4 Best Acoustic Guitar Strings of 2024

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Do you want to improve the tone and playability of your acoustic guitar? 

The best acoustic guitar strings will enhance everything from how your guitar sounds to your control over the dynamics of your playing. 

In this article, we’ve identified the best acoustic strings for all guitarists, whether you like to play delicate fingerstyle guitar or energetic strumming with a pick. 

Our #1 pick is the D'Addario XSAPB1356 strings, which provide a powerful, balanced tone that suits all acoustic guitar styles. 

Choosing the right strings for your acoustic guitar will allow you to perform, record, and practice more efficiently. Let’s check out the best options!

Best Acoustic Guitar Strings

1. Best Overall – D'Addario XSAPB1356 Phosphor Bronze Coated Acoustic Guitar Strings

D'Addario XSAPB1356 Phosphor Bronze Coated Acoustic Guitar Strings


  • Core Material: Steel
  • Winding Material: Phosphor Bronze
  • Winding Type: Round
  • Coated: Yes

The XS Phosphor Bronze acoustic guitar strings blew me away with their excellent blend of durability, comfort, and tonal clarity. 

D’Addario has managed to find an ideal balance between all of the key qualities that acoustic guitar strings need. They’re coated, which ensures that they last longer than your average guitar strings, but they also have a phosphor bronze wrap wire to improve their sound. 

I really like the warm sound that these strings produce in the upper midrange of an acoustic guitar. They’re outstanding for playing bluesy riffs, and they have impressive resonance, which is great for solo acoustic guitar performances. 

The innovative Fusion Twist technology that D’Addario has developed in recent years results in these strings staying in tune for longer, so if you perform or practice for long periods, they’re an excellent choice. 

It’s almost impossible to tell that these strings are coated, which is a testament to D’Addario’s attention to detail. The coating is extremely thin, but it still manages to make these strings feel effortless when forming chord shapes or playing fingerstyle guitar. 

What we like about it:

  • These D’Addario strings provide a blend of playing comfort and warmth. 
  • The ultra-thin coating preserves the tone and feel of these strings. 
  • The advanced winding method ensures that these strings are long-lasting. 

What we didn’t like about it:

  • The lowest notes may sound a little dark if you’re using a mahogany-bodied acoustic guitar with a naturally dark tone. 

2. Most Versatile Strings – Elixir Strings 16102 Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

Elixir Strings 16102 Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings


  • Core Material: Steel
  • Winding Material: Phosphor Bronze
  • Winding Type: Round
  • Coated: Nanoweb Coating

Elixir’s 16102 Nanoweb strings are both innovative and reliable. They’re designed to combine a bright and articulate tone with smooth playability. 

The secret to these strings lies in the patented nanoweb coating of the Elixir. It's designed to reduce finger friction and string noise while also ensuring that the core materials and the winding are protected from sweat, dirt, and other corrosive materials. 

In some cases, coating strings can result in compromised brightness and clarity, but that’s not the case with the 16102 Nanoweb strings. You can expect to have to replace your strings a lot less frequently while still enjoying that fresh sound that we get when they’re fresh out of the packet. 

These phosphor bronze strings are great for playing unplugged, but they also produce the dynamic and tonal qualities that suit amplification. If your guitar has a naturally dark tone, these strings are excellent at injecting some brightness into it. 

What we like about it:

  • Nanoweb coating provides protection, enhances longevity, and reduces finger friction. 
  • These strings are ideal for increasing the brightness of your acoustic guitar’s tone. 
  • The anti-corrosion design means you won’t need to swap strings as often. 

What we didn’t like about it:

  • These strings may not be suitable for acoustic guitars that already have a very bright and snappy sound. 

3. Best Budget Strings – Ernie Ball 2003 Earthwood 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball 2003 Earthwood 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings


  • Core Material: Steel
  • Winding Material: 80/20 Bronze
  • Winding Type: Round
  • Coated: No

I’ve used Ernie Ball strings for many years, both on my acoustic and electric guitars. The brand is best known for its electric guitar strings, but the 2003 Earthwood 80/20 bronze set proves they’re equally as good at producing acoustic strings. 

With the classic combination of a steel hex core that is tin-plated, you know exactly what you’re getting with these strings. They sound great when strummed with a plectrum, thanks to the clear and inviting tone they produce.  

These affordable strings are consistent in terms of dynamics, which is largely thanks to the 80% copper and 20% zinc construction. When you play a chord, you can hear all of the details of each note with plenty of crispness and clarity.  

Although the lack of coating may mean you need to swap these strings more regularly, it means that they have a brighter and more desirable tone when they’re relatively new, making them great for recording acoustic guitar parts. 

What we like about it:

  • The bright, expressive tone of these strings makes them great for recording acoustic guitar. 
  • They strike a good balance between smooth playability and tension. 
  • These strings deliver ear-friendly overtones that sound great when playing chords. 

What we didn’t like about it:

  • If used frequently, these strings may need replacing more often than coated strings. 

4. Best for Vintage Guitars – Martin MM12 Retro Acoustic Guitar Strings

Martin MM12 Retro Acoustic Guitar Strings


  • Core Material: Steel
  • Winding Material: Nickel/Copper
  • Winding Type: Round
  • Coated: No

Martin is a highly respected manufacturer of acoustic guitars, so it’s no surprise that the brand also produces some excellent strings. The MM12 Retro acoustic guitar strings manage to blend vintage and modern qualities perfectly. 

Within minutes of using these strings, we could tell that they were inspired by those used for acoustic guitars around a century ago. Back then, nickel strings were the predominant choice, which is why Martin used a wrap made from a mixture of solid nickel and copper. 

Tonally, I found that these strings did a great job of highlighting the natural qualities of my acoustic guitar. They sound bright, warm, and full-bodied, but none of the frequency bands overpower the others, which allows the guitar’s tone to shine through. 

Although Martin has chosen not to coat the strings, other measures have been taken to ensure their longevity. Most notably, the MM12s benefit from a robust wrap to prevent corrosion and keep them feeling smooth to the touch. 

What we like about it:

  • The MM12 strings have a distinctive vintage design that suits a variety of musical styles. 
  • With a warm, inviting tone, the strings bring out the natural sound of your acoustic guitar. 
  • The alloy wrap prevents corrosion and improves the feel of the strings. 

What we didn’t like about it:

  • These strings aren’t coated and, therefore, may not retain their fresh sound for as long as other options. 

Best Acoustic Guitar Strings Buyer’s Guide

Acoustic guitar strings are equally, if not more, important than any other component of your instrument. It’s a common misconception that guitar strings are basically all the same when in reality, they vary significantly in terms of the way they sound and feel. 

As is evident from our recommendations in this guide, there are some excellent acoustic guitar strings to suit all styles of music and playing techniques. 

Whether you need bright-sounding strings to highlight your intricate fingerstyle playing or durable, long-lasting strings that can withstand heavier styles, many great options are available. 

In this buyer’s guide, we’ll provide you with the important information you need to decide which strings will suit your playing style. We’ll cover everything from the common materials, designs, and sounds of acoustic guitar strings.

Things to Look for When Buying Acoustic Guitar Strings

  1. Materials: Acoustic guitar strings are commonly made from numerous materials. Common varieties include phosphor bronze strings, which are known for their tonal warmth and brightness, 80/20 bronze, which has a bright and clear tone; and silk and steel strings, which are slightly more mellow sounding but very comfortable to play.
  2. Gauge: The strings featured in this guide are available in a variety of gauges so that you can choose the right one for you. The gauge simply means the thickness of the strings. Lighter gauge strings range from .011-.052, regular gauges range from around .012-.054, and thicker strings range from .013-.056. The heavier the gauge, the louder and fuller the sound is likely to be, but lighter strings are easier to press against the frets. 
  3. Coated vs. Uncoated: One of the most important things to decide when you’re choosing acoustic guitar strings is whether to opt for an uncoated or coated set. Coated strings have a thin outer layer of material that is designed to boost longevity and retain their fresh tone. Uncoated strings are more affordable and often have a more natural sound, but they wear out more quickly.
  4. Winding Type: The string winding affects everything from its tone to its feel. Most acoustic guitar players prefer round wound strings, as this results in a brighter tone, but the rougher texture of these strings can wear down frets over time. Flatwound strings are one alternative and have a smoother feel compared to round wound, making them popular for bass and jazz electric guitar strings.

Why Acoustic Guitar Strings Matter

Have you ever picked up a friend’s acoustic guitar and wondered how on Earth they find it comfortable to play? In most cases, acoustic guitars are made uncomfortable by having poor quality, worn out, or unsuitable strings installed on them. 

Of course, the instrument's design also plays a large part in determining the comfort and the sound, but in many cases, a simple change of strings can revitalize every aspect of an acoustic guitar. 

The strings are the first point of contact between you and the acoustic guitar. The sound begins with the strings, whether striking them with a pick or plucking them with your fingers. 

If the strings aren’t up to scratch, then the overall ability of the guitar will be compromised - and you probably won’t enjoy playing as much. It’s, therefore, vital to choose a set that suits the way you play and the sound that you’re aiming to achieve. 

String Core Materials and Types

Acoustic guitar strings can be composed of several materials, but the two that have the greatest impact on sound and feel are those used for the core and the winding. 

The core is simply the center of the guitar string, and in the vast majority of cases, it is made from steel, as this material is durable and resistant to wear and tear. Cores either come as a round or hex core.

A steel round core produces a full-bodied sound with plenty of warmth, which is why this is the most popularly used variety for acoustic guitars. On the other hand, hex cores grip the winding more tightly, maximizing brightness and enhancing the string's longevity. 

The trade-off with steel hex cores is that they tend to require more tension when tuning up your acoustic guitar, which can lead to fatigue or discomfort when pressing against the frets to play a note. 

Acoustic Guitar String Winding

When it comes to windings, there are three commonly used materials. 

80/20 bronze strings, often referred to as brass strings, are composed of 80% copper and 20% zinc. They produce a distinctively bright tone with a sharp attack but are very sensitive to oxidization which can lead to quicker degradation. 

Phosphor bronze strings, like the excellent D'Addario XSAPB1356 set, are made from 92% copper, 8% tin, and a tiny amount of phosphorus - hence their name. These strings produce a warm tone and last longer due to phosphorus's anti-corrosive properties. 

The final and least common varieties are silk and steel strings, which have a silk layer separating the metal winding and the steel core.

These strings are renowned for producing a mellow tone and require less pressure to press down, so they are better suited to intricate playing styles, such as fingerstyle or folk guitar.

Should You Choose Coated Strings? 

There are many methods and tricks used by manufacturers to increase string life; one of the most effective is to coat them in a thin layer of material which acts as a protective barrier against dirt and sweat.

Coated strings, like the 16102 Nanoweb set by Elexir that we reviewed earlier, often feel slightly different from uncoated strings. Many acoustic guitarists prefer the slicker texture of the coated strings and their ability to minimize finger noise.

When steel acoustic strings sound dull, this is often a result of the outer layer being exposed to corrosive materials or the oxidization process taking its toll on them. Coated strings extend string life by protecting the core and winding from this process of degradation.

Tonally, coated strings often produce more of a mellow sound in comparison to traditional strings, which produce a more vibrant tone initially. However, this compromise is often worth it to enjoy a bright sound for longer due to the protection of the coating material.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I change my acoustic guitar strings?

How often you should change your acoustic guitar strings depends on several factors, including the type of strings you use, the tone you want to achieve, and how frequently you play your instrument. 

If you use coated phosphor bronze strings, you won’t need to change them as often as if you’re using uncoated 80/20 bronze strings, for example. 

The key is to be attentive to the sound that your acoustic guitar strings produce and how they feel. If you notice that the bright tone has diminished and they sound dull or that they feel worn out and unresponsive, it’s time to replace them.

What does acoustic guitar string gauge mean, and how does it affect my playing?

Understanding string gauges is vitally important, but almost every acoustic guitar player should experiment with some thinner strings and thicker acoustic guitar strings to find out which suits their playing style.

String gauges are measured in thousandths of an inch. For example, extra light acoustic guitar strings will start with the high e string at around .010 inches in thickness, up to around .047. The best acoustic guitar strings for each musician depend on their preferred sound and feel.

Thicker gauge strings sound fuller, louder, and more intense, while lighter strings suit acoustic guitar players who want a brighter tone. Tuning stability is likely to be better with thick strings, while light strings will be easier on your fingers when playing.

What's the difference between 80/20 Bronze and Phosphor Bronze strings?

The most popular varieties of acoustic guitar strings are 80/20 bronze and phosphor bronze strings. The former is composed of ⅕ zinc and ⅘ copper and is renowned for its bright sound, which is great for a variety of styles. 

Phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings, on the other hand, are predominantly made from copper, with small amounts of tin and phosphorous added in. The phosphorus prevents corrosion and retains the warmer, fuller tone for longer.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you’ve read our guide to the best acoustic guitar strings, you’ll hopefully have a clear idea of which will get you the tone, dynamics, and feel to suit your playing style, 

The most important things to remember are the acoustic guitar string gauges, whether you want them to be coated or uncoated, and the materials that will get you the desired results. 

It’s a good idea to be testing acoustic guitar strings whenever you get the opportunity to see which materials, gauges, and brands you prefer. They’re relatively inexpensive, so it might be worth investing in a few of the sets we’ve recommended. 

Our top recommendation is the D'Addario XSAPB1356 acoustic guitar strings, as they’re excellent all-rounders that produce a bright and crisp tone. For longevity, the Elixir 16102 Nanoweb acoustic strings are hard to beat.

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