Equipment Review: Elixir OPTIWEB Electric Guitar Strings

Elixir Optiweb Strings

Professional guitarists frequently insist on non-coated strings because any sort of coating on a string can dampen its sound, robbing the guitar of its brilliant highs and change its tone–almost always for the worse. Now, if a guitar tech is changing your strings before every show, there’s nothing better than playing with new, uncoated strings, but that’s not most of us. Most guitarists are buying and changing their own strings and would welcome a coated string that feels good, tunes up reliably and sounds good for an extended period of time. Elixir’s ultra-thin coated OPTIWEB coated guitar strings claim to do exactly that.

Depending on your body chemistry and how much you use your guitar, non-coated guitar strings can degrade pretty quickly, but everyone’s experience with guitar strings is different. Some people sweat more and some hands impart more body oils and microscopic skin particles. If you live in a climate with high humidity, rust alone can claim strings pretty quickly. It all leads to “dead” strings and that will quickly undermine your music.

Coated strings can help and they aren’t a new idea. Since 1995, Elixir has been applying a microscopically thin polymer tube to strings to protect them from tone killing corrosion and dirt. The company offers their original POLYWEB Coated strings for acoustic and electric guitar, bass, mandolin, and banjo. More recently, the company developed a NANOWEB Coating that allowed strings to keep much of their original bright tone. Now, the company offers an OPTIWEB string coating that is both hardly noticeable in the string’s tone and comfortable to play.

In addition to longer string life, there are several hidden benefits to coated strings. First, because they are treated to exacting standards and resist change, coated strings offer consistent performance and tone over longer periods of time. They also have a nice, smooth feel that is easy on your fingers and, for many, can enhance the playability of an instrument. Coated strings can drastically reduce that “finger squeak” that many players try to avoid, especially for recording. Finally, for many, coated strings represent a savings in time and money because you change your strings less frequently.

Some people are demanding about the feel of their strings, while others are more interested in tone. Professionals demand both. We found that OPTIWEB coated nickel-plated steel strings sounded great and certainly lasted longer. Bends, vibrato and sustain were all on par with similar, non-coated strings. The tone I was able to coax out of the guitar was punchy, tight and crisp. Best of all, it was done with minimal effort and I didn’t feel like I was fighting with the guitar.

If you have multiple guitars to keep in shape, you stand to spend less time and money on strings if you use Elixir’s OPTIWEB coated strings. They are offered in five different gauge configurations: Super Light (.009-.042), Custom Light (.009-.046), Light (.010-.046), Light-Heavy (.010-.052) and Medium (.011-.049).

Street Price: $12.99