Best acoustic guitar strings

guitar strings

It’s no hidden fact that finding the best acoustic guitar strings can be a challenge. On the market today there are hundreds of different string companies, all with varying string types, gauges and quality. 

However, fear not. In this review, we’re going to show you ten of the best acoustic guitar strings, as well as some helpful hints and guidance to allow you to master your acoustic guitar string purchase.

Best All-Round Acoustic Guitar Strings

D’Addario EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings


As a company, D’addario is known for the best acoustic guitar strings. As well as this, they also create a variety of coated and uncoated strings for electric guitars, bass, mandolin or even violin.. 

One of their best products is the D’addario EJ16-3D acoustic guitar string pack. Boasting phosphor bronze material and a wide range of available string gauges, it really is one of their most versatile product types.

D’addario make some of the best acoustic guitar strings on the market and the EJ16-3D’s are no exception. 

Firstly, these strings are made from phosphor bronze, a material that is known for its warm and natural tone. This is due to the string having a higher percentage of bronze and phosphor in the overall production of the string. As well as this, these strings maintain excellent intonation and tuning throughout. 

In addition to this, these acoustic guitar strings feature a hex-core construction. This enables the string to allows the wrap wire to grip the string tighter and enhance the durability of the string. However, it’s worth mentioning that some users have experienced some string breakage, but we suspect that this may be due to poor setups on their guitars or mismanagement. 

On D’addario’s product description they mention that these strings are corrosion resistant, although this may be true to some extent, some users have mentioned that these strings do rust after a period of time. If you want longer lasting strings, we;’d suggest looking at coated strings instead. 

Another key aspect of D’addario strings is that they are part of the ‘Players Circle’ program, a unique program integrated by D’addario themselves to encourage sustainability. Whenever you purchase one of their products you can get loyalty points that help you with future purchases. So, if you’re an eco-warrior, sticking with D’addario products is a great choice for the environment. 

Overall, if you want a great all-round acoustic guitar string, the D’addario EJ16-3D is a fantastic choice.

Pros

  • D’addario strings are part of the players circle program, enabling sustainability and perks for their customers.
  • Available to buy as a single product or in groups of 3, 10, 25 or 100. The more strings you buy, the cheaper it gets.
  • These acoustic guitar strings are accessible in a wide range of string gauges, from 10s to 16s. Meaning their is something for every player.
  • The ball ends of the strings are colour coordinated, enabling string changing to be an absolute breeze.

Cons

  • Although D’addario state that the phosphor bronze material is corrosion resistant, some users have experienced the strings losing their brightness and intonation after a number of weeks.

Best Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball Everlast Coated Phosphor Bronze


Whether it’s guitar strings, pedals, straps or any other guitar accessory, Ernie Ball have always provided guitarists with the tools they need to perform their art.

Over the past decade or so, Ernie Ball has really upped their string production game, and with that have produced the ‘everlast’ line of strings.

Utilising phosphor bronze metal and a range of coated string techniques these are an excellent set of strings that are worth investigating further.

If you’re looking for the best acoustic guitar strings then you can’t go far wrong with Ernie Ball, particularly the ‘Ernie Ball Everlast Acoustic Guitar Strings’.

Firstly, let’s discuss the overall tone of the string. Due to the phosphor bronze material used, this guitar string maintains a warm tone in the bass strings with smooth highs on the treble strings.

This gives you a balanced tone that works well for a variety of genres. However, if phosphor bronze isn’t for you, Ernie Ball also offer this string in an 80/20 material, (80% copper, 20% zinc) this will of course offer you a brighter more present tone.

In addition to this, the hex-shaped steel core wire. This type of production of increases the stability of the string and balances the overall tension.

One of the main issues with coated strings is that they often feel too ‘coated’, although that may sound counter intuitive, the problem that many players face when using this type of string is that they feel too sticky.

However, one way that Ernie Ball have got around this is by using a thinner coating. The main benefit of this is that you as the player get increased string life and natural playability of the string.

Although these are some of the best acoustic guitar strings currently available on the market, they are a lot more expensive than standard acoustic strings. However, you could argue that you save money in the long run as you won’t have to change your strings as often due to the coating.

To conclude, if you want to try out some of the best phosphor bronze strings, you can’t go wrong with the Ernie Ball Everlast acoustic guitar strings.

Pros

  • Uses unique technology to prevent moisture and oil on the string, which as a result of this maintains the overall brightness, life of the string and tuning stability.
  • The coating is applied to both hex-core and outer wrap wire, ensuring that you have increased protection across the production of the string.
  • Available in the followinfg string gauges: 10-50, 11-52, 12-54 and 13-56.
  • Made of 92% copper, 7.7% tin and 0.3% phosphorus bronze.

Cons

  • These strings are very expensive compared to regular acoustic guitar strings.

Best 80/20 Acoustic Guitar Strings

Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings with Nanoweb Coating


When it comes to guitar strings, Elixir are simply one of the best companies around. Their main product line features coated technology that enhances the overall tone and will extend string life considerably.

However, one criticism of these strings is that they can often feel too artificial and stiff in practical use. So, to combat this, Elixir have designed the ‘nanoweb’ coating on their own strings.

This combined with the 80/20 string material results in a more natural feeling acoustic string that works extremely well for most guitar players.

Some of the best acoustic guitar strings on the market are produced by Elixir. Acting as one of the first companies to offer coated strings, Elixir offer a premium product that trail-blazed the production of great sounding strings that last longer.

Elixir’s nanoweb acoustic strings are excellent, the ‘nanoweb’ coating is much lighter than their ‘polyweb’ or ‘optiweb’. The ‘nanoweb’ method puts a stop to sweat and oils sneaking into the cracks of your roundwound strings. Not only that, they also provide the player with a smoother feel.

The 80/20 material used on these strings is far brighter than phosphor bronze strings, so if you’re someone who loves some extra top end on their acoustic tone, this model of string could be exactly what you’re looking for. However if you prefer a warmer, rich tone, Elixir also offer a phosphor bronze version of these acoustic guitar strings.

What makes Elixir strings different from other acoustic guitar string manufactures is the variation in string gauge. Here’s a quick list of the range of sizes they have:

  • 10-47.
  • 11-52.
  • 12-53.
  • 12-56.
  • 13-56.
  • 13-53.

What we like about this is the addition in variation of the lower E and A strings. The heavier tension allows lower tunings to have more tuning stability. As well as this, if you’re a baritone player, Elixir also offer a set of strings forthis type of guitar.

Our main criticism of these acoustic guitar strings is their feel. Some players have complained about the playability of these strings after the coating has worn off, as well as this, the strings look less than attractive once they’ve been played a bit.

However, if you want a high quality string with an increased life span, the Elixir Nanoweb 80/20 acoustic guitar strings are well worth checking out.

Pros

  • The addition of light coating enables these strings to last for longer than standard strings and increase playability.
  • The 80/20 (80% copper, 20% zinc) gives the string a bright, present tone.
  • These acoustic guitar strings also have a reduced ‘squeak’ compared to standard guitar strings.

Cons

  • Although these strings are coated, they do feel different compared to uncoated strings.
  • Much more expensive than standard acoustic guitar strings.

Best Flatwound Acoustic Guitar Strings

Thomastik Jazz Swing Series Guitar 6 String Pure Nickel Flat Wounds


If you’re a jazz guitarist, you will have heard of the use of flatwound guitar strings. These strings provide guitarists with a smoother feel and tonal texture and work perfectly with this style of music.

Although there are lots of flat wound strings available from different string makers, one of the best is the Thomastik Jazz Swing Series, let’s learn about this classic string type.

If you’re a jazz guitarist who wants some of the best acoustic guitar strings available on the market, then the Thomastik Jazz Swing series are an excellent choice. What’s unique about this guitar string is that it can be used on both electric and acoustic guitars. Whether it’s an archtop or semi-hollow guitar, this set of strings will be at home on both axes.

The flatwound nature of these strings means that their is limited string noise when moving from fret to fret, In addition to this, this type of acoustic guitar string maintains a smooth, bell-like tone that is perfect for the jazz genre.

As well as this, the silk wrapped strings present an element of quality that isn’t seen on other string brands. In addition to this, the individual packs are clearly labeled, meaning that changing strings is a complete breeze.

One of our main criticisms of this model of guitar string is how expensive they are compared to other strings. As well as this, these strings are a one-trick pony. Although great for jazz, you won’t be able to get the traditional bright, present tone that is present on regular guitar strings.

Despite this, it is hard to argue the quality of the strings, especially when they’re endorsed by jazz greats like George Benson. If your main playing style is jazz, then the Thomastik Jazz Swing series are well worth checking out.

Pros

  • Flatwound strings minimise the squeak that you get when you move from fret to fret.
  • These strings provide a warm, vintage tone that is perfect for jazz and blues genres.
  • Range of string gauges available from 10s to 14s.
  • Some players have noted that these strings actually get better with age.

Cons

  • Not ideal for traditional electric guitar techniques such as bending.
  • The feel of these strings can take getting used to compared to normal roundwound strings

Best Acoustic Guitar Strings For Flat Top Guitars

D'Addario EFT15 Flat Tops Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings


One mistake that many guitarists make is that most strings will work on most guitars. Although this is true to an extent, it’s no secret that certain strings will work better on specific guitars.

An example of this is the ‘D’addario EFT15’ designed specifically for flat top guitars, these provide bluegrass and country guitarists with the feel and response needed when playing that style of music.

If you’re a guitarist who doesn’t want to fully commit to flatwound or round wound strings, but still wants to reap the awards of both strings, then D’addario flat tops are well worth checking out.

Just like all D’addario strings, the D’addario flat tops are made in the U.S.A and feature environmentally friendly packaging. They’re also part of the ‘players circle’, a loyalty based scheme that offers points if you stick within D’addario and Planet Waves products.

What’s interesting about these acoustic guitar strings is their overall construction, these strings have a flat playing surface, but contain a round-wound core. For acoustic guitar players there are many additional benefits to this.

For example, you minimise unwanted string noise when recording. As well as this, this type of string works extremely well for slide-guitar playing and offers a smoother nature to the overall playing style associated with this technique.

In addition, these are phosphor bronze strings. As mentioned before, this material offers you a warmer tone with a rich top end when playing guitar.

However, our main criticism of these strings is that they aren’t the most versatile guitar strings on the market. So if you’re a player who plays a lot of different genres, these guitar strings may not be the best choice.

But, if you are a slide guitarist, jazz enthusiast or country/bluegrass player, these strings could well be worth checking out.

Pros

  • These strings feature a ‘flat-top’ on the string, this helps minimise string noise and therefore means these acoustic guitar strings work fantastically in a studio environment.
  • Will suit a wide range of players needs due to the variety of string gauges available.
  • Consist of a warm bright tone that brings out the vintage vibe of these strings.

Cons

  • Not true flatwounds, so if you’re a jazz purist, these strings might not be for you.
  • A lot more expensive than a standard set of acoustic or electric guitar strings.

Best Nylon Guitar Strings

D’addario Pro Arte Nylon Classical Strings


As a nylon string guitarist, the overall feel and touch of the string is so important when it comes to performance. Having an excellent set of nylon strings on your guitar can really add to the overall ambience, texture and timbre of a piece.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, D’addario make some of the best acoustic guitar strings in the business; and it’s no surprises that they also do a fantastic set of nylon strings.

Let’s take a look at the D’addario Pro Arte nylon classical strings in more detail.

If you’re a classical guitar player, looking for the best acoustic guitar strings on the market then you can’t go far wrong with the D’addario Pro Arte series.

One of the main attractions of these acoustic guitar strings is the availability of tensions within each string. So if you want strings that are light and easy to play or you desire that extra tension that brings the next level to your performance, D’addario have you covered.

In addition to this, the materials used on D’addario strings are of excellent quality. The use of nylon and silver-plated copper enables these acoustic guitar strings to project effectively. Also, the strings are semi-polished, giving them a stylish fit and finish that fits with the overall aesthetic and quality that D’addario are commonly associated with.

As well, what makes these acoustic guitar strings unique is D’addario’s production methods. The integration of XY laser measurement ensures that these acoustic guitars strings engineering process is extremely precise.

Furthermore, compared to other string brands, these classical guitar strings are extremely affordable. Meaning that if you go through strings quickly, these type of acoustic guitars strings are relatively inexpensive to replace.

Our main criticism of these strings is that they may be too dark sounding for some players who seek a brighter classical tone. However, if you want some warm sounding strings that intonate excellently and feel great, the D’addario Pro Arte strings are a great choice.

Pros

  • These strings offer excellent intonation, playability and projection.
  • A wide range of tensions are available.
  • Semi-polished strings increase the overall feel of these acoustic guitar strings.
  • The overall production quality of these strings is excellent. This is due to D’addarios integration of computer technology that monitors diameter and tension measurements of the string.

Cons

  • Some classical players may want a brighter tone, this only seems to be available on higher-priced string sets.

Best Silk And Steel Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball Earthwood Silk and Steel


Although silk and steel guitar strings are one of the less common guitar string types, that doesn’t mean they are not as important as the others! This style of string is a preference amongst many guitar players due to their versatility and reduced tension.

Some of the best silk and steel guitar strings are from the Ernie Ball Earthwood series, let’s check them out.

If you’re like for the best acoustic guitar strings with a tone that is individual and unique, the Ernie Ball Earthwood Silk & Steel acoustic strings are a fantastic choice.

Firstly, let’s discuss the overall production of these fantastic acoustic guitar strings. The core wire of this product comes with a tin-plated, high carbon steel core. Wrapped around this we have a silk wrap around the core of the string which is then covered by the 80/20 bronze that surrounds the overall string.

The main difference where is the addition of the silk wrap, although subtle, what this does do is radically change the overall tone and feel of the string, producing a soft, delicate tone that feels extremely satisfying to play.

If you’re a beginner guitarist, the mellower and softer feel of these guitar strings will enable you to fret difficult shapes like barre chords. As well as this, they feel much softer on your fingertips. This will make your overall playing experience more satisfying and could transform your playing tremendously.

With the 80/20 bronze and silk wrap, we get a much warmer tone than standard 80/20 strings. This provides guitar players with a unique balance and can offer increased tonal variation.

In addition to this, the hex shaped steel core increases the overall intonation and tuning stability of this string, resulting in a high quality string.

However, although these acoustic guitar strings have many positive reviews some users have expressed issues with the overall quality and have experienced string breakage. As well as this, the overall longevity of the strings is questionable.

Despite this, we still think that the Ernie Ball Everlast Silk and Steel strings are well worth checking out if you seek a mellower tone, or if you’re a beginner who wants to give your fingers a break.

Pros

  • Softer and mellower tone than standard 80/20 guitar strings.
  • The silk wrap around the core wire allows the string to have reduced tension which as a result enhances the overall playability of this unique string type.
  • Distinctive tone that makes these strings stand out from the rest of the crowd.
  • Available in six and 12 string sets

Cons

  • There soft nature might not suit heavier players.

Best Coated Guitar Strings

Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings With Polyweb Coating


One of the most frustrating things about guitar strings is that they have a limited lifespan. There’s simply nothing worse than grabbing your favourite axe and getting ready to play and then finding out that your strings are as dead as a dodo.

A unique way around this is to investigate into coated guitar strings. This provides the guitar string with increased protection that in result allows the acoustic guitar strings to have a longer lifespan.

For you as a player, this means that they will have better tone, intonation and feel over a longer period of time.

One of our favourite models in this category is Elixir’s 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings with polyweb coating. Lets’s learn more about it.

Some of the best acoustic guitar strings that are available on the market currently are the Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze acoustic guitar strings with polyweb coating, these really are the best strings money can buy.

 

These coated strings offer excellent sound quality, light gauge, medium gauge and heavy gauge strings. In addition to this, the coating offers guitarists an extended lifespan. So whether you gig on a regular basis or simply don’t want the hassle of changing your nickel strings every month, Elixir are a fantastic choice.

 

One of the main criticisms that Elixir has come under regarding their coated strings is their overall feel. Compared to uncoated strings, these strings can feel stiff and un-natural. One way that Elixir have gotten around this is by introducing different levels of coating on their guitar strings. The two levels of coating are as follows:

 

  • Nanoweb – These are the most traditional strings and feel closest to unocated strings. The coating is very thin so it is barely noticeable, however there’s enough there to enhance the overall lifespan of the string.
  • Polyweb – These strings have a warm ‘played in’ feel and tone. So if you’re not a fan of wearing your strings in and want these strings to work from the get go, polyweb strings are a great choice.

 

What’s unique about this model of steel string is that they are available in both phosphor bronze and 80/20 material. So whether you want the warm, dulcet tones of phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings or the bright and vibrant sound of 80/20, Elixir has you covered.

 

The main advantage of these strings is of course their increase in lifespan, but the question you may be asking is “how long do they last for?”. This of course depends on you as a player, how often you play, whether you gig etc. However, from doing our research, we can safely say that they can last from 3-6 months. Some players have claimed that they only have to change strings twice a year. This of course could be longer if you regularly clean your guitar strings.

 

Now the main disadvantage to these guitar strings is of course the price. They are expensive for what they are, however, if you do only change them every couple of months, you could actually save money. But we do understand the initial outlay is quite steep.

 

Overall, these aren’t just any old plain steel strings. Elixir provides a quality product that any guitarist would be happy with. With consistent tone, increased life and excellent production, these strings are well worth checking out if you want a product that is going to last.

Pros

  • The polyweb coating increases the longevity of these strings and results in a brighter and better tone for a longer period of time.
  • The phosphor bronze material enables these strings to have warm, rich tone with a solid mid presence.
  • Available in both coated phosphor bronze strings and 80/20, depending on your personal preference.
  • Elixir produce premium string products, so you can rely on their overall quality and consistency as a product

Cons

  • Coated strings can feel sticky to play.
  • Not the most affordable acoustic guitar strings on the market.

Best Budget Acoustic Guitar Strings

Martin Guitar Original Acoustic M140, 80/20 Bronze


Having been involved in the guitar and string business for over 180 years, it’s no surprise that Martin are considered one of the best acoustic guitar manufactures of all time. Boasting artists such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Gabrielle Aplin, there products really have a foothold in popular music history.

One of the best things about Martin Strings is that they are extremely affordable. Meaning you can get access to some of the best acoustic guitar strings on the market at a reasonable price. One of our favourite string products of theirs is the M140 strings. Let’s learn about them in more detail.

If you’re looking for the best acoustic guitar strings at a fantastic price, then the Martin Acoustic M140, 80/20 Bronze acoustic guitar strings are an excellent choice.

Firstly, let’s discuss the material and playability of these strings. Like many other manufactures on the string market, these acoustic strings are available in 80/20 bronze, this results in a bright vibrant tone that provides players with excellent clarity.

As a result of this, this characteristic enables these strings to work with a variety of genres and acoustic guitar techniques like fingerpicking and strumming.

When embarking on your guitar journey, at some point you may want to experiment with different strings. Whether you want thicker strings, regular strings or a custom light gauge, experimenting with different acoustic guitar strings can really change the overall feel and sound of a guitar.

Now the main issue with doing this is that it can get very expensive, very quickly. Especially if you purchase from companies such as Elixir. However, if you fine tune your sound at a relatively low price, the choice of Martin strings is a great one.

Furthermore, with Martin strings, you can rely on their customer service too. If you experience any damage or issues with your acoustic guitar strings, Martin will replace them with no additional charge.

Our main criticism of these strings is that they are overally bright, however if you like the high trebles and cutting guitar, these acoustic guitar strings could work extremely well for you. But if you find them too bright, Martin also offer a phosphor bronze set which will provide a much a great tone that is smooth and warm.

Overall, if you’re looking for the best acoustic guitar strings at a great price, the Martin M140 series is well worth looking into.

Pros

  • Extremely affordable with a guarantee of a quality product.
  • These acoustic guitar strings are delberately designed to stand up to heavy-duty practice and performances.
  • The 80/20 instrument strings offer players a bright tone with rich bass.
  • Available in a wide range of sizes including light acoustic guitar strings, medium gauge and heavy strings.

Cons

  • The overall brightness of these guitar strings doesn’t work for all acoustic guitarists.

Best Steel Acoustic Guitar Strings

Best Steel Acoustic Guitar Strings


Although nowhere near as bad as companies such as Martin, Ernie Ball or D’addario, Dean Markley make some of the best guitar strings on the market and are often overlooked.

Established in 1972, Dean Markley produce strings for electric guitars, acoustic guitars, basses as well as other string based instruments. In addition to this, they have been known to make pickups and amplifiers.

One of their most unique products is their bue steel guitar strings, using cryogenic technology in the manufacturing process, they really do stand out from other products in today’s guitar string market.

If you’re looking for some of the best acoustic guitar strings available on the market currently, the Dean Markley blue steel range is a unique product that stands out from the rest of the crowd.

What’s interesting about these acoustic guitar strings is the way they are produced. As part of the creation process these strings are cryogenically frozen at -320 degrees fahrenheit. This process tightens the molecules within the string and minimises the microscopic gaps between the metals.

In terms of tonal results, this production technique removes harsh upper frequencies and muddy lows from the string and produces an overall more consistent string. In addition to this, freezing them also results in a string that lasts longer.

In addition to this the metals used are unconventional compared to other string manufactures. Usually, the two most common materials used are either phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings or 80/20 strings. However, the Dean Markley sets use 92% copper and 8% zinc, this results in a distinct bright tone that punches through the mix.

Our main criticism of these strings is their overall quality control. Some users have mentioned that packs have come with duplicated strings and some strings easily break.

However, if you’re looking to experiment with something a little different then we’d recommend checking out the blue steel range by Dean Markley. These are easily some of the best acoustic guitar strings around.

Pros

  • Unique metals used in the production of the strings. (92% copper and 8% copper).
  • The distinctive material of these strings results in a resonant string that is very responsive.
  • These strings are cryogenically frozen with a blast of liquid nitrogen. According to Dean Markley, this process improves the overall tone and creates a more consistent string.
  • These strings are made in the U.S.A.

Cons

  • Although the cryogenic manufacturing of this string is undoubtedly cool, we may suspect it could be a gimmick.
  • Some users have complained about the overall quality of the strings and have experienced breakages and other issues.

Buying Guide 

It’s no secret that buying the best acoustic guitar strings can be tough. You’ve only got to walk into a guitar shop, look at the front desk and be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of guitar strings available. 

If you’re a beginner, this can be extremely overwhelming, as you probably have no idea what the best acoustic strings are, what the different types are or whether certain acoustic strings go on specific guitars. 

If this sounds like you, then don’t worry. In this buying guide we’re going to walk you through the different types of string type, materials and gauges, to ensure that you’ll be able to buy the right acoustic guitar strings for you. 

Acoustic Guitar String Types 

The best acoustic guitar strings fall into two categories:. 

  • Steel string.
  • Nylon string. 

Steel Strings 

These strings are the most common guitar string. Featured on common acoustic guitar body shapes like dreadnought, auditorium and parlour guitars. These strings offer the player a bright sound that is perfect for strumming and acoustic lead. 

Nylon Strings

Nylon strings are used on classical style guitars. Fun fact, these types of string were originally made from sheep intestines. Luckily, this is no longer the case and nylon materials are now used. 

This type of string provides the guitarist with a mellow tone that is warm and responsive. This works fantastically for genres of music such as Jazz, Classical and Bossa Nova. 

Acoustic Guitar String Material

All of the best acoustic guitar strings use the following materials: 

  • 80/20 Bronze. 
  • Phosphor Bronze. 
  • Silk and Steel. (Compound strings). 

80/20 aka Bronze/Brass

This type of string contains 80% copper and 20% zinc. This type of string has a great tone that is bright and present. However, it has been known to lose its freshness after a few hours of playing. 

Another type of string that is similar to this is ‘nickel bronze strings’. 

Phosphor Bronze 

These are very similar to 80/20 strings, however, Phosphor bronze has now been added to the string material. This makes the overall lifespan and durability of the guitar string. The only downside of this is that it reduces the brightness of the string. 

Silk and Steel

These strings tend to have greater flexibility and have a lower tension. This ultimately results in a mellower, warmer string. They are also often referred to as ‘hybrid’ strings as they blur the lines between classical and steel strings. 

Guitar String Gauge – What Are Different String Gauges?

The string gauge essential means how thick the string is. There are many variations of acoustic guitar string gauges. 

The highest number refers to the thickest string, where as the lowest number refers to the thinnest string. 

When looking at string gauges they read across like this: High E, B, G, D, A & Low E. 

Here are the most common acoustic string gauges:

  • Extra Light Gauge Strings- .010 .014 .023 .030 .039 .047 – otherwise known as 10’s
  • Regular Gauge Strings  – .011 .015 .023 .032 .042 .052 – otherwise known as 11’s
  • Medium Gauge Strings – .012 .016 .025 .032 .042 .054 – otherwise known as 12’s
  • Heavy Gauge Strings – .013 .017 .026 .035 .045 .056 – otherwise known as 13’s
  • Extra Heavy Gauge Strings – .014 .018 .027 .039 .049 .059 – otherwise known as 14’s

The best acoustic guitar strings will usually have a range of gauges available. 

Lighter Gauge Strings – 10’s 

This is the lightest gauge acoustic string. These are great for beginners as the light strings are nowhere as hard to play as higher gauges such as 12’s, 13’s and 14’s. Although great for beginners, more advanced players may find these strings too thin sounding. 

Regular Gauge Strings – 11’s

11 gauge strings are a fantastic gauge as they provide enough stability to play rhythm but are also light enough to play lead and use bending techniques on. If you’re an electric player who regularly switches to acoustic, 11 gauge strings are a fantastic choice. 

Medium Gauge Strings – 12’s

12’s are arguably the most common acoustic string and often come stock on most acoustic guitars. This string size has a strong, bold tone that works great for rhythm. However, it’s still light enough to play some lead on.

Heavier Gauge Strings – 13’s

These strings are some of the heaviest about. If you’re a lead player you may want to shy away from this size, however, their thicker size enables acoustic strummers to get a thick tone that blooms beautifully. 

Extra Heavy Gauge Strings 14’s

14 gauge strings are not for the faint-hearted, you may even need to do some weight training to manage these heavy hitters! Jokes aside, this string size is perfect for players who love strumming open chords and want some thump to their guitar sound.

String Core

When it comes to string cores, the best acoustic guitar strings use the following cores:

  • Hex core. 
  • Round core. 

Hex Core

Hex core strings tend to have a brighter tone, stronger attack and a more consistent tone. However, one of the downsides of this style of string core is that they can feel stiffer and have less sustain.

Round Core

Round core strings tend to be more flexible than hex core strings and as a result of this are warmer, have a gentle attack, have more sustain and have a vintage tone. However, the main criticism of this type of string is that it can be inconsistent from string to string.  

Both of these types usually contain a high carbon steel core which helps with the overall sustainability of the string.

Flatwound, Roundwound and Half Rounds

When looking at the best acoustic guitar strings you may have come across the above terms before. These terms define what type of metal material is used to wrap around the core wire of the strap. 

Flat wound Strings

This is a flat wire material that wraps around the string and is often used by players who want to achieve a vintage-esque tone. The other main advantage to this type of string is it minimises string noise when moving around the fretboard. As well as this, they have a warm tone that works great for genres like Jazz.

However the main downside of these strings is that it can be more difficult to bend when using flatwound strings.

Roundwound Acoustic Guitar Strings

This is a round wire material that wraps around the string. This type of string is one of the most popular types of acoustic guitar string and is commonly seen on most acoustic guitars in shops. 

The main advantage to this type of string is the versatility, they can be used on pretty much any acoustic genre and are widely available. 

As well as this, roundwound strings can often feel easier and smoother to play the flatwound strings and have a brighter tone. However, the main disadvantage to this type of string is that movement on the strings is more widely heard.

Half Round Guitar Strings

Although predominantly used on electric’s , this type of string is far rarer than roundwound or flatwound strings. However in terms of feel and playability, they tend to sit halfway between a flat and round wire. The material is neither round, nor completely flat. 

The main benefit of this is that the string will have the flexibility and tension of a roundwound string whilst maintaining the smoother feel and darker tone of a flat wound string.

Jazz guitarists often have a preference for this type of string as it allows them to blend between acoustic electric guitar techniques.

What about coated acoustic guitar strings? 

A new technology that has been discovered over the past decade or so is the introduction of coated strings. Differening to uncoated strings, coated strings feature a extra layer of material presented on the string. This increases the longevity and tonal quality of the string. 

Essentially, what this means for guitarists is that your guitar strings will stay fresher for longer, hopefully saving you money in the long run.

There are different grades of string coating and each is unique to the individual manufacturer. 

FAQ

Are lighter strings better for acoustic guitar?

This all depends on your needs as a guitarist. A lighter string will be much easier to play than a heavier string. However, they won’t sound as full or as loud as heavier strings. 

As always, it’s a balance between the overall playability and the sound of the instrument. 

Who is the best guitar string manufacturer?

In the acoustic guitar world, the best guitar string manufacturers are as follows: 

  • D’addario strings.
  • Martin strings.
  • Ernie Ball strings. 
  • Elixir acoustic strings. 
  • DR Strings.

All of these companies make fantastic strings and are guaranteed to make your guitar sound beautiful. 

How often should I change my acoustic guitar strings?

When it comes to changing strings, we’d recommend that you change them at least every 6 weeks. However, if you perform or play regularly every day you may want to change them more often. 

One thing can that increase the life of your strings is cleaning your strings after you play. You can use products such as ‘string cleaner’ or use a microfibre cloth to get rid of any dust or residue.

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