Playing the acoustic guitar can be a lot of fun, but you’ll want a decent set of acoustic guitar strings to not only sound great but to make playing acoustic guitar as comfortable as possible.
Our article lets you understand the difference between the strings and find the best acoustic guitar strings for you.
Acoustic Guitar String Buying Guide
With so many different types of acoustic guitar strings on the market, it can be a bit of a nightmare for a beginner to find out exactly what you need.
Acoustic guitars produce a raw sound without an amp or a pedal to alter the tone. The strings are the major element that can radically change the sound.
Follow our Guitar String Buying Guide, you can see how acoustic guitar strings differ and find the perfect set for you.
What Should You Look For When Buying Guitar Strings?
When choosing the perfect acoustic guitar strings, the first thing to consider is the material.
Are you more of a rhythm player or a soloist? Do you use a pick, or are you leaning more toward finger-style picking?
Acoustic guitars need different guitar strings for different tones and music from different musical genres. The best acoustic guitar strings enable you to play a variety of styles on one set.
It’s also worth noting that coated steel acoustic strings are the most durable option. These steel core strings have a good volume and are great for strumming. Uncoated steel strings are prone to corrosion; but it’s not all bad, as an uncoated string can sound warmer!
How Often Should You Change Your Guitar Strings?
Generally speaking, players prefer the strings should be changed after 100 hours of playing. However, amateur players use the strings for as long as possible until there is a breakage, or you feel a string is weak and could snap at any moment.
If you make it to the 100-hour mark, you should know that the tone will start to dampen slightly.
On the other hand, professional musicians change the strings regularly, as the last thing you want is a string snapping in the middle of a performance.
How Do You Change Guitar Strings?
Acoustic guitar strings are much easier to change than electric guitar strings. You don’t require any assistance from a professional to do this, although the method can differ slightly from guitar to guitar.
I know it sounds strange for an advice website to suggest this, my our suggestion is to hop over to YouTube, type in your guitar model, and “how to change strings”, and you’ll be sure to find a dedicated video demonstrating the best method for changing the strings on your guitar.
What Is Guitar String Gauge?
Gauge is the thickness of the string. The first string on the guitar is very thin and produces higher notes. The sixth string is very thick and produces lower notes. The thicker the string, the more prominent the bass frequencies tend to be.
The string gauge is measured with a specific system based on diameter numbers. The higher the number, the thicker the string is.
What String Gauge to Choose?
You can choose between thin (aka light gauge), medium gauge, and thick strings. You can also make hybrid strings wrapped or custom strings, but it’s unlikely you’ll need to think about those yet.
When guitar players choose one type of gauge, they stick with that exact size for the entire set. So acoustic players don’t mix string gauges between different strings…
Thinner strings (so a lighter gauge) need tuning more often. The thicker strings hold the tune for much longer and can be suitable for different tuning and playing with a slide. But you’ll need to change strings regularly, and they can be a little more difficult to play.
What Materials Are Guitar Strings Made From?
The guitar strings for electric guitars are different from acoustic strings. They are made from steel or nickel to be more electrically conductive with the pickups.
Acoustic guitar strings have a core made from stainless steel (called steel core strings). The bottom four strings are covered in copper, bronze, or alloy.
Acoustic guitar strings can also be made from nylon if you want a softer touch, warmer sound or smooth strings.
Classical guitars have the ‘softest’ strings made from nylon or plastic.
Which Guitar Strings Are Best for Beginners?
A standard or light set of guitar strings should be the most suitable fit for every beginner. Light strings offer far less tension on the fingertips and are much easier to play.
Yes, these low tension strings can snap easily, but learning the pentatonic scale or the F chord on 11s or 12s is impossible for someone who doesn’t know how to play the guitar.
Which Guitar Strings for Classical?
Classical guitars are probably the most limited when it comes to sound. They have nothing else to rely on except for the strings. The classical guitar strings are made from nylon or plastic and play a crucial role in how the guitar plays, sounds, and feels.
What Guitar Strings Should I Buy?
You need to find a set of guitar strings that complement your playing. It all comes down to what guitar you play, how you play, and your favourite tuning. Our best advice is to loosely follow the rules and experiment until you find the best set that feels most comfortable for you.
Below we have created our list of the 5 best acoustic guitar strings. You can’t really go wrong with any of them, but do read each option carefully to figure out which acoustic guitar string deals these strings are likely the very best acoustic one for you.
Coating or no coating
When coated acoustic guitar strings were first used on acoustic instruments, they became very common among tone fans. There were debates about how the influence is felt in tone.
When you change your strings frequently, it may make more sense to use a non-coated string since it’s cheaper. However, many players say using coated strings can make them feel more comfortable without changing them every few weeks.
In the end, it’s a personal preference. I think the best thing to do is to try out both options, and see what you feel suits you the best.
5 Best Acoustic Guitar Strings
D’Addario EJ17-3D Acoustic Guitar Strings (Best Value)
This string has phosphor-plated wrap wires which add a warmth and vibrant tone that suits most music applications. Introduced to the D’Addario line in 1974, this string is known for being extremely durable, a quality that is extremely important for the players putting hours of effort into the fretboard. This is by far the best value, high-quality string on our list.
D’Addario EJ17-3D Acoustic Guitar Strings
One of the Best Acoustic Guitar Strings on the Market
Best Option For: All guitarists
String Gauges: Medium – 0.13 to 0.56
Features: Durable phosphor bronze string that keep their well-balanced and warm tone for a long time
- Durable and bright sounding
- High-quality acoustic string
- The strings have a longer length, and you need to cut them after assembling
Ernie Ball Earthwood PB
These excellent strings are perfect for any acoustic guitar player, looking for a warm, friendly tone. With their phosphor bronze construction, they produce a bright and clear sound that is both balanced and rich. Plus, their durability makes them last longer than many other phosphor bronze strings already on the market. So whether you’re a beginner or a professional, the Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze acoustic guitar strings are a great choice for your acoustic guitar, and we think they’re one of the best acoustic strings on the market!
Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze
Perfect for Bending and Shredding on an Acoustic Guitar
Best Option For: Guitarists who like to solo on acoustic guitar
String gauges: Medium-light – 0.12-0.54
Features: The phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings are of premium quality and tune together nicely the bass and treble frequencies
- Rich, warm, and clear tone
- Great for solo performances
- The strings come in medium and light gauges
- The strings can snap easily
Martin M140 Acoustic Guitar Strings (Best Overall)
Martin M140 Acoustic Guitar Strings is a unique set from the Martin Retro line of popular acoustic guitar strings made. The strings are from the 1930s, in which nickel strings dominated acoustical history. The M140 features solid nickel/copper wraps to allow the natural wood tone to sing. With an extremely low-end, high-end snap and solid midrange, these strings are the best overall acoustic guitar strings on our list.
They are highly regarded for their warm, balanced tone and long-lasting durability. Made with high-quality materials, these strings have great tone and are perfect for any beginner or experienced guitarist who wants to elevate their sound.
One of the standout features of these new strings is their phosphor bronze construction, which produces a bright and vibrant sound that suits various playing styles. Additionally, the strings are coated with a corrosion-resistant material that helps prevent rust and can extend string life and lifespan.
The Martin M140 Acoustic Guitar Strings also boast a comfortable playing feel, with a smooth surface that makes sliding up and down the fretboard effortless. They are also easy to install and stay in tune for longer periods of time, giving guitarists the confidence they need to play their best.
Overall, the Martin M140 Acoustic Guitar Strings are a highly recommended choice for any musician looking to improve the sound and playability of their acoustic guitar. With their brighter tonality, reliable performance and exceptional tone, they will impress beginners and professionals alike.
Martin M140 Bronze
Versatile Strings From a Reputable and Reliable Manufacturer
Best Option For: Versatile players who enjoy playing more than one genre of music
String Gauges: Light – 0.12-054
Features: Light, cheap, and sound fantastic; 80 to 20 bronze ratio
- Suitable for any genre of music
- Bright sound
- The best acoustic guitar string – period
- The core is not a 100% stainless steel core
One of the world’s most famous established brands, Fender has perfected their manufacturing process and produced one of the great all-rounders. Both beginner and professional guitarists highly regard the 880L acoustic guitar strings for their smooth and friendly tonal character. These strings are a hallmark of Fender’s commitment to producing high-quality guitar gear, and they are designed to offer superior sound quality, durability and playability.
One of the standout features of the 880L acoustic guitar strings is their ease of playing. The strings feel smooth and silky under the fingers, which allows players to glide over the fretboard with minimal effort. This makes the strings ideal for beginners who are still developing finger strength and dexterity, but they’re also perfect for more experienced guitarists who want to enjoy a comfortable playing experience.
Another major plus point of these strings is their tonal quality. They produce a warm, yet mellow tone and a balanced sound with well-balanced tonal characteristics. The top treble strings and bass notes are crisp and clear, while the mid-range tones are full-bodied, creating a pleasant and harmonious sound. This tonal quality lends itself well to many different genres of music, from folk and country to blues and rock.
Built to withstand the rigours of regular gigging and practice sessions, the Fender 880L guitar strings are made from high-quality materials that deliver lasting durability. They are also corrosion-resistant and produce less finger noise, thanks to their flat-wound construction.
Overall, the Fender 880L acoustic guitar strings are a superb choice for anyone seeking a top-quality set of strings that delivers excellent tone, feels great under the fingers, and is built to last. Whether you’re a casual strummer or a serious musician, these strings will meet your needs and exceed your expectations.
Strings Resistant to Grime and Corrosion
Best Option For: Beginners and intermediate guitar players
String Gauges: Light – 0.12-0.54
Features: Top-notch quality; unique tone suitable for any music genre; five times longer lifespan than average guitar strings
- Long lifespan
- Mesmerizing acoustic tone
- Tuning stability
- Lovely mellow tones
- The strings are in a “higher range” of the tone spectrum
Elixir Nanoweb Acoustic Guitar Strings (Best Coated)
Elixir NanoWeb Acoustic Guitar Strings are not only good at sounding great,; they feature micro sizing that will last much longer than average strings. Is Elixir Acoustic nanoweb strings really the perfect solution for maintaining a consistent acoustic guitar string tone? Well, we think so, and so do many professional musicians.
The coated strings are specially designed to provide a mellower and warmer tone compared to other uncoated strings. They also stay in tune longer, resist rust and dirt buildup, and have excellent longevity. Elixir uses patented Nanoweb technology to coat the strings, ensuring they retain their fresh, natural feel and crisp sound for an extended period.
The Elixir 80/20 Nanoweb Coated Strings come in various gauges, which cater to different playing styles and preferences. Whether you’re a folk strummer or a rock shredder, you’ll find a gauge that matches the best sound for your playing style.
Aside from their exceptional features, these strings carry a reasonable price tag, making them a budget-friendly option for those who want a high-quality product without breaking the bank.
Overall, Elixir Strings’ 80/20 Nanoweb Coated Strings are an excellent choice for acoustic guitar players who want strings that can withstand the test of time, produce an excellent tone, and offer excellent value for money.
Elixir Strings 80/20 Nanoweb Coated Strings
Perfect Set of Strings for Players With Sweaty Hands
Best Option For: All styles of acoustic guitar players
String Gauges: Medium – 0.13-0.56
Features: Nanoweb-coated strings – clear treble sounds and last for a long time; phosphor bronze material
- A warm and vibrant tone
- Corrosion resistant
- A bit pricey
Our Pick of Best Acoustic Guitar Strings
The best set of acoustic guitar strings overall in the guitar world is Martin M140. These are the very best acoustic guitar strings around.
There is a lot of competition on the market, and all of our mentions deserve a lot of credit, but the light strings from Martin win the race. We really love them.
Their strings are great for any music genre, offer superior performance, a brilliant sound, great value and come at an affordable price. A win, win all around!
Summary – best acoustic guitar strings
Regardless of what type of guitar you play, after reading our buying advice article, you can find a set of strings that will pair well with your guitar playing style.
Music is all about enjoyment, playing and practising, so if there is a set of strings that ‘sounded good’ on paper, but doesn’t meet your expectations, forget about them, and go ahead and experiment with a different set of strings. You’re looking for your best acoustic guitar strings, not mine!
Maybe you’ll end up with steel strings, nickel and phosphor bronze strings, a set with a steel hex core, or 80 20 nickel bronze ratio, non-coated strings, nickel-plated phosphor bronze strings, or even strings with anti-corrosion qualities! There are many options, and hopefully, you now understand what they all entail, and what could end up being the best strings for you.
Trial and error is the name of the game. Eventually, you’ll find an acoustic guitar string set that feels natural and right for you. Treat it as a bit of a game! Testing acoustic guitar strings can be a lot of fun if you remember not to stress and just enjoy the experience.
What kind of strings are best for acoustic guitar?
If you’re trying to find out what kind of strings are best for acoustic guitar, then read our Guitar String Buying Guide.
Acoustic guitar strings have different feel, thickness, sound, and durability. But if you like a lighter feel, you need to compromise.
If you play on a lighter set of strings, you will have to change them often, and they won’t keep in tune as well as thicker strings.
The thicker nylon strings offer longer string life but will make you work for every note. Steel core strings are lighter than heavier gauge strings, and great for western-style acoustic guitars.
That said, some of the best set of strings for an acoustic guitar that can definitely complement your playing include D’Addario EJ17, Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze, Martin M140 bronze, Fender 880L, and Elixir strings, especially the ones with Nanoweb coating with 80/20 ratio.
Which guitar strings are easiest on fingers?
Guitar strings designed for classical guitars are the easiest on the fingers. They are thicker gauge strings than steel acoustic guitar strings that are made from nylon and offer the smoothest texture overwound strings.
You can test acoustic guitar strings and find the perfect set for you. Relatively speaking, the strings that offer the easiest playability without damaging your fingers are the Martin 140M, especially if you’re into hard strumming!
What strings does Ed Sheeran use?
Ed Sheeran uses the Nanoweb Acoustic guitar strings from Elixir. The phosphor bronze strings are perfect for his small guitars, which have 23 frets.
What guitar string brand is best?
When it comes to choosing the best acoustic guitar strings, there are plenty of options to consider. Some of the most popular acoustic guitar string brands include D’Addario, Martin, Elixir, and Ernie Ball. Each brand has its own unique set of qualities and benefits.
D’Addario is known for its reliability and consistency, providing a more balanced tone, that works well for various music genres. Martin strings, on the other hand, are considered some of the finest acoustic guitar strings available, providing excellent projection and clarity. Elixir strings are a popular choice due to their very long life-lasting coating process, which helps them stay fresh and bright for months. Finally, Ernie Ball strings are well known for their sturdy steel cores, bright tone and response.
Ultimately, the best acoustic guitar strings for you will depend on your personal preferences and playing style. Some guitarists prefer a richer, warmer tone, while others prefer a bright, punchy sound. It’s also important to consider your playing technique, as certain strings may be more suited to fingerpicking or strumming.
So, whether you choose D’Addario, Martin, Elixir, Ernie Ball, or another brand, make sure to experiment and find the strings that work best for you and your guitar. With the right set of strings, you can take your playing to the next level and achieve the great sound, and tone you’re looking for.