Iâ€™m often asked about the gear and equipment I use when I play out, so Iâ€™m going to do a little blogging on that over time here. This info is kind of a moving target for me because technology is continually updating and new gear is always hitting the market. I probably should confess that gear-lust often clouds my good judgmentâ€¦but Iâ€™ll save my confessions for another post.
For years Iâ€™ve exclusively used Elixir Strings. Iâ€™m a rhythm guitar player, self-taught, but a keyboard player first. Perhaps itâ€™s because Iâ€™m a sissy (or most likely because of it) that it took me a long time to build up string-calluses on my fingers. So when I first played Elixir Strings with the POLYWEB coating, my fingers felt like they were being pampered and I became an instant fan.
Not only do I love how the strings feel when I play, Iâ€™m also thrilled with the way these strings keep their intonation. Other strings Iâ€™ve played always seem to have a short â€˜shelf-lifeâ€™ and required constant tuning. Elixirâ€™s stay in tune week to week, needing only minor adjustments, and last a lot longer than any other brand Iâ€™ve tried. I dig this because it saves me money and time spent constantly changing strings.
Iâ€™ve also found that my Elixir Strings consistently maintain their tone. They donâ€™t just sound great for a few days of playing and then loose their brightness. I can play them for several weeks and still be happy with the tone Iâ€™m getting. Many other strings sound great at first and quickly begin to sound dull and lifeless. Elixirâ€™s sound great the entire time I have them on my guitar.
Here are the strings Iâ€™ve found work best for me:
Acoustic 80/20 Bronze with POLYWEB Coating
Light Guage: .012 – .053
Electric Guitar Strings with NANOWEB Coating
Medium Guage: .011 – .049
Iâ€™ve also been using the Elixir Instrument Cables the last couple years and they sound incredible! High-end cables can be a difference-maker when trying to get quality tone from any instrument. Iâ€™ve been thrilled with the quality and sound I get when using these cables.
What strings do you use and why are you loving them?
I started out with polyweb elixirs but due to price i just started using D’Addario XP Lights. I love the tone of the Elixirs but I dont think that it has 6 buck a pack edge over the other.
Hey Jason – thanks for jumping in man. I have have a couple good friends who use D’Addario and they rave about them. I love the fact that my Elixirs typically last twice as long (while keeping that great tone) as my friend’s strings do…ultimately saving me more than the difference in the initial retail price. Rock on man!
I’m a bass player and keyboardist first, but Elixirs have always sounded and felt great to me on acoustic guitars. Recently I came into an electric guitar and slapped some Elixirs on it and the tone was excellent. I loved how clean and pure they sounded [even with the balls of humbuckers in an ES335]. This is also just my personal preference though.
Anyway, late last year i discovered that Elixir had come out with bass strings and I must say, I’m not one to spend $50 on a set of strings, but one of my students was for his bass. So I got some, set up the bass and played em. It was like silk and butter mixed together. Lol! I loved it, but reluctantly gave him back his jazz. For christmas  a friend of mine got me a gift card to GC with which I bought the most expensive set of strings I’ve ever bought[Elixir 5 Light .040-.125], for my Precision 5. And once again, I LOVED them! Still haven’t changed em and I probably play 4 times a week. They’ve really maintained their life and tonality. I’m definitely putting them on the rest of my basses when my musician’s pay-grade is upgraded. Lol!
I feel like that comment was way longer than I intended. My bad man…
That’s awesome to hear Ryan!
When I was touring with a band, all my guys were using Elixir’s, including my Bass player. He loved them too. I know they aren’t the cheapest, but with the extended life of these strings, you actually get more mileage for your dollar…on top of great playability and tone.
Thanks for your comment man. Hope you’re doing well.
I love elixir! I absolutly love the sound of these, but they break on me after two sundays of playing. they sound great! if you like to strum lightly or finger pick you’ll love them! if you are a slightly aggressive strummer like me you’ll break them.
I’m a pretty ‘aggressive strummer’ like you Joe. I used to have a problem with the .024/’G’ String breaking (insert undergarment joke here). There are two things I changed that helped solve the common string breaking:
1 – Use a heavier pick. I currently use a .60
2 – Boost your guitar volume in your monitor. This seemed to make the biggest difference for me. Part of the reason we are ‘aggressive strummers’ is because we like to dig-in and hear the guitar. If you’re monitoring at a higher volume then you’re less likely to strum as hard.
Give those a shot and let me know if it helps you man!
Hey Andy! Thanks for the 411 on the strings. I used D’Addario this time, but I’m gonna go get me some Elixir’s next time. I’m the same as you — rhythm guitar gal but a keyboard player first. I didn’t know there were pain and tears in music until I went to the guitar. I wish I’d known about Elixir first!
Rock on Junko! Hang in there and don’t let a little finger pain slow you down…you’ll be rocking ‘True Believers’ on the guitar before you know it. 🙂