The Ultimate Acoustic String Comparison
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my personal gear list hey folks tony
Policastro here from the acoustic letter
today we’re going to take four different
gauges of acoustic guitar strings and
play them back to back to back on the
same guitar so you can finally answer
the question what is the difference in
tone between string gauge but before we
do so click on the link below and sign
up for the acoustic letter
on to the ultimate string gauge
comparison so what we have is a Gibson J
45 Sitka spruce top mahogany back and
sides classic guitar now what we’re
going to do is we’re going to take a set
of extra light strings a set of custom
light strings a set of light strings and
the set of medium strings all the same
brand thank you folks at d’addario all
the same material phosphor bronze but
different gauge and we’re going to play
them back to back to back so we can give
you the ultimate string comparison now
we’re hoping that you notice some tonal
differences between the very light gauge
on up to the medium gauge there are some
trade-offs though on the light gauge you
get a bunch of sustain very nice clarity
great high end but you lack a little bit
of volume as you graduate up the line to
the medium gauge strings you’re going to
gain more volume but the sustain is
going to diminish just a little bit so
let’s give these four string sets a play
on the same guitar so you can hear the
goto acoustic letter calm now and email
us with your questions for more acoustic
reviews and comparisons click the button
to subscribe to our YouTube channel
- MOST POPULAR – Pursue your passion with D’Addario’s most popular acoustic guitar string set, the Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings. Since 1974, phosphor strings have been known for superb, long lasting tone and comfortable playability. They are the choice of professionals worldwide.
- INSPIRING PERFORMANCE – These light acoustic guitar strings help you achieve amazing performances, as they offer a long lasting, warm, bright and balanced acoustic tone with excellent intonation.
- CORROSION-RESISTANT – These strings feature a precision wound corrosion resistant phosphor bronze wire that is carefully drawn around a hexagonally shaped, high-carbon steel core. The result is consistent, long lasting tone.
- STRING GAUGES – The string gauges in this acoustic string set include: Plain Steel .012, .016, Phosphor Bronze Wound .024, .032, .042, .053.
- MADE IN THE USA – D’Addario leverages centuries of string-making experience and advanced computer-controlled winding technology to bring you the most durable, consistent and long-lasting guitar strings. Made in the USA for the highest quality and performance, only D’Addario strings are sealed inside and out.
Here we present you all the strings that we have tested more closely. We have put together detailed background information and also added a summary of the customer reviews on the net.
We want to make your purchase easier and help you find the best strings for you.
Also on frequently asked questions, you will find answers in our guide. If available, we also offer you interesting test videos. Furthermore, on this page, you will also find some important information that you should pay attention to when you want to buy strings.
The Essentials in Brief
Steel strings are the right choice if you own a western guitar. An electric guitar needs metal strings and a concert guitar nylon strings.
When buying guitar strings, the sound, the string thickness, the material, and the brand are important criteria.
Cheap strings set you to get from a budget between five and ten euros. Special, higher quality rates cost about $50 or more.
Martin M140 guitar strings for acoustic guitars are ideal for western guitars. The high-quality guitar strings offer a very good sound experience for every 4/4 western guitar. The Martin M140 guitar strings for acoustic guitars are great for playing and are suitable for any advanced beginner.
The strings are made of bronze and are delivered in size M140 Light (12-54). By considering the highest quality standards, these strings are very durable and have proven themselves for a long time. Not for nothing are the Martin M140 guitar strings for acoustic guitars from the most famous country of western guitars, the USA. The delivery of the guitar strings always includes a guitar set in the strength 012. The use of Martin M140 guitar strings for acoustic guitar conjures up a good Western sound on the guitar.
What would a guitar be without its strings? Of course, every guitar needs its strings. These belong but also once exchanged, maintained and bought new.
This guide is designed to help you make the purchasing decisions about guitar strings and familiarize you with the most frequently asked questions and their answers. For example, you should know which guitar strings are there and which ones are needed for your guitar.
Guitar strings Classical Guitar
- 100% SOUND EXPERIENCE – Our guitar strings for classical guitars convince with a warm, brilliant & full sound.
- 100% QUALITY – Our guitar strings are made of high-quality nylon & silver plated copper wire.
- 0% RISK – With our guitar strings for classic guitars, you’re guaranteed to make the right choice!
D’Addario EXP110 Coated Nickel-Plated Steel Regular Light Electric Guitar Strings
- D’Addario EXP Nickel Round Wound
- EXP electric guitar strings
- Strength: 010, 013, 017, 026, 036, 046
For years I have been playing the strings of d’Addario on my electric guitars, this one: D’Addario EXP110 (.010 – .046)
These strings are well, by what actually? They just do their job. Reasonably long, they sound well balanced and feel pleasantly unremarkable. Also, they are super cheap! Long gigs where I felt the guitar strings changed daily, this point was not unimportant.
D’Addario EXP110 Coated Nickel-Plated Steel Regular Light Electric Guitar Strings
- D’Addario EXP Nickel Round Wound
- EXP electric guitar strings
- Strength: 010, 013, 017, 026, 036, 046
Meanwhile, I have new favorite strings. Still d’Addario, but a new development that has done to it: the D’Addario NYXL1046 NYXL Super Light 010-046. Supposedly up to 30% more tear-resistant – which, however, I’ve never checked. So far, I just have not torn any strings from them And I like the feel … and even the packaging.
Which strings do you need for your guitar?
Each guitar has either 6, 7 or 12 strings. Strings are usually packed in sets. A set consists of the strings E, A, D, G, H, and E ‘strings. To remember the order of the guitar strings, there are some auxiliary sayings. An old lady is eating chicken, is one of them. Depending on whether you have a 6-, 7- or 12-string guitar, you have to buy several sets of strings.
On a 12-string guitar, in addition to the strings E, A, D and G, the one-octave string is added and the strings H and E ‘are doubly available. In a 7-string guitar, the standard strings are joined by the H string, which is often tuned down to a C string.
In which price range are guitar strings moving and where can I buy them?
The prices of guitar steel strings vary a lot because each brand has different prices and qualities. Cheap string sets you get between 5 and 10 euros. The middle price segment is the largest in this industry.
Here you can expect good quality strings from a price between 10 to 20 euros. In the upper price range, you will find special strings with additional coating and made of special material from around 50 euros upwards.
Did you know that you can individually purchase sets of strings as well?
Some companies, such as Labella, offer the opportunity to purchase string sets. Customers can even choose the strength of each string.
You can buy guitar strings in the music shop. Sometimes your guitar teacher has strings with you. Of course, guitar strings are also available online.
How long do guitar strings last?
Strings of a guitar should be changed regularly. The reason for this is that the guitar strings determine the tone and dynamics of your instrument. Of course, the frequency of changing the strings also depends on the playing frequency and playing time.
- One hour a day – every 1-2 weeks
- One hour a week – approx. every 2 months
- Rarer – every 3-4 months
If you play about every day, you should switch strings every one to two weeks for optimum sound. For guitar players plucking their instrument for an hour a week, we recommend a two-month interval. If the guitar is less used, the string changes every three to four months.
How long your guitar strings last depends on how often you play and how long you play. Change your strings regularly, so you have nice sound experience.
The manufacturer, the material, the strength, and the handling can, of course, change these guidelines. Do you notice that your guitar does not sound full and clear, you should change your strings. Often you even see that your guitar strings have darkened a little bit darker where you’ve used them often. This is also a sign of changing your guitar strings.
Did you know that meanwhile also electric string cranks are manufactured?
These battery-operated devices are easy to attach to the string whirl and remove the manual turning at the touch of a button.
Decision: Which types of guitar strings are there and which one is right for you?
By and large, there are three types of strings for the guitar:
- nylon strings
- steel sides
- special strings
Although the strings of an instrument are important for sound and intonation, they are often given little attention. Therefore, we explain below the different types of guitar strings and introduce you to the respective advantages and disadvantages.
What are nylon strings and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
Strings for classical guitars were formerly made of gut. Today, it’s made of nylon. Nylon strings are usually used for standard classical guitars.
The three upper strings consist of single-fiber nylon, with the three lower strings (E, A, D) only the core of the string is made of nylon, which is wound with metal. The type of metal influences the sound. Gold-Plated copper wire offers e.g. a warmer sound than a silvered one.
- Easily play due to the lower voltage
- Very suitable for beginners, finger pickers and melodies
- Fast optical aging
- Possibly strong string slippage and “clanking”
In general, nylon thread strings are easy to play because the strings are softer and also have less resilience. Nylon strings can be struck with the fingers so that a more intense feeling of play – especially for beginners – can be developed than playing with a plectrum. Nylon strings are therefore particularly suitable for fingerpicking and playing tunes.
If necessary, but not yet experienced players a “clanking” and unwanted noise may occur if a string was struck too strong and thus oscillates against the frets of the guitar.
What are steel strings and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
Steel strings are used on western and electric guitars. In Western guitars, all strings are made of steel, so these are also referred to as “steel string guitars”. Bass strings are often also wrapped in bronze. With such sets of strings, one often also finds indications such as “80/20”, which indicate the mixing ratio of copper/tin.
The stringing of electric guitars is not fundamentally different from that of a western guitar. However, for electric guitars usually thinner guitar strings are used.
- Full and clear sound
- Especially suitable for playing chords
- Durable and robust
- Unsuitable for melodies and finger pickers
- Tough to play because high power must be applied in fingers
Due to the full and clear sound, steel strings are particularly suitable for playing chords. Thick strings vibrate in lower frequency ranges so that basses can develop better.
However, steel strings are not suitable for playing melodies and finger pickers, because softer strings are more advantageous (see nylon strings). Since guitar strings are only a few millimeters away from the fingerboard, it often takes a lot of force in the fingers to grab them.
For steel strings, this is reinforced by the high tension, so it may well happen that your fingers hurt.
What are special strings and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
Also, one differentiates the different windings of the strings. Round Wound strings are the classic variant with a light tone and good grip. There is a lot of finger noise here.
With Half Round strings, the finger noise is less, the sound is darker and they are easier to handle. Flat Wound strings have a soft feel and a dark, smooth tone without finger noise.
- Avoidance of background noise of fingers (especially gripping hand)
- Less susceptibility to contamination
- The dull, distinctive tone
Flatwound strings are commonly used. These strings consist of steel-string cores wrapped in flat wire. Above all, flat-wound strings are used for electric guitars and electric basses.
The flattened strings reduce the noise generated by the fingernail, making the sound duller. Flatwound strings are therefore particularly popular with jazz guitarists.
The smooth, rough surface largely eliminates noise and makes the strings less susceptible to dirt, which can also have a positive effect on the life of flat-wound strings.
There are also other special forms of guitar strings. Usually, guitar strings have the color of the material used for the string. So metal strings are grayer and nylon strings transparent.
However, some manufacturers dye the guitar strings. On the one hand, it looks cool and on the other hand, it might even be easy for guitar beginners. Also, there are guitar strings glow in the black light in the dark.
Purchase criteria: These factors allow you to compare and rate guitar strings
In the following, we want to show you the factors that allow you to compare and rate guitar strings. This will make it easier for you to decide if a particular product is right for you or not.
In summary, these are:
- string size
In the following paragraphs, you can read in each case what it has with the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.
Of course, a string has to sound nice. Each string mark has partly very different timbres since the strings are different and thus have different nuances in the sound.
However, the sound quality is again very subjective, because you have to decide for yourself which sound color is best for you.
The string size is of great importance, as, for example, thinner strings sound quieter and brighter, and your guitar also pokes more often.
For larger models like a dreadnought or jumbo, thicker strings – often called heavy strings – are more advantageous as they make the sound much bulkier and more assertive, while smaller models and ‘finger pickers’ usually use light strings. ‘Strummer’ prefer mostly medium strings.
In addition, thinner strings are easier to bend and play more easily but are also more prone to break. Thick strings are better for lower mood variations. For thicker strings, however, the gripping can also be a bit more difficult.
Some strings also have a NANOWEB and POLYWEB coating, which makes them more durable, less soiled, and improves the durability of the strings.
A significant difference in the sound color chooses the material. There are two major types of strings, the 80/20 bronze – also known as pure bronze – and the phosphor bronze.
The former is the standard string for western guitars. They have a lively, bright, slightly metallic and transparent sound, whereas the Phosphor Bronze strings are characteristic for their soft-silky and warm sound. These not only have more overtones but are also more resistant than the standard stringing and thus usually longer lasting.
Mostly, the strings of different brands differ only in their strength and their material. Here you have to decide for yourself which tone color or string thickness and material is most suitable for you.
Each brand also has different string characteristics and timbres.
Each brand has different types of strings of different texture, material and strength. The most common Western guitar strings are, for example, Elixir and D’Addario strings.
Trivia: Facts worth knowing about guitar strings
Do I have to care for guitar strings?
Yes, many guitarists do not know that, but proper care of the guitar strings can extend their life span considerably.
The finger sweat should be removed from the strings after each guitar play. This works with a simple and clean cotton cloth. This helps the strings by less corroding and sounding good for longer.
How do I change guitar strings myself?
To change your guitar strings yourself, you first take care of removing the old strings. For this, you take a string crank and turn clockwise the vortex on the guitar head. This loosens the strings and you can pierce them with pliers.
Of course, you could have done that with strained strings. But it could have happened that the strings jump away due to the high voltage. So it’s safer to relax the guitar strings first.
With a classical concert guitar, you can then simply unthread the guitar strings. Then you clean your guitar. With a spray and cloth and then fingerboard oil your guitar is again super well maintained. Then you arrange your strings from bright to dark.
Mostly it starts with the deepest, the deep E-string. For concert guitars, you pull the string through the hole on the bridge, once hit the end of the string under the string and make a knot. Hold the end of the string tight and pull hard on the string. By the train, the string is firmly anchored in the bridge.
The upper end of the string now comes from above into the hole of the mechanics. Then you turn the string crank counterclockwise until it is cocked. Make sure the guitar string is tight at both ends.
For pure nylon strings, you can tie a knot at the end of the string or use the lighter to form a small ball at the end, so that the string slips through the train. After that, you just have to put your strings in the right mood.
Where can I change guitar strings and how much is that allowed?
You can of course also change your strings in the music shop. If you ask your guitar teacher, he can certainly help you with changing the guitar strings. First of all, you need to know which guitar you have, so you know which strings you need.
Changing the strings of other guitarists or professionals may vary considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some demand nothing at all, others 10 to 30 euros for dressing up and tuning the new guitar strings.
How can I reuse old guitar strings?
Used guitar strings do not necessarily have to be thrown away. Be creative! Guitar strings can be transformed into necklaces and earrings. Also, bracelets are knotted with it. Rings are wound and also in the deco guitar strings are used.
Last update on 2020-09-27 / Disclaimer: as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.