D'addario Nickel Bronze Acoustic Strings (Quick Review)

Discussion in 'Jazz, Acoustic, Classical & Fingerstyle' started by AkiraSpectrum, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. AkiraSpectrum

    AkiraSpectrum SS.org Regular

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    Intro:

    Had a bunch of D'addario Player's Points that I wanted to use up and needed some acoustic strings so I redeemed all my points for a couple packs of the (new-ish) D'addario Nickel Bronze acoustic strings in 12-53.

    I only have about an hour of play time on these but overall I think they're very different from any other acoustic string I've played. The major selling point of these NB strings is that "these strings bring out the unique tonal characteristics of any guitar, allowing its natural voice to truly shine." My assumption is that because these strings are constructed to provide tonal balance and clarity that your guitar's 'natural' tone will show through more because there aren't any extra low end frequencies muddying things up. Of course these strings also sport other characteristics as per D'addario's write-up (uncoated but longer lasting than PB and Bronze strings, enhanced clarity, resonance, and projection, rich overtones and tonal balance, enhanced tuning stability and break resistance).

    FYI: My guitar is a fairly low-end 2005 Ibanez PF60sce tbl guitar (spruce top, mahogany back/sides, rosewood fretboard).

    Review:

    Tonally these strings are very interesting. A lot of the low-end/low-mids are combed out in favour of a more mid and high-mid focus. First thing I noticed was the projection I was getting. The first chord I strummed almost made me jump because I was shocked at how loud it was. Indeed, you get more string clarity with these NB strings because they are less bassy/low-middy.

    Without a doubt, acoustic players wanting to hear more detail should try these out as a lot of the lower frequencies are pulled back, letting each note ring out with more clarity without any harshness.

    Recording and playing live (especially in small venues or in coffee shops, etc.) would be great with these strings as you get more projection and more clarity, especially on the low notes which can often drown out the nuances of your playing on the low E and A strings. Too bad I no longer play live because I think these would have been great for live-playing.

    FEEL:

    Obviously these acoustic strings will look out of place because they are silver in colour and look like your typical electric strings on an acoustic guitar. Interestingly enough, they feel quite a bit like electric guitar strings and from my limited experience thus far, seem to be a little gentler on my fingers than your typical PB strings.

    CONS (?):

    What are the downsides of the tonal character of these NB strings? Well, you do lose some of that low-end/low-mid warmth so depending on your preference this may be the upside or the downside. If your guitar is naturally low-middy then these NB will help tame it, but the loss of low-end on your instrument may be a deal-breaker for some. In my current situation--playing alone in my room by myself as an intermediate acoustic player--I do at times miss the extra low-end I was getting from PB strings, giving my sound more of a broad tonal spectrum. Perhaps on other guitars (higher end, or one's constructed of other woods) it wouldn't be an issue for me, but on this guitar I do miss some of those lows--maybe because they were masking some of my awful playing? lol. Other than that I am really enjoying them so far and its really nice hearing the wound strings so clearly.

    Overall, these aren't much more expensive than regular D'addario PB strings and are cheaper than coated strings (which I've grown to dislike). I definitely recommend giving these a try to see if they fit your tonal needs.

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  2. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Sounds a lot like phosphor bronze, vs 80-20. How would you say they compare?
     
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  3. AkiraSpectrum

    AkiraSpectrum SS.org Regular

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    It's been quite awhile before I've played 80/20, but from memory I'd say the 80/20 Bronze are a little brighter than the NB. I've also always found 80/20's to be noisier in terms of 'string noise' and kind of more brash and metallic sounding. 80/20 often seemed to lose their tone fairly quickly for me (sound dead and tarnish quickly) and so far the NB strings don't seem to suffer from the negatives of 80/20 strings. I'd say the NB have so far seemed to keep their tone far better than 80/20 and PB up to this point.

    I think the best way to characterize the Nickel Bronze (NB) strings is that they are between the Phosphor (PB) and the 80/20 Bronze tonally, and in terms of longevity they seem to outlast both.

    I've played coated strings from D'addario and Elixir, and while they're great in some ways I quickly grew to dislike coated strings. Tonally they never sound as good to me and I found the coating would chip off at times and so on. Do the NB last longer than coated? Probably not, but I think they seem to be offering much longer life than regular 80/20 or PB and don't have any of the issues that coated strings have (much more expensive, sound is a little dull, coating chipping off, some coated strings I've found to be noisy--although Elixir strings are dead silent).

    I'm not sure what the price differences are between PB and NB and Coated strings but in Canada the NB are only slightly more expensive than PB, so the extended life seems to be worth it:

    80/20: $6.90
    PB: $8.70
    NB:$11.25
    80/20 Coated: $15.25
    PB Coated: $16.50
     

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