Strings are absolutely critical to your overall sound when it comes to acoustic guitars, playing as important a role as your playing style or your guitar's tonewood - but with so many types available, which are the best acoustic guitar strings for you?
In recent years, coated strings have made huge advances in terms of tone and feel. It's because of this that they've become an increasingly popular choice among acoustic players as they help prolong the life of your tone and invariably enhance higher frequencies.
As such, many of the string sets in this buying guide feature this technology, but we've included more traditional acoustic guitar string options, too.
Each set of strings featured is available in a variety of gauges, which will also have an impact on your tone and technique. Our biggest piece of advice would be to pick up a few options and get restringing and experimenting! Guitar strings are cheap enough that you can't try a few sets without breaking the bank. Long-term, your tone and feel will benefit from it.
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As ever, our experts are here to point you in the right direction and help you zero in on best acoustic guitar strings for you.
The best acoustic guitar strings right now
1. Martin SP Lifespan
Coated guitar strings from an acoustic legend
Launch price: $11.99/£13.99
Martin offers a wide range of acoustic guitar strings, and these Lifespans are its coated option. Enhanced with Cleartone technology, they have ultra-pure steel SP core wire and are available in 80/20 and phosphor bronze sets. 12-string and acoustic baritone players are also catered for.
2. Elixir Nanoweb HD Light
Among the best coated strings for acoustic guitar
Launch price: $15.99/£15.99
Elixir is the first name in coated guitar strings, and this coated phosphor bronze light/medium hybrid (0.013-0.053) set was developed with Taylor for use on its Grand Concert models. It's designed to provide a warmer bottom-end and bolder top-end with some mid projection boost in between.
3. Dean Markley Blue Steel
Cryogenically processed sets with greater tuning stability and cheaper prices
Launch price: $6.09/£6.99
The ‘cryogenic processing’ with liquid nitrogen that Dean Markley use for the Blue Steel range may sound a little like something from a sci-fi movie, but by freezing strings to -320 degrees Fahrenheit and then gradually bringing the temperature up, greater frequency response and tuning stability is claimed.
4. D’Addario EXP
Coated strings with an uncoated feel
Launch price: $14.99/£11.95
We highly recommend sampling a range of coated strings from various brands in order to narrow down your preferences. The New York company’s EXP range should be on your list. D’Addario claims that its coating offers more of the natural feel you get with uncoated strings, while still having the life-extending benefits of the coated types.
5. Ernie Ball Earthwood Extra Soft Silk And Steel
A softer-feeling set with reduced string noise, ideal for recording
Launch price: $5.99/£9.99
The 80/20 bronze Earthwood range offers this Extra Soft Silk And Steel iteration, which adds a layer of silk between the wrap and steel core to make playing easier on your fingers. It promises a mellower sound with reduced finger noise that could prove useful for recording sessions.
6. Newtone Heritage Series Low Tension
Easier-playing strings thanks to equal tension on each one
Launch price: $11.99/£11.99
The British company’s Low Tension series strings are designed to produce virtually equal tension on each string. The round-core phosphor bronze strings could be good for vintage acoustics that you don’t want to put too heavy a load on, and players suffering from arthritis and tendonitis.
7. Martin Retro Monel Vintage Tone Acoustic Strings
Vintage strings that promise to bring out your guitar's true voice
Launch price: $8.99/£7.99
A back-to-the-future move from Martin saw these strings launched back in 2014; think of these as a vintage string. Returning to the old nickel-based alloy blend of monel results in a softer touch and warm tone, to bring out the inherent tone in your acoustic’s wood. There’s also a claimed longer life than some other phosphor or 80/20 options.
8. La Bella Vapor Shield Acoustic Strings
Bright-sounding, long-lasting coated acoustic guitar strings
Launch price: $14.95/£14.99
La Bella coats its strings in a different way to others; changing the actual surface of the string during the Ionic Vapor Process where “propriety compounds are activated in a glow discharge electromagnetic plasma to modify the surface”. The result is a string the company says lasts five times longer than non-treated strings and sound brighter than the coated competition.