Most people tend to focus way too much on the body and shape of their guitars, thinking that they are the key factors that could help them get better at playing the guitar.
While it is true that the shape and size of a guitar can impact the way you play, one must never forget one other crucial part of the guitar its strings.
Your guitar strings can make or break your guitar learning experience for you. First of all, the type of strings you choose affects the way your guitar sounds.
Tuning and tension issues aside, guitar strings are all made differently. The material, thickness, and build can make your sound bright, mellow, light, or loud.
Also, your guitar strings dictate how well you can play. Most beginners tend to start out with nylon strings because it’s easier on the fingers. But that doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself to nylon ones too.
It’s all about what you like and how well the guitar strings are made. Below is a list of our personal favorites and we hope you can find the right one for you too within this roundup…
Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitar Strings in 2021
- D’Addario EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Martin Acoustic Guitar Strings (MM12)
- D’Addario EJ17-3D Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Elixir NanoWeb Acoustic Guitar Strings – Light Medium
- D’Addario EXP11 with NY Steel Acoustic Guitar Strings
- D’Addario EXP16 with NY Steel Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
- D’Addario EJ26-3D Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Elixir Strings Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating
- D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
The D’Addario brand is one of the most renowned guitar string makers in the industry. According to many, it is also regarded as the best choice for acoustic guitars.
Perhaps it’s because of its heavy-duty materials or the technology behind its manufacturing technology. But if you ask me, I think it has everything to do with the sound.
I’m not very familiar with the production involved in making these strings, but I do know that the warm, balanced tone of the EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze is something a lot of musicians love.
Maybe they owe it all to the premium wrap wire alloys or the fact that these strings were made by advanced digital winding technology. Whatever it is, D’Addario is definitely doing something right.
- Made of heavy-duty high carbon steel that is long-lasting
- Produces great tone and comfortable playability
- Rougher compared to others on this list
- May tarnish faster for users with sweaty palms
Looking for guitar strings that will last even if you wear them out? Did you know that the brand Elixir first pioneered advanced coated string technology in 1997? Although it hasn’t been that long since they improved traditional acoustic guitar strings, they definitely changed the game for a lot of guitarists.
Their ultra-thin coated guitars are said to last longer, protecting them from corrosion. But since it is so thin, it’s almost like the strings weren’t coated at all. Plenty of guitarists love the Elixir brand but I especially love the 80/20 Bronze because of its rich and full tone.
- Smooth overall feel and playability
- Great for a full-bodied guitar providing loud and vibrant sound
- Super durable looks clean and shiny even after numerous uses
- Harder to press for some users
- The coating may cause the strings to feel slippery
If you love vintage sounds and you also enjoy playing fingerstyle blues, then this is the option for you. The Martin Acoustic Guitar Strings in MM12 is a simple nickel-based alloy blend string that promises a warm and mellow sound. But what really impressed me with these strings was how it manages to balance the tone well.
Some people complain about strings sounding too bright at first play. But the Martin MM12 does really well in trying to find a more mellow balance to the otherwise bright and vibrant tone of the strings.
- Sounds better as time passes
- Gives off a rich tone at a pocket-friendly price
- The tone may be too bright for some people
We’ve talked about the D’Addario EJ17-3D Phosphor Bronze Strings earlier, so what makes this option any different than the last? Here’s a thought: if you can have a full set of quality guitar strings, why would you go with just one?
This pack comes with 3 sets of the D’Addario EJ17-3D. You can choose among Extra Light, Custom Light, Light, and Medium. If I had to choose just one, I’d go for the strings in Light because of the crisp sound they can produce on almost any guitar.
For anyone who is thinking about buying guitar strings, I believe that this is a great investment, especially for someone who has several guitars that need strings, or for someone who just needs backup.
- Top-quality guitar strings in a pack of 3
- Bright and well-balanced tone
- Made by a trusted brand since 1974
- Strings may be a bit too rough for some
Again, here’s another brand that is trusted among experienced guitar players. Elixir is probably best known for the NANOWEB Coating. It’s basically a type of coating that gives a “barely there” feel which a lot of people love.
These guitar strings are smooth and easy on the fingers – a great pick for anyone who plays the guitar for long hours and for the victims of callouses and other hand pain.
These light-medium strings give off a balanced tone, making it a commonly accepted favorite among guitarists. And the best part of it all? They are made to last. So no matter how long you play, these strings are here to stay.
- Light and suitable
- Best for fingerstyle playing
- Not a lot of fret noise when strummed or picked hard
- The coating was said to be a bit too slippery for some
Do you love an extra-bright tone mixed with a deeper bottom end? Give the D’Addario EXP11 NY Steel a try. In general, lighter strings tend to bring out brighter tones. But this D’Addario EXP11 NY Steel in Light gives a good balance between bright and deep tones.
The NY Steel uses the same high carbon steel that was used in the popular NYXL series. The material promises both strength and pitch stability, a perfect combo for any guitarist who loves to rock hard and play hard.
- Has a well balanced bright tone
- Uses environment-friendly and anti-corrosion packaging
- Keeping them in pristine condition
- A crowd favorite acoustic gauge from D’Addario
- Shorter lifespan and not as durable as other options
D’Addario guitar strings are best known for their warm and bright tones. But if you’re looking for something a bit more mellow from D’Addario, then you definitely need to look into their EXP 16 NY Steel Phosphor Bronze.
Some of the guitar strings at D’Addario don’t come coated but these strings are, so if you need your guitar to not only look new but also last longer, this is your best bet from their catalog.
What I love about these strings isn’t just the fact that it was made to resist corrosion, the D’Addario coating allows them to sound new as well. A lot of guitar strings tend to sound differently as time passes but the EXP16 keeps it true until it retires.
- Keeps the tone sounding new and fresh
- A D’Addario mellow-sounding tone
- Costs a bit more because it is coated
If you’re not sure about which guitar strings to pick, and if you want to get the best of both worlds, then this pack of strings is your go-to option. It has all the right tones: bright, warm, and well-balanced, enough to keep you busy in finding the right sound for you.
This set of 3 is a combination of light gauge bottom and lighter top strings – or what the people at D’Addario would call as the hybrid gauge. I personally think that this feature makes these strings the perfect solution for anyone who is unsure about their preferred tone.
Not only do they get good quality strings, but they can also discover varying sounds with this combo.
- Great for beginners and experienced guitar players
- Easy to get used to and comfortable to play with
- Bright and clear sound
- Great resonance
- Costs more for the coated option
As we all know, Elixir takes pride in its coating. And we also know that it is because of their advanced coating that guitarists get to keep the quality of their strings for a lot longer. But beyond the fact that these strings are corrosion-resistant, its coating also gives it a more traditional feel.
Traditionally, guitars do not have some coating and it was something that was beloved among many guitar players before. Thanks to the NANOWEB coating, guitar players can enjoy that traditional feel without having to sacrifice the quality of their guitars.
What I love most about these strings is the fact that despite all the coating and the tech behind it, Elixir still manages to produce strings that give off a warm yet subtly crisp tone.
- An ultra-thin coating that guarantees durability and corrosion-resistance
- A stable warm tone all throughout its long lifespan
- Some strings are not coated – E-1 and B-2 are both plain steel
Strings that are made with phosphor bronze tend to give out a warmer tone than other materials. But if you are looking for a warm tone with quality, the D’Addario EJ16 has all the right stuff.
After all, the company was introduced phosphor bronze to string making back in 1974 so if there’s one brand that knows how to make quality strings from phosphor bronze, that would be D’Addario.
What I love most about the EJ16 is how comfortable it feels. It has a good balance of volume, projection, and easy playability other guitar strings superior to other types of strings. I recommend these strings for beginners who are looking for a warm tone from their guitar strings.
- Well-balanced acoustic guitar strings
- Long-lasting tone
- Comfortable playability
- And excellent intonation
- Not coated
- Costs more for a coated option
How To Choose The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings
There is a myriad of factors to consider when buying acoustic guitar strings. But in general, there is only one rule to remember: there is no such thing as the best acoustic guitar strings, there is only the option that best fits your needs.
Finding the best acoustic guitar strings is all about personal preference. Some like their strings to sound bright, others warm, and then you also have those who love that vintage mellow sound.
So the first thing you need to do is to listen to what could identify your sound. Listen to how each string sounds like and decide if it is something that could represent your music.
The next step is to check for comfortability and playability. As always, you need to have tools that make it easy and comfortable for you to play the guitar. Sticking it out with a guitar that hurts doesn’t just result in callouses, you can also potentially harm your playing hand.
And lastly, you want to look out for strings that are long-lasting and durable. Guitar strings can be pricey and you don’t want to have to change strings too often.
You need one that can hold the quality of its sound longer, and you also want a guitar that’s strong enough no matter how hard or how often you play your guitar.
ALSO READ: Our ultimate list of the best acoustic guitar
What is the best acoustic guitar string?
Considering all the points that make the best acoustic guitar strings, our choice goes to the D’Addario EJ-16 3D Phosphor Bronze. Apart from its top-notch quality, we believe that a great balance of tone is the best solution for guitar players of any calibre.
It is a comfortable set of strings that beginners can easily get used to, and it also has that more traditional feel that veterans will love. But above all, it holds its tone long enough for guitar players to enjoy despite how often they play.