. Not many electric guitarists use heavy strings. Electric guitarists generally use light and ultra light strings. Ultra light guitar strings make string bending easier, are easier on the fingers and are the top choice for shredders.


There are many different brands of guitar strings. Many of the brands are of comparable quality, only having different names. Some of the top brands are D'addario, Ernie Ball, Elixir, Martin, GHS, Gibson and Fender. The choice of string brand is really just a matter of taste. Many top professional shred guitarists, including Steve Via and Joe Satriani, use D'addario and Ernie Ball strings.

Coated vs Noncoated Guitar Strings

Some manufacturers now offer guitar strings that use a coating process that extends the life of the strings by up to 3 to 4 times. Noncoated guitar strings have a way of going "dead" after extended play. They loose their crispness of sound and need to be replaced often. Most coated strings are coated in a way that retains the feel of traditional noncoated guitar strings. Elixir now offers a string with its patented Nanoweb coating that smooths the feel of the wound strings on the guitar. Either coated or non-coated strings will work for shred guitar. With the intense practice and play involved in shred guitar, coated strings offer longer life and will reduce the frequency with which you have to buy guitar strings.

Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Guitar Strings

Many shredders, such as Zakk Wylde, use "skinny top heavy bottom" guitar strings. These are strings where the three treble strings are light or "skinny" while having bass strings that are thicker than usual. This is ideal for the bass heavy power-chord-playing that accompanies shred guitar styles. If your style of playing or role in a band requires the use of power-chords, bottom heavy strings are an excellent choice. They will maintain the ease of string bending on the treble strings while providing the bass and fullness needed for playing power chords in heavier styles of music.

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About the Author

Gary Hancock began writing in 2003 with most of his articles appearing online. Hancock's areas of expertise are personal fitness, music theory and electrical wiring. He studied music at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and is also a professional musician.