Best Acoustic Guitar Strings 2024: Our Top Picks From Budget To Boutique

Close up of the steel strings on a Sigma acoustic guitar
(Image credit: Future)

When you play acoustically, every little nuance of your performance is exposed. It’s part of what makes an acoustic guitar sound so beautiful, but it also means if your strings are old and dulled everyone is going to hear it. To save you from the humiliation of bad tone, we’ve put together this guide to the best acoustic guitar strings available today.

Strings may not be the most expensive component of your guitar, but they’re certainly one of the most integral. Just like the resonance of your guitar top, the construction of your bracing, and the tonewoods used to put the instrument together, your acoustic guitar strings play a huge role in how good your instrument sounds.

Of course, strings are incredibly personal, and the best acoustic guitar strings for you will depend on both your playing style and the type of acoustic guitar you own. To make it easier to find the perfect set, we’ve rounded up our top recommendations in a number of categories, and we've included some useful buying advice at the end of this guide, too.

Best acoustic guitar strings: Guitar Player's choice

Marrying a long-lasting performance with a balanced, rich tonality, the Elixir 80/20 Bronze with Nanoweb acoustic guitar strings takes our top spot here. If you play regularly, these coated strings make changing after every show redundant thanks to some advanced technology.

If the feel of coated strings isn’t for you, then you can’t go wrong with Martin Authentic Acoustic 80/20 strings. Coming from one of the biggest names in the acoustic guitar world, these great-sounding strings work brilliantly whether you’re flatpicking or fingerpicking.

Best acoustic guitar strings: Product guide

Best acoustic guitar strings: Elixir Nanoweb Acoustic Strings

(Image credit: Elixir)

1. Elixir Nanoweb Acoustic Strings

Best for regular players who need a longer-lasting string

Specifications

Price: From $20/£15/€18
Spec: Steel core, phosphor bronze winding, nanoweb coating

Reasons to buy

+
Last for a long time
+
Great sound from the off

Reasons to avoid

-
Coated feel not for everyone
-
On the pricier side

Elixir’s Nanoweb acoustic guitar strings offer brilliantly long-lasting performance that far exceeds the majority of uncoated strings available. We’ve heard players stating that these strings have survived regular play for six months!

In our experience, tonally speaking there’s little difference between these and a set of uncoated strings and, if anything, the slightly lesser brightness when you first put them on is another advantage. It makes the strings sound as though they’ve been played in for a little bit, losing some of that super twangy tone you get with a new pair of strings.

Elixir Nanoweb sounds equally good with fingerpicking and flatpicking which is why they come as standard on all Taylor guitars. Although these are on the pricier side of things when it comes to acoustic guitar strings, the trade-off is not having to replace them so often, which more than makes up for the extra cost.

Best acoustic guitar strings: Martin Authentic Acoustic 80/20 Strings

(Image credit: Martin)

2. Martin Authentic Acoustic 80/20 Strings

Best for players who want a traditional, uncoated tone

Specifications

Price: From $8/£4.50/€7
Spec: Tin plated steel core, 80/20 bronze winding, uncoated

Reasons to buy

+
High tensile strength for durability
+
Great uncoated feel and bright sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Won’t last as long as a coated string
-
Take a little while to settle in

When you’ve been making guitars for 180 years, it’s probably safe to assume you know a thing or two about making strings as well. With Martin Guitars Authentic Acoustic strings, you’re getting time-tested experience and quality when you string your acoustic guitar.

These are uncoated strings, so they have a brightness of sound that’ll be familiar to any acoustic guitar player. We found them to balanced all across the frequency spectrum so you’ll get a great response whichever register you’re in, alongside great tuning stability.

The impeccable standards with which Martin guitars make all their instruments and accessories applies here too, and you’ll find that these strings withstand a punishing amount of playing, surviving the harshest pick attacks with aplomb.

Best acoustic guitar strings: Ernie Ball Earthwood Acoustic Strings

(Image credit: Ernie Ball)

3. Ernie Ball Earthwood Acoustic Strings

Best for players who primarily use a pick

Specifications

Price: From $9/£7/€8
Spec: Tin plated steel core, 80/20 bronze winding, uncoated

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic warm tone that’s versatile
+
Very reasonably priced for the quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Tonality might not suit some finger pickers
-
Not the longest-lasting

Although Ernie Ball is primarily known for its ‘Slinky’ electric guitar string brand, the company also makes excellent strings for the acoustic guitar players out there. Combining years of experience manufacturing strings with some of the best materials available, these are a great choice for any kind of guitar player.

We found that sound-wise they offer a distinctly warmer tone than some of the others on this list. They are not overly bright when you first put them on like some acoustic guitar strings, which makes them great for regularly gigging guitarists as you don’t have to spend so long breaking them in.

The tonality definitely makes them more skewed towards flat pickers and strummers, however, as the warm mellow tone might not be bright enough for fingerpickers to make themselves heard.

Best acoustic guitar strings: D'Addario Nickel Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

(Image credit: D'Addario)

4. D'Addario Nickel Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

Best loud guitar strings for ensemble players

Specifications

Price: From $12/£9/€11
Spec: NY steel core, nickel-plated phosphor bronze winding, uncoated

Reasons to buy

+
Work brilliantly with a full band
+
Hold their tuning excellently

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as durable as a coated string
-
Bright sound might not suit some acoustic guitars

D’Addario’s Nickel Bronze Acoustic range offers a string that allows you to hear the natural tonality of your guitar and less of the string itself. They work fantastically well for a wide variety of playing styles, whether you’re flatpicking and strumming or gently fingerpicking.

Due to the lack of coating, you may find these strings don’t last quite as long as their coated cousins. That said, the price range of these acoustic guitar strings means that you’ll probably end up spending the same amount no matter which you choose.

The sound of these strings comes from their nickel plating, which makes them great for playing with other instruments as they sit so well in the mid-range. We found they don’t throw up as many overtones as some of the other strings on the list, giving them a very clear and defined sound.

Best acoustic guitar strings: Curt Mangan Acoustic Strings

(Image credit: Curt Mangan)

5. Curt Mangan Acoustic Strings

Best for players who wants to try something new

Specifications

Price: From $16/£12/€14
Spec: Steel core, phosphor bronze winding, uncoated

Reasons to buy

+
Awesome clarity
+
Make your own custom gauges

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest out there
-
Some strings feel very thick

Curt Mangan is a relative newcomer to the acoustic guitar-string game, but don’t let that put you off trying a set. Curt himself worked at Ernie Ball for many years, so you can rest assured that he has plenty of experience in the industry.

These strings are handmade in the USA to very exacting standards, offering acoustic guitarists an extremely high-quality product. The ability to specify your own custom gauge on the Curt Mangan website also offers the flexibility you can’t get with established brands.

In our testing these strings sounded great when we first put them on, without so much of that ‘zingy’ sound you often get from a new set. There’s a nice shimmer in the high end that’s not too bright, but not too warm, making them great all-rounders.

Best acoustic guitar strings: Fender Dura-tone Acoustic Strings

(Image credit: Fender)

6. Fender Dura-tone Acoustic Strings

Best for players who want coated durability and great sound

Specifications

Price: From $8/£6/€7
Spec: Steel core, 80/20 bronze winding, Dura-tone coating

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic durability
+
Outstanding price point

Reasons to avoid

-
Coated feel not for everyone
-
Packaging is a little basic

Fender needs little introduction when it comes to guitars, but its strings offer just as much quality as its instruments. Coming in at a brilliant price point, Fender Dura-tones offer a great introduction to coated strings for those who’ve never tried them.

It may take you some time to get your hand around the feel of coated strings – however, time is on your side as these are some of the longest-lasting strings we've tested. Subjected to a micro-treatment of coating, Fender estimates these will last you five times longer than an uncoated acoustic string.

They hold their tuning fantastically well with minimal stretching and the tonality is very bright, making them well suited to larger-sized acoustic guitars like dreadnoughts. They’re very measured across the set in terms of tension, so chords feel great and every note rings out clearly.

Best acoustic guitar strings: D’Addario XS Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

(Image credit: D’Addario)

7. D’Addario XS Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

Best for players who gig regularly

Specifications

Price: From $21/£16/€19
Spec: NY Steel core, phosphor bronze, polymer coating

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent lifespan
+
Silky smooth feel

Reasons to avoid

-
On the pricier side
-
Coated feel not for everyone

D’Addario’s XS range marks a fresh step for the company with an innovative polymer and ultra-slim coating for an outstanding playing feel. These strings offer the maximum lifespan of any D’Addario acoustic string thus far, making them a great choice for the gigging acoustic guitarist.

A hex-core construction ensures that your tuning stability is always on point, whilst intonation across the length of the string will never be an issue. The NY steel core gives outstanding durability too, so you’ll be hard pushed to snap one of these.

In terms of sound, in our experience they offer a great balance between warmth and brightness, sounding balanced over the full set. The coating means you get less finger noise when sliding up and down the neck too, which is a nice bonus.

Best acoustic guitar strings: Rotosound TRU Bronze Acoustic Strings

(Image credit: Rotosound)

8. Rotosound TRU Bronze Acoustic Strings

Best for beginner acoustic players on a budget

Specifications

Price: From $8/£6/€7
Spec: Steel core, 80/20 bronze winding, uncoated

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding value for money
+
Great sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Won’t last as long as a coated string
-
Might be too bright for some

Rotosound has something of a vintage image thanks to its association with famous acts of the ‘60s like Jimi Hendrix and The Who. But don’t let that fool you into thinking they haven’t kept up with the times. This British brand makes some of the best acoustic guitar strings around.

They include an extra high E string which is a nice touch for new players, who often overtighten strings when changing them for the first time. Despite this inclusion, these strings are still very durable and will stand up well to hard strumming.

As with most uncoated strings, they’re very bright sounding and have an excellent balance across the set. They sustain really well too, thanks to their wound bronze-alloy construction made to a time tested recipe. 

Best acoustic guitar strings: DR Rare Acoustic Strings

(Image credit: DR)

9. DR Rare Acoustic Strings

Best for electric guitarists making the jump to acoustic

Specifications

Price: From $12/£9/€11
Spec: Steel core, phosphor bronze winding, uncoated

Reasons to buy

+
Easy playing feel
+
Loud and warm sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Lesser tension not for everyone
-
Not the loudest

Many guitar manufacturers have seen the benefit of offering acoustic guitars that play like their electric brethren, but DR Strings has taken that mentality and applied it to acoustic guitar strings. 

The low tension feel might be alien to those used to playing acoustic, but if you’re primarily an electric player struggling to adapt, then these strings might well be for you. A different manufacturing process of wrapping these strings is what gives them their easy playability.

When fingerpicked, these strings sound phenomenally good and overall they have a very full sound. The lower tension also makes them easy to bend, so you can apply some of those electric guitar techniques to your acoustic. 

Best acoustic guitar strings: Gibson Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Strings

(Image credit: Gibson)

10. Gibson Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Strings

Best for players who like thick strings

Specifications

Price: From $13/£10/€12
Spec: Steel core, phosphor bronze winding, coated

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely long-lasting
+
Very balanced tonality

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be too hefty for some
-
Coated feel won’t suit everyone

Gibson has produced some of the most outstanding acoustic guitars in the world with the legendary J-45 and the ever-present Hummingbird. That same diligence clearly applies to these incredibly well-made strings.

Developed by Gibson’s master luthiers, these strings feel thicker than some of the others on this list, albeit only slightly. With that extra thickness however, there is a definite benefit in sustain, and the clarity of the sound speaks for itself when you start strumming. The warm and rich sound of these strings works fantastically well with dreadnought and jumbo-sized acoustic guitars in particular.

Overall the sound here is well balanced, with equal volume in the bass and treble strings. Once tuned up there is little stretching required, with all the strings holding their pitch exceptionally well.

Best acoustic guitar strings: D'Addario Phosphor Bronze

(Image credit: D'Addario)

11. D’Addario Phosphor Bronze

A super versatile set of strings that will suit many acoustic players

Specifications

Price: From $7.99/£7.99
Spec: Steel core, phosphor bronze winding, uncoated

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money 
+
Excellent range of gauges 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as bright sounding as some 

First released way back in 1974, D’Addario Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings fast became one of the standards of the acoustic guitar world. Nowadays D’Addario makes an overwhelming variety of acoustic guitar strings, but this is the set that started it all.

They offer a warmer tone with less top end than some of the sets on this list, largely due to the phosphor bronze wind. The ball end of each string is color-coded too, which makes it that much easier to identify which is which when you string your acoustic.

This set will suit acoustic guitar players who primarily strum, however we’ve found they do an admirable job with fingerpicking too. They’re really quite versatile, offering great clarity and articulation whatever playing style you prefer.

Best acoustic guitar strings: Buying advice

Gibson Montana SJ 200 Standard strings

(Image credit: Future)

How to choose the best acoustic guitar strings for you

You can trust Guitar Player. Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Buying the best acoustic guitar strings isn’t just a case of picking up the first set you see and slapping them on. Each set of strings has its own qualities – from the material they're made of to the gauge, to whether or not they’re coated. 

All of these aspects have a huge effect on how they play, so it’s wise to arm yourself with some knowledge before you make a snap decision. In doing so you’ll ensure you’ve picked the best set of strings for your particular acoustic guitar and playstyle. 

Which string gauge do I need?

More than anything the string gauge will determine the playing feel of your acoustic guitar strings and by extension, your guitar itself. Thicker gauge strings require more hand strength to play, however, they also enhance sustain and deliver a warmer, more bass-heavy sound.

Slap on a set of lighter gauge strings and you’ll find your hands flying across the guitar neck and bends in particular will be much easier. You’ll lose some sustain, but for a lot of players and particularly beginners, the playing benefits outweigh the tonal cost.

String gauge is a very personal choice, and thankfully acoustic guitar strings are relatively inexpensive items, so it’s always worth trying out a few different gauges to find the set that matches your particular playstyle.

Why are acoustic guitar strings bronze?

Next up let's have a look at the materials the best acoustic guitar strings are made of. The most commonly occurring materials are 80/20 Bronze and Phosphor Bronze. The difference is slight, but it does change the tone and playing feel ever so slightly.

80/20 Bronze is the choice for the acoustic guitar player looking for a zingier, brighter tone. Their construction is 80% copper and 20% zinc (hence the name) and it’s this composition that highlights the highs in your guitar’s sound.

Somewhat confusingly, Phosphor Bronze strings also contain copper and zinc, however, they also have a very small amount of phosphorous too. The amount is very slight, but it adds up to a different-sounding acoustic guitar string. A set of Phosphor Bronze strings will be warmer in tone, leaning more towards the low end of the scale in their sound.

Boxes of Rotosound guitar strings stacked on top of each other

(Image credit: Future)

Coated vs uncoated strings: which is better?

We have a final important subdivision in that some acoustic guitar strings are coated and some are uncoated. The coating is usually a fine polymer that covers your string, slowing down the process of oxidation and thus helping the string to stay sounding lively for longer.

A coated string will last much longer than an uncoated guitar string, as the polymer defends your strings from the acid in your sweat. However, this comes at a cost, as coated strings will often feel quite slick to the touch, which some guitarists will find disconcerting. 

The coating process also tends to rob the string of some high-end and volume – something to bear in mind when weighing up the options. It’s not that one sounds or feels worse than the other, just that they differ in both respects.

How we selected the best acoustic guitar strings for this guide

Here at Guitar Player, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides. 

When choosing what we believe to be the best acoustic guitar strings available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are musicians, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best acoustic guitar strings on the market right now.

Read more on how we test gear and services at Guitar Player.

Matt McCracken
Junior Deals Writer

Matt is a Junior Deals Writer here at Guitar Player. He regularly tests and reviews music gear with a focus on guitars, amps, pedals, modelers, and pretty much anything else guitar-related. Responsible for over 60 buying guides, a large part of his role is helping guitarists find the best deals on gear. Matt worked in music retail for 5 years at Dawsons Music and Northwest Guitars and has written for many music sites including MusicRadar, Guitar World, Guitar.com, Ultimate Guitar, and Thomann’s t.blog. A regularly gigging guitarist with over 20 years of experience playing live and writing and recording in bands, he's performed everything from jazz to djent, gigging all over the country in more dingy venues than you can shake a drop-tuned guitar at. When he's not holed up in his practice space jamming new songs or ogling yet another guitar, you’ll find him making a racket with Northern noise hounds JACKALS