8 Of The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings You Can Get Today

By Monica | Product Reviews

Aug 05
best acoustic guitar strings

The best acoustic guitar strings can make the difference in your rig. Even a well-made acoustic guitar will not have a good sounding if it has a cheap set of strings. Although it is true that they are the least inexpensive part of your instrument, their quality and importance are still impregnable.

In fact, you should be warier when it comes to choosing strings for acoustic guitar than an electric guitar. The latter usually have accompaniments and "flavorings,"  thanks to the presence of pedals and amp. Sometimes, it is very difficult to distinguish the individual strings of an electric guitar, especially if you are dropping some wicked chords and riffs.

Meanwhile, an acoustic guitar plays without these effects and amplification. Its tone relies on the type of strings that you integrate with the system. Evidently, choosing the wrong strings will lessen the tone quality of your acoustic guitar.

In this article, we will show you the right models of acoustic guitar strings that you should get. Each of these string set will unleash the full potential of your rig. Therefore, you must have a look at them and see which one you think will work for your setup. Let's start!

Best Acoustic Guitar Strings: Our Top Picks

But before we dig in deeper to these units, we have to veer away a little bit. Specifically, we want to discuss the basics of choosing guitar strings. After all, nobody wants to end up with a bad unit.

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A Short Introduction to Acoustic Guitar Strings

As their name suggests, acoustic strings are for acoustic guitar. They have a different construction to an electric guitar string, as it is usually made from steel and nickel. An acoustic guitar string is crafted from copper alloys. This type of material is an excellent partner for acoustic guitars, as it can optimize tone preservation.

Of course, you can still use nickel and steel strings on an acoustic guitar. There is no stopping you on that. However, you should not expect that the quality is just the same if you are using a copper-based alloy string set. This is especially true if your acoustic instrument is unplugged or doesn't have an electric capacity. But even if such feature is present, the sound of the acoustic guitar won't improve that much.

How to Choose Acoustic Guitar Strings

Variants of Acoustic Guitar Strings

We highly encourage you to read this section, as it will become a crucial part of your choosing process.

There are different types of acoustic guitar strings. Of course, the "type" we are indicating refers to the composition of the strings (the materials used in the construction). Manufacturers are using various types of alloys to vary the tonal flavor of the string. Specifically, you can either describe the sound of the strings as "bright," "mellow," and "warm."

Selecting between these nuances is pretty easy, especially if you know what you are looking for. Of course, this should depend on the kind of acoustic guitar that you are using. For example, a large bass-type acoustic guitar will need a set of bright strings.

We can classify acoustic guitar strings through the following: 80/20 Bronze and Phosphor Bronze.

80/20 Bronze

This type of string is a combination of 20% zinc and 80% copper. In short, it is a brass (chemistry geeks out there know this perfectly). But in the industry, they call it the "80/20 Bronze" because it sounds cool. Technically, the term is incorrect. But we can't change it anyway.

80/20 bronze strings produce a bright sound. They tend to emphasize the high frequencies of your rig. Therefore, it is a great partner for jumbo guitars (like we mentioned earlier). Such type of instrument will benefit from 80/20 strings because it balances out the excessive bass that it has.

Phosphor Bronze

Meanwhile, the phosphor bronze is made out of 90% copper and around 9% zinc. It contains a small trace of phosphorous, too, hence the name "phosphor." The sound of these strings is the opposite of 80/20 bronze, as rich and warm characteristic defines them. Moreover, they have better resistance to corrosion than their counterpart. After all, the oil that your hands produce can affect the quality of your strings.

This type of string is a perfect fit for acoustic guitars that possess high frequencies. On the other hand, you might want to avoid using it on rigs that focused on low frequencies.

Coated or Not

When choosing a guitar string, you also need to decide whether you want to opt for a coated model or not. The coating of the strings usually refers to its thin plastic cover. This particular component prevents the accumulation of dirt and oil in the grooves of the strings. However, this poses some drawbacks as well.

Coating the strings lessens the frequency and volume. In short, it just removes the original tonal quality that a string should have. Well, if you put it into the application, it doesn't really result in horrible sounds. But for those who are quite keen on the tone, you should keep such repercussion on your mind.

At the end of the day, you will just have to understand the setup that you has. Specifically, you have to partner your acoustic guitar with the appropriate set of strings. In this way, you can fully realize its potential.

Gauge of the String

gauge of the string

To put it bluntly, string gauge refers to the thickness of the strings. If you have been playing the guitar for quite some time, you probably noticed that it thick strings are somehow difficult to manipulate. This is due to the tension that they have. But because of the tension, the guitar can produce significant vibration, which results in a loud and full sound. The opposite effect happens when you use a thin set of strings.

Check the list below to know the different classifications of strings, depending on their gauge:

  • Extra light - 0.010, 0.014, 0.023, 0.030, 0.039, 0.047
  • Light (Custom) - O.011, 0.015, 0.023, 0.032, 0.042, 0.052
  • Light (Standard) - 0.012, 0.016, 0.25, 0.032, 0.042, 0.054
  • Medium - 0.013, 0.017, 0.026, 0.035, 0.045, 0.056
  • Heavy - 0.014, 0.018, 0.027, 0.039, 0.049, 0.059

For beginners, we advise that you should use light strings. In this way, you won't hurt your hands too much. If your fingers are naturally calloused, you can freely choose medium to heavy strings. But still, light strings are way better for amateur applications.

Best Acoustic Guitar Strings: Full Review

We already elucidated the important aspects that revolve around acoustic guitar strings. Now, it is the time to introduce the capabilities of our featured guitar strings. Get to know them now!

The D'Addario EXP is one of the finest acoustic guitar strings that you can see in the market today. This particular model is constructed under an extremely-precise machinery. It has a micro coating that lengthens its lifespan but without affecting its overall tone. In fact, it is pretty evident that D'Addario EXP has four times lifespan compared to ordinary strings.

Moreover, the D'Addario EXP features exceptional tonal stability. It has an optimal vibration that further improves its performance and pitch reliability. Aside from having a long lifespan, the EXP series proves that it has a better tune than most of its competitors. Specifically, these strings come in various gauges. They are also available in both phosphor bronze and 80/20 bronze models. Therefore, your options are pretty varied here.


Pros:

  • Exceptionally long lifespan
  • Holds better tonal characteristics
  • Comes with improve coating technology
  • Can cater for different types of guitars
  • Possesses pitch stability

Cons:

  • No noticeable drawbacks

Let's take a look at this product...

D'Addario EXP16 with NY Steel Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Coated, Light, 12-53
  • D'Addario's most popular acoustic guitar string gauge, known for its superb, long-lasting tone and comfortable playability
  • EXP Coated phosphor bronze for warm, bright, well balanced acoustic tone and 4 times more life
  • Includes D'Addario's exclusive NY Steel, the same high carbon steel found in the NYXL series for unprecedented strength and pitch stability.
  • Environmentally friendly, corrosion resistant packaging for strings that are always fresh
  • String Gauges: Plain Steel .012, .016, Phosphor Bronze Wound .024, .032, .042, .053

If you are looking for an impressive 80/20 bronze acoustic strings, we would recommend first the Elixir. This particular string set features the Nanoweb Coating, which allows a "natural feel" of the string. The protection is still there, but the quality of sound never really deterred. It is a great option if you want to expressive and bright strings for your instrument.

It is also undeniable that the Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings exhibits exceptional vibration. Therefore, it can produce loud and full sounds without even breaking a sweat. Of course, such feature is already impressive, considering that this one is a light-gauged string.


Pros:

  • Features a patented anti-corrosion coating
  • It has a long and unwavering tonal quality
  • Light and easy to manipulate (perfect for beginners)
  • Sturdy and doesn't break quickly
  • Produces stable vibration and pitch

Cons:

  • It is typically costly (around two times more expensive than its competitors)

Let's take a look at this product...

Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Light (.012-.053)
  • Acoustic guitar strings constructed with 80/20 (80% copper, 20% zinc) bronze wrap wire
  • Played for a crisp, bright tone with an expressive, vibrant presence
  • Ultra-thin NANOWEB Coating provides a more traditionally textured, "uncoated" feel
  • Our patented coating technology protects against common corrosion, extending tone life longer than any other brand's coated or uncoated strings (Elixir Strings player survey)
  • Light gauge: .012 .016 .024 .032 .042 .053

Those who are searching for robust and full sounds for their acoustic guitars should consider the Elixir String 80/20 with Polyweb coating. They have almost the same capabilities as the first Elixir String set we featured. However, this one is an ideal choice for those who want to produce clear mid and low tones. Your rig can certainly stand out in the mix with this tool.

Unlike other strings out there, the Polyweb used in Elixir is authentic and patented. Therefore, you can expect that these strings can offer soft and smooth playing experience to its user. In fact, we definitely recommend these guitar strings to beginners. They provide impressive maneuverability and pitch quality that you can't find on ordinary string sets.


Pros:

  • Durable construction
  • Comes with polyweb coating for impressive and natural playing feel
  • Playable (beginner friendly-instrument)
  • Pitch quality is on-point
  • Produces optimal vibration for enhanced sounding

Cons:

  • The cost is still the issue

Let's take a look at this product...

Sale
Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w POLYWEB Coating, Extra Light (.010-.047)
  • Acoustic guitar strings constructed with 80/20 (80% copper, 20% zinc) bronze wrap wire
  • Played for a warm and robust tone that sounds "played-in" but still retains a remarkably clear mid-range presence
  • Original POLYWEB Coating provides a soft, smooth feel that keeps the strings from getting in the way of playing
  • Our patented coating technology protects against common corrosion, extending tone life longer than any other brand's coated or uncoated strings (Elixir Strings player survey)
  • Extra Light gauge: .010 .014 .023 .030 .039 .047

Another dependable string that you should try is the Martin MM12 Retro Monel. This one has been a recent talk-in-the-town, especially on guitar communities like r/Guitar (Reddit). This particular set of strings has a great performance and stability. It received a lot of recommendations, especially for those who play the mellow genre. The tonal quality that it has is soft and distinct. But the sounding that it has can still provide enough presence.

This string set has a light gauge. You can easily play this instrument without hurting your hands, even if you are still a new player. Despite this, this particular unit remains to be durable. It is not susceptible to corrosion, which makes it a good investment. With all these features, it is not a surprise to anymore why many guitar players recommend it!


Pros:

  • Produces a distinct mellow sound
  • Resist corrosion for longer lifespan
  • Rugged construction
  • High-quality tonal pitch
  • Beginner-friendly

Cons:

  • Creates unwanted metallic sound if you won't tune it properly

Let's take a look at this product...

Sale
Martin MM12 Retro Monel Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 12-54
  • Light: 12-54
  • Crafted from a long-lasting proprietary nickel-based alloy blend
  • Mellows quickly to a warm vintage tone that brings out the unique, woody sounds in your acoustic guitar

The Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood is a string set that provides expressive tonal quality. It can offer a clear sound production that can easily emphasize your playing style and capabilities. Coming from the United States, this acoustic guitar string is crafted from the best and finest string materials. It possesses unique shielding that protects it from the unwanted elements.

You can also assure that strings are durable and rugged. They don't break easily, even if you play with your instrument constantly. In fact, the Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood is a great choice if you want to play live and do some recordings. Since it has a clean output, you will certainly perform without any worries.

Pros:

  • Available in multiple gauges
  • Ideal for live and studio applications
  • Made from high-quality materials
  • Pitch is distinct and clear
  • Durable and element-resistant

Cons:

  • They don't last long compared to other strings that we mentioned here

Let's take a look at this product...

Sale
Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood Medium Light Acoustic Phosphor Bronze String Set (12 - 54)
  • Rich Expressive Sound
  • Excellent Clarity
  • Made in California, U.S.A. Featuring the finest and freshest materials.
  • Made from 92% copper, 7.7% tin, 0.3% phosphorus wire
  • Element Shield Packaging Prolongs string life and keeps strings as fresh as the day they were made

For the price, nothing can just beat the Martin MSP4150. It is among the most affordable options that you can get out there. But definitely, the quality is not cheap either. This is a surprising feat, considering that this one has a splendid design and performance.

Just like the first Martin acoustic guitar string we featured, this also has a good rapport with the community. It is available in different variants and gauges. Moreover, you can actually use these strings even if you don't own a Martin guitar.The MSP4150 comes with a coating. Fortunately, it is not as thick as we expected it to be. Although it is a guarantee that Martin's bread and butter are their uncoated strings, you can never still underestimate the pitch quality of the MSP4150.


Pros:

  • Affordable choice
  • Great strings for practice applications
  • Sound quality is pretty decent
  • Durable and rugged
  • Corrosion resistant

Cons:

  • It has too much coating
Sale
Martin MSP4150 SP Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light/Medium
  • Gauges: .0125 - .055
  • Ultra-high quality steel core
  • Core wires and plain strings plated with an acoustic bronze finish

Another D'Addario acoustic guitar string that you should consider is the D'Addario EJ16-3D. It can generate a balanced and clear acoustic tone. It has a unique construction, too. Specifically, it is crafted from precision machinery. Because of this, you can assure that these strings are durable and resistant against typical detriments.

When it comes to sounding, the D'Addario EJ16-3D produces warm and bright tones. The intonation is distinct and clear, too. As a result, this string set can deliver the traditional and organic experience that is iconic to acoustic guitars.

Pros:

  • It is a well-made string set
  • Excellent sounding
  • Pitch and vibration are impressive
  • Works well in different types of commercial acoustic guitars
  • Great for amateur and seasoned players

Cons:

  • It is not as bright as we expected it to be
  • Can hurt your fingers when they are still new

Let's take a look at this product...

Sale
D'Addario EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 3 Sets
  • D'Addario's most popular acoustic guitar string set
  • Also available in the EXP Coated series, offering 3-5x the lifespan
  • Preferred for its warm, bright, and well balanced acoustic tone
  • Made in the U.S.A. for the highest quality and performance
  • String Gauges: Plain Steel .012, .016, Phosphor Bronze Wound .024, .032, .042, .053

You may not have heard of John Pearse. But definitely, this is among the best-sounding acoustic guitar strings on the market today. Its popularity is not as great as other strings above here. However, we can assure that you won't regret on this one.

The tonal quality of the John Pearse 600L is definitely great. They are very comparable to the strings produced by Martin. Of course, they also possess the cleanliness and distinction that are well identical to some high-end brands. But the best selling feature of this strings is its inexpensiveness. It is like getting more than what you have paid for.


Pros:

  • Great tonal quality
  • Affordable choice
  • Perfect for practice purposes
  • Easy to play
  • Comes in different models

Cons:

  • Doesn't last long, especially if use them constantly

Let's take a look at this product...

Final Verdict

Having a great acoustic guitar string will certainly improve the sounding and quality of your instrument. They can certainly define the tone that the guitar will release. If you can get the right strings, your guitar will be at its peak performance.

Among the strings we featured, both the Elixir strings impressed us the most. They are well-made. Their tonal quality doesn't suck. And their lifespan is notably long. Therefore, we can easily say that their prices are justifiable. They are our best acoustic guitar strings.

Which of these acoustic guitar strings do you like the most? Tell us your answers in the comment section below!

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About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don't want to drop my zeal--especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!