If you’re a beginner, your stock string just broke and now you have no idea what to do.
If you’re a seasoned player, you might just be braving a change from your decade-long favorite strings.
Either way, we’re proud to say that we are catering to you all!
Don’t consider any other strings when we’ve got the best acoustic strings for your guitar right here!
QUICK ANSWER: Best Acoustic Guitar Strings 2020
- D’Addario EJ16-3D – Best for Beginners
- Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze – Best Bronze Strings
- Martin MSP4150 SP – Best Steel Strings
- Vibe Strings Heavy – Best Heavy Strings
- D’Addario EJ45-3D Pro-Arte Nylon – Best Classical Guitar Strings
Our Top 5 Acoustic Guitar Strings
Every guitarist needs a set of the best strings for their guitar that they can find! So we did the leg work and found the best of the best! From light to heavy, steel to nylon, and cheap to pricey – we compiled them all! If you are looking for some good strings for your electric guitar you should check out our post on those.
If you’re not sure what gauge size you’re looking for, type of metal you prefer, or if you should go with un-coated strings, you might want to hit up our Buying Guide before you can properly shop – just a suggestion.
1. D’Addario EJ16-3D – Best Acoustic Guitar Strings for Beginners
- MOST POPULAR – Pursue your passion with D’Addario’s most popular acoustic guitar string set, the Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings. Since 1974, phosphor strings have been known for superb,...
All you have to read is the D’Addario name and you know you have the string standard for the entire guitar industry! This brand is top notch!
There’s much heated debate over who introduced the first set of phosphor bronze strings to the industry – was it Gibson or D’Addario? Despite this, there’s no debate that these strings are are a beginner’s foot in the door to mastering playability and understanding brand differentiation!
Beginners will appreciate the light strings with low action that’s easy on the fingers and soft on the hands. This is all thanks to the precision wound strings that are wrapped with just the right amount of tension around a hexagon-shaped steel core.
Additionally, they’re made with corrosion resistant phosphor bronze wires which provides a type of tonal warmness not heard on other guitars! These strings, while providing the darkest tones of the bronze family, still beat out softness and brilliance whether you’re plucking or brushing!
While phosphor bronze strings are known for their durability, these strings also have the D’Addario name and construction behind them. You’d have to go through thousands of these before you acquire a handful of easily broken ones.
- Set of 3
- Corrosion resistant
- Hex-shaped steel core
- Bright warm tones
- Quality issues
FAQ’s About D’Addario EJ16-3D Strings
How are the D’Addario Strings Packaged?
They anti-corrosion package is D’Addario’s special packaging where strings are packed one at a time and sealed to prevent oxidation and rust once it leaves the manufacturer.
Are these Ball-End Acoustic Strings
Yes! The grommets, or “balls”, are color coded for quick gauge recognition and string placement on the guitar.
Will Playing the Guitar be Loud with the D’Addario EJ16-3D Strings?
While light strings are easier on the fingers to play, they don’t resonate as loudly as medium and heavy strings do on guitars. However, the sound projection and impact also depends on the quality of your guitar.
Do these Strings have Low or High Action?
Light strings are strung closer to the fret board and as a result, they have low action. They’re also much easier to bend.
Where are the Strings Made?
They’re manufactured in the USA.
Is this String Set Available in Other Sizes?
D’Addario EJ16-3D Features:
- String Metal: Phosphor Bronze
- Gauge: 012 .016
- Coated: No
- Tones: Warm/Bright
- Packaging: Anti-corrosion
The Verdict on the D’Addario EJ16-3D
The D’Addario EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze strings are the most commonly bought set of strings for the revered company! Users love the bassy tonal warmth, the feel of the strings, and even its packaging!
However, few negative reviews of the strings reveal that they break and snap easily while tuning.
But, for strings that have been bought in the thousands, the masses say they’re worth the buy!
2. Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze – Best Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Acoustic guitar strings constructed with 80/20 (80% copper, 20% zinc) bronze wrap wire
Bronze – the big kahuna of all strings. Elixir – another brand that everyone must know and every guitarist must try. So if you’re looking for the best wires out there, the Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Medium Strings are tough to beat!
The medium size of these 80/20 strings are excellent for guitarists of all skill levels! But, when skill level is below par, the awesome tonal range, brilliant and crisp highs will more than make up for it!
The 80/20 string metals are known to set the bar for pure sound and broad range and these strings don’t disappoint – they’re the best strings for acoustic guitar you’ll find!
However, the shining feature is in Elixir’s patented coating technology, the NANOWEB! They’ll endure endless playing 3-5 times longer than typical strings without compromising the sought-after tones an 80/20 string set can provide.
How? The anti-rust technology plates the steel string to prevent deadened tones from corrosion. With the coating to boot, skin cells, oils, and dirt won’t be able to get into the tiny grooves of the winding to affect tone.
Unlike other brands, Elixir coats the entire string from top to bottom to protect tone, reduce string replacements, and to ensure string life outlasts all the hours of playing your calluses can stand!
- 80/20 Bronze
- NANOWEB coating
- Anti-rust plated
- Long-lasting tone
- Fake product
FAQ’s About the Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze
What does the NANOWEB Coating Feel Like?
The NANOWEB technology is ultra-thin to provide a smooth and more traditional feel to it. Despite its seemingly non-existent texture, it still provides the same amount of protection as its original predecessor, the Polyweb Coating.
What is the Difference between the Polyweb and the NANOWEB Coating?
The protection levels of the coatings are the same. However, the Polyweb coating has slick texture for fast movement while being kind on the fingers and provides warm and mellow tones. The NANOWEB coating has a more traditional feel for crisper, brighter, and vibrant tones.
What is the Anti-Rust Plating?
Under the 80/20 wrap wire the strings are steel and are prone to oxidation and rust. However, Elixir came up with a patented technology to protect steel strings from these inevitable effects, the Anti-Rust Plating. With it, the strings can outlast conventional plain steel strings, maintain true tone, and endure a longer life.
How Many Sets of Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Strings are in this Purchase?
While this string package is set at a high price, it’s for one set of six guitar strings.
Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Features:
- String Metal: 80/20 Bronze
- Gauge: .013-.056
- Coated: NANOWEB
- Tones: Crisp/Bright
- Packaging: Paper
The Verdict on the Elixir 80/20 Bronze Strings
The Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Strings are by far the most popular strings online and their reputation even reaches the serious pros at your local guitar boutique!
That’s because everything said about the Elixir strings is true! They’re dependable, they provide rich, smooth sound, and they’re like butter to your fingertips! However, buyer beware – know your vendor!
It seems the Elixir strings are so popular that even the lowest scum of the retailer world will try to scam you for the high prices if they think they can pull one over on you. With that dooms-day warning aside, these strings are unmatched!
3. Martin MSP4150 SP – Best Steel Acoustic Guitar Strings
It’s not always about what the outside metal on the strings are, sometimes it’s about what’s on the inside! Martin takes this to heart with their ultra-high quality steel core Martin MSP4150 SP strings!
With all acoustic guitar strings, steel is the metal of choice. Martin has a long-time reputation when it comes to their guitars, so no fancy marketing is needed to sell their strings – they sell themselves!
The SP line of strings have come about as a result of a top-secret collaboration between fine specialty steel producers and Martin.
What you end up with is the development of industry-leading, ultra-high quality steel cores that resist breakage and are tougher than conventional steel strings.
To top all this off, both the core wires and plain steel strings have been plated with a bronze finish. The phosphor bronze will add warmth and depth while the high quality steel core meets up to the demanding hours of even the most avid musicians!
- Ultra-high quality steel core
- Plated bronze finish
- Quality issues
- Labeling issues
FAQ’s About the Martin MSP4150 SP Strings
Do the Martin MSP4150 SP Strings Provide Even Tones?
The phosphor bronze metals help to balance out extreme pitches allowing for warm, mellow, and even tones.
What Tension Level are these Martin Strings?
These are the Light-Medium strings. They’re a balance between light strings and medium strings in one.
Are these Good Strings for a Beginner?
Yes! Since they’re the middle ground between light and medium, you’ll be able to have the ease of playability while training yourself to tolerate just a little more tension. Plus, if your guitar likes it and sounds good, you will too!
Do these Strings have Ball-Ends?
The strings do have ball-ends for gauge recognition, however, the ends are not color-coded for easy string placement.
Martin MSP4150 SP Features:
- String Metal: Phosphor Bronze
- Gauge: .0125 – .055
- Coated: No
- Tones: Warm/Mellow
- Packaging: Paper
The Verdict on the Martin MSP4150 SP Strings
Users of the Martin MSP4150 SP guitar strings love the middle ground of the light to medium balance. But, it does seem like you’re either a love-it or hate-it kinda guy when it comes to Martin wires. Fortunately, the masses love the steel strings!
However, packaging labels seem to be marked incorrectly, easy breakages tend to happen, and deadened tones have speedily occurred.
But, for the low price and to have Martin’s reputation under your fingertips, you could be one of the love-it kinda guys!
4. Vibe Strings Heavy – Best Heavy Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, hexagonally shaped, high-carbon steel core with corrosion-resistant phosphor bronze wire wrap
To achieve full sound, you’re going to need to some heavy gauge strings to suit your guitar’s action. Yes, they can be tough on your fingers, but the Vibe Strings Heavy style grows on you as it will on your guitar!
The phosphor bronze wires are wound around a high quality, hexagonal-shaped, high carbon steel core. With specs like these, you know these heavy strings are going to last heavy hours of use and abuse!
Naturally, they’re corrosion resistant, so they’re going to hold up when you’re on the road and braving temperature and environmental changes.
Although these strings are built to last, they’re not going to compromise sustain, tonal life, and sound quality! Instead, the heavy gauges of the strings adds to the rich, deep, and full tones of sound.
You won’t have to worry about freshness once they’ve been shipped to you off the shelf. Vibe Strings only manufactures their strings in small batches to ensure quality, and their packaging is vacuum sealed for ultimate freshness and oxidation prevention.
If you’re in the market for some heavy string goodness, then there’s no need to feel heavy-hearted any longer!
- Corrosion resistant
- Hex-shaped steel core
- Vacuum packaged
- Settling period
FAQ’s on the Vibe Strings
Are the Vibe Strings Heavy Colored or Glow in the Dark?
While the packaging may catch your eye for its neon colors, the strings themselves are not glow in the dark nor colored.
Can you Bend with these Heavy Strings?
While heavy strings are known for their full tone and being difficult to break, surprisingly, they’re a delight to use for bending and are highly flexible. These strings will even make it a tad easier for beginners to develop hand strength when dabbling with the heavy design.
Are these Tie-On End Acoustic Strings?
No. These have the ball-end grommets for easy restringing.
What Type of Wound System do these Strings Have?
These heavy gauge acoustic strings, are all Roundwound. It’s the most common for an acoustic guitar.
Are these really Heavy Gauge Strings?
While each manufacturer develops their strings slightly differently and markets them accordingly, these strings are “heavy” but their gauge level also suggests that their somewhere in the medium to heavy range.
This also correlates with many reviews that reveal if you want something a little heavier than what you “feel” like you’re playing, go a size up.
Vibe Strings Heavy Features:
- String Metal: Phosphor Bronze
- Gauge: 0.13-0.58
- Coated: No
- Tones: Bright/Clear
- Packaging: Vacuum
The Verdict on the Vibe Strings
The Vibe Strings Heavy are quickly gaining popularity for their tonal life, sustain, and durability in all aspects – tuning, environment, and even some heavy bending!
However, there is a pattern that the strings need a few days to settle in before you can achieve that bright and clear tone.
But, like all the good stuff in life, good things take time!
5. D’Addario EJ45-3D Pro-Arte Nylon – Best Classical Guitar Strings
- The choice of nylon string players– the world’s most popular choice for nylon string players, D 'Addario pro-arte nylon string set for classical Guitar combines high quality materials with the...
D’Addario does it again with the Pro-Arte series of nylon strings! Made with laser accuracy for construction and measurements, the D’Addario EJ45-3D Pro-Arte Nylon will give the utmost consistency with each and every strum!
To get right to the core of the strings, D’Addario uses a proprietary multi-filament nylon core to provide those warming basses with ultimate sound projection.
Then they’re precision wound with silver-plated copper that’s been laser measured to ensure pure intonation is exactly what you get.
These nylon strings have normal tension so you can find the balance between volume and resistance at a comfortable level that’s just right for you!
Packaging is also another aspect that D’Addario takes seriously. That’s why they’ve packaged their strings in an environmentally-friendly, corrosion-resistant pack. Since it is D’Addario, don’t expect just one set of strings but three!
Don’t worry about a Made in China sticker arriving on your package either. All of D’Addario’s strings are carefully and expertly made in the United States! Top notch and state of the art machinery provides peerless string construction like no other brand can outdo!
- Set of 3
- Pro-Arte Series
- Silver-plated copper
- Multi-filament nylon core
- Made in USA
- Fake product
FAQ’s About the D’Addario EJ45-3D Strings
What Type of Ends do Nylon Strings have?
Acoustic guitar strings have steel ball-end or grommets. Classical guitar strings have nylon tie-ends.
Are the D’Addario EJ45-3D Pro-Arte Nylon Sets of Strings Packaged Separately?
Yes! Each set of strings are packaged into their own bags.
Can these Strings be used on an Electric Guitar?
If the electric guitar is set up for use with nylon strings like a classical electrical guitar, then yes. However, steel string instruments can’t make use of nylon strings and vice versa.
Are the D’Addario EJ45-3D Pro-Arte Nylon Strings Different Colors?
The three bass strings are silver-plated copper over fiber wire. The three treble strings are clear nylon.
D’Addario EJ45-3D Pro-Arte Nylon Features:
- String Metal: Nylon
- Gauge: .0280-.043
- Coated: No
- Tones: Warm/Round
- Packaging: Anti-corrosion
The Verdict on the D’Addario EJ45-3D Strings
The D’Addario EJ45-3D Pro-Arte Nylon classical strings are excellent for holding tune, lasting forever, and providing round and warm sound.
However, counterfeit string purchases have occurred with some buyers. So always know your vendor and know what to expect in the package! While fake products don’t reflect the quality of D’Addario strings, they can diminish a person’s perspective of the brand.
But, you’ll know when you have a set of real D’Addario nylon strings because the sound, tone, and projection will be unmatched!
A Guide to the Ultimate Acoustic Guitar Strings
With all the numbers, metals, and materials out there to define the best strings for acoustic guitars, it can all seem like a blur, especially to the beginner Guitarist. Here’s your beginner guide to the most common string metals available.
There aren’t any pure bronze strings around – just to get that out there. But, bronze strings are made with alloys like tin-phosphor, zinc, and copper. The bronze family of strings are the most coveted because they provide the brightest and expressive tones of all strings.
2. 80/20 Bronze
To make things obvious here, these strings are made with 80 percent copper and 20 percent zinc. Copper is naturally highly corrosive and so the zinc helps to harden the strings and prevent corrosion. 80/20 strings are known for their tonal range and bright and brilliant highs. But, any naysayers of bronze strings have poor coatings or uncoated bronze strings to blame for this, which we’ll get into later.
3. Phosphor Bronze
What’s with phosphor? Phosphor was thrown into the string-making biz for its ability to preserve tonal life and durability. This means these strings last longer and protect tonal integrity better than even some 80/20 bronze strings! While they’re the darkest sounding strings of the bronze family, they do attain up to a 75-80 percent bright and crisp brilliance as its 80/20 counterpart!
4. Stainless Steel
As you can expect, stainless steel strings have excellent anti-corrosion and rust abilities. But, they are high tension strings and many players aren’t too fond of that aspect. However, they’re great strings for those who do a ton of strumming, open chord playing, and for those on a budget. The tone of these strings is softer than bronze, but it also has its own unique contribution to your tunes.
Nylon strings are made for classical and nylon-strung guitars. While they’re not known for sound projection like their steel counterparts, they’re known more for their soft tones and low tension. The bass strings on a classical guitar are often wrapped in a metal.
Guitar String Gauges
The gauge size of the string refers to the diameter of the string, and the size has a lot to do with sound, durability, and playability.
Here’s a rundown on common gauge sizes:
- Extra light – .010 .014 .023 .030 .039 .047
- Custom light – .011 .015 .023 .032 .042 .052
- Light – .012 .016 .025 .032 .042 .054
- Medium – .013 .017 .026 .035 .045 .056
- Heavy – .014 .018 .027 .039 .049 .059
Even with sizes right in front of your face, you may not be sure how to apply this when it comes to choosing acoustic strings for your guitar. So, let us explain a bit more and help you choose the right size for you.
1. Light Gauge
- Benefits – The lighter the gauge of the string, the easier it’s going to be to play it. However, they’re also prone to breaking rather easily. Lighter strings are also mounted closer to the fretboard which takes the pressure off using excessive hand strength to press steel strings even closer.
- Guitar Size – Small-bodied, mini, and concert guitars will do best with light strings.
- Tone – If you like bright, warm, and high trebles, lighter strings are an expert in this tonal range.
- Player Style – Light strings are quieter and softer than heavier strings, so if you like to pluck and pick versus a lot of heavy strumming, then light is for you.
2. Medium Gauge
- Benefits – Medium strings are great for many genres of music and playing styles. They’re the middle ground for guitarists who like to switch it up every now and then.
- Guitar Size – Most guitars will do just fine with medium strings. Dreadnoughts and other larger body guitars will benefit from the all-round tones of medium gauge strings.
- Tone – You get the best of both worlds with medium strings as they can provide both warm and bright tones but can also deliver rich, full, and bassy tones.
- Playing Style – Pick it, pluck it, strum it, and bend it! Medium strings allows you to set the rules.
3. Heavy Gauge
- Benefits – Heavy strings are durable, harder to break, and provide fuller tones. They also require higher tension levels which isn’t everyone’s piece of pie. But, only serious players can take on the seriousness of heavy strings!
- Guitar Size – The larger your guitar is, the more likely you’ll want to put heavy strings on it to get maximum tone and sound projection. Large dreadnoughts and jumbos are perfect for beefy strings!
- Tone – As expected, heavy strings focus on the full, deep, and rich bass tones. But, they can also enhance the radiance of the trebles by increasing fullness, resonance, and sustain.
- Playing Style – Heavy strummers will want to go with heavy strings for ultimate sonic impact! That’s it!
Coated vs Un-coated Strings
This is definitely a matter of personal preference. Today, improvements in the guitar string industry has allowed for coated strings to last three to five times longer than their un-coated counterparts.
Traditionally, coated strings limited sustain and diminished tonal life, making them seem less full, dull, and dead. So, while a long string life was desirable, it didn’t fully justify compromising sustain.
With the improvements in today’s coating technology, these concerns are becoming less apparent as coatings are getting better and sound and intonation is less likely to be compromised.
Poorly coated and unevenly coated bronze strings have been the givers of a bad rep to the coated bronze family. Deadened tones can happen speedily, sticky textures can affect playability, and strings are even more prone to rust and corrosion.
But, high quality coatings can provide a lot of good things too:
- Coatings can make fast and slick playing easier to achieve.
- Thin coatings protect the strings but provide a traditional feel for players.
- Prevents oxidation and corrosion.
- Provides longer-lasting string life.
- Can extend and protect the integrity of tonal life.
- Prevents skin cells and oils, dust, dirt, and grime from getting into the windings.
String it Up!
Every set of strings is going to be different. Finding the best acoustic guitar strings is all about what string speaks to you. Does it sound good? Does it feel good?
If you haven’t braved the shark-infested waters of the string market in a while, it might be good for you to take a dive, bait a catch, and string it up! You might be more than surprised with how you guitar sounds as you hear it with fresh ears!
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Simon is a music lover, musical instrument player and passionate audio afficionado. When he is not playing the guitar or listening to music he is either eating tacos or snoring too loudly.