The 8 Best Acoustic Guitar Strings

Updated August 31, 2017

8 Best Acoustic Guitar Strings
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If it's time to re-string your instrument, you could do a lot worse than try a set of these acoustic guitar strings. We've included options that are designed and priced to be ideal for novices through to some professional sets that are used by some of the best-known musicians in the world. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best acoustic guitar string on Amazon.

8. Dean Markley Blue Steels

Believe it or not, Dean Markley Blue Steels are cryogenically frozen beneath a layer of liquid nitrogen to enhance their performance. By cooling the wires at a temperature of -320º F, the molecules tighten, removing any gaps that could have an impact on their sound.
  • process sharpens resonance
  • light gauge is best for novices
  • may snap under high tension
Brand Dean Markley
Model Blue Steel Acoustic LT
Weight 1.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Acoustic Science Premiums

If you're tired of strings becoming susceptible to wear, these Acoustic Science Premiums might be a decent fit. Each set is protected by a molecular coating that extends to every inch of the wire, preserving it by prohibiting any moisture or dirt from seeping in.
  • composition is eight percent zinc
  • won't cause squeaking on each chord
  • initial tuning may be tedious
Brand Acoustic Science Phosph
Model pending
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Martin SPs

Martin SPs are designed for the traditionalist, and they're made by a company that's been in business since 1833. Though not equipped with a lot of features, every set delivers great treble, along with an ability to withstand being strummed from day to day.
  • good for kids who are taking lessons
  • deliver considerable bass
  • thick gauges may sit low over frets
Brand Martin
Model MSP4200
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Fender 80/20s

Fender 80/20s undergo a patented coating process that's geared toward improving clarity. The result is a warm sound that won't be affected by transitioning between tempos, although any instruments may need to be amplified, as these strings aren't very loud.
  • humidity won't impact tuning
  • quality is optimum on fender guitars
  • tend to wear rather quickly
Brand Fender
Model 0730880303
Weight 3.5 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. Vibe Phosphor

Vibe Phosphor has made its name by producing long-lasting accessories with a remarkable timbre that are versatile enough to be used by players at every skill level. Musicians can select from a range of sizes, depending on their preference and their style.
  • constructed out of bronze and steel
  • each pack arrives vacuum sealed
  • better for strumming than picking
Brand Vibe Strings
Model BCG332442
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Ernie Ball Earthwoods

Used by Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney, these Ernie Ball Earthwoods are designed to provide a rich sound that resonates throughout any room. Made of copper, every length features a locking twist along the end, so you can easily secure it around any saddle.
  • possess a vibrant gold appearance
  • will not produce a buzz
  • may slip out of tune occasionally
Brand Ernie Ball
Model P02146
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. D'Addario Phosphors

D'Addario Phosphors earn instant credibility based on the fact that D'Addario was the first company to introduce phosphor-bronze sustain to musical instruments way back in 1974. Today this brand is widely recognized, and it is respected by six-string pros across the map.
  • made with a high-carbon core
  • come in packs of one three or 10
  • designed long to fit all necks
Brand D'Addario
Model EJ16-3D
Weight 3.5 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Elixir 80/20s

Elixir 80/20s are comprised of 80% copper and 20% zinc, a bronze-wrapped combination of which provides a sharp and jangling tone. What's more, these strings come with a protective anti-rust coating, so that finger sweat and moisture will not cause them to corrode.
  • several gauges available
  • provide superior sound projection
  • do not feel abrasive to the fingers
Brand Elixir
Model 11102
Weight 9.1 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

If You Like It, Then You’ve Gotta Put A String On It

If you’re looking at acoustic guitar strings, you probably already know a few of the basics. For example, one way they differ from classical guitar strings lies in the materials. Acoustic strings are normally made from some type of metal, whereas classical strings are often made from nylon (or catgut). You may know, too, that acoustic strings come in different sizes, affect the way the guitar sounds, and are produced by many manufacturers, such as Martin and D’Addario. But there is much, much more to know about this crucial guitar component.

For instance, when it comes to materials, you’ll most commonly hear about bronze strings, either 80/20 bronze or phosphor bronze. In actual fact, these aren’t exactly made of bronze. The former contains 80 percent copper and 20 percent zinc, while the latter contains similar materials wrapped with a phosphorous wire. Where you’ll really notice this difference in composition is in the sound. A set of 80/20 strings tends to be brighter, more ringing, whereas a set of phosphor bronze will give you a warmer, darker sound.

Another favorite of both novice and experienced players is the silk and steel variety. These have a steel core wrapped with nylon, silk, or some other material that’s softer than a metal. This makes the strings both a little easier on the fingers and a bit more mellow sounding. Many folk guitarists and fingerstyle players opt for these.

No matter the string material, gauge is extremely important. Gauge refers to the thickness of the string and is an exact measurement given in inches. Since guitar strings are thin, these numbers are tiny; a really thin E string might be 0.011 inches. Most people have a hard time picturing a size this small and understanding the difference between gauges at this size, so manufacturers use a classification system along with the exact numbers. This system ranges from extra light to heavy.

Making Sense Of The Options

Knowing the basics about types of strings (e.g., bronze vs. nylon, light vs. heavy) is a great start to choosing strings, but you might notice that there are a few other factors to consider. Manufacturers have many ways of improving string sound, quality, and life, including different winding methods, cores, coatings, and manufacturing processes. You’ll probably even notice that string makers come out with new strings relatively regularly, offering new-and-improved this and longer-lasting that. So, unless you’re a professional musician, how on earth can you be expected to choose?

The answer is much simpler than you’d suppose, and it’s this: You’re going to have to try a range of different strings. This may seem like the most unhelpful advice ever given, but before you grab a pitchfork, consider the ultimate subjectivity of playing the guitar. Yes, there are foundational musical principles and good practices, but how a guitar feels and sounds is going to be different for every player. That’s just one part of the reason why the world gets to enjoy both Jimi Hendrix and Sungha Jung. The truth is, if you like a set of strings, the way they feel and sound, then that makes them right for you.

That said, brand-new guitar players might keep a few simple ideas in mind as they make their selections. Lighter strings are perhaps better at first, because they’ll let you build up your strength and calluses comfortably, as are coated strings for the sake of durability. The size and type of the guitar is important, too. You don’t want to put light nylon strings on a guitar made for steel strings, just as you shouldn’t put heavy steel strings on a classical guitar. Ignoring the type of strings the guitar requires could lead to instrument damage.

You should also know that strings will wear out, they will snap, and you’re going to have to replace them. Don’t be hesitant to try something new. There’s a vast difference between reading about sets of strings and playing them, so you probably won’t find your new favorites through research alone. And should you happen not to like the new ones, they’ll need to be replaced at some point — so you aren’t stuck with them forever.

A Change Would Do You Good

One common question guitar players have is: When do I need to change my strings? Unfortunately, there isn’t a truly definitive answer to this, either, such as “after every 100 hours” or “every three weeks.” There are some signs to keep an eye out for, however, that will let you know it’s probably time for a change.

If, for instance, you notice that the old strings look dull or discolored, appear to have some rust, or are unraveling, then a new set of acoustic strings may be overdue. Rely on your ears, too, and not just your eyes. If the guitar won’t stay in tune or it’s lost a lot of its brightness, you might need to put a new set of strings on. Where you live and how much you play are important factors to consider, as well. You’ll need new strings more often if you live in a humid climate, expose the guitar to a lot of smoke, have sweaty hands, or play often.

One way you can extend the life of your strings is by taking good care of them. Before you play, wash your hands, and when you finish, wipe the strings with a clean cloth. Take the time to wind them properly, too; don’t do a quick or careless job. You’ll probably want to get a string winder to make the process easier and faster. And, finally, always keep an extra set of strings handy so that a broken string doesn’t ruin your jam session.

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Last updated on August 31, 2017 by multiple members of the ezvid wiki editorial staff

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