Choosing the right set of guitar strings is very important. There are hundreds of strings available in the market, and they all feel and sound differently. These two important factors ensure the type of strings compliment the style of music you are playing.
What are the different types of guitar strings? There are several types of guitar strings and they vary depending primarily on Brand, Gauge, Material/ Alloy and Coating.
In this article we give you a basic idea on what type of string you are going to want that will mould best for you and your playing style. We look into detail including response, feel and the different construction technique that attribute to the sound of your instrument.
1. What Are The Different Types Of Guitar Strings?
The different types of guitar strings can be categorized by brand, make, materials, construction and coating. There are all kinds of types and I find the easiest way to begin understanding all these is by starting with the different brands on the market.
When discussing the type of guitar strings it is important to understand what brands are out there in the market place. There are Six main brands of guitar strings and each brand covers all the bases of strings available. However, there are still variations within the sound produced. This is mainly because there are different techniques being used when constructing. For example, certain brands use different binding techniques, as well as the material having slightly different composites.
Below we look at some brands and discuss how these are constructed and then we will look at the type of results you will expect.
Six Main Brands Of Guitar Strings
These brands include D’Addario, Ernie Ball, Martin, DR, GHS & Fender. Starting with D’addario let us look at each one of these in detail. As you can see below, just D’addario offer over 10 types of strings for the guitar and as you can imagine choosing the right set of strings can be quite difficult. Below, I have separated acoustic strings from electric strings and then covered their specifications individually.
2. D’Addario Guitar Strings
D’addario is the most experienced maker of guitar strings in the list, and probably being the oldest string-makers that you will find on the market today. Starting out as a family business in Italy, D’addario was making strings back in the 1600’s. They would originally be made from animal gut, and be called gut strings. Back in 1956, D’addario expanded their business to New York and became one of the first businesses to develop guitar strings for the electric guitar.
Today, D’Addario offers a wide variety of strings to any stringed instrument and D’addario are known for their crisp bright tone. It also says on their website “many top guitarists won’t play any other brand”. Further, D’Addario has a set of strings that is right for any playing style.
3. D’Addario Acoustic Guitar Strings
The 80/20 Bronze acoustic guitar strings is an alloy made from 80% of copper and 20% of nickel. It is popular choice for recording because of their bright but crisp sounding tone. The 80/20 bronze is a type of guitar string that is uncoated. This means there is no protective outer layer, which means the strings are unprotected from dirt and oil so they may deteriorate faster under frequent playing.
For the 80/20 product line, D’Addario currently offers five options for string gauge. These include the EJ10, EJ11, EJ12, EJ13 and EJ14. Another more interesting option is the EJ36, which is a variation of the EJ10, made exclusively for 12-string acoustic guitars. The best sellers of this line are the EJ10, EJ12 and EJ13.
XT 80/20 Bronze coated
The XT 80/20 is also constructed from the 80/20 bronze alloy. This particular type of string uses protective coating for extended lifespan, as the coating will protect against the natural oils your hands produce. The XT 80/20 bronze coated is pretty much the coated version of the above-mentioned 80/20 bronze. However, because of the protective coating it takes away some of the brightness. If you have a naturally bright sounding guitar then these strings should complement them quite nicely.
All XT 80/20 Bronze coated strings are coded XTABR, followed by the string gauge specifications. There are five main options available for the XT 80/20 Bronze coated, including the 1047, 1152, 1253, 1256, 1256 and a variation of the 1047 for 12-string guitars – XTABR1047-12. The most popular option for this product line amongst guitar players is the 1356.
The Phosphor Bronze are known to be the most popular set of light gauge strings for acoustic guitar. The tone these produce is warm but overall are well-balanced for your acoustic tone. These are uncoated and may deteriorate faster from the natural oils your fingers produce when playing.
Phosphor Bronze strings by D’Addario are available for six standard gauges, which are EJ15, EJ16, EJ17, EJ18, EJ19, EJ24 and EJ26. For this line, D’Addario offers two more special variations, the EJ38H, designed specifically for Nashville tuning, and the EJ42, which is an resophonic set, used with resophonic or dobro guitars. The 12-string variations for the phosphor bronze are available in EJ37, EJ38, EJ39, EJ41.
XT Phosphor Bronze Coated
The XT Phosphor Bronze are constructed from phosphor bronze meaning generally these last longer. Combined with advanced corrosion resistance treatment enhances the lifetime of your strings ensuring the quality of your sound never fades away. Furthermore, the tone these produce is warm and mellow. But, they are more well known for their enhanced break resistance and pitch stability.
Similar to the XT 80/20 Bronze series, D’Addario, too, offers 5 main options for their XT Phosphor Bronze Coated strings. However, this series is coded XTAPB and followed by the string gauge specification. Also similar to the standard XT Bronze, these phosphor strings come in gauges of 1253, 1256, 1047, 1152 and1356. The 12-string set is the variation of the 1047 set, coded XTAPB1047-12.
EXP Acoustic is D’Addario’s most popular set of light gauge strings for acoustic guitar that utilizes EXP coating for extended lifespan. These particular strings are warm and provide a well-balanced acoustic tone.
For their most popular series, D’Addario has made sure to give the EXPs as many variations and utilities as possible. The EXP series consist of two main types of strings: the 80/20 bronze strings and the phosphor strings. All sets in the series are coded EXP before their string gauge specifications. The EXP 80/20 sets are: the EXP 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 while the Phosphor sets available are the EXP 15, 16, 17, 19 and 26. Which total to 11 variations. D’Addario also offers 12-strings sets for the EXP series, which are EXP 42, 36 and 38. EXP 36 and 39 are the 12-string variations of the EXP 10 and 15, respectively while the EXP 42 is made for 12-string resophonic guitars.
Silk & Steel
The Silk and Steel generally have a softer tone and come in extra light gauge making them ideal for small body guitars. They have less tension making the sound softer but crisp. They are known to hold a vintage sound classic guitar players like, whereby they are commonly used for folk music.
For Silk and Steel series, currently, D’Addario only offers 1 string gauge, which is 11-47. This string gauge is available in two variations, which are EJ40 Silk & Steel for 6-string acoustic guitars and EJ35 Silk & Steel for 12-string guitars.
The Nickel bronze guitar string sets are uncoated strings that enhance the natural tone of your guitar. These feature a combination of nickel-plated phosphor bronze wrapped onto a high carbon NY steel core for higher strength. This mean your guitar will stay tuned better and provides a crisp and clear sound. Nickel bronze also has a good resonance, projection, balance and rich overtones.
1047 1152 1253 1252BT 1256 1356 13556BT 1047-12 1656
Nickel Bronze series are coded NB followed by their respective string gauge specifications. D’Addario offers five standard sets of strings for this series, which are the NB1047, 1152, 1253, 1256 and 1356. In addition, these sets can be acquired for Balanced Tension configuration, which are the NB1252BT and NB13556BT. Apart from these, they also make a dedicated set of strings for resophonic guitars- the NB1656. For the Nickel Bronze series, D’Addario do offer a 12-string set, which is the variation of the NB1047, coded NB1047 – 12. The most popular choice amongst these sets by guitarists is the NB1253.
Flat Top Phosphor Bronze
The Phosphor bronze flat tops are round wound and then precision ground so to increase comfort of playing to that on a flat surface and this technique doesn’t sacrifice tone.
15 16 17 13
The Flat Top Phosphor Bronze series is coded EFT and followed by the respective string gauge specifications and available in four options, which are EFT 13, 15, 16 and 17. For this series, D’Addario does not offer options for 12-string or resophonic guitars.
The Gypsie jazz have been designed to mimic the famous sound of Django Reinhardt. These combine light string gauges with silver plated copper wrap wire to produce the warm, projecting mellow tone.
83L 84L 83M 84M
For the Gypsy Jazz configuration, D’Addario offers four options, which are the EJ83L, 84L, 83M and 84M. L and M respectively stand for Light and Medium tension. The 83’s offer ball-end sets of strings while the 84’s have loop-end.
4. The Types Of D’Addario Classical Guitar Strings
The XT Classical strings offer an unmatched precision in intonation in its trebles and basses. The XT Classical sets are designed with the intention to preserve the natural tone of the guitar and bring out said qualities as brightly and vividly as possible, with a touch of the uncoated feel of the strings on each fingertip. In addition, the XT Classical strings are surprisingly resistant to corrosion while not being coated. According to the manufacturer, the strings from this series can last four times longer than the traditional uncoated strings.
The XT Classical series is available in three options: Medium, Hard and Extra Hard tension, coded: XTC45, 46 and 44, respectively. All of these sets come in silver plated copper.
Pro Arte Nylon
The Pro-Arte Nylon series is the standard and balance configuration of the classical strings lineup from D’Addario. They are designed to deliver a balance in tone, whereby not one note shall distract the players from the others. The strings are guaranteed to bring out an intonation devoid of wavering in volumes and they sustain the fullness and warmth in each note rung out.
The Pro Arte nylon by D’Addario come in many variations. The standard sets are the Pro Arte nylon strings, coded EJ43, 45, 46 and 44, whose tensions are light, medium, hard and extra-hard respectively. D’Addario also manufactures two other types which are more economical, namely the 80/20 and the Black nylon. These strings are coded EJ47, 49 for the 80/20 strings and EJ 49 and 50 for Black nylon strings. In addition, a more prestigious type is available, which offers polished basses – the EJ51.
Pro Arte Carbon
The Pro Arte Carbon is the favourite by many. Thanks to its silver plated copper wound on the nylon core of the bass strings, each note is brought out as brightly as the players have intended. While the basses are vivid, they do not meddle with the projection of the trebles, as they are all delivered clearly. These qualities help bring out the fullness in its tone, yet are easy on the fingers while packing a surprising dynamic projection.
The pro Arte Carbon series is available in two options, the EJ45FF for normal tension and EJ46FF for hard tension.
Pro Arte Carbon Dynacore
The Pro Arte Carbon Dynacore series is similar to the standard Pro Arte Carbon except for its treble strings, which are coined “titanium trebles” by D’Addario themselves. These strings are known for their superb projection, greater resonation while offering a perfectly round tone and its iconic gentle touch on the fingers. These strings are also famed for their life expectancy, which are much greater and more durable than the standard strings.
The Pro Arte Carbon Dynacore is available in three variations: the EJ45TT, 46 and 44, similar to many other product lines by D’Addario. The tension on these sets are also available in medium to extra-hard tension. Apart from this, D’Addario does have the option for half a set for this series, offering silver plated copper bass strings.
Pro Arte Composite
The Pro Arte Composite Series by D’Addario are the strings specifically designed for heightened sustenance of the tone. The strings are loved for the sound components which they are made to deliver – a perfect balance of boldness and sweetness which the composite core material helps bring to life. And yet, they are capable of sustaining these qualities much better than standard strings. Due to its power and prolonged tone, the strings are frequently used for classical and flamenco music.
the Pro Arte Composite strings come in five different variations, three of which are aimed at classical guitars, the others are designed as complements for flamenco music. The former sets include the EJ45C, 46 and 44, similar to many string products made by D’Addario, offering tension from medium to extra-hard. The other two sets are EJ25C, which comes with clear nylon composite strings, and EJ25B, which uses black nylon composite strings instead of clear.
Pro Arte Lightly Polished Composite
The Pro Arte Lightly Polished Composite series are very similar to Pro Arte Composite. They still boast the same power and sustenance as the less expensive counterparts. However, these strings produce much less noise and buzzing sounds. The silky smooth strings also help in reducing friction as the fingers make contact with the strings. This is only possible thanks to the polish on the strings surface. Thanks to this advantage, the Pro Arte Lightly Polished Composite strings are perfect for recording and studio settings.
For this product line, D’Addario only offers three variations in standard gauge, which are normal tension to extra-hard tension. The strings are available for these models: EJ45LP, 46 and 44.
Pro Arte rectified Trebles
The Pro Arte Rectified Trebles, as the name suggests, is a new and upgraded version of the standard Pro Arte Strings. However, instead of focusing on the bass strings in order to give the notes more oomph, and better handling over the bass strings, the main focus of Pro Arte Rectified Trebles is to bring out the accuracy in the trebles, giving the players a sound most natural of the guitar itself. This is only possible due to the technical dedication into developing the structure of the treble strings. The sounds produced by Pro Arte Rectified Trebles are warm, gentle, perfect for classical guitars.
Similar to other more specialized string sets by D’Addario, the Pro Arte Rectified Trebles are only available in three variations, which EJ29, 30 and 31, tension ranging from moderate to normal and hard.
The EXP Classical, like the EXP Acoustics, is the most prestigious sets for classical guitars produced by D’Addario. This set is famed for their unrivalled organic sound, the most accurate intonation and power from the bass strings. The EXP Classical is armed with the same sustenance and usage of the Pro Arte Carbon and the XT Classical, which, according to the manufacturer, would last three to four times the traditional guitar strings would. The bass strings are wound in highly engineered and processed materials, allows the fingers the most comfortable sensation. D’Addario has clearly intended to put everything in the technical arsenals into this product line.
EXP classical strings are available in three variations from normal to hard and extra-hard tension, all of which are coated: EXP45, 46 and 44.
The Classics sets are the basic and most standard sets for classical guitars. While these sets do pay attention to the sounds components, engineered to bring out warm and accurate notes, they are fully and intentionally geared towards ease of playing. D’Addario only produce this line in normal and hard tension, offering no options for extra-hard tension. For the reasons stated, the Classics are very suitable for beginners and students, people who are still new to guitars. These strings provide sufficient details in the sound and extreme ease to players.
the options for Classics strings are quite limited, only available in normal and hard tension, namely the EJ27N and EJ27H. There are also two other variations of the EJ27N for ½ and ¾ guitars.
The Folk Nylon strings by D’Addario is designed for the venturing guitarists who like to try new things and embrace an unorthodox play style. The Folk Nylon is every bit a standard classical guitar string set, whose bass are nylon core wound in silver plated copper while featuring clear nylon treble strings. The only difference is the ball end, which accommodates both classical and steel-string acoustic guitars. This set still preserve the same corrosive resistance and sustaining intonation. Due to its characteristics, the Folk Nylon is preferred amongst guitarists for ease of installment and versatility.
The Folk Nylon series are available in two types: silver plated wound bass or 80/20 Bronze strings. The former type includes the EJ32C and EJ32, offering clear nylon or black nylon treble strings respectively. The latter type also comes in clear nylon trebles, the EJ33, and black nylon trebles EJ34.
5. The Type Of D’Addario Electric Guitar Strings
EXP Electric Coated Nickel
The EXP Electric is a high quality sets by D’Addario. The EXP is geared towards overall superb performance. Which explains why it is D’Addario most popular coated electric guitar strings set. The EXP Electric is nickel plated, guaranteed to last 4 times longer than ordinary strings.
Originally, there were four string gauge options for the EXP Electric. However, currently, D’Addario only supply the EXP120, the super light set.
XL Half Rounds
The XL Half Rounds boast a similar design to the traditional round wound strings but are engineered to give the sensation of flatwound strings. This feel is possible thanks to the semi-flat surface of the XL Half Rounds, which incorporates the technology of both round and flatwound strings. Essentially, they achieve the best of both worlds, the signature, traditional tone of the roundwound strings with the feel of modern flatwound strings.
The XL Half Rounds are available in many string gauges, from extra-super light to heavier sets for more sustenance. The gauges available are the EHR330 (8-39), 320 (9-42), 310 (10-46), 340 (10-52), 370 (11-49), 350 (12-52) and 360 (13-56). The last two options are made for Jazz and the EHR350 holds the position of the best seller for this series.
The XL ProSteels are built to suit guitarists who seek to add some crunches to their tone while increasing its sustain. The XL ProSteels feature stainless steel wrap wires, which serves to give a brighter sound projection and improve the interactions between the strings and the pickups. Due to this distinct characteristics, these strings are popular amongst rock and metal guitarists.
For the XL ProSteels, D’Addario offers seven string gauge variations, ranging from extra-light to jazz medium. These include the EPS530, 520, 510, 540, 515, 590 and 600. Two more variations for C-9th and E-9th are also produced, which are EPS500 and 490. Amongst this series, the most popular choice is the EPS530 – extra-super light, which features gauge of 08-38.
XL Pure Nickel
The XL Pure Nickel is an attempt by D’Addario to pay homage to the cornerstones of rock & roll. In building these strings, the manufacturer opted for a pure nickel wrap rather than a steel wrap. Said choice gives the tone a much warmer sounding and a distinct, nostalgic timbre, which is the height of the 60’s and 70’s. The XL Pure Nickel is, unsurprisingly, preferred to use in rock & roll, and blues.
D’Addario offers the XL Pure Nickel in standard gauges, which range from super light to jazz medium. The lineup includes: EPN120 (09-41), EPN110 (10-45), EPN115 (11-48), EPN21 (12-51) and EPN22 (13-56).
The XL Chromes are promised to bring warmth and mellowness to your playing. D’Addario used flatwound strings for this series, which guarantee durability and enhanced playability. Thanks to flatwound technology, the strings are smooth on the fingers, significantly reduce the friction and, as a result, noises, thus, add even more to the gentleness of the sound. The strings are loved for their tones and are frequently used in jazz playing.
The XL Chromes are available in standard gauges, extra-light to medium. The string gauges are: ECG23 (10-48), 24 (11-50), 25 (12-52), 26 (13-56). For this series, D’Addario also produces a 7-string version – the ECG24-7 (11-65).
The XL Nickel is most definitely one of the most popular electric guitar string sets from D’Addario. They are famed for their overall balance in durability and sound accuracy, and, thus, suitable for almost any musical genres. D’Addario was able to achieve such qualities thanks to the highly advanced engineering put into manufacturing these strings: the cores are made of high carbon steel, welded into hexagon shape under a nickel wrap, where every procedure is carried out with extreme precision. Such meticulous work has brought the strings an overall superb tone: exceedingly bright and iconic with an excellent sustain.
D’Addario manufactures the XL Nickel for a wide variety of string gauges. The standard XL Nickel sets are EXL130 (08-38), 130+ (8.5-39), 120 (09-42), 120+ (9.5-44), 125 (09-46), 110 (10-46), 140 (10-52).
Complement string sets are also available. D’Addario manufactures a few other string types, including the Balanced Tension, available in EXL120BT (09-40), EXL110BT (10-46); the Reinforced: EKXL120 (09-42), EKXL110 (10-46); Double Ballend: ESXL120 (09-42), ESXL125 (09-46), ESXL110 (10-46); Wound 3rd: EXL110W (10-46); and High Strung/Nashville: EXL150H (10-46).
Apart from these, D’Addario also supplies sets for guitars with more than 6 strings, including: 7-string sets: EXL120-7 (09-54), EXL110-7 (10-59); 8-string sets: EXL120-8 (09-56); and 12-string sets: EXL150 (10-46).
The NYXL series are built for advanced and unorthodox tunings. Thanks to newly engineered strings, these sets do not break easily amidst tuning sessions, allowing for endless possibilities for experimenting different tuning, while also greatly shortens tuning periods and stay in tune for much longer than traditional strings. Nickel Plated strings, too, aids in enhancing the magnetic properties, bringing out more qualities from the input signals and greatly improve the frequency response within the range of 1 and 3.5 kHz.
The NYXL is a massive arsenal of D’Addario, available in an impressive variety. The standard NYXL sets are of nickel wound types, which are coded NYXL, followed by their respective string gauges, which can range from extra super light (08-38) to extra heavy (12-60) and medium wound 3rd (13-56), totalling at over ten varieties of strings. The best-selling amongst these is the NYXL0942, a set of super light variety. In addition, D’Addario does provide the NYXL in double ballend, 7-string, 8-string and other custom varieties. For this series alone, D’Addario has produced nearly 30 configurations, suiting the needs of almost every guitarist, regardless of how picky they can be.
The XT Nickel feature nickel wound strings, resulting in an unparalleled lifespan and durability. The integrated technology allows the players to enjoy and practice as long and harshly as they like without fearing the strings may snap. The uncoated strings of this series give way to natural and warm tone, producing the truest sound the guitar can make. Despite being uncoated, the XT Nickel is guaranteed to hold its tune and stand the test of time much better than uncoated traditional strings.
The XT Nickel is available in various standard string gauges, ranging from super light to medium. Currently, D’Addario is producing the following variations: XTE0942 (09-42), XTE0946 (09-46), XTE1046 (10-46), XTE1052 (10-52), and XTE1149 (11-49). Amongst these string sets, the XTE1046 is most popular amongst guitarists.
6. Ernie Ball Guitar Strings
Ernie Ball was introduced to Fender back 1953 and was seen as a pioneer for the electric guitar. Ernie Ball saw the huge potential that the electric guitar had to offer at that time and dedicated his life to making sure it got recognised for its true potential.
Ernie ball most noticeable contribution to the guitar world was his super slinky guitar strings. These strings were originally developed in 1962, but they are still perhaps the most recognisable brand on the shelf today.
7. Ernie Ball Acoustic String Sets
Paradigm 80/20 Bronze
Ernie Ball is famed for their anti-break technology in guitar strings manufacturing. In fact, all guitar string products by Ernie Ball feature unrivalled durability across the market. The Paradigm 80/20 Bronze series is also not an exception – an exceptional, technology-driven set of strings guaranteed to hold both a slinky tone and the strings themselves intact.
The Paradigm 80/20 bronze is available in standard acoustic guitar strings gauges, including 10-50, 11-52, 12-54, 13-56
Paradigm Phosphor Bronze
The Paradigm Phosphor Bronze set is the upgraded 80/20 bronze strings but come with phosphor coating technology, helps in delivering the slinky tone that is unique to Ernie Ball coupled with the distinct warmth and feel of coated strings. Phosphor coating also helps with preserving the tone, fighting off corrosion and giving the strings a gentle feel, which, in turns, reduces friction between the fingers and the strings.
The Paradigm Phosphor Bronze set comes in standard string gauges, similar to the 80/20 bronze.
EARTHWOOD 80/20 BRONZE
The Earthwood series by Ernie Ball features the traditional 80/20 alloy of 80% copper and 20% zinc, similar to the Paradigm. However, that is where the similarities ended. The Earthwood strings are tin-plated hex-shaped steel core wrapped by the bronze alloy wires. Such composition and design have given the strings an unreplicable crisp and ringing sound, delivered with a powerful projection.
The Earthwood 80/20 comes in 5 options: 9-46, 10-50, 11-52, 12-54 and 13-56.
EARTHWOOD PHOSPHOR BRONZE
Earthwood Phosphor Bronze, the 80/20 strings yet upgraded a few steps further. Expectedly, the compositions have changed quite a bit, featuring 92% copper, 7.7% tin and 0.3% phosphorus wires. The steel cores from the 80/20 earthwood are reused – hex-shaped and tin-plated. The strings feature the iconic hues of phosphor coated strings – gold with a slight orange tint and are able to produce warm, full and clear sounds, which is expected from strings of this technology.
The string gauges available for this series are the same as its brother, the 80/20 Earthwood, which comes in 9-46, 10-50, 11-52, 12-54, 13-56.
The aluminium bronze, as the name suggests, features aluminium and bronze alloy as strings wire wraps. The aluminium in the composition helps to deliver sound with a distinct clarity. Sound projection is also improved, becomes more powerful along with improved basses and exceedingly clear trebles. Properties of the aluminium components also help to fight off corrosion and enhance durability, which the traditional Ernie Ball has been famed for. Ernie Ball was able to achieve these qualities thanks to the copper and aluminium composites in the wire wraps, an added feature from the traditional copper and zinc wrap.
The Aluminum bronze strings are available in 4 different standard gauges, including 10-50, 11-52, 12-54, 13-56.
Everlast coated 80/20 bronze
The Everlast coated 80/20 strings from Ernie Ball are, again, very similar to other 80/20 products of this manufacturer. The strings are built to produce the distinct slinky tone of Ernie Ball, coupled with clear soundings and delivered by an exceedingly powerful projection. What sets this series apart from the other products is the nano-coated technology, which offers further protection from grimes, dirt, other environmental contaminants. The Everlast strings follow the same structure of the Earthwood strings – steel cores of hex shape and tin plate wrapped by 80/20 bronze alloy wire wrap. The strings are then equipped a nano-coat to provide further durability, sound structures at no cost of the sound properties or clarity. In short, the strings will offer “everlast” durability and sound brilliance.
The strings are available in 4 different standard gauges, including 10-50, 11-52, 12-54, and 13-56.
Everlast coated phospohor bronze
The Everlast coated phosphor bronze is a step-up from the original everlast strings. The strings provide the “everlast” durability and sound properties thanks to nano-coated technology. The hi-tech strings are now even better thanks to the phosphorus components in the strings wrap. The strings, originally equipped with powerful sound projection and exceeding clarity of the Earthwood, are now able to produce warm and fuller tone, as distinct qualities of phosphor-coated strings. in essence, this is the most prestigious acoustic guitar strings Ernie Ball has to offer.
The strings come in 4 standard gauges, similar to other strings by Ernie Ball: 10-50, 11-52, 12-54, 13-56.
8. Ernie Ball Classical Acoustic Guitar String Sets
Earthwood silk and steel
The Earthwood silk and steel strings are produced with the aim to bring enhanced playability and elevated smooth in tones and gentle contact with the fingers. Such qualities are achieved thanks to the steel winding wrapped around a silk filament and thinner strings core.
Earthwood Folk – Classical
The Earthwood Folk Nylon, also branded Earth Wood nylon classical ball-end, aims to bring enhanced versatility and playability, focused to serve the experimental minds. This series is manufactured using a similar technology to the silk and steel series, with one small difference being the ball-end for easy and quick string-changing. For this reason, the strings are able to produce the same full and rounded trebles of its predecessors.
The strings are available in one gauge – 28-42
The Ernesto Palla strings are manufactured using the same principles as traditional strings. the treble strings are made from single cores clear nylon cores while the bass strings are multifilament nylon wrapped inside silver plated copper wires. The Ernesto Palla is made for concert use, thus promised to bring extreme clarity and unparalleled projection.
The Ernesto Palla are available in 3 string gauges – 2403, 2406 and 2409, namely Clear&Silver, Black&Silver and Black&Gold.
9. Ernie Ball Electric Guitar String Sets
SLINKY NICKEL WOUND
The Slinky Nickel Wound series by Ernie Ball is focused at the mass market of guitar players. Aimed to adapt to every guitar in existence and to compliment any techniques and improvisation of every guitarist. The strings are produced with Ernie Ball’s patented technology to provide enhanced durability in tensile and fatigue, thus, the strings are guaranteed to hold up in time, regardless of wear, prolonged use and corrosion far better than traditional strings.
The Slinky Nickel Wound is available in a massive range of options. The product line is divided into 4 main types, each serving a different type of guitars. These types include 6, 7, 8-12 string guitars and Baritone and Bass. For the 6-string variety, Ernie Ball is able to offer up to 22 string gauges, while for 7-string guitars, there are 3 gauge options available and 4 options for 8-12-string guitars. Baritone and Bass players can choose from 2 string gauges.
the Paradigm Slinky is the string set that Ernie Ball is famed for. The Paradigm Slinky is virtually unbreakable, featuring string strength that, according to Ernie Ball themselves, is unprecedented. As such, the strings are guaranteed to hold up much longer than other traditional strings, and even through the test of time, the strings may preserve the iconic slinky tone in its most pristine incarnation. Ernie Ball was able to achieve this incredible feat of durability with unmatched tensile and fatigue strength by applying its most hi-tech string-manufacturing principles, giving the Slinky the reinforcement no other strings can have. For this reason, the Slinky Paradigm strings are loved by guitarists of all backgrounds. This series is also equipped with Ernie Ball’s Everlast nanotreatment, which helps to fight off corrosion, dirt, grimes and other contaminants, giving the strings even higher resistance.
The Paradigm Slinky is available in 9 different string gauges, able to accommodate almost any guitar players and playing styles. Apart from the standard string gauges, Ernie Ball also offers extensive customized string gauges. The gauges for the Paradigm include: 9-42, 9-46, 10-46, 10-52, 10-56, 10-62, 11-48, 11-54, 12-56.
The Slinky Cobalt strings are built for enhanced sound structural components with the aim for an overall improvement in playability and magnetic interactions between the strings and the guitar pickup. With the Slinky Cobalt, Ernie Ball promised to ease guitarist and in performing tricky techniques. Thanks to its superb engineering, the strings bring an absurdly pleasant feel upon contact and an unrivalled softness to aid, string bending is now easier than ever.
For the Slinky Cobalt, Ernie Ball offers 12 options for string gauges. Along with the standard string gauges, namely 9, 10, 11, 12, other more customized gauges, including packs of three string sets and sets manufactured for 7-string guitars, are also manufactured in order to accommodate all guitarists across the spectrum. The gauges currently available are: 9-42, 9-46, 10-46, 10-52, 10-62, 11-48, 11-54, 11-58, 12-56, 8-38 and a 3-set option for 10-46.
SLINKY RPS NICKEL WOUND
The Ernie Ball RPS Nickel Wound strings are made using the same tried-and-true principles other Ernie Ball products have been familiar with – hex-shaped and tin-plated cores and an outer wounding of nickel plated steel wires. Plain strings are tightly wrapped by brass wire to further secure the strings. The added reinforcement ensures that the strings will not break amidst playing session and stay in tune much longer than traditional plain strings. the Slinky RPS Nickel Wound strings are built for overall superior tone and balance sound components across the spectrum.
For the Slinky RPS Nickel Wound, Ernie Ball offers 5 string gauge options, available from 8-38, 9-42, 9-46, 10-46, 11-48.
The Slinky M-Steel strings diverge further from the original Slinky by Ernie Ball. The M-Steel feature a patented alloy wire wrap, by which Ernie Ball dubbed the “Super Cobalt” alloy. The cores for the M-Steel are made from Maraging steel, a touch beyond the traditional methods. Such designs have given the strings superior bass, much fuller and more powerful. The Cobalt components in the strings do help with interaction between the strings and the pickup, producing much higher response. Like all string products by Ernie Ball, the M-Steel strings are surprisingly resilient, stay in tune much longer than conventional strings and almost devoid of possibility for breakage during play.
For the Slinky M-Steel, Ernie Ball offers 5 standard string gauge options, all of which are very light to enhance playability. The strings can be found in 9-42, 9-46, 10-46, 10-52, and 11-48.
Like other enthusiasts in the field, Ernie Ball considers the 60s and era of Rock & Roll as the holy grail of music. The Slinky Classic strings by Ernie Ball are the tribute to this era. The strings still give off the iconic slinky tone and feel of Ernie Ball, yet added a touch of warmth and fullness of the olden days. To achieve this tone, Ernie Ball has replaced the steel wire wrap with pure nickel wires around the patented cores.
The Slinky Classic can be found in 5 light string gauge options, ranging from 8-38, 9-42, 9-46, 10-46 and 11-48.
SLINKY RPS COATED TITANIUM
The Slinky RPS Coated Titanium strings are one of the most prestigious string products by Ernie Ball. The production of this series entails the amalgamation of every hi-tech procedure and method owned and developed by this manufacturer – namely, nanotechnology, titanium-reinforced strings and superior coating technology. The end result is a set of guitar strings that is resistant against all conventional contaminants, moistures and sweat, is so durable that no amount of picking and strumming can hope to damage the titanium windings, yet features the traditional feel and tone of an uncoated string set with a modern slinky touch iconic of Ernie Ball. The strings are promised to bring an all-around perfect experience, even to the pickiest players.
The strings are available in a wide range of gauges from super light to heavy, sufficient to accommodate all playing styles.
Ernie Ball Slinky Stainless Steel strings strays from the beaten path to adopt an original tone, adding to the arsenal of Ernie Ball. Thanks to the stainless steel components in the strings, the Slinky Stainless Steel are expectedly resilient to corrosion and acidic contaminants, and thus, are guaranteed to last much longer than conventional strings. The Slinky Stainless Steel strings, while still promised to bring the traditional slinky tone, are much brighter than its brethren.
The Slinky Stainless Steel can be found in 5 string gauge options, mostly light gauges, including: 8-38, 9-42, 9-46, 10-46, 11-48.
Martin is another brand recognised for the acoustic guitar strings they produce. They have spent the last 2 centuries producing arguably the best acoustics in the world and so its not such a shock when you learn they produce one of the most recognisable acoustic strings in the world. Martin & co also do produce electric guitar strings.
As shown from the packaging (image above) martin&co were established in 1833 where they started producing guitars. The acoustic strings is what they are known for today.
Authentic Acoustic SP Strings
The Authentic Acoustic SP Strings by Martin are promised to bring rich and overall balance tone to your playing, however, at the cost of higher string tension. The strings feature tin-plated cores and bronze wrappings. While the strings are not designed to aid playability and technique execution, they do have increased stability in keeping tone and surprisingly in tune for extended periods.
Players can pick up the Authentic Acoustic SP in either 80/20 bronze wrapping or phosphorus coated bronze wrapping. Similar to other string manufacturer, the 80/20 bronze strings are the standard for acoustic guitar strings, provide sufficient brightness and projection to the sound. The phosphorus coating will enhance this product a notch further, introducing warmth to the sounds and gentle feel to the strings, further ease guitar playing and reduce string noises from contact.
For the 80/20 variance, Martin manufactures the standard gauges from extra-light to medium, including 10, 11, 12 and 13. Additionally, players can choose the Bluegrass option for the 12 gauge, which offer heavier basses. However, the phosphor bronze strings can only be found in standard gauges from extra-light to medium, namely 10 to 13, other customized options are not available, however, a medium and light hybrid, 12.5, is available.
Authentic Acoustic Marquis
The Marquis is a novelty amongst guitar strings manufacturing. To protect their luxurious guitar from undesirable wear, Martin has taken precautions and added silked components as paddings to the strings. The paddings serve to ease physical contact between the strings and the guitar body, prevent wear and tear while secure the strings in place. The Marquis promises an overall superb tone, to bring out the sound of the guitar in its most pristine form, and above all, it shows care and love for the guitars, a gesture that is desired by many enthusiasts yet catered for by very few string manufacturers.
Players can pick up the Marquis in either 80/20 bronze string or phosphor coated strings. Both can be had in standard gauges, from extra-light to medium, string gauges are 10, 11, 12 and 13. The extra-light (10) is available for 12-string guitars as well.
Authentic Acoustic Lifespan 2.0
The Lifespan 2.0 strings, as the name suggests, are built to last. The added string reinforcement and endurance come from the new treatment technology, which is designed to fight off corrosion, sweats and other foreign contaminants, and Martin is able to provide these qualities without compromising the original sound structures of strings as well as the distinct feel of the strings.
The Lifespan 2.0, again, can be had in either 80/20 bronze wrapping or phosphor coated strings. both options are available in standard gauges, from extra-light to medium and another extra-light version for 12-string guitars.
Authentic Flexible Core
The Flexible Core strings are specifically engineered for enhanced playability. The strings’ heavy outer wraps are designed to house the patented Super Performance cores, yet the set promises incredible flexibility and balanced tone. The strings aim to bring easier and more enjoyable playing sessions by reducing finger fatigue while aiding tricky technique executions. For its properties, the set is chosen and loved by Tommy Emmanuel, who is famous for his aggressive and unorthodox playing styles. Different from other steel string products by Martin, the Flexible Core is only available in phosphor coating, which promises warmer and fuller tone as well as superb feel on the strings. And of course, for their brainchild, Martin does offer a silked variance, a chance for guitarists to show love to their instruments.
Guitarists can pick up the Flexible Core strings in three standard string gauges, from custom light to medium. An extra light variation is available for 12-string guitars and the silked phosphor bronze is available in 11 gauge.
Retro Acoustic Strings
The Retro Acoustic strings are the well-deserved love and respect Martin has for acoustic guitars. By introducing the Retro Acoustic, Martin seeks to bring out the wood-ness of tone, in other words, the guitar’s voice in its barest incarnate. The Retro strings do not season manmade properties to the sound, but to aid it in tone consistency, amplified timbre, take care not to be overwhelmed. To deliver such primitive properties, Martin used a nickel and copper alloy, wrapped inside the Monel wrap, which provides resistance against corrosive substances.
The Retro strings are available in standard gauges from extra light to medium and another extra light variance for 12-string guitars. For this product, Martin does offer two more customized gauges – the medium and light hybrid and the bluegrass gauge.
Martin Titanium Core
The Martin Titanium Core is one of Martin most quality and expensive string sets for acoustic guitars. The Titanium Core is Martin’s complement to the most luxurious acoustic guitars, which entails superb performance, comfort, playability and durability. Using their patented titanium treatment, Martin hopes to provide an unmatched protection for the strings against all potential harm, be it environmental contaminants or physical contact during performance. The titanium properties introduce a completely new string feel that steel strings cannot hope to rival, the strings are now smoother, softer to the fingers yet incredibly flexible, allowing the execution of the hardest techniques.
The only string gauge available for the Titanium core is light tension, string size of 12.
The Original is Martin’s attempt in paying homage to the company’s origin of 50 years ago. The Original set is simply plain, undecorated or equipped with any hi-tech materials. It is made from 80/20 bronze, uncoated and not phosphor treated. By the reintroducing the Original, Martin has connected to its loyal and oldest customers, those who love the vintage tone of unprocessed strings – deep, full basses with bright trebles.
The Original is available in light string gauge only, of size 12.
The Darco Acoustic Guitar Strings
The Darco series by Martin, in essence, is the entry level variety. They are much more affordable in comparison with other acoustic guitar strings produced and offered by Martin. While the price tag is entry level, the strings are guaranteed to satisfy all guitarists, from the beginners to the professionals. Featuring tin-plated steel core, the strings are promised to bring accurate sound, comfortable string feel. For their Darco lineup, Martin also makes sure the strings are easy to change for studio purposes.
Similar to other acoustic string varieties by Martin, the Darco can be had in 80/20 bronze or 92/8 phosphorus bronze. Three string gauges are available for both options, ranging from extra-light to medium and one light variation for 12-string guitars.
To address the needs of classical guitarists, Martin do offer two varieties for nylon strings. While not able to tend to the needs of all guitarists, especially the pickiest virtuosos, these sets do get the jobs done.
Classical Nylon Guitar Strings:
Classical Nylon Guitar Strings: These strings are your typical run-of-the-mill. Similar to other standard nylon strings on the market, the Martin Nylon features clear nylon multifilament cores for bass strings and single filament core for the treble strings, which help to bring out warm and clear tone. The bass strings are wound in silver-plated 80/20- copper, guaranteeing the players punchy tone and powerful projection. On top of that, the strings do enhance the nylon feel, offering ease during playing sessions. Overall, this set is a good option for beginner guitar players for their playability and balanced sound, or simply, and especially, for someone on a budget.
You can pick up this string set in two gauge options: hard and normal tension.
Classical Magnifico Premium Guitar Strings:
Classical Magnifico Premium Guitar Strings: This set is the one of the most interesting nylon string sets produced. While most guitar string manufacturers like to visit to vintage and traditional strings endorsed by legendary guitar players or last-century technology, Martin took this as a challenge and brought it up a notch by replicating the catgut strings, which guitar was first invented. Brutal? Yes. Metal? Not so much. Classical? Magnifico. Surely, this practice will most definitely not sit well with in this day and age. Thus, Martin tried their best to revive the unique tone of the gut strings using modern technology. The end-result is a set of clear nylon strings, boasting the iconic dark tone, full and rich across the sound spectrum and an overall unrivalled sound accuracy. The premium sets do offer enhanced string feel, aiding the guitarist in every stroke. In conclusion, The Magnifico Premium is made for classical guitarists who wish to relive the Baroque age.
The Magnifico Premium comes in two string gauges: hard tension and normal tension.
While Martin is not generally known for producing electric guitars, they do offer electric guitar strings, albeit very limited.
The Darco Electric Guitar Strings
The Darco Electric is the only electric guitar strings set by Martin available on the market. The Darco Electric is the set you most expect to have on stock guitars – they are durable, accurate, stable and above all, very one of the most affordable sets for sale. But while they are a low-cost string set, they are loved for a dark and heavy tone, which you will not find in many entry-level electric guitar strings. For the outer design, you will find that the Darco is not distinctively different from other electric guitar strings – traditional nickel strings.
To make up for the humble variety (if there is any variety at all), Martin offer the Darco Electric in a lot of options, ranging from super light to heavy, totalling of 6 string gauges, including: 0.008, 0.009, 0.10, 0.11 and 0.12.
DR are widely known for their handmade / hand-wound guitar strings. As most strings are now made by machines DR set themselves apart from the competition by being one of the very few companies that wound their guitar strings by hand, which provides and more natural feel the sound they produce.
This is the brand less known by guitarists as they have slightly positioned themselves towards the Bass guitar market. They state that hardwiring becomes more present on larger/thicker strings. However, they also lead the industry in “neon strings”.
VERITAS Acoustic Guitar Strings
Using dedicated Coated Core Technology, DR was able to deliver prolonged sustenance of the guitar tone while also aid guitarists in tuning more confidently thanks to increased stability. The painstaking procedures entail an outer coating, serving to secure the strings and keep the surface free from any dirt or sweat during play. The Veritas brings about a distinctly gentle string feel and enhanced durability. The Veritas is loved for their sound projection – loud, clear and bright, despite the environment.
The Veritas can be picked up in four standard gauges, including: extra-light, custom-light, light and medium. There is also a bluegrass variation, featuring light treble string gauge and medium bass string gauge.
RARE – Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
By introducing the Rare series, DR attempted to achieve an overall balance in sound and intonation. To engineer this sound structure, DR opts for a hexagonal core for the production of the strings. The high-carbon steel cores wrapped by a phosphor bronze guarantee a warm and full tone. Different from other phosphor bronze strings, the DR Rare ensures the depth and sustain of the melody, and brings out the sound of the wood in its most natural form.
The DR Rare is available in four standard string gauges, including extra-light to medium. Apart from these, a Bluegrass string gauges and a set for 12-string guitar is also available.
DR DRAGON SKIN
The Dragon Skin is one of DR’s proudest products, winning a Product Excellence Award from Music Inc.. This set is different from most coated string sets available on the market in a sense that is shared by guitarists of all levels. Thanks to the coating, the strings are made to last and maintain their tone for prolonged periods. After all, phosphor coating is known for their ability to prevent dirt, sweat and other contaminants from building up and damaging the strings. The phosphor bronze components also promise the iconic warmth and fullness to the tone. The DR Dragon Skin was able to achieve all of these and yet not at the expense of natural sound, which is usually the domain of uncoated strings. Such unthinkable combination has earned the string the Award of Product Excellence.
Similar to the Veritas and the Rare series, the DR Dragon Skin is available in four standard gauges from extra light to medium, bluegrass string gauge, which incorporates the medium bass strings and light treble strings.
By introducing the Sunbeams series, DR aims to accommodate one of the largest guitarist communities that few other manufacturers specifically pay attention to – the fingerstyle guitarists. For the Sunbeam, DR opts for a design that compliments the traditional and warm wood tone: round cores wrapped by phosphor bronze. The set is loved for their increased tone sustenance, which will continue to ring out as long as your fingers are still on the fretboard. Not only can the Sunbeams preserve the tone, it also offers a bright and overall clear projection. And lastly, due to its being aimed at fingerstyle players, the strings will most certainly feel flexible and gentle thanks to the round cores.
The Sunbeams is available in standard gauges from extra light to medium, similar to other string products by DR. However, the options for bluegrass gauge and 12-string guitar is not available.
As the name implies, the Hi-Beam features outer wrapping made from uncoated 80/20 bronze, which is known for their bright and powerful sound projection. However, do keep in mind that while uncoated strings may prove unmatched in clarity and have an edge in pricing, the strings are much more susceptible to corrosive factors such as sweat and dirt during playing sessions and the sound components of the strings may not stand the test of time as well as their coated counterparts. The Hi-Beam is no exception in this case. The set is a fresh breath from the usual slow and melodic intonation to a more aggressive approach, entailing more excitement.
The gauges available for the Hi-Beam are quite limited in comparison with other products: only three gauges are available, ranging from custom light and light to medium.
The Zebra is quite a dark horse (pun intended) in selections for acoustic guitar strings. In producing the Zebra, DR has chosen nickel-plated steel and phosphor bronze for the outer wrapping. The two windings are wrapped on round cores alternatively. Such bizarre approach to string engineering has produced the best of both worlds. The phosphor bronze introduces the warmth and melodic signature of acoustic strings while the nickel plated steel is to enhance the interaction between the guitar pickup and the strings, greatly amplifies the magnetic characteristics. The end result produces full and balance tone while unplugged and powerful, detailed and natural while plugged in. Even more interesting is that this is the first ever set that truly accommodates electric-acoustic guitars or archtop jazz guitars, showing that the world is never truly black or white (two zebra puns in a row).
The Zebra can be picked up in four standard string gauges from extra light to medium. However, other lighter sets (gauge 9) can be had, albeit less popular.
Similar its steel wounded counterpart for acoustic guitars, the Veritas reappears as a safe choice for electric guitar players. Sporting nickel-plated wire as outer wrapping and round steel cores inside. The Veritas promises to bring brightness and power to the tone. It also helps in interaction with the pickup, producing crisp and natural sound. Like every coated strings, the Veritas is resistant against corrosive factors and guarantee to preserve your tone much longer. For the Veritas, DR has introduced grooves on the cores to prevent strings from slipping during play and at the same time gives players more confidence and flexibility while tuning.
The Veritas can be had in three standard string gauges, including light (9-42), medium (10-46) and Heavy (11-50). DR also offers two more custom gauges, light to medium, having light treble strings medium bass strings; and medium to heavy, with medium trebles and heavy basses.
As the name suggests, Pure Blue is aimed at Jazz and Blues genres, believed to bring the classic vibe of the last century. Imitating the string engineering of the that era, DR have chosen pure nickel as wrapping for the round cores. The end result brings warm, full and rich sound, unmistakable and irreplaceable of blues. The round cores do help in sustaining the tone and volume and yet are flexible for easy manoeuvring. The uncoated strings guarantee natural sound and projection. While they are not as corrosion proof as the coated products, like Veritas, DR nickel wrap does provide protection against such factors.
The Pure Blues is available in three standard string gauges, light, medium and heavy. Of course, DR does offer an option specifically suited for jazz players, gauges of 12 to 52, much heavier than other options. Other custom gauges available are light-heavy, having light trebles and medium basses, big-heavy, medium trebles and jazz basses.
This set is believed to be a “tight-fit” for all players, regardless of preference and kinkiness (sorry, couldn’t help myself). Sporting the tried-and-true nickel-plated steel wire wrappings and round steel cores, players may rest assured they are in on a ride of crunchy and powerful sound. The Tite-Fit is loved for its overall balance, suiting every genre and every player. The strings are flexible and provide excellent feel. This is also one of the most popular string sets by DR.
To truly fit all guitarists across the spectrum, DR made sure the Tite-Fit available in almost every gauge, style and guitar. Apart from the three standard gauges (light, medium and heavy), jazz, custom and hybrid gauges are also offered. And if you the owner of 7-string or 8-string guitars, the Tite-Fit will certainly stay snuggly.
DDT – Drop Down Tuning
Standard tuning is fine and all but the djents like it low. Sadly, not many strings are made to accommodate dropped tuning, either that they cannot maintain the tuning extensively or sound muffled and coupled with poor projection. The DDT is made to remedy just that. Using DR technology, the DDT are guaranteed to play well and sound good on standard and even dropped tuning, especially dropped tuning. Superb clarity, unrivalled tone accuracy and tuning stability are what you should expect from this set. Sporting hexagonal cores and the reinforced wire wrap DR exclusively preserve for the DDT, this set is surprisingly resilient and flexible. Should you ever find yourself craving for some brown notes, the DDT is the one.
Players can have this set in three standard gauges as usual (light, medium and heavy). But for djentlemen who want heavier gauges for the added crunch and power, extra heavy (12-60) and mega heavy (13-65) are also available. And should you run out of strings, a medium set (10-56) and an extra heavy (11-65) for 7-string are available.
The Hi-Beam is one of the more versatile sets produced by DR. Sporting hexagonal cores wrapped by nickel-plated steel wires, DR aims to bring brightness and crunchiness to the tone via this set. Thanks to its playability tone sustenance, the set is loved by many and suited for guitar players across the spectrum. Do keep in mind that the strings may not stay in tune when newly strung and require regular tuning, but after that, you are good to go.
Similar to other options by DR, the Hi-Beam is available in the standard gauges of light, medium and heavy. However, custom tuning can be had to suit your liking. A light-light (8-38) set may be preferred for easier string feel while extra (12-52) and mega heavy (13-56) are more suited to seasoned players looking for more sustain and volume. Light and medium options can also be picked up for the 7-string guitars.
The Dragon Skin is a prestigious string set by DR. For this brainchild, DR wants to combine the resilience and corrosion proof of coated strings and natural, metallic tone of uncoated ones. This gives birth to a patented coating that offers the best of both worlds and the Dragon Skin is one of the few selected for this technology. The strings are made with nickel-plated steel wire wrapping and hexagonal cores for increased projection and tone sustenance. The exclusive hard coating helps protect against environmental factors while not dampening the volume, which, in turn, diminishes the clarity. The hard coating does bring about a distinct string feel, similar to uncoated strings. Using the Dragon Skin, guitarists can be confident that they will not change strings for quite a while and impress others guitarists fellow with the superior tone.
You can have this set in standard gauges as other strings, from light to heavy. A hybrid gauge is also available, which offers light trebles and medium basses.
Having paving homage to blues, it is only natural that a set for nerdy jazz must be made. For jazz, you will want warmth and richness in your tone and the tone must last. The chords should ring with perfect harmony, no overtone or mosaics, just the note singing clearly and melodically. The Legend has everything. Featuring hexagonal steel core, from which you can expect playability, flexibility, increased sustenance and good projection. The wire wrap is made from stainless steel and polished to minimize any unwanted noise while giving an easy string feel. Overall, jazz guitarists can enjoy rounded, balanced tone, manoeuvring and silky smooth strings.
The options for the Legend series are also very similar to jazz players nowadays – few. But be confident that these options are some of the best and friendliest. You can pick up the strings in three gauges, Medium-light (11-48), Medium (12-52) and Heavy (13-54).
The Silver Stars set is the nickel-plated steel counterpart of the well-received Dragon Skin. Featuring the same patented coating from DR. The Silver Star guarantees the clarity sounding of the strings just like that of uncoated strings. The set suffers from no audio dampening, dullness and still come out sharp and loud. The coating serves as an outer protection for the strings against corrosion and wear.
The Silver Stars is available in 5 string gauges, including Light (9-42), Light – Heavy (9-46), Medium (10-46), Heavy (11-50) and Extra Heavy (12-52)
Although DR’s main forte is their steel products, they did make an attempt for classical guitars. The DR Classical is a straightforward and standard nylon set, but surely they are still made by DR and inherit the quality the brand is known for. The set is made from silver-plated copper wire wrapping, pretty much the industry standard. However, they sport hexagonal nylon cores, which is not often seen on nylon strings. The strings are known for their brightness and tone sustain.
You can pick up this set in medium and hard tension.
5. GHS (Gould, Holcomb, and Solko)
GHS stands for Gould, Holcomb, and Solko which are the names of the founders in the US Michigan. The GHS Company have had experience making strings for 60 years now.
They refer to themselves as the string “the strings experts” as manufaxcturing guitar strings is all they focus on.
The Americana is an attempt by GHS to revolutionise the standard in guitar strings engineering. Picking up the Americana, you can expect the warmth and fullness in every note, coupled with the high sustenance. The strings do have a nice and gentle feel, enough to not intimidate beginners and at the same time, not get in the way of pro guitarists in their techniques. To achieve such unique sound and features, GHS has combined the hex-shaped cores wound by phosphor copper windings. Pretty normal and even mundane you may say. But that is not everything. GHS has adopted “cryogenic” technology in the making of these strings. Whether or not guitarists understand this phrase, it does sound cool and guarantees longevity of the products.
You can pick up the Americana the standard string gauges, from extra-light (11-50), light (12-54), medium (13-56). However, in case you want some extra caressing, an ultra-light option is available (10-46) and if you want more oomph, there’s a true medium gauge offering the same string size but somewhat … “truer.”
In case you are a man of tradition, you may not enjoy the feel of coated strings. Yes, it feels nice and all but some people masochistically like the steel bite of the strings on their fingers. If you are like this, GHS Bright Bronze may be the one for you. Steel hex-shaped cores wrapped by 80/20 bronze/zinc alloy. Boring, plain even, but sometimes traditions are like that, and that may possibly be all you need. Naturally, the strings won’t be sweet and lovely, but instead, powerful, biting, with high clarity and long sustain.
You can pick up the Bright Bronze set in standard gauges, including light (12-54), medium (13-56; hopefully it’s true this time) and heavy (14-60). Lighter gauges available, in case you don’t like it rough, are ultra-light (10-46) and extra-light (11-50).
BRIGHT BRONZE – CONTACT CORE
If you like the scratch and bite of the 80/20 bronze, you will love the contact cores. This series features pretty much the same tech as its less well-endowed cousin: brightness, clarity, powerful projection and raw, uncoated string feel. But the one thing it outshines is the clarity, or aptly named by GHS – contact core. According to the manufacturers, this set enhances the interaction between the metal and wood in order to bring out more clarity and brightness in the tone, almost piano-like. The science behind this, no one really knows, but it sounds good, why bother? We like shredding, not nerding!
If you like a closer contact at the strings, you can pick them up in standard light (12-54) and medium (13-56) gauges. Lighter gauges available are ultra-light (10-46) and extra-light (11-50).
Ok. What if you like the sound of coated strings, but also like the feel of uncoated strings? Quite contracting, yes, but not impossible. Especially with GHS, the possibilities are infinite (I’ll show myself out). The Infinity Bronze offers just that: the tone vividly bright, warm and jolly, even, the strings, while not feel exactly like uncoated strings, are not affected the same way as others, in the regards of muffled projection and buzzing and coating coming off. Plus, they are just as durable, last for a long time and won’t have their qualities decreased any time soon. This time, GHS was kind enough to provide an explanation to how they achieve such feats: coating before winding, not the other way around. There, the simplest explanation possible by me.
To try out the infinity, you can always pick them up in extra-light, light and medium gauges. Sadly, the options are not as endless.
This set is for those who find warm and rich melody somewhat of a sacred ground. Featuring hex-shaped cores and phosphor bronze, you can be sure they will feel like a summer day, even amidst winter. And as expected of phosphor strings, you will find the strings just perfectly balanced all over. The brightness and details are just right, clarity is profound, basses do not overshadow trebles ever. Overall, they are perfectly balanced, Thanos might give them a try.
I have the feeling the purple big guy might be into heavier gauges. Luckily, GHS does have quite a few options, light, true medium, and there’s a standard medium, and then heavy. For mortals like you and I, though, ultra-light and extra-light will do the job.
Also, Doyle Dykes is a fan of this series. So GHS commercialize a set so you can feel what he feels, too. The signature set is not really different from the standard. They offer a custom gauge of 11.5-54 though. Plus, the box design looks less boring, so there’s that.
SILK AND BRONZE
Do you know that guy in the guitar club that always insists on putting nylon strings on steel string guitars? Me neither, but if you ever find that guy, give him this set. A lot of guitarists love the mellowness of nylon strings, they are full, fat, rich and just plain peaceful to the ears and the souls. And it’s such a shame that we can’t always have it. Maybe GHS understands this and introduces the Silk and Bronze. Surely, they won’t sound exactly like a classical guitar but they will have that nylon feel, flexibility and most importantly, sound, even just a fracture. But rejoice that these strings still retain the same sharpness of steel strings, the same clarity and projection, something you won’t find quite often in nylon strings.
Maybe such hybrid engineering is still unfamiliar by the majority of guitarists, the gauges available are quite limited, only light (11-49) and medium light (12-54) are offered.
SILK AND STEEL
So we have silk and bronze, basically steel core, phosphor bronze windings and nylon filament. Now we have silk and steel, with steel core, silver-plated copper windings and nylon filament. And that’s that. Little difference, if there is at all. Or you would be mistaken. The silk and steel have that steel-cold to its sound, more biting and less as gentle thanks to the copper winding. But rest assured that you will find the nylon sweetness and tension.
Expectedly, you will find little variety in this series, only light (10-42) and medium (11-48) gauges are available.
THIN CORE PHOSPHOR BRONZE
Before we learn to love the steel feel of the strings, we hated it. We hated how rough they felt, how unforgiving they were, and let’s not start the discussion about how they shredded our fingers, blisters after blisters. The Thin Core strings, at that time, may have been the stuff of our wet dreams. Using thinner cores, the strings are guaranteed to provide easier tension, resulting in high playability, much friendlier to beginners. Granted, they may not sound as good, due to low tension, the projection will be somewhat lacking, volume, for that reason, are not as loud. Then again, beggars can’t be choosers. GHS does make up by giving it phosphorus treatment though, and it works wonder, the sound is warm, clear and full, just enough to satisfy beginners and their baby fingers.
The baby fingers can enjoy that baby tension. There’s a medium gauge (13-56) and there’s a light gauge (12-52). And then, there are extra-light gauge (11-46) and ultra-light (10-41) gauges – baby gauges.
Once again, your everyday set of steel guitar strings, wound inside uncoated wiring, made from the traditional blend of zinc and copper. While this is already a beaten path, adopted by a few too many manufacturers, the results have always been satisfactory. The results have always been satisfactory – rich and warm, with a slight hint of timbre. This copper and zinc combination has been used since the dawn of guitars string manufacturing. Thus, expect that breath of the 80s in every pick and strum. Thanks to its sweetly warm sound components, the sets are recommended for guitars with overly bright sound.
If you like to have the taste of the past, even just a fragment of it, you can pick up the Vintage Bronze. The strings are available in two standard gauges – medium (13-56) and medium (12-54). A bluegrass gauge can also be picked up in bluegrass, which feature light trebles and medium basses. Of course, lighter gauges are also available in ultra-light (10-46) and extra-light (11-50).
The last offering for steel string guitars from GHS. Sporting hex-shaped cores for added tone sustenance and round wound wiring for clarity. As for the name, disappointingly, there’s no bronze in the strings, for your information. White Bronze refers to Alloy 52, whether what that is, or if it bears any meaning at all, I kindly refer you to their marketing team. In the shortest possible term, GHS uses nickel and alloy for the wiring of the steel cores. Nickel is a metal known amongst the guitar community for their uniquely bright and unmatched clarity, plus, it performs better than any other in the field of magnetism (hehe), so do strap this set on your electric guitars, too! That said, the set is perfectly suited for acoustic guitars, the alloy 52 is certainly bright, maybe a tad more than the usual dose but rest assured the trebles should not drown out the basses because of this. Plus, this set is extra resistant against corrosion.
The shared property of electric and acoustic guitars can be found in quite a few gauges, from extra light (11-48), true light (12-50) to standard light (12-54) and medium (13-56).
BIG CORE NICKEL ROCKERS
If you are a fan of heavier genres and you crave to shatter those amps on the stage, or at least your windows, this set might be for you. Sure, it is not that different from other sets on the market. You have pure nickel outer wire, and round wound wiring, pretty much the market standard for electric guitars. Sure, the cores look a tad bigger than others, but so what. And that’s where you’re wrong. The volume is greatly amplified, and at no cost of losing the inherent clarity, brightness and sweetness of pure nickel. In addition, thanks to greater sizes, the strings handle dropped tuning much better than other standard sized strings. Be aware, the added size also means higher tension, not for the faint of heart.
The big guys can get the big cores in their relevant sizes – light (10.5-48) and medium (11.5-56). If you are scrawny yet have a big heart, like the Disney boys, the extra-light (9.5-42) and custom light (9.5-48) are just for you. Go win your princess’s heart, big boys!
Nope, this is not for your dad only. You can rock this one just fine, and do pick this up for him, too. For this set, GHS has adopted a generalist approach, not muddling too deeply into the territory of crunch or jazz but rather a common playground where all can have fun. Sporting nickel-plated steel wiring and round core, you can expect less brightness than pure nickel strings and more of that juicy sweetness shimmering every note and the clarity is perfectly preserved. The Boomers was the bomb during its introduction in the 60s. Even until now, the sets are one of the most popular amongst guitarists for its overall balance of sweetness, brightness and flexibility.
The Boomers are available in a lot of gauges, mainly thanks to its popularity, and thus, suiting players coming in all shapes, sizes and ages, from baby to boomer. The friendliest gauge is ultra-light (08-38), and then there are ultra +, extra-light. In the middle ground, we have medium and true medium (11-50) and for the seasoned players, the heavy (12-52) is for you. Of course, if your guitars sport more than 6 strings, you can always count on the Boomers for 7, 8 and 12-string guitars.
And have you known? David Gilmour is a fan of GHS, sporting this same set on his Gibson and Fender. So in case you have a Les Paul or a Stratocaster, put this on and be Gilmour once in a while. Not that you will be as good as him, but you will no longer have an excuse that he uses better strings.
Flat-wound for better, smoother string feel and less noise, but round-wound is generally brighter and warmer and also cheaper. “The thing is, in reality, we can’t have everything. You have some, you lose some.” Well, not today, reality. Introducing the Brite Flat, the round-wound strings with the feel and outer look of flat-wound strings. How GHS achieved this you ask? Well, first you wind the strings and then you grind the strings until flat. This is the best of both worlds, bright and crystal clear note with powerful intonation, and the strings are still smooth, friction noises are dramatically reduced, perfect for studio usage, … and cheap? Yep, reality struck again.
You can have the new round-flat wound in extra-light (9-42) and light (10-46) gauges. If you feel like having some more power, there are the medium (11-50) and regular (12-54) gauges.
BURNISHED NICKEL ROCKERS
“Burnish (adjective) formal: to polish until smooth and shiny” – Oxford Dictionary. There you have it. That’s it.
This is your traditional Rockers strings, made with pure nickel wiring around hex-shaped steel cores, giving sweet, bright and clear sounds. But why burnish them you say? What does this accompolish? Apart from making it more expensive and look more expensive, the polish does reduce friction between the strings and your fingers, resulting in less noises from both the fingers and in the transmit to the amps. Also, the strings can greatly enhance the playability by providing a smoother surface for the fingers to glide.
The Burnished can be picked up in extra-light gauge (9-42), light (10-46) and medium (11-50).
Choosing the most perfect guitar is definitely one of the most challenging aspect in playing guitars, yet little did we know that choosing the right strings can be just as gruesome. This article has discussed the string manufacturers and their products. And just as choosing guitars, one brand may be better than the other in some aspects, for instance Martin and D’Addario strings may be more suited for acoustic and classical guitarists, but when it comes to electric guitars, Ernie Ball may have the edge. Furthermore, products offered by one manufacturer can vary according to the desired characteristics, such as durability, string feel, or intonation. At the end of the day, the perfect string set is the one that accommodate your playstyle best.