Best Strings for Telecaster – Bend Them to Your Will

Most guitarists have very particular tastes. While it is ok to develop your own style and experiment, there are some things that just won’t go the way you want them to because they’re not meant to be.

One of these things is pairing telecaster guitars with strings that aren’t intended for them. Check out the best strings for telecaster guitars so you can avoid making the same mistake.

The 5 Best Tele Strings for the Money

These strings offer one of the most satisfying experiences a guitarist can have when playing a telecaster. They’re a light gauge and combine both plain steel and nickel wound strings. The E strings are .010 and .046.

Since these are mainly starter strings, they offer some clear benefits. They’re easy enough to bend and require just enough finger pressure to start developing calluses. The smooth feel makes it easy to slide up and down the fretboard and play your favorite licks.

I recommend these strings if you want a bright, bluesy tone. They won’t give you the best volume but the intonation is spot-on for softer genres like blues and rock. The strings are also very durable given their high carbon steel core and hexagonal nickel-plated winding.

The durability is also good. If you aren’t using these strings for live performances, then a 3-pack should cover you for at least a year. A year of practicing at home and rehearsing or jamming at the studio.

  • Durable strings
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    Light gauge and easy to play
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    Great intonation
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    Less damaging on the fretboard
  • Not ideal for kids

The Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings are super light strings that range in thickness from .009 for the high E string to .042 for the low E string. The gauge is a standard super light with no custom gauges for the rest of the strings.

Two things are great about this. First of all, the standard thickness across the board lends a familiar feel to experienced guitarists. This should allow your play to remain consistent for the most part, even when switching from different strings of the same gauge.

Secondly, the super light gauge will be easier for a beginner to play on. The Super Slinky sets are great if you want to start learning bends, vibrato, and legato techniques. They require little finger pressure which will make it easier to connect on the fret in the right position and string licks together.

If you’re looking for an accurate demo on what they would sound like, think of the likes of Angus Young and Jimmy Page. Two lead guitarists known for their preference for super light strings.

These strings are also a solid choice if you’re worried about your kid’s guitar playing. With the light and smooth feel and flexibility, they will be less punishing on small untrained fingers.

  • Super light gauge
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    Perfect for beginners
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    Good to learn soloing techniques on
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    Proven durability
  • Limited use in metal

This is another 3-pack of nickel-plated steel strings that won’t disappoint, especially if you’re on a budget. The Fender Super 250’s are somewhat louder than you would expect. I like this, especially given the fact that the strings are super light gauge, from .09 to .42.

The strings are a significant improvement to almost any set of factory strings that may come on a new telecaster. This alone is a good enough reason to get them as soon as possible.

But are they stage ready? – Many would argue yes, myself included. While they may lack a bit of durability and volume, the dynamic tone and ease of play should make them more than alright for rock, blues, jazz, even hard rock.

  • Fender quality
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    Affordable
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    Super light gauge
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    Decent sustain
  • Not as smooth as others

Here is a brand that not many people know about outside of actual guitarists. Elixir may charge a premium but if you really want to make a long-term investment, this may be the way to go.

I recommend the light gauge to get the most out of your telecaster. With string thicknesses of .010 to .046, you should be able to admirably tackle more genres and add variety to your soloing or rhythm composition.

These aren’t the best for beginners, but not for the obvious reason. They’re actually easy to play on. The OPTIWEB coating that Elixir uses does lend much needed durability and impressive tone life, meaning that the quality of the sound decays slower.

That being said, they’re not the most affordable option. Especially to someone that’s not yet sold on the electric guitar as something they might stick with in the long term.

  • Durable strings
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    Light gauge
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    Very smooth feel
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    Great tone sustain over time
  • Not the cheapest

Clearly, round wound strings are the way to go no matter what genre you shred to on your telecaster. DR Strings may just make the best practice strings out there. The DR Pure Blues strings have good attack and bite and provide decent sustain too, which will be noticeable on bends.

The string gauge is light. The vintage tone is not exactly as vintage as advertised. It has more punch than you would expect, which may have something to do with the extra winding.

The strings will still sound familiar but almost improved in a way. In terms of durability, they’re not overly impressive. It’s one of the reasons why I recommend them for jam sessions and practicing at home.

Although they sound great, they might not always react well to a more aggressive style of play.

  • Sold in single packs
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    Light gauge
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    Great sustain
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    Add punch to a vintage tone
  • Average durability

When to Change Your Strings

When you start seeing discoloration or when the core is slightly exposed, then it’s a good time to change the strings on your guitar. Also, if the tone is not what it used to be even though you’re in tune and you’re using the same effects, you can consider those strings dead and start thinking about replacements.

String Construction and Winding for Telecaster Guitars

For some reason, I find that the best combination for telecaster guitars is often nickel-plated steel and round winding. Nickel-plated steel may be overused but it is very efficient and lends a balanced brightness that benefits telecaster guitar players.

I also prefer the strings to be slightly textured. Even though it may cause faster fret wear and tear, the increased sustain, the attack, and the extra finger noise, which can give you a vintage twang, are all characteristics that work to the guitarist’s advantage on a telecaster made for blues, country, and rock.

Picking String Gauge for Telecasters

A super light or light string gauge is pretty much what anyone needs on a telecaster. These guitars can work with thicker strings but they aren’t exactly designed for aggressive or super-fast genres.

If you’re staying in the soft rock, blues, and jazz spectrum, you won’t need a high E string thicker than .046. Consider also buying strings with standard gauges instead of going for custom strings. Telecaster fretboards are not as versatile as some of you may think.

Get the Strings that Enhance Your Playing

As you can see, guitar strings may seem quite similar even when staying within the same gauge range, materials, and winding. But, each manufacturer adds some distinguishing characteristics.

Based on your playing style, any of the recommended strings in this article may elevate your playing to a new level or help you pick up guitar playing a lot faster.

So, are you a shredder or a beginner looking to make his first purchase? – Either way, pick the strings that are right for you and keep on practicing.

Gavin Whitner
    Gavin Whitner
     

    A guitar player, songwriter, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

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