Looking for the best acoustic guitar strings?
Is it time for a change?
There are many types of acoustic guitar strings that you can choose from, so it can be difficult to know which ones are the best. While there is no clear-cut answer and it is subjective, some acoustic guitar strings definitely stand out from the crowd.
Below we’ll list our picks of the best acoustic guitar strings of 2018.
Types of Materials in the Best Acoustic Guitar Strings
Before choosing the best acoustic guitar strings, it is best to know a little bit about acoustic guitar string materials and types.
In general, most acoustic guitar strings are composed of copper-based alloys. Electric guitar strings, on the other hand, usually use nickel and steel materials.
While you can put nickel and steel strings on an acoustic guitar, the sound will not be nearly as good. With the acoustic guitar, it’s a much better choice to stick with the copper-based alloys.
There are two main types of these: 80/20 Bronze and Phosphor Bronze. However, silk and steel strings are a less common option.
- 80/20 Bronze: Bright, emphasizes high-end frequencies. 80% copper and 20% zinc.
- Phosphor Bronze: Rich and warm, good balance. 92% Copper and about 8% Zinc
- Silk and Steel: Mellow. Silk, nylon, or copper wrap wire on the set’s lower strings.
When it comes to acoustic guitar strings, many of the choices you will be making comes down to personal preference.
Additionally, you should decide whether you want coated strings. Coated guitar strings feature a thin layer of plastic on top of the string material and can help to prevent oil and dirt from building up in the strings. The result is a guitar string that lasts much longer than regular uncoated strings.
However, it is not without some sacrifice. Coated strings do lack a little bit of the volume, tone, and high-end frequencies of typical guitar strings.
Overall, when it comes to finding the best acoustic guitar strings, the choice is yours. It’s up to you to experiment and decide what works best with the natural tone of your specific guitar.
Does String Gauge Matter for Acoustic Guitar?
It’s up to you what kind of thickness, or string gauge, you prefer. Most guitarists will have their own preference. Like the materials of a guitar string, the thickness can impact the sound in different ways.
Usually, a thicker string will sound better and will have a fuller and louder tone. Because it will be under more tension than a thinner string it will cause more vibrations when playing and the resulting sound will have more volume.
The drawback of thicker guitar strings, however, is that they are more difficult to play. It takes more pressure and finger strength to press down on thick guitar strings and to play the strings effectively.
A thinner string gauge, on the other hand, will be easier to press down on and play. For this reason, thinner string gauges are often the better choice for beginners. However, many advanced players prefer to use thinner guitar strings as well.
As with guitar materials, in the end, it’s up to you to experiment with different gauges. Only you can decide what works best for you and your style of playing.
Best Guitar Strings for Acoustic Guitar – REVIEWED
1. D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Light Acoustic Guitar Strings (.012-.053)
D’Addario is one of the best acoustic guitar string brands and the D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings make a great tried and true choice that you simply can’t go wrong with. They are also one of the most inexpensive options and make a great choice for beginners.
These strings sound great on the acoustic guitar and are also very reliable, and are known as being resistant to breakage. Although they are uncoated, they do have something of slick coated feel. These strings have a bit of a coated feel and offer a warm tone that you would expect from phosphor bronze strings.
The EJ16 strings are also packaged well and come in a corrosion-proof sealed bag to prevent oxidation. They also have color-coded ball ends to easily tell the strings apart.
Overall, these strings make for a great choice if you want a standby choice you can’t go wrong with.
2. Martin MSP4150 SP Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings (.0125-.055)
The Martin MSP4150 SP Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings are another excellent choice.
Unlike some other options on this list, the Martin MSP4150 SP strings are about as uncoated as you can get. Because of this, these strings offer some of the best sounds out of all of these and will give your acoustic guitar a very raw, yet very warm, tone.
However, because they are uncoated they do lose a bit of their durability and the strings will be a bit more susceptible to corrosion.
These light/medium gauge strings are a bit of a rare breed and offer a gauge range that isn’t so common, but that works very nicely. The bottom four strings are wound, while the two thinnest strings are plain.
Overall, if you’re for an amazing sound and aren’t concerned with durability, these Martin acoustic guitar strings may be the perfect choice for you.
3. John Pearse 600L Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings (.012-.053)
This next set of acoustic guitar strings is a bit less common than some of the other types on this list, but they also make a great choice. John Pearse offers some of the best acoustic guitar strings around, and this set is no different.
The John Pearse 600L acoustic guitar strings offer a very clean, clear, and warm tone and actually last a long time compared to many other options. Although they don’t have the longevity of the coated Elixir strings, they’ll hold up for a while and offer an excellent sound throughout their life.
Overall, if you’re looking for another choice of excellent phosphor bronze strings, the John Pearse 600L strings will do nicely.
The Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood guitar strings are another great phosphor bronze option. These strings offer a clear, warm tone that also offers a nice bit of brightness and richness.
This is a light gauge pack of strings, that is incredibly reliable and high-quality and will give you everything you look for in an excellent set of acoustic guitar strings. The strings feature a blend of 92% copper, 7.7% tin, and 0.3% phosphorous.
These acoustic guitar strings come packaged securely and resist oxidation while sitting in the music store due to Ernie Ball’s Element Shield Packaging,
Overall, these Ernie Ball Earthwood strings are another excellent choice that you can’t go wrong with and offer a sound you’ll love.
5. Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze NANOWEB (.012-.053)
If you’re looking for the industry standard of coated guitar strings, Elixir is the brand you’re looking for. The brand makes some of the best acoustic guitar strings around and specialize in coated strings.
These 80/20 Bronze NANOWEB strings are the perfect choice for acoustic guitar players, and unlike the more heavily-coated POLYWEB strings, they still retain some of the same feel of uncoated alternatives.
The great benefit of these strings is that they will last much longer than other types of strings, and instead of needing to change your guitar strings every month or so, you’ll only need to change these strings about every 6 months.
Despite the adequate amount of coating on these strings, they still provide a pretty nice clear and resonant tone. However, there are drawbacks. These strings won’t quite give you the same great sound as uncoated strings and they’ll cost you 2-3 times as more.
Overall, if you’re looking for great acoustic guitar strings that will last you a while, the Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze NANOWEB acoustic guitar strings give you exactly what you need.
Ultimately, many of your choices as a guitar player come down to personal preference and experimentation.
While our choices above will give you a great start at finding the best acoustic guitar strings that suit you, there are many more choices. Experiment as much as you want to find the acoustic guitar tone that you love and decide what’s best for you.
Looking for more guitar string suggestions? Check out our list of the best electric guitar strings for metal next.