When it comes to acoustic guitars, strings play a very important role in your sound. And, there are differences in the construction and design depending on the manufacturer.
The most common design uses some kind of bronze alloy in the wrap wire, usually mixed with phosphorus or zinc. These metals help to provide a brighter and warmer overall sound to your guitar.
Often strings are treated with a protective coating. This protective anti-corrosion coating helps increase the longevity of the strings but will result in less body and color than uncoated strings.
So, Which Acoustic Guitar Strings Are The Right Ones For You?
We’re here to guide you through the best acoustic guitar strings available today. This should help narrow down your options and help you find the right strings for your acoustic and for you.
Ready to get started?
- Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitar Strings In 2020 Reviews
- 1 D’addario Exp16 Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light Gauge (0.012-0.053)
- 2 D’addario Acoustic Guitar Strings, Medium Gauge (0.013-0.056) Ej17
- 3 Elixir Strings 80/20 Acoustic Guitar Strings, NANOWEB Coating, Light Gauge (0.012-0.053)
- 4 Elixir Strings 80/20 Acoustic Guitar Strings, POLYWEB Coating, Light Gauge (0.012-0.053)
- 5 Martin Strings Acoustic Guitar Strings 41y18ma540
- 6 Martin Retro Acoustic Mm12 Monel Nickel Light Gauge (0.012-0.054)
- 7 Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood Acoustic Strings, Medium Light Gauge (0.012 – 0.054)
- 8 Ernie Ball Earthwood Rock Acoustic Set, Extra Light Gauge (0.010 – 0.052)
- 9 Dr Strings Vta-13 Veritas Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings Medium Gauge (0.013-0.056)
- 10 Vibe Acoustic Guitar String Set, Phosphor Bronze, Medium Gauge (0.012-0.052)
- Best Acoustic Guitar String Buyer’s Guide
- So, What Are The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings?
Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitar Strings In 2020 Reviews
1 D’addario Exp16 Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light Gauge (0.012-0.053)
D’Addario EXP strings are high-quality acoustic guitar strings that offer a warmth that is bright and balanced. They are designed to provide projection, volume, and comfort.
The strings are made with high carbon steel that provides you with strength and pitch stability that adds joy to your playing and color to your sound.
The high carbon steel is long-lasting, break-resistant, and stays in tune longer than most other strings. There is less friction between your fingers and the strings which provide you with greater playability and longer-lasting harmonic fidelity.
These strings are coated with D’Addario’s own EXP coating before they are wound, making them sound like uncoated strings. They have a very natural acoustic sound but with a lifespan four times longer than uncoated strings. The coating is specially designed and ultra-thin.
Phosphorus bronze strings are more resistant to corrosion than standard bronze strings. The wire is wound into a hexagonal core which adds more stability and durability. Your guitar will sound the same at the end of a show as it did at the beginning.
Made with care in New York, D’Addario has built a reputation of being a high-quality manufacturer of acoustic guitar strings. The EXP16 strings continue to deliver D’Addario’s signature tone and reliability.
2 D’addario Acoustic Guitar Strings, Medium Gauge (0.013-0.056) Ej17
These string were first introduced in 1974 by D’Addario and have since become the most popular acoustic guitar strings in the world.
The high carbon steel core is manufactured at the D’Addario mill in New York. Their precision in drawing the wires and the use of high-grade materials means you are getting high-quality, long-lasting strings that are famous for their warm tones.
Natural-sounding acoustic feel…
The phosphorus bronze is wound around the hexagon-shaped steel core, which gives you a bright, natural-sounding acoustic feel. Phosphorus bronze is a copper alloy that is known for its balance and warmth that reigns in the high-end frequencies. You won’t hear any of that “ice picking” pierce from these strings.
The intonation is excellent, and these strings will stay in tune when you are giving them a good workout.
They are not coated, which means they will not last as long as coated strings, but they have more presence and luster.
Gauges range from extra light to medium.
3 Elixir Strings 80/20 Acoustic Guitar Strings, NANOWEB Coating, Light Gauge (0.012-0.053)
Traditional sounding, tech-savvy.
Elixir strings are unique in their design. Unlike other acoustic guitar strings, Elixir coats the entire string. By coating the whole string, even the tiny gaps between the windings are protected.
Why does this matter?
Protecting the outer surface and the gaps mean that less debris and gunk can stick to your strings and deaden your tone. Another benefit of Elixir’s special NANOWEB coating is less sweat and squeaks from your fingers.
NANOWEB coating gives you a more traditional feel and an overall sound that is brighter and crisper than other kinds of string coatings thanks to the ultra-thin layer of NANOWEB protective coating. The strings are smooth and easy to play, plus they are long-lasting and offer greater protection over time.
Warm and vibrant…
80% is bronze, and 20% is zinc. The high-end is brilliant without sounding sharp or pointed. The low-end is warm and vibrant with a well-balanced mid-range.
Another added benefit of Elixir’s 80/20 Bronze strings is the anti-rust plating. With this, you can rest assured your tone will last longer and that these strings will show some serious endurance.
Featuring the most advanced technology in acoustic guitar string protection and sound preservation Elixir NANOWEB Bronze strings are leading the charge in innovation. This easily makes them one of the best acoustic guitar strings available.
4 Elixir Strings 80/20 Acoustic Guitar Strings, POLYWEB Coating, Light Gauge (0.012-0.053)
A real “played-in” sound that is robust and warm.
These 80/20 Bronze acoustic guitar strings are slick and quick. They are 80% bronze and 20% zinc with a bronze wrap wire that offers you a warm tone and organic sound. The mid-range is clear and has plenty of presence. The low-end is thick and rounded, and the high-ends are silky and smooth.
Elixir’s patented POLYWEB coating ensures these strings are durable, long-lasting, and retain their tone even after lots of heavy use. This POLYWEB coating helps to keep junk and crud from mucking up your strings. This results in faster, smoother playing as well as greater overall fidelity.
It also helps to increase the life of your strings by protecting them from corrosion by the elements, along with sweat and dirt on your fingers.
The light gauge offers greater string-bending ability and less fatigue when playing for long periods of time.
5 Martin Strings Acoustic Guitar Strings 41y18ma540
Brilliance, clarity, and longevity.
The Martin M540 Phosphorus Bronze acoustic guitar strings are built to emphasize bass and treble tones. These strings are engineered to be strong and vibrant. Performance is the highest priority for one of the best manufacturers of acoustic strings, Martin & Co.
These strings are made with a 92/8 composition alloy. This means that they have more bronze in the core string than the traditional 80/20 composition.
The core wire is the highest tensile strength available. This is then tin-plated for added protection against corrosion, strength and tuning tension. By using tin plating as a way to reduce corrosion these strings have more slinkiness and sustain that is not found in most coated strings.
Since they are uncoated strings, you get more defined harmonics. They will also have more brightness on the highs and more dark, hollowed low-ends than coated strings.
The bass and treble have more pronounced resonance and sustain due to the phosphorus bronze winding. The result of this kind of alloy composition is an increase in brilliance as well as clarity. It also makes them stronger than the traditional 80/20 strings.
Built by a company that places performance and playability above all else, these strings will ensure your tone never wavers on stage nor will they wear out after hours of rough and tumble play.
6 Martin Retro Acoustic Mm12 Monel Nickel Light Gauge (0.012-0.054)
Back to basics.
These Martin Retro acoustic guitar strings are made using a long-lasting proprietary nickel/copper alloy. This kind of ally was commonly used to make most acoustic guitar strings until the introduction of bronze strings.
The nickel/copper alloy has a mellow and warm vintage tone that helps to bring out the distinct woody sounds of your guitar. These are responsive strings but in a different way.
Rather than seeking to enhance the sound of the metals used in the string construction for responsiveness, these strings work to enhance the sound of your acoustic guitar. The tonewoods are more pronounced and in no way overshadowed by the sound of the strings themselves.
What you find is a warmer, darker, and quieter tone than the more modern string designs. There is great balance overall, and you won’t hear any metallic or bitey tones.
With Martin’s own Monel wire wrap you get added protection against corrosion and increased string longevity.
If you are looking for acoustic guitars that are going to accentuate the natural wood tones of your guitar, Martin Retro strings are the perfect reconstruction of natural vintage acoustic vibrations.
7 Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood Acoustic Strings, Medium Light Gauge (0.012 – 0.054)
The new face of Ernie Ball’s Slinky Acoustic.
Made with 92% copper, 7.7% tin, and 0.3% phosphorus, Earthwood strings are richly expressive. The core string is a brass plated high carbon steel that is highly durable and features an exclusive phosphorus bronze wrap wire.
These are concert-quality strings that offer rich, deep low-ends that have a real earthy sound and bright, clear highs. The clarity is superb and evenly balanced. The G, B, and high E strings are pure core alloy strings and don’t have any wrap winding.
The treble shimmers and shines…
This means that your guitar will have a more electric-sounding high-end. The treble shimmers and shines without stabbing you in the ear.
These strings have great intonation and harmonics. The phosphorus bronze wrap helps to increase the overall warm, consistency and balance.
Ernie Ball makes all of their strings in the US and pays special attention to quality control. All materials are of the highest quality, and each string is hermetically sealed to ensure the strings are a fresh as the day they were made.
8 Ernie Ball Earthwood Rock Acoustic Set, Extra Light Gauge (0.010 – 0.052)
Strings made for the soul.
Ernie Ball Earthwood Blues and Rock acoustic guitar strings have been used by great artists such as Elvis Costello, The Eagles, and Joe Bonamassa.
A classic 80/20 alloy of copper and zinc wrapped around a hex-shaped, brass plated high carbon steel core.
These strings are perfect for blues and rock styles. They are zingy and bright without sounding brittle or harsh. Every note is crisp, and the overtones flutter lightly and brightly on each string.
Full and balanced…
These string can help bring out the true wood tones of your guitar. The resonance is full and balanced. Earthwood Blues and Rock strings are so responsive that you will need to mute the other strings when tuning; otherwise, they will ring in tandem with the string you’re actually tuning.
When playing rhythm with these strings, you will notice how well each string compliments the other. Each string is neither too distinctive nor muddy or washed out. There is a clear full-body tone that lets you get deep into the blues.
The g-string is a plain string, which means it has no wrap winding. This further adds to a natural blues and rock sound, especially on the high-end. Play these strings with a bottleneck and the harmonics slice through with angelic delicacy.
Made in the US and hermetically sealed to ensure the strings remain in pristine condition. The Earthwood Blues and Rock strings are a bluesman’s best friend and the best acoustic guitar strings for blues available.
9 Dr Strings Vta-13 Veritas Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings Medium Gauge (0.013-0.056)
Not your grandpa’s acoustic strings.
Veritas Phosphorus Bronze acoustic strings make use of Accurate Core Technology. This technology is at the heart of every Veritas string and is why you will find these strings have a super-rich tone, intonation that is precise, and they are very durable.
The Accurate Core Technology actually allows veritas to fill in any tiny imperfections all along the core wire.
Why is that important?
The core wire is the foundation of the string. By making the core wire more uniform and even, the intonation and strength of the string are increased.
This means you get a more durable string that stays in tune longer and has more harmonic consistency.
Another great benefit of the Accurate core Technology is that it increases the longevity of the strings. By eliminating all the minuscule spaces that dirt, debris, or sweat could get suck, these strings last longer than any uncoated strings available.
In fact, the lifespan for DR Veritas strings rivals that of acoustic strings with the most advanced anti-corrosive coatings.
These strings are loud and bright. They have a robust and full tone, coupled with wonderful sustain and stability.
Made in the US with American-only materials, DR Veritas acoustic guitar strings are innovative and versatile. There is a difference you can hear and feel.
10 Vibe Acoustic Guitar String Set, Phosphor Bronze, Medium Gauge (0.012-0.052)
Bright and twangy.
Vibe Strings started in California but moved their operations to China in 2016. However, all the materials used in the construction of these strings are sourced from the US.
These acoustic guitar strings are defined by their brightness and twang, especially when you pick close to the bridge. They do have quite a dynamic range and are very easy to play.
Made with phosphorus bronze in a round wound over a steel core wire. They are very easy to bend and offer a silky feel that is both clear and warm. They have the comfortable feel of phosphorus bronze strings that allow for easy playability along with durability.
With attention paid to being bright strings, another bonus is that they are very clear and have incredible sustain. The twangy feel and enduring high-ends make these string a great choice for country and blues styles of music.
Take some time to really break in these strings, and they will warm right up. Uncoated and loaded with resonance, Vibe acoustic guitar strings are lively and melodic.
One other item of note is that Vibe is completely committed to customer satisfaction. They welcome any and all feedback on their products and respond quickly to customer concerns.
Best Acoustic Guitar String Buyer’s Guide
Now that we have had the opportunity to go over the best acoustic guitar strings, we would like to offer a few final thoughts.
To Coat Or Not To Coat
One of the biggest differences among acoustic guitar strings is whether they are coated or not. There are various kinds of protective coatings that string-makers use on their strings. A protective anti-corrosion coating is helpful for guitar players that live in climates that are hot and humid.
The benefit of strings with the coating is that they do last longer and hold their tone for longer. The trade-off with the coating is that some of the brightness and fullness will be diminished. Uncoated strings are brighter and warmer than coated strings, but they tend to wear out much quicker.
You will need to decide if coated or uncoated strings are the best option for you. Whatever your decision, please keep it in mind when you make your next acoustic guitar string purchase.
So, What Are The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings?
We have come to the end of the rundown. All the strings we looked at are quality options for your acoustic guitar. But, there is one that shines brighter than the rest.
The best acoustic guitar strings are the…
These strings are all around excellent in quality and sound. They have great traditional tones and balance. They are strong and durable with a very rich expressive sound. Made in the US with high-quality materials, these are great strings for all types of players.
Now that you’ve found the best acoustic guitar strings for you, we’re sure you will love the way your guitar sounds. Keep plucking and strumming, and enjoy your new acoustic guitar strings.