10 Best Guitar Strings in 2018 – Reviews & Buying Guide

You should be well aware by now that the strings in your acoustic or classical guitar have a major impact on how it sounds. Not just that but they also affect their overall playability and how comfortable you feel when playing for an extended period of time. Ask any experienced guitarist and they will tell you that you can have a setup worthy of a rock star; you simply cannot produce the right type of music if your guitar isn’t equipped with the proper strings.

Seeing how every accomplished musician understands the importance of using quality strings, you should perhaps follow through as long as you’re serious about improving your skills. It is perhaps the quickest, most resource-friendly solution to boosting one’s setup, and we mean that in practical terms. With that in mind, we should perhaps delve into the world of guitar strings and figure out which ten guitar strings stand out the most at this point in time.

Best Guitar Strings Reviews & Buying Guide


#10 DR Strings VTA-12 Phosphor Bronze

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Standing out of most other models in this price range, these are high-quality acoustic guitar strings with a unique design and craftsmanship, known for lasting even 4 times longer without any extra treatment or surface coating. The DR Strings VTA-12 offers great tone and also brilliant sustain, delivering loud, vibrant sound, ideal for even big concerts or live performances.

Due to their Accurate Core design, the strings have reinforced core wire for ensuring a more reliable output. They also deliver an improved specific-pitch retention and a stabilized sound quality, which is precisely what you should consider when buying guitar strings in this price range.

Pros:

  • Strong and well balanced, these cords deliver a truly sublime warmth
  • The fact that they are not coated improves their durability
  • Designed to deliver a high-quality sound on every note
  • Almost no finger squeak to speak of
  • Quite bright with lots of harmonics

Cons:

  • They don’t exactly last long when used intensively
  • May lose their brightness if strung too tight

#9 Martin MSP6100 SP Bronze

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Boasting the most recent Clear Tone Unique Martin’s technology, these acoustic guitar strings have a longer lasting design relative to other models their type. Resistant to dirt and oil, the strings provide high-quality and durable performance.

Beginners and professional guitarists alike tend to like them for their bright, warm, and crisp tone quality. At the same time, these strings deliver a unique versatility that is rare to come by in this category, both in regards to their construction and their ease of use.

Pros:

  • Very warm sounding strings by most standards
  • Much better than half the high-end strings you find nowadays
  • Their dark gold color suits them perfectly for dark guitars
  • They sound very similar to uncoated strings
  • Surprisingly easy to accommodate on larger guitars

Cons:

  • Their durability depends largely on the type of guitar you use them on
  • They tend to turn darker in color after you use them a few times

#8 Martin SP 7100 Phosphor Bronze

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Another model by Martin, the SP 7100 are unique bronze-coated, premium-grade and durable acoustic guitar strings Resistant to dirt and oil, they are durable strings that deliver rich, warm tomes for a professional acoustic experience.

The proprietary outer coating helps with crisp-clear vibrations that are easy to distinguish. Light and suitable for starters, these are great strings for playing soft rock, blues, and folk, with nearly zero limitations in regards to how harshly you change tones when you play.

Pros:

  • Their crisp and bright sound recommend them for experienced guitarists
  • They last a lot longer than average
  • When you wind them up properly, they deliver a much more responsive sound
  • Consistent quality can be experienced in every batch
  • They feel rather easy on the fingers

Cons:

  • The e-string may have some issues on specific guitar brands
  • They tend to break when you wind them up too tight

#7 Vibe BCG330794 Guitar Strings

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Designed for pros and beginners alike, the Vibe BCG330794 Acoustic Guitar strings have smooth, simple-to-use and soft-to-touch design and provide a clear, longer-lasting and warm tone quality. For their innovative construction, the strings hold in your tuning, staying in tune for a remarkably long period. M

ade of premium-class phosphor bronze and with a top-grade steel core, these are well-balanced strings that are individually labeled for an easier setup. This should make it a lot easier for you to not only install them easier but to ensure that you only wind them up to the required standard.

Pros:

  • Easy to play on almost any type of guitar
  • Their high-quality build ensures their long-lasting durability
  • The sound delivers a higher fidelity than most
  • Quite easy to wind up
  • Great for beginners due to their flexibility

Cons:

  • They sometimes suffer from intonation problems on old-style guitars
  • Difficult to tune up after you already installed them

#6 Martin M140 Bronze Strings

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The Martin’s M140 are dependable acoustic guitar strings made of a premium-grade bronze alloy. Delivering great performance and durability, the bronze alloy is expertly wound for coating each string, giving users bright crisp treble and deep right quality bass tones.

Suitable for daily abuse, these strings deliver a studio-quality sound that most other models in its class cannot, making them great for both casual and professional musicians alike. Then again, this is precisely what you should consider with bronze strings, especially the ones designed for acoustic guitars.

Pros:

  • Their superior build ensures their reliability
  • They sound great on virtually any type of guitar
  • A somewhat ‘fresh’ acoustic recommends them for long solo performances
  • Their phosphor bronze construction delivers a nice, mellow sound
  • The Martin customer support is one of the best in the business

Cons:

  • Their durability is affected by the type of guitar you use them with
  • They sometimes feel too ‘light’ to the touch

#5 Martin MSP4100 SP Phosphor Bronze

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Another Martin choice model, these are uniquely constructed guitar strings, built with a coating of top-quality bronze alloy for a really long lifespan. Also delivering maximized performance and a premium tone quality, the strings retain a great playability for quite a long time.

They are made using reliable tensile core wire alongside premium wrap, making them some of the best for producing crisp, warm tones. They are also sturdier relative to other models by Martin from the same or slightly higher class.

Pros:

  • Much better overall than half of what you find in this price range
  • They deliver a more balanced sound and a nice tone
  • Great for acoustic guitars due to their ingenious construction
  • Their perfect high notes recommend them for intense songs
  • Quite affordable by most standards

Cons:

  • Their decent tone is reliant on the type of guitar you use
  • Will definitely break if you don’t change them periodically

#4 Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood

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Providing a high, rich, and crisp sound quality, the Ernie Ball 2146 is a set of acoustic guitar strings made of finest-quality materials, including premium-grade copper, tin, and phosphorus wire. The resultant wire structure makes the strings incredibly durable and functional.

And, thanks to an advanced lock-twist technology, these guitar strings are resistant to slippage and breakage of all sorts. Furthermore, they are made of brass-plated, high-carbon steel wire, making them suitable for professionals who prefer a more intense approach to playing music of any genre.

Pros:

  • Their durable build makes them perfect for intense musicians
  • Very reliable high notes when properly wound
  • They tend to last a lot longer than average
  • Due to their phosphor bronze build, the sound flows a lot more natural
  • Ingenious construction helps them deliver bending notes similar to electric guitars

Cons:

  • Can sound quite bland on smaller guitars
  • Unless wound properly, they will not deliver the desired acoustics

#3 D’Addario EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze

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Renowned for their high-quality, well balanced warm tone, these D’Addario EJ16-3D strings are among the very best for acoustic performances. Featuring a phosphor bronze coating, they are premium strings that both professionals and beginners can enjoy.

Contrary to other models in this range, these strings feature a damage-resistant coating specially designed onto a unique steel core of high-grade carbon, delivering an impeccable intonation and durable tones. This enables you to reach much higher tones with an intonation to match regardless of the genre and the style you play.

Pros:

  • A near-perfect intonation recommends them for experienced musicians
  • Very easy to wind up due to their resistant design
  • Quite responsive when mounted on acoustic guitars
  • Their durable construction ensures their reliability
  • Quite sturdy yet highly flexible overall

Cons:

  • The poor packaging sometimes exposes them to the elements
  • They can be a bit too lightweight for some people

#2 Elixir Strings 11052 Bronze

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Boasting a unique construction that involves 80-percent premium-grade copper and 20-percent zinc wrap, the Elixir 11052 are great acoustic guitar strings that produce vibrant and clear bright tones, the type that any professional musician will recommend.

Thanks to a super-thin Nano-web coating, these Elixir strings provide a more traditional, well textured playing feel. At the same time, these particular strings boast a special coating intended to prevent abrasion, handling damage, and for improving their general reliability and durability without interfering with their acoustic output.

Pros:

  • Perfect for fingerstyle acoustic music due to their ingenious construction
  • Their unique build allows them to reach higher notes a lot easier
  • Impressively strong regardless of how tight you wind them up
  • Their overall playability levels are impressive considering their build
  • Rather pretty to look at from an aesthetic standpoint

Cons:

  • They tend to break when mounted on unconventionally built guitars
  • Quite demanding when it comes to storing them

#1 D’Addario EJ17-3D Phosphor Bronze

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Seen as probably the best of all in the industry, the EJ17-3D are excellent acoustic guitar strings by D’Addario. They are renowned for delivering resonant and projecting tones. Whether you like strumming heavily or flat picking, the EJ17 might just be your ideal option at this point in time.

Made from a blend of the best quality materials, the strings are great for pop, jazz, and anything in between, producing nothing short of perfect results. Specially designed using abrasion-resistant phosphor bronze onto a reliable, high-carbon steel core, the strings are well-wound, offering both a classic feel and playing comfort.

Pros:

  • They can deliver impressive results once you get used to them
  • Their sturdy build ensures their long-lasting durability
  • Known to reach high notes with a greater accuracy than most
  • Due to their high-carbon steel core, they can be wound up tighter than you normally would
  • The world-renowned manufacturer ensures their overall quality

Cons:

May feel a bit rough on the fingers if it’s your first time using them
Because of their tough build, every slip of the finger can be a bit painful


Guitar Strings Buying Guide

Whether you are a dedicated and accomplished artist or an up-and-coming musician doing covers of their favorite songs, you will sooner or later understand the importance of always employing the right instruments and accessories.

Although the guitar’s build and design affect its handling and playability, it is the strings that guarantee its acoustic performance and the musical standards you are allowed to reach. In this respect, a good guitar is nothing without the right strings and vice versa. Let us then find out what quality strings are all about and what to look for when buying some.

The Coating

The first thing you want to consider when buying guitar strings is the tone they allow you to produce, mainly how their coating withstands your handling at any rate. With coated strings, for instance, you get to experience a tone that lasts a whole lot longer.

In that regard, you want to look for strings with coating not only on the outer surface but the windings as well. If possible, these strings should also be anti-rust plated for good measure.

The Material

You should know by now that a string’s construction directly impacts the way it sounds just as much as it impacts its durability. While some alloys are naturally bright, others are dark and warm. As such, stainless steel guitar strings feel a lot different underneath your fingers than let’s say, nickel plated strings.

We should point out that it usually comes down to personal preference material-wise, with the mention that stainless steel strings offer an increased durability at the expense of thickness.

The Gauge

We refer to the ‘gauge’ when talking about a string’s thickness and the tone it can be expected to deliver. With standard sets, for example, you get strings that range from very light in weight to quite heavy ones that you really have to struggle with. Even though the difference might seem small to the untrained ear, it can seriously affect the way you play guitar at any rate, pitch, or tonality.

This is because heavy strings require more tension in order to produce a sound, whereas thinner, light strings are quite the opposite. It is for this reason that you have to really pay attention to the gauge of whatever strings you prefer.

The Core

The string core refers to the shape of the wire and how the string is built internally. There are two types of strings in this respect – hex core and round core. With hex core strings, you experience a brighter, louder sound, a build that gives them a more modern tone overall. This also makes them feel a bit stiffer than round core strings but not to the point where it might inconvenience you too much.

Round core strings, on the other hand, benefit from a more mellow tone, a feature that recommends them for blues and classic rock. Not just that but they also tend to offer more sustain than hex core strings to some extent.

Types Of Strings

Depending on the string construction and the alloys used in their making, guitar strings can be divided into three main categories: steel & nickel, brass & bronze, and nylon strings. Each of these string types is designed to deliver a certain tonality and to withstand a specific amount of pressure. Not only that but they also tend to differ in toughness, which is yet again something you want to seriously ponder when buying a set.

Video Guide on How to Pick Electric Guitar Strings

Steel & Nickel Strings – These strings are commonly used for electric guitars due to having a rich tone and for being quite resistant. Generally speaking, these strings are bright and level, which sets them apart from the other types of strings. They are commonly used to play older tunes, mainly blues and classic rock, mostly due to the inherent warmth they all seem to share and the richness they add to any song regardless of genre.

Brass & Bronze Strings – Both brass plated and bronze plated strings are designed for acoustic guitars. In principle, they are supposed to deliver a bright and cutting tone, which makes them perfect for high-end response guitars and for any musical assembly that requires a high pitch tone. On a related note, let us point out that phosphor bronze strings have perhaps the warmest sound of them all, the type of response usually found in small guitars.

Nylon Strings – As you would presume, nylon strings are mostly used on nylon or classical guitars and understandably so. You see, these type of guitars resonate differently than electrical and acoustic guitars, in the sense that they resonate better overall. In this respect, musicians mostly employ nylon strings when they play slow and mellow folk music, so don’t expect the same versatility that bronze or brass strings commonly deliver.

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