Are You Strumming On The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings?

Whether you’re seeking to advance your career as an accomplished guitarist or just revel in playing guitars in your free time, then it’s a good idea to get to know the right acoustic strings for your instrument.

If you need an all-inclusive guide outlining every thing you need to know, then you are in the right place. Let us help you figure out the right strings for your playing style and your guitar. We’ll also share some of our favorite string options you can buy right now.

Best Acoustic Guitar Strings for the Money (2018 - 2019)

product links below go to Amazon unless otherwise noted
STRINGSOUR RATINGBUY AT
Martin M540 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light
(4.8 / 5)Amazon, Guitar Center
D'Addario EJ17 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Medium, 13-56 (4.7 / 5)Amazon, Guitar Center
D'Addario EXP16 with NY Steel Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Coated, Light, 12-53
(4.7 / 5)Amazon, Guitar Center
Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood Medium Light Acoustic Phosphor Bronze String Set (12 - 54) (4.7 / 5)Amazon, Guitar Center
Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w POLYWEB Coating, Light (.012-.053) (4.6 / 5)Amazon, Guitar Center
Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Light (.012-.053) (4.5 / 5)Amazon, Guitar Center

Do I Need Different Strings for Acoustic – Electric Guitars?

No-Some brands manufacture specific acoustic-electric strings, use of traditional steel-strings will function equally well. Under- saddle piezo pickups have been used to equip a large number of acoustic-electric guitars and some nylon-string models. A tiny onboard preamp converts the vibrations of the string to an electrical signal. Considering the nonmagnetic property of the piezo-based systems, ordinary acoustic guitar strings will function since string materials may have a negligible impact on your sound. The recommendation of pickup manufacturer ought to be considered in the event acoustic-electric guitars are equipped with both piezo and magnetic pickups or microphone as well as soundhole-mounted magnetic pickups acoustics.

Do I Need Different Strings For Classical Guitars?

Characteristics of Nylon Strings

Flamenco, bossa, Nova, classical, and folk music are in the list of songs played by Nylon string guitars. They have a softer material and characterized by lower tension making most upcoming players believe they are more comfortable on the fingers. The basis of selecting a nylon string guitar should be musical interests but not the misguided belief of initial ease of play. It is due to the undebatable fact that all beginners feel some tenderness in their fingertips despite the guitar they choose. Upon installation of the nylon string frequent tuning is necessary because of them stretching more than steel strings. Additionally, they are more susceptive to atmospheric variations caused by humidity and pressure.

Classical Guitar String Tension Designation

Classical guitar strings are not only sold in sets but also marked about each set’s tension rating. Being no defined standard is set for these ratings, to establish what suits you a given amount of experimentation for different string brands may have to carry. It is unfortunate that some packaged strings develop a blend of tensions among the strings while only outlining single tension specification on the package. Some of the common designations are listed below with their characteristics:

Low Tension

  • For guitars with notably higher action; fretting is made easy.
  • Less volume and projection
  • Reduced pronounced attack with an increased note
  • Best for gentle legato techniques
  • Higher tendency to trigger buzzing on frets

Normal Tension

  • It Strikes a balance between high and low tension strings typically.

High tension

  • It poses a challenge on fretting more so on guitars with high action
  • Increased volume and projection
  • Increased pronounced attacks with little note body.
  • The best option for rhythmic playing
  • On delicate instruments, this may result to issues with necks, bridges, and top bracing of breakable devices.

All About String Gauges

The string gauge you choose is as significant as the type of string. Strings come in a range of gauges from the manufacturer, and their thickness in thousandths. The measure your string has is a significant determinant on playability and sound of the guitar in question. Typically .010 and .059 are the lightest and heaviest string gauge respectively. String gauge alternatively known as the thickness of a string can be either thick or thin. A thicker string is heavy making it difficult to play on the contrary playing a thinner string is more comfortable to play on account of its lightness. The sound generated with a thicker string tends to be louder and fuller due to increased tension making the guitar vibrate more. Depending on the guitar type you have, your sound may suffer from thinner strings.

Lighter Gauge Strings

  • On average are easier to play
  • Permits effortless bending of notes and fretting
  • Easily breaks
  • The volume and sustain produced are not so much.
  • Frequently cause fret buzzing, largely on guitars with low output.
  • Safely used for vintage guitars and apply meager tension on the guitar neck.

Heavier Gauge Strings

  • Generally playing them isn’t easy
  • To fret and bend the notes extra pressure is required
  • Generate more volume and sustain
  • More tension put on the guitar neck with heavy gauges

Set Gauge Designations For Acoustic Guitar String

Terms like “extra,” “light,” or “heavy” are used by manufacturers of acoustic guitar string to specify string gauges in a set. Despite slight variations in specific gauge ranges among manufacturers, below are typical gauge ranges for sets of acoustic guitar strings.

  • “extra light”: .010 .014 .023 .030 .039 .047
  • “custom light”: .011 .015 .023 .032 .042 .052
  • “light”: .012 .016 .025 .032 .042 .054
  • “medium”: .013 .017 .026 .035 .045 .056
  • “heavy”: .014 .018 .027 .039 .049 .059

Beginners are advised to use Lights, or Extra light particularly if they are facing a hard time in strengthening their hands.

Types Of Acoustic Guitar Strings

At some point, guitar strings could be as famous as the instrument itself. It is for this reason you need to identify the exemplary guitar string to ensure your acoustic attains its full potential. There is a wide variety of acoustic guitar strings such as Martin, Elixir, D’Addario, and Ernie Ball among others. Below are some of the different types of acoustic guitar strings.

1.    D’Addario EJ17 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Medium, 13-56
2.    D’Addario EXP 16 with NY Steel Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Coated, Light,12-53
3.    Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Light(.012-.053)
4.    Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w POLYWEB Coating, Light(.012-.053)
5.    Martin M540 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light
6.    Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood Medium Light Acoustic Phosphor Bronze String (12-540)
7.    DR Strings VTA-13 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings,Medium

How Often Should Strings Be Changed?

Are you puzzled by how often you should have your guitar strings replaced? Unfortunately, there is no stock answer; however, there are aspects that can indicate a need for change and also factors that shorten the life of your lines. A universal time to replace your strings does not exist, and this has made most guitarists suggest changing the series every three months is reasonable. Below are some factors that negatively compromise the life of your string;

  • Too much sweat when playing; your acidic perspiration can affect the string’s life.
  • Playing destructively with persistent bending and hard picking
  • Frequent playing
  • Repeated changing of tunings
  • Playing your guitar in a smoke-filled environment or smoking as you play

Signs That It’s Time to Change Your Guitar Strings

  • When tuning your guitar and staying in tune becomes increasingly challenging
  • Your strings are indicating signs of discoloration or have discolored
  • Strings are depicting signs of rust or have started rusting
  • The tone sound of your guitar sounds “dead” or “flat.”

If you can not comprehend the last time, you had your strings replaced it could be indicative of a need to change your strings.

Other Tips To Consider in String Maintenance

  • Always have a clean cloth at your disposal and after terminating your playing session, clean off the strings to enhance their durability.
  • Oxidation can equally compromise the integrity of your string. To avert effects resulting from the strings getting oxidized, proper hand washing before commencing your playing sessions is indispensable.
  • Venture in a string winder; they are affordable and hasten string changes.
  • Keep a close eye on the age, and model of string you are using. You can successfully achieve this by noting the date you changed your strings on the package then keep the note safely for future reference.
  • Purchasing single strings in volumes can be a fantastic idea, convenient budget move, particularly where light gauge strings you often break are concerned.

It is essential to always have an additional set of less register single strings in your storage place for emergency changes. At one point you or your bandmate may need it urgently.

Our Top Acoustic Guitar String Comparisons & Reviews

D’Addario EJ17 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Medium, 13-56

The D’Addario family has a wealth of experience in manufacturing strings since its inception in the 1600s.

D'Addario EJ17 Phosphor Bronze Medium Acoustic Strings
image: Guitar Center

It has become the world’s most accepted acoustic string. If you are looking for light ones, D’Addario EJ17s will answer to your need. These strings are good to go for anybody of any degree and on virtually any acoustic guitar. They are made in the U.S.A for the highest performance and high quality.

Review

EJ17  has higher tension giving it a bolder, more resonant acoustic tone with heavy strumming and flat-picking having increased resistance. Use of Phosphor Bronze embraced in string making by D’Addario ensures a warm, bright, and a well-controlled acoustic tone. The result of a D’Addario Phosphor Bronze string is an intense sounding tone with a fantastic intonation.

Specifications:

  • Gauge:Medium(.013 to .056)
  • Material: Phosphor Bronze
  • Coated: Yes

Pros

  • A stronger, durable wire that you can depend on
  • Variety of acoustic string alloys with characteristic tone, giving your desired sound
  • For fresh strings, there is packaging that can withstand corrosion.
  • Produces bright, warm and well balanced acoustic tone
  • It is the most accepted choice of D’Addarios.

Cons

  • Can break while tuning, you must be gentle and careful when using it.
  • It is fairly expensive.

D’Addario EXP 16 with NY Steel Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Coated, Light,12-53

D'Addario EXP16 Coated Phosphor Bronze Light Acoustic Guitar Strings
image: Guitar Center

Advanced proprietary machinery used in making of  EXP strings making them more long-lasting. Besides lasting substantially longer, the EXP strings also keep their tune better than competing strands. This string strikes a perfect balance between value and price.

Review

Virtually they last longer maintaining a tone almost identical to their first tone. They are most appreciated by people who don’t want to change their strings frequently.

Pros

  • Corrosion resistant and environment-friendly
  • It has D’Addario’s peculiar NY steel for unique strength and stable pitch.
  • They last three to four times longer than the traditional strings.

Cons

  • It must be shipped separately from other items you order.
  • Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w/ NANOWEB Coating, Light(.012-.053)
  • Elixir was the first company to invent a coated string in the market. They have since then remained above per in production of beautiful strings.

Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Light (.012-.053)

This model prevents noisy finger squeak and reduces a significant number of pesky irritation experienced with uncoated string. NANOWEB coating softens the tone of the string giving a slip feel that’s gentle on the fingers making the player able to jam without the strings getting in the way.

Elixir 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings with NANOWEB Coating, Light
image: Guitar Center

Review

Amazingly different from other strings considering how smooth and easy they seem to use. The tone is similar to electric strings, but they last forever when wiped down after playing. It is also a better fit especially if you are in need of a crisper, brighter, and vibrant tone for your guitar.

Pros

  • Super thin NANOWEB Coating offers a more traditionally textured feel.
  • Patented Coating prevents corrosion
  • Extended tone life is more than other brand’s coated or uncoated strings.
  • The whole elixir string has a coat unlike other string brands protecting both the outer surface and gaps between the windings.
  • Best guard for getting rid of dust, dirt and even air.

Cons

  • Expensive to acquire but the quality strikes a balance with its price.
  • The gauge may feel heavier than quoted to some players.
  • Sweat, dirt and hot or humid air can wreak absolute havoc on your string’s tone life.

Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w/ POLYWEB Coating, Light(012-.053)

This model of the string is played for a warm, intense tone that keeps a significantly visible mid-range presence.

Elixir 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings with POLYWEB Coating, Light
image: Guitar Center

Review

It could be the closest replica to perfection you can consider with incredible sound and elastic strings. They maintain the required intonation and playing pressure as if playing with a string tuned to the standard of a custom light string.

Pros

  • Strings don’t get in the way of playing due to the POLYWEB coating that provides a gentle, smooth feel.
  • Protected from corrosion prolonging tone life owing to the patented coating technology used.
  • They are more durable  than the conventional ones considering their ability to resist rust

Cons

  • They are not easily affordable although the quality is guaranteed and one would instead buy quality.
  • Each string packaged; chances are high you could forget or misplace one or two strands.
  • The coating web wears off with time and improper handling predisposing them to dust and dirt.

Martin M540 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light (#1 top pick)

Martin is known vastly for their guitars more than strings, but you don’t want to miss out on these awesome acoustic guitar strings.

Martin M540 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light
image: Guitar Center

M540 Guitar Strings are made using 92/8 composition alloy giving brilliance, clarity, and longer lasting sound. If you are looking for strings with deep, rich, basses and clear trebles try Phosphor Bronze winding.

Review

They are good for almost all acoustic guitars elevating rogue guitars to great sonic heights.M540 Bronze Acoustic Strings are good matching their quoted price.

Specifications:

  • Gauge:Light(.012-.054)
  • Material: Phosphor Bronze
  • Coated: No

Pros

  • They are good strings at an inexpensive price
  • Made of bronze alloy for brilliance and long life.
  • Strings made from phosphor bronze giving you highs that are smooth and warm tone.
  • Strings have a consistent quality.

Cons

  • The tone generated is not well balanced, and the brightness might not meet your expectations.
  • After a long time of using coated strings, changing to M540 Phosphor Bronze may make you “feel” draggy and dissatisfied.

Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood Medium Light Acoustic Phosphor Bronze String (12-540)

Their quality qualifies them for use in concerts providing deep, high bass notes with trebles that are clear. All acoustic musicians across the world can use it seeing that it was engineered to meet their needs.

Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood Phosphor Bronze Medium-Light Acoustic Guitar Strings
image: Guitar Center

Review

The 2146 Phosphor Bronze strings have got a heavier gauge on the lines the low strings and on the upper strings exhibit lighter gauge and contrary to other acoustic strings the G string is plain. The strings are cheap, so you can try them without much commitment to see how suitable they can serve you.

Pros

  • Produces a sound that is clear
  • It is trusted by the best guitarists
  • Are cheap to acquire
  • Provide the quality in playing an acoustic guitar for musicians looking for varied sounds.

Cons

  • Hold a twangy, new sound for a couple of days which it loses in about a week of playing them.

DR Strings VTA-13 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Medium

It is believed no one can surpass the handmade craftsmanship according to DR Strings.The old fashioned way gives what isn’t achievable with machines.

DR Strings Veritas - Perfect Pitch with Dragon Core Technology Light Acoustic Strings (13-56)
image: Guitar Center

VTA-13 is a recent model of phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings in the series that are made for every musician. At the heart of strings, the faultless core technology reinforces the primary wire and fill in flaws the whole core culminating in better pitch retention and stability.

Review

Are right strings sounding tremendous and with a fantastic feel. DR Strings VTA-13 lasts up to four times longer with a non coated surface.

Pros

  • It is four times durable than any other acoustic strings.
  • VTA-13 has Intense tones with perfect sustains
  • It has exact core technology
  • Coatings have a role in the feel and sound of acoustic strings. Certain brands particularly Elixir or D’Addario’s EXP range offer thin protective layers. They provide protection against oil, moisture, dirt, moisture, rust which collectively enhances the lifespan of the strings.
  • The coated strings are expensive although they increase the lifespan of your strings lasting up to five times longer. They are more cost friendly and save you from changing them often.

As an acoustic guitar player, there is an overwhelming number of choices of best acoustic strings. Coated or uncoated, quality of composition, the thickness of gauge, durability, and reputation are some factors to underscore among others in comparing guitar strings. We have relieved you the daunting task by breaking down the available options giving you the five premier brands to choose. It does not matter whether it is your hundredth time or second time buying acoustic strings, you can always shop more to get the new products in the market. It may be the latest gauge, recent material, changed coating but remember your desired string may be the next pack away. Keep on trying and testing, finally, you will get the string that matches your expectations.

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