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strings on accoustic - mini review

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Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1120
Topic starter  

Since I've seen this topic on a few occations, and until recently I've been slightly confused myself, I thought I'd post this. For the last couple of months I've had D'addario EXL110 strings (.010, ... .046) on my Fender newporter accoustic.

Q: What kind of strings can I use on my steel string accoustic?

A: This is not a complete answer, but basically there are two types of steel strings: Nickel Strings and (Phosphor) Bronze strings. The nickel strings are often called "electric guitar strings" because bronze strings vibrations will not be picked up by a pickup. The Bronze strings ("Accoustic Guitar Strings")are what is usually fitted on a steel string accoustic, but what happens if you try nickel? 1) There is not a problem with tension of the strings. The tension is higher in bronze than in nickel strings. This point that regularly comes up stems probably from the fact that you should never, ever try any sort of steel strings on your classical accoustic guitar for nylon strings. 2) Playability. Much easier to bend. I really enjoyed the feeling of the guitar with these strings. 3) Sound. Kinda strange experience. When I first put them on I thought: "Hey, this was almost the same". I had a feeling that the volume would disappear, but sitting alone in my living room, the difference was not that big. However on two occasions I've been playing for a crowd of people. One time even outside. That was really disappointing. The guitar normally has a rich, full sound, but now it sounded like it was made of plywood, with rubberbands as strings... or the sound was there but it just disappeared too quickly.

Bottom line: As of today I'm back to Phosphor Bronze (D'addario EJ26 .011, ... .052). Think the next set will be Bronze 10s 'tho.
Further: I don't have a mic in that guitar. Maybe that would work OK?
Finally: think the moral is that experimenting with strings is interesting - for way too many years I've entered the store saying: "I need some strings for my guitar"


...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg

Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 199

I've been confused about strings as well.

My last purchase was Elixirs for both of my acoustics.
They sound fantastic ... for a while. After a month they lost their brightness, and now the coating is flaking off.
They are five times the price, but I doubt they last five time as long. However, they do sound a lot better.

This guy seems to have a clue. I thought I'd ask him for advice next time.

1 watt of pure tube tone - the Living Room Amp!
Paper-in-oil caps rule!

Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 630

In my opinion elixers are a waste of money. They sound good but break very easily and are way over priced. I think martin strings give a fuller sound and they virtually never break.

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile

Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1167

i use martins and i have broken exactly one string. it was due to my own error, however, when i accidentally kinked the high e wrapping it around the bad i guess. they're built like tanks, just like their guitars.

Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3221

Just to add to the original post:

The two primary types of acoustic strings are phosphor bronze (PB) and 80/20 bronze, which technically is brass, not bronze. 80/20s start out somewhat brighter than PBs, but lose their tone more quickly. PBs tend to be a little more midrangey, and generally keep their tone a bit longer than 80/20s.

Sure, you can use nickel (electric) strings on an acoustic, too. Keep in mind that "light" electric strings are generally 10- or 9-gauge, while "light" acoustic strings are typically 12s. That might give the appearance of electric strings having less tension and being easier to bend, but a glance at the tension charts at the D'addario web site shows that nickel strings of the same gauge have only moderately less tension. In fact, the unwound strings are exactly the same.

Regarding "elixers": there are three varieties, and they're each very different from the other. Both Polywebs and Nanowebs are 80/20s with different amounts of coating - very heavy for polywebs, and fairly light for nanowebs. Then there are PB elixirs, which are PB strings with the thin nanoweb coating. Polywebs, as described, have a "played in" tone, which means they sound old when they're brand new. Some people like that - they actually sound great on my 12-string. They also have a very slick feel to them. Nanowebs are much brighter when new, and supposedly keep that tone for a while. They are less slick, but still don't feel like uncoated strings to me. PBs are somewhere in between the polywebs and nanowebs, tonally. Most major string manufacturers carry coated strings now, and in my opinion there's a big difference among them so try a few and see what works. Some people swear by coated strings, others hate them.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."