#1
Do strings really make a difference in sound? Which should i get? if it helps at all i need 9 gauge strings, i play a lot of metal/rock and some clean stuff.
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Rig:

Charvel San Dimas Style 2 Pagan Gold
Traynor YCS50
Visual Sound H2O
Morley Bad Horsie
Ibanez TS9
ISP Decimator
EHX Metal Muff
#2
strings do make a difference
9's will sound different then 11's, and depending on the brand some will last quite a bit longer

everyone has their own preference so you gotta play a few brands to see what you like

Epi Les Paul Std w/Duncans
ESP LTD EX260
Cry Baby From Hell
Marshall JH-1
EHX Metal Muff
MXR EVH Phase 90
Carl Martin Classic Chorus
EHX #1 Echo
Ibanez LU-20
Dunlop DCB-10
Crate V50112
Tascam US144


PEDALBOARD JUNKIES
#3
Strings make a huge difference. I didn't think they did either until I switched from DeArddio(sp?) to Skull Busters to Dean Markley.

I have no valuable opinion on which strings to get.
#4
Agreed, try a bunch of different kinds of strings and see what you like best. Gauges, brand, windings, material used (all nickel or nickel-coated, etc).....experiment with these, and chances are you'll find some big differences every time you restring and plug in.

By the way, you'd do good to move up to 10s, maybe even 11s, for playing metal and hard rock. You'll be able to hit the strings harder and get a stronger attack, without worrying about snapping strings. At least mess with some 10s. You may have to have the guitar re-setup a bit, but it'll likely be very worth it.