Best acoustic guitar strings

String Instruments

The modern acoustic guitar is descended from a long historical line of stringed instruments, including the lute, lyre, gittern and vihuela.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

How to choose and change acoustic guitar strings

Squier by Fender SA-150 Squier Beginner Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

There are few instruments as widely beloved as the acoustic guitar. Its simplicity and portability make it great for beginners, and you can hear its sound everywhere, from classical music to the pop charts. 

Once you have chosen the right acoustic for your musical journey, one of the most critical aspects of its maintenance is to change its strings regularly. Guitar strings are not universal, and your choice can make a significant impact on your sound. Whether you are a new player or a seasoned guitarist, you should know how to choose and change your guitar strings. 

What to consider when buying acoustic guitar strings

Acoustic vs. classical guitar strings

Acoustic guitars are often confused with classical guitars, and it’s easy to see why. They are similarly constructed from resonant woods, built in a near-identical fashion, and require comparable upkeep. However, minor differences go a long way toward distinguishing an acoustic from a classical guitar, especially the style of string used. 

In addition to slight changes to the guitar’s neck and fretboard, classical guitars exclusively use nylon strings. In contrast, acoustic guitars use steel strings similar to those used on an electric model. If you want to play classical, flamenco and other fingerstyle music, a classical guitar might be right for you. But, if you’re looking for an instrument that’s perfect for folk, soft rock, pop or country music, a steel-stringed acoustic guitar is the six-string for you.

Gauge and material

Once you have chosen between a classical or acoustic guitar, you have even more choices to consider before buying strings. Depending on personal preference, you can adjust the strings’ gauge, or thickness, whether nylon or steel. Thicker strings tend to make your sound louder and richer sonically, but the added tension makes them harder to play, while thinner strings are easier but produce a thinner and lighter sound. 

If you tend to play harder, higher-gauge strings are less likely to break suddenly. If you want a more soft and delicate sound, thin, gauged strings are the way to go.

Another factor in the sound and longevity of your acoustic or classical guitar strings is its material makeup. For a classical guitar, there aren’t too many choices beyond nylon. Some sets include silver or gold plating on the lower strings, providing more warmth to the guitar’s tone. The advantage of gold-plated strings is a boost in projection and brightness of the sound. Ultimately, the choice is a personal preference.

As far as steel acoustic strings are concerned, the choice generally comes down to either brass, bronze, silk and steel. Standard bronze or brass strings provide a bright and clear tone but tend to oxidize and rust quickly. Phosphor bronze strings are a popular option, providing more longevity on top of a warmer tone. 

Silk and steel strings are a hybrid of either bronze or brass metal with additional silk, nylon or copper wrapping, providing a softer tone and more delicate touch, ideal for folk musicians or fingerstyle players. Other specialty string coatings provide unique results and should be considered as well. 

What you need to change your acoustic guitar strings

MusicNomad Premium Guitar Care

How to remove your acoustic guitar strings

Before you change your strings, wash your hands to prevent dirt and oils from transferring to your guitar. Place your instrument onto a safe surface, such as a mat with a neck cradle, and begin unwinding your strings. You can change your strings one at a time or all at once, depending on your personal preference. It’s best to take them all off and clean your fretboard before putting new strings on. 

Unwind each string until it’s loose enough to either cut or completely remove them. At the bridge, take out the small pins to finish removing the strings. Using a clean cloth and a guitar-friendly cleaner, remove any dust or grime from the instrument’s frets, fretboard and body.

How to restring your acoustic guitar

Restringing your guitar is as simple as retracing your steps. Begin by seating the ball end of each string under its respective bridge pin, going from the thickest string at the top to the lightest gauge string at the bottom. 

Once each string is secure under the pin, bring the lead of each string to its respective tuning peg. Individually insert each string into its peg hole, giving it the right amount of slack. Push the string up and around the peg towards the center, wrapping it around the peg above the excess string sticking out. 

Once the string is secure in the peg, use the string winder to quickly turn the tuning key, ensuring each wrap goes under the hole with the excess string. From here, use the tuner to bring each string to its correct pitch. 

Once your strings are fully wrapped and in tune, use the wire cutters to trim the excess string as close to the peg as possible. Be careful to make sure each string is firmly secured and is not slipping from the peg. New guitar strings must be broken in by stretching and re-tuning until each string stays in tune.

Best classical and acoustic guitar strings

Top acoustic guitar strings

Elixir Phosphor Bronze Strings with Nanoweb Coating

Elixir Phosphor Bronze Strings with Nanoweb Coating

For many years, Elixir has been an innovator in guitar string coating, providing some of the most popular strings on the market for both acoustic and electric guitars. These coated strings last much longer than uncoated metal and maintain their clear tone better as well. 

Sold by Amazon

D’Addario Nickel Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

D’Addario Nickel Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

These extra-strong uncoated steel strings deliver a whole tonal experience and feature enhanced corrosion protection, making these a good choice for long-lasting sound.

Sold by Amazon

Martin Guitars Authentic Acoustic Lifespan 2.0 Guitar Strings

Martin Guitars Authentic Acoustic Lifespan 2.0 Guitar Strings

The entire Authentic Acoustic line of strings by Martin is designed with the artist in mind. These deliver a complete and balanced tone for a longer time, thanks to a patented anti-corrosion treatment.

Sold by Amazon

Best phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings

D'Addario XT Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

D’Addario XT Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

For some players, long-lasting is crucial, and these phosphor bronze strings from one of the most trustworthy brands. 

Sold by Amazon

Godin Guitars Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

Godin Guitars Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

Explicitly designed for Godin guitars, these high-definition acoustic strings sound great with any model. The end result is a bright and crisp sound.

Sold by Amazon

Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

Made by the most well-known name in guitar strings, these phosphor bronze strings deliver an excellent combination of warmth, clarity, and expressive sound.

Sold by Amazon

Best coated acoustic guitar strings

Elixir 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings with Polyweb Coating

Elixir 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings with Polyweb Coating

These solid and long-lasting strings are coated with Elixir’s Polyweb coating, giving them a richer sound than uncoated strings. It feels like traditional strings.

Sold by Amazon

D'Addario EJ40 Silk & Steel Folk Guitar Strings

D’Addario EJ40 Silk & Steel Folk Guitar Strings

These are designed for fingerstyle players and are available for six and 12-string guitars. The end result is a warm and mellow sound.

Sold by Amazon

Martin Guitars Authentic Acoustic Marquis Silked Guitar Strings

Martin Guitars Authentic Acoustic Marquis Silked Guitar Strings

Silk-wrapped strings deliver a soft, mellow and bright sound, ideal for folk and country musicians both on stage and in-studio. These strings are corrosion-resistant.

Sold by Amazon

Best classical guitar strings

Ernie Ball Ernesto Palla Nylon Classical Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball Ernesto Palla Nylon Classical Guitar Strings

These Ernie Ball strings are made for performance on a stage or in a concert hall. The top three strings are wrapped with silver-plated copper, providing a smooth, articulate tone and added projection.

Sold by Amazon

D'Addario EJ32 Folk Nylon Guitar Strings

D’Addario EJ32 Folk Nylon Guitar Strings

This nylon set features silver-wound low strings for a warmer bass tone, with the higher nylon strings available in standard clear or sleek black. These strings are corrosion-resistant.

Sold by Amazon

D'Addario EJ45 Pro-Arte Classical Guitar Strings

D’Addario EJ45 Pro-Arte Classical Guitar Strings

D’Addario’s top-end classical guitar strings with silver-plated wound and clear nylon strings provide a light, warm tone. It has a comfortable feel.

Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Matt Fleming writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.

StormTracker 8

Trending Stories

More Trending Stories

Local Events