6 Best Strings for Les Paul (Gibson & Epiphone)

Author: Ross McLeod | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

The Gibson Les Paul is amongst the most iconic electric guitars to have ever been produced. Using the best strings for your Les Paul is essential if you want it to perform to its maximum potential.

An indicator of the exceptional tone that Les Paul guitars produce is the longevity they boast. Whether you own a genuine Gibson model or an Epiphone remake, you’ll find the ideal strings to pair your guitar within this guide.

Best Les Paul Strings - Top Picks

D’Addario’s reputation in the field of electric guitar and bass strings is exemplary. They produce a wide range of strings that cater to all styles, tones, and playing techniques. The NYXL1046 set is ideal for a Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul.

NYXL strings are uniquely constructed using reformulated nickel plate windings to form the foundations. This increases the magnetic properties of the strings, resulting in some valuable sonic advantages.

Firstly, the extra magnetism provides you with even more output from your Les Paul. Also, the midrange presence is significantly boosted, giving you access to all of the crunchy attitude that this guitar is famous for.

The high carbon steel core of the strings is also subjected to a process called “fusion twisting”. This makes the NYXL strings capable of bending further and being more resistant to snapping under increased pressure.

This set of strings are a regular-light gauge, making them a good mixture of strong and malleable. They’re ideal for guitarists who like to mix rhythm and lead playing. They also offer reliable tuning stability.

PROS

  • Gauge range from .010 - .046
  • Enhanced mid-range presence
  • Adds crunch to your Les Paul tone
  • Improved tuning stability

CONS

  • Costlier than mainstream EXL strings

Ernie Ball’s Regular Cobalt Slinky strings are ideal for Les Paul guitarists. If you’re familiar with guitar string manufacturers, you’ll likely have come across the legendary Slinky strings by Ernie Ball.

A favorite amongst guitarists since the glory days of rock n’ roll, Ernie Ball is responsible for some of the finest strings on the market. The Cobalt Slinkies are a perfect blend of tension, stability, and smooth playability.

These next-generation guitar strings and constructed using a new alloy formation. This provides you with increased higher-output, a more refined overall sound, and boosted longevity.

These strings are composed of a specialized blend of iron and cobalt. This attracts the magnets in your Les Paul’s pickups more effectively than regular string alloys.

In terms of feel, the Cobalt Slinky strings feel silky and smooth under your fingers. They are quite pliable, allowing for the necessary movement without feeling too flimsy for heavier styles of rock guitar.

Sonically, these Ernie Ball strings will evoke powerful and defined lows from a Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul. They also offer focused midrange, sweet harmonics, ample sustain, and clear highs.

PROS

  • Long-lasting cobalt strings
  • Extra magnetic alloy interacts with pickups of a Les Paul
  • Gauge range from .010 - .046
  • Balanced, high-output tone

CONS

  • Difficult to reach the highest frets

Dunlop’s DEN1046 is a reliable set of medium gauge nickel plated strings to install on your Les Paul. Renowned for their consistent tone, Dunlop has been at the forefront of guitar string production for multiple decades.

It should come as no surprise then that their DEN1046 strings are brimming with tonal character. Nickel-plated for strength and smoothness, they provide you with a full-bodied tone that doesn’t lack in power across the frequency range.

Additionally, these strings are also highly expressive. They respond to the slightest changes in dynamics, ensuring that all of your unique musical nuances are highlighted when playing your Les Paul.

It doesn’t matter what style of music you play, the Dunlop DEN1046’s will do the trick. Combined with a gain-boosting pedal like distortion, fuzz, or overdrive, they have a surprising bite and power that is ideal for heavier styles of music.

PROS

  • Gauge range from .010 - .046
  • Aggressive mids and crisp treble
  • Dynamically responsive

CONS

  • Prone to snapping when aggressively bending the strings

The Nickel Rockers by GHS are highly recommendable strings to install on a Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul. Not only do they produce a sweet and balanced tonal output, but they are also very playable and smooth underhand.

A fine example of GHS’ commitment to providing you with the best quality strings possible is their unique packing method. Rather than taking the conventional option of wrapping each string in paper, they use a process known as nitro-packing.

This method entails individually housing each string in a nitrogen-sealed packet. Oxygen is prevented from coming into contact with the metal materials, creating a completely sterile environment.

As a result, the longevity of the R+RL Nickel Rockers is significantly improved. They retain the new-string freshness for longer than your average offering and remain bright in tone for longer.

These strings have a light gauge and are ideal for rock guitarists. You can comfortably dig into them without the fear of breaking one, and they are also well suited to melodic, softer styles of guitar playing.

PROS

  • Gauge range from .010 – 0.46
  • Round would design
  • Special nitro-pack process
  • Improved longevity

CONS

  • None

DR Strings’ Pure Blues range is ideal for high-energy styles of guitar. The Les Paul is revered by guitarists worldwide for its ability to mix things up. You can use it for smooth chords or blazing solos and riffs.

For that reason, it’s important to choose versatile strings that are also capable of facilitating both of these styles. The PHR-10 Pure Blues by DR Strings are up to the task.

Building upon old-school, vintage construction techniques, DR Strings set out to stay true to the pure blues tone. The result is a set of strings that have plenty of character and classiness.

DR Strings’ Pure Blues is set to feature a round core that is encased in a pure-nickel wrap wire. Although this process is slower and more costly than your standard string manufacturing, it's worth it for the gain it provides.

The benefits of this meticulous design process include improved sustain, vintage character, powerful and consistent low end, and a slight boost in the midrange. Whatever style you like to play on your Les Paul, the PHR-10 strings are a great choice.

PROS

  • Meticulously constructed strings
  • Vintage-style blues tone
  • Gauge range from .010 – .046
  • Low-end power

CONS

  • None

Unique, robust, and filled with tonal quality, the Nanoweb strings are well worth considering. To create them, Elixir Strings use a strange yet effective process that makes them stand out from the crowd.

Built to promote consistency across your Les Paul’s fretboard, the Nanoweb strings have an ultra-thin 5-micron coating which causes significant benefits in terms of longevity and freshness.

Tonally, they are well balanced. The bass is clear and strong, while the mid-highs sing with clarity. If you’re the kind of guitarist who likes to avoid changing strings at all costs, the Elixir Strings Nanoweb set is probably a great choice.

As far as longevity is concerned, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better set.

PROS

  • Unique Nanoweb coating improves longevity
  • Steel core with round would wiring
  • Gauge range from .010 - .046

CONS

  • Slightly lacking in brightness

Les Paul String Gauges & Materials

When searching for the best strings for a Les Paul, there are two main factors you will need to consider. These are:

  • Guage (thickness)
  • Materials

Les Paul’s are renowned for their versatility. A staple of rock music since they were first created, they have been utilized by some of the greatest guitarists in modern history for an array of stylistic employments.

Deciding on which strings to install on your Les Paul will affect both its tone, and its playability. It is, therefore, necessary that you begin by establishing the predominant style that you intend to play on your guitar.

If you are likely to use your Les Paul mainly for playing low-end, heavy riffs that require you to dig into the strings, then choosing a set with a heavier gauge is likely your best option.

Don’t get me wrong, some guitarists like to use light-gauge strings for heavier tones because the contrast produces interesting effects. The issue is, you’re likely to snap lighter gauge strings when playing more aggressively.

The materials used to construct the strings will generally consist of a mixture of steel wire and nickel. Strings that have nickel plating are smoother under your fingers and are well suited to technical styles of playing on a Les Paul.

Some string manufacturers use unique processes to make their products stand out amongst regular offerings. These include innovative coating methods and windings that are designed to further improve longevity.

Summary

To finish this guide, I want to start by congratulating you. If you own a Les Paul, you’ve made a great choice! They are truly beautiful instruments, which deserve only the best strings to ensure that they maximize their abilities.

About Ross McLeod

Ross is a music producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. He is the frontman of The Blue Dawns, where he handles vocal and bass duties. He has extensive experience with bass, drums and guitar. His most recent project is named Gold Jacket.

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