By: Pro Lessons
Acoustic Guitar Strings: A Review of the Best

You may remember picking up a set of Black Diamond strings for $5 back in the day, but acoustic guitar strings have come a long way since then. Now there are dozens of brands looking to be your first stop for buying new strings.

There’s silk and steel, phosphor bronze, nickel wound, pro steel, half wounds, wax coated strings and even more. Then you have the gauges. There’s extra light, light, medium, heavy, and mixtures of all the above sizes to get you just the right string for your style or taste.

Let’s look at a few of our favorite acoustic guitar strings.

D’Addario EXP13 Acoustic Guitar Custom Light Coated 80/20 Bronze Strings

These light gauge strings start at .011 and go through .052. D’Addario strings are all color coded to help you get the strings in the correct order. For example, in this set the little “e” string is silver, “b” is purple, “G” is green, “D” is black, “A” is red, and “Big E” is brass.

Providing deep, bright and projecting tone, these acoustic guitar strings are fantastic and the light coating helps them last a very long time. If you’re looking for a louder sound, just go up to the EXP17 medium gauge strings. The bigger the string, the louder your guitar will sound. However, remember that the heavier the gauge, the more tension it will put on your acoustic guitar. The guitar top may bow and the bridge may pop loose. Also, the neck of the guitar could bow and cause the guitar even harder to play. You can grab these awesome strings for around $15.

Elixir Nanoweb and Polyweb Phosphor Bronze or Bronze Wax Coated Strings

Elixir gained a lot of popularity in the late 90’s with their wax coated strings that last longer, play smoother, and produce a sweeter tone. They are still a favorite acoustic guitar string among professionals and weekend warriors. The original Polyweb strings had a thicker coating and the Nanoweb version has a thinner coating. These anti-rust acoustic guitar strings will cost you a little bit more, but then again, you’ll change strings less so the cost is totally justified.

From Phil Keaggy to Eric Church, professional guitarists everywhere use these unique guitar strings. Also, the wax coating helps with squeaking finger noises and makes it easier on your fingertips. As it goes with all strings, you need to experiment with several brands and combinations until you find what works for you.

Ernie Ball Earthwood 80/20 Bronze Alloy Lights

Ernie Ball has been making sweet guitar strings that are affordable for a long time. You can pick these strings up at your local music store for around $5 and they’re just wonderful. The bronze strings give you a nice, bright tone for recording or just jamming. They are 80/20 because they are 80 percent copper and 20 percent zinc. Still, they are called bronze. The medium lights and mediums are louder and you won’t be disappointed in the bright tone. The Ernie Ball 2148 Phosphor Bronze Lights offers an exclusive phosphor bronze wrap which provide rich bass tones and clear bright trebles. Try the Ernie Ball Aluminum Bronze strings too. When it comes to acoustic guitar strings, Ernie Ball makes a mean and clean string and they’re easy to find in most mom and pop shops as well as your superstores.

Acoustic Guitar Strings: A Review of the Best

Martin Marquis 80/20 Bronze

Martin has been around for years and is a trusted source for great guitars. Their acoustic guitars are world-renowned and the quest for great tone doesn’t stop with the woods and craftsmanship in the instruments, but also the strings. Martin’s Marquis and others have been in stores for years and still please the most accomplished musicians in the world. Their SP Edition, SP Flexible Core, and SP Lifespan strings are equally impressive.

The Lifespan strings are lightly treated to give you a longer run on each set of strings without compromising the tone or quality. In fact, they’re designed to sound better as you play on. The Avett Brothers, Cody Simpson, Needtobreathe and others use these Lifespan strings and love them. You can always count Martin to bring you quality guitars and strings.

GHS Bright Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

GHS has been in the running for years as well. They offer several sweet options including the bright bronze, Americana series, infinity bronze, phosphor bronze, and signature bronze. You may say, “What’s the difference, a string’s a string.” Until you’ve played on a pack of strings and got the sound and feel of them, don’t be so quick to judge. Your hands may just fall in love with one company's approach and design and that’ll be the end of it.

Most of the companies out there, GHS included, are offering a version of extended life strings. A light coating of silk or wax is added to protect the metal and extend your string life. It is remarkable how two companies can offer the almost exact phosphor bronze string and one still feels or sound different to your ears and fingers. You’ll need to be open minded and try different companies till you land your favorite.

A string is not just a string. Every company uses similar, but slightly different, techniques in winding and manufacturing the strings. Round wound, hex shaped, etc, there are so many ways to treat the metal. In the end, the tone or texture of the strum is effected by each choice. Also, your hands have a lot to do with it. Oily skin folks, dry skin folks and all in between factors into what string you react to. Your fingernails can play a role in which strings you enjoy, as less squeaks may result in a certain string brand. You are the only one who can decide. Try them all and settle on the string that gives your ears the truest representation of your style and sound. There are plenty more string companies to mention. Just shop around and make notes for a while until you come to a string you can’t stop talking about.

Having the right gear is only one component to becoming a great guitar player. You also need to know how to play the darn thing. At Pro Lessons, we have an affordable lesson plan that is taught by some of the great musicians whose music you’re already listening to today. With plans available for beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level players, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t fit in just fine. Click on the link below to find out how you can be our next student.


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