Acoustic guitars are among the most popular stringed instruments and, indeed, some of the most popular instruments, more generally, in the world. An integral part of stringed instruments, as their name would suggest, are the strings.
There are plenty of acoustic guitar brands and models out there. Numerous companies produce acoustic guitar strings to offer even more variety to these beautiful instruments.
Related article: Top 13 Best Acoustic Guitar Brands In The World
Finding the best strings for your acoustic guitar largely dependent on your particular instrument and preferred playing style. Though the brand of strings is far from the most important factor, it's worth considering.
With so many brands out there, we'll focus our attention, in this article, on the top 11 best acoustic guitar string brands on the market.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Variety of guitar strings
- Performance of the strings
- Currently in operation
With all that being said, let's list out the brands.
The Top 11 Best Acoustic Guitar String Brands Are:
Let's get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best acoustic guitar string brands. I'll share their country of origin, some history, an example of a notable set of strings, and a link to their official website.
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It is safe to say that Elixir created a new business niche and set the course for guitar string innovation when they came up with their coated strings. Their patented fluoropolymer coating extends their lifespan by protecting them from debris, sweat, and any other element threatening their integrity, including corrosion.
But let's rewind to 1997; the company that was to become Elixir Strings was testing cables and coating them with polytetrafluoroethylene. Soon after, they started playing with the coating material to make guitar strings that sounded great and were also corrosion-free.
After being tested by 15,000+ guitar and bass players, Elixir Strings was officially born. Since the first prototype, the company has experimented with a nano polymer, evolving the coating into a microscopic layer that doesn't affect killer tone.
Available in bronze, nickel, nickel-plated steel, stainless steel, bronze, and phosphor bronze, nanoweb and polyweb coated strings from Elixir accommodate acoustic players wonderfully.
Furthermore, the brand's strings sound so good and last so long that they have amassed a big legion of fans worldwide.
If you want a bright, everlasting tone, Elixir is a great option.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings – .012-.053 Light
D'Addario is one of the most successful string brands in the world. The company's acoustic guitar strings can be found all around the world.
Moreover, D'Addario's comprehensive OEM arrangements pretty well confirm that they've been played by any guitarist who wanders into a handful of music stores during their lifetime.
D'Addario was founded in 1974 in Farmingdale, New York (where their headquarters remain still), but the family started making strings in Salle, Italy, in 1680. Today, it is still a family-owned business with offices on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, among other spots around the world.
The XL series is the standard by which all other strings are judged. That being said, the company has been investing in sound innovation for decades, and the results are just awe-inspiring. For example, the XT series with carbon steel cores and a treatment to avoid corrosion is as good and high-tech as strings get.
Finally, bronze, phosphor bronze, silk & steel, silver-plated wound (for gypsy guitars), and XT coating are available for acoustic players to take their playing to the next level.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings – .012-.053 Light
Arguably, Martin is to the acoustic guitar what Fender is to the electric guitar. Thus, speaking of their strings is to talk about a company with the know-how and leverage from a building point of view to create the best strings to accompany the best instruments.
In case you are not familiar with them, they are the top flat-top brand in the world. It was founded in 1833 by Christian Frederick Martin in NYC. Nowadays, their main manufacturing facility and headquarters are in Nazareth, PA.
Martin's string department offers enough options to accommodate most needs. For example, the Lifespan 2.0 coated strings work wonders for players on the road.
Their quintessential SP line offers a higher tensile strength for enhanced performance that works awesome on 00 bodies. Finally, the “Marquis” line with silk ends and the innovational “Flexible Core” allow acoustic players to bend further on a friendlier string.
Martin has been a leading guitar company for almost two centuries. They are on the receiving end of all guitar-player comments on strings. Thus, buying any of their sets is to buy 18 decades of leverage, passion, innovation, and hard work.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: MA550 Authentic Acoustic Superior Performance Guitar Strings – 92/8 Phosphor Bronze Medium
Ernie Ball is another huge name in acoustics guitar strings. The company began as California's first guitar-only shop and, since the early 1960s, has built its reputation as a go-to option for stringing electric guitars.
With the birth of the Slinkys in the 1960s, Ernie Ball earned such clientele as Sir Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Angus Young, and Joe Bonamassa, among millions of others in 120 countries worldwide.
Though best known for electric strings, acoustic players also have great options in the Ernie Ball catalogue. For example, they can enjoy the brightness of aluminum alloy strings, which is an Ernie Ball innovation improving high-frequency response.
Finally, nylon-string players can benefit enormously from the silver/nylon and bronze/nylon variety.
Buying your strings from Ernie Ball is stepping into the pantheon of great musicians.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: 2004 Light Earthwood 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Strings – .011-.052
Gibson is a household name when it comes to guitars. The company makes amazing strings that are up to the task of matching their premium-level instruments. In other words, they use them in guitars well over $1,000, expecting to blow away customers with a killer tone. That is exactly what you can expect from Gibson strings.
Legendary Gibson acoustics like the Hummingbird are shipped from the factory using Gibson strings.
Furthermore, the company manufactures coated, bronze, and phosphor bronze acoustic strings that can match the requirements of guitars in that price line ($3,000+).
Gibson wouldn't compromise the tone of their instruments with cheap-sounding strings. Thus, you can expect to enhance your sound by using them.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: Coated Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings – .012 – .053 Light
DR Strings was founded in 1989 by Mark Dronge, son of Alfred Dronge, who founded the renowned company Guild Guitars.
Because his father always wanted to build a string manufacturing facility, Mark set out to create the best. In that sense, DR Strings is revolutionary: they brought hand-wound strings back into the market.
The insight from building world-class acoustics guitars allowed DR Strings to reverse-engineer the string-making process. But can a human make the difference versus modern-day machinery? According to the company, no machine can make the tiny adjustments needed for a superior string.
DR Strings sound great because they are humanly wound to perfection using the best materials available. Regardless of the style you play, you won't regret buying a pack of DR Strings.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: VTA-12 Veritas – .012-.054 Light Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Strings
Just like Thomastik-Infeld enjoys recognition for their classic instrument string supply, La Bella is one of the best options for nylon strings in the world today. Although not so well-known as D'Addario, both companies date back to the 17th century and come from Salle, Italy.
By 1914, the brothers Emilio and Olinto Mari opened the first La Bella string factory on 5th Avenue in NYC. Since 1981, the company has manufactured all strings sold worldwide in their Newburgh facility in New York City.
La Bella's silk & steel, phosphor bronze, and silver-plated models can compete with any other major company set. Moreover, their Vapor Shield sets are a bold step into the future and are coatless coated strings.
In other words, the company found a way to use ionic vapour to discharge electromagnetic plasma on the strings and modify the composition of their surface, extending string life and enhancing sound.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: 710L Silk & Steel Acoustic Guitar Strings – Light
Just like Ernie Ball is the first and last name of its founder, so is Dean Markley. Dean founded this company in 1972 after successfully selling his own-made strings and accessories in his Santa Clara, California, music store.
With the great momentum that came from inventing the Talkbox pedal Peter Hampton used in “Show me the way”, Dean Markley grew the company significantly to include all sorts of accessories, including guitar strings, pickups and cables.
Today, the brand is regarded as one of the world's top acoustic and electric strings brands.
Acoustic players can enjoy the original tone that made the strings famous back in the day in California in the “vintage bronze” series, featuring 85% copper and 15% zinc alloy for a pure tone.
Also, their new “Black Hawk” line offers coated strings using a nickel-plated steel wire core and the same proportions for the winding.
Finally, one of the most remarkable achievements by Dean Markley is the Blue Steel line. The company treats these strings cryogenically to remove transient materials and enhance tone while also making them last three times as much as other strings.
Dean Markley is one of the greatest string makers in the industry, almost sharing the podium with Ernie Ball, D'Addario, and GHS.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: 2034 Blue Steel – 92/8 Bronze Cryogenic Activated Light Acoustic Strings
Fender is a brand that needs no introduction.
The passion for designing world-class guitars is the same passion applied to Fender strings. Although not their primary selling point, strings like the “Bullets” are well-known and used around the world because they are the best match for Fender instruments.
Acoustic players can benefit from bronze, phosphor bronze, and Dura-Tone coated strings in a variety of gauges. Nylon-string players can benefit from strings wound with pure silver windings and premium-quality nylon for superior warmth and stability.
A company the size of Fender doesn't simply disembark in a business niche; it always goes the extra mile to conquer it.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: 70L 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Strings – .012-.052 Light
This brand's name is based on folk guitarist, TV personality, teacher, and virtuoso John Melville Pearse, who was deeply involved with Breezy Ridge Instruments Ltd, the parent company for these strings.
Although the man is gone, the company remains firm in his footsteps, manufacturing quality strings. They offer classic guitar strings in a combined effort with Thomastik but excel with their array of acoustic guitar strings.
The company currently offers bronze, phosphor bronze, phosphor bronze and silk, and nickel strings for acoustic-electric players.
Also, for jazz guitarists, the Nuage strings offer superior performance and the right amount of mellow low end to be clear enough for difficult chords and powerful enough for single notes.
Although John Pearse is not an established brand like others in this list, it is working its way to stardom one quality string pack at a time. If you haven't tested them yet, you might miss out on taking your sound to the next level without breaking the bank.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: 700M Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
GHS is a major player in the guitar strings market. The company's Boomers are comparable to Slinkys (Ernie Ball) and XL (D'Addario) in terms of popularity and availability around the world.
Those who favour acoustic guitars will find the variety offered by GHS surprisingly large. The company offers bronze, phosphor bronze, silk and bronze, and silk and steel variations to please all ears and hands.
Furthermore, you can choose several gauges within each of the 11 acoustic string variations.
GHS is regarded, together with D'Addario and Ernie ball, as one of the most important string manufacturers in the world. Their reputation is well-deserved; pick one setup and find out what made your idols use them.
Notable acoustic guitar strings: WBL White Bronze – Alloy 52 Light Acoustic Guitar Strings