Guitar Strings for Metal

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by BMFan30, Mar 24, 2021.

  1. wheresthefbomb

    wheresthefbomb SS.org Regular

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    I bought one set of Elixirs, the coating peeled within days and hardly lasted longer than power slinkys for twice the price. This was over a decade ago and I never bought another set, but some googling reveals that it seems to still be a really common issue. Others seem to love them so who knows.

    Expensive strings seem like snake oil to me. In my experience string breakage and wear issues come down to technique and cleaning as much as anything. Nothing fancy, just wipe your strings off before and after playing, especially if you life in a swamp, and don't be a sledgehammer all the time.

    I use D'addario because I like how they're wound, but I've never been let down by Ernie or Curt either. Strings "going dead" isn't something I have ever concerned myself with. A string is dead when it breaks. I save all the old ones when I do a full swap at cleaning time or before a gig/recording, and if I break a string during practice or jamming I'll use one from the string graveyard instead of a new one. Saved me a lot of money over the years.

    Find something that works for you and don't give it another ounce of thought unless or until it stops working. There are way more important things to worry about.
     
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  2. BMFan30

    BMFan30 SS.org Regular

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    This is kind of why I'm on the fence & over the fence at the same time. I feel like I should try it once despite my personal feelings just to see if it's snake oil or not. Although they are the price of the majority of someones guitar upgrade.

    I like the NYXL's I have so I went out and bought backups for them because I'm sure I really like them thus far but I have other D'adarrio string sets waiting for me after these as well.

    I tend to agree.
     
  3. nickgray

    nickgray SS.org Regular

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    I can only speak for Nanowebs, but the coating definitely does peel, but it only peels at the point of contact with your pick, and only on the wound strings. Since you don't fret the strings past the fretboard, I never understood why this bothers people. Yes, if look really close at the string you'll see that it's flaking, but for all intents and purposes it seems like an extremely minor cosmetic side effect.

    Iirc there was a point where Elixir didn't treat (or temporarily stopped treating, I don't remember) the plain strings. In the last couple of years every Nanoweb set that I had did have treated plain strings that are highly corrosion proof.

    There are also people like me with weirdly corrosive sweat. I destroyed the plain strings of D'Addario XT and NYXL sets literally in a matter of hours, and I wish I was joking or exaggerating :lol:
     
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  4. BMFan30

    BMFan30 SS.org Regular

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    How did you destroy them? Did you break strings?
     
  5. nickgray

    nickgray SS.org Regular

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  6. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    I'm not a doctor, but I have played doctor many times and I have a theory what is going on.

    Sweat is bad for strings (and any untreated metal) because it's salty. It's the ions in the sweat which make it way way easier for the metal to oxidize.

    Sweat is not as salty as sea water, but it's much much saltier than tap water. And some people have saltier sweat than others, and some people literally do just sweat more.

    There is also another force working in the other way - Oil and grease protects metal from corruption, because it keeps the oxygen away. Our skin naturally produces a little film of oil, including our hands. You can feel the difference when you just washed you hands with soap and cleared all the oil off. The oil tends to make dirt cling to us, which is why we wash it off, but it isn't damaging to strings. The strings get dirty, but not corroded, and if they are greasy you can just give them an aggressive wipe.

    If you were in your personal laboratory (as I'm sure you often are) then you'd always want clean hands with no sweat and no grease. But in the real world, the balance of sweat to grease on your hands is kinda unique and that is what determines how strings degrade.

    I have had a set on my Standard tuned explorer for maybe 8 months now - I haven't been playing it much since I got my seven, and the strings are just... Fine. Not spectacular but not dead. Still very playable, barely ever needs to be tuned. If I start playing it more I would want to change the strings, but for now *shrug* it's good.
     
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  7. nickgray

    nickgray SS.org Regular

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    Hehe, good thinking, but it doesn't really matter if I washed my hands before playing or not. Before switching to Elixirs (close to a decade ago) I used copious amounts of Fast Fret (it's just mineral oil), it didn't really help, but I do remember constantly just cleaning and rubbing the strings with a rag, it did remove a bit of corrosion, and I suppose Fast Fret did help with the cleaning process.

    As far as sweat... I don't know, I reckon there's a chance it's a simple explanation, but it could also be a more complicated one because sweat has all kinds of trace minerals and compounds in them. It could be that in some people the balance of the compounds is such that something happens to react quite a bit more strongly with that specific nickel plating that ordinary strings have.
     
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  8. Lopp

    Lopp SS.org Regular

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    My primary strings have been Blue Steel and Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky.

    I agree with those that stated the Blue Steel sounded good but got dull and broke quicker. I stopped using them for that reason.

    That being said, I recently got an E-II Eclipse-7 Evertune that came with Elixir Nanoweb strings, which I likely never would have otherwise considered trying. The coating felt a little weird at first, but after playing them for a while, they are really growing on me, and I am considering using them on all my guitars.

    I'll admit, I am not great about changing strings. I definitely change them for the studio, and change them more often when gigging. However, whenever I practice, I want to play, not change strings. The Nanowebs have been holding up nicely after a month and a half where I have been almost exclusively playing them on the Eclipse. I'd be very impressed if they still sound great after 8 months.

    In fact, I just ordered some Nanowebs to try on a 6-string PRS, but they are very low on stock. It took a while to find some and Guitar Center, Sweetwater, and Amazon did not have my favorite gauge, custom light (.009-.046). The super light and the light were in stock, so I got a set of each to compare. Looking forward to trying them out.

    Have fun auditioning all the strings. Keep us posted.
     
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  9. HungryGuitarStudent

    HungryGuitarStudent SS.org Regular

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    Use and like: D'Addario NYXL. They last longer than any other string I've tried so far.
    Wanna try: Elixir.
     
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  10. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    Sadly like so many commercial string sets, NYXL have really crappy choices for 7 string and/or Baritone.

    They are great strings; I have most of one of their sets on my 7 ATM, but you can only get them with 59 and 64 as the lowest string.

    It's just really frustrating, because they ARE good strings but they are also expensive and if I have to go find an additional 68 or 70 then the cost really does creep up.

    It's crazy to me that they only make "custom light", " light" and "medium" tension sets for instruments that we associate with tuning down.
     
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  11. Dayn

    Dayn SS.org Regular

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    I'd say to pick up a pack of everything mentioned in this thread. The cost is worth the knowledge.

    I used to use Kalium, but the shipping to Australia is beyond extortion and they won't change it, so I use Winspear now (but not having a gauge bigger than .090 makes my future plans for a 10-string a bit difficult).

    Trying everything to see how they react and feel is probably the best investment you can make. D'Addario are fine, Ernie Ball are a bit weak, GHS are too thuddy, wasn't impressed by Dunlop, Elixir are fine but it's impossible to get good gauges, La Bella are damn good but difficult for me to order, Kalium (was) good but can't justify it anymore, Winspear is good and the sets are on point, Stringjoy are alright but they didn't really wow me.
     
  12. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    I went to check them out and... Holy crap you're really right. A massive list of string sets for 7 and 8, with every gauge you could plausibly ask for including sets for drop tunings.

    Yes.

    This is excellent.
     
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  13. BMFan30

    BMFan30 SS.org Regular

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    I've already ordered a set of everything mentioned. Thanks for the review & recommending a few more that I didn't even see out on the market when I was browsing strings. But I will pick them up next time I'm ordering strings.
     
  14. HungryGuitarStudent

    HungryGuitarStudent SS.org Regular

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    I’ve been playing NYXL 9-42 + 56 and I have no complaints. They keep their tone for longer than other strings I’ve tried.
     
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  15. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    Of course, if it works for you then by all means crack on with it... But 56 for a bottom string, even on a 27", would be flappy and anemic. I play a 68 as my low A, and the NYXL sets just don't really cover that.
     
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  16. Kellz

    Kellz SS.org Regular

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    Hi guys, is it fine to use different materials on 1 set of strings? Let's say a set of 11-56 carbon alloy steel NYXL + a 68 nickel wounded as the lowest string or is that a no-go mixing up different materials?

    Is it better to stick with 1 material for all 7 strings? In that case I'd have to go all nickel wound since there is no single string NYXL carbon steel alloy thicker than 64 as far as I know.

    Mixing up these for example:
    https://www.musicstore.com/en_OE/EUR/D-Addario-NYXL-11-56-Carbon-Steel-Alloy/art-GIT0035639-000
    https://www.musicstore.com/en_OT/EUR/D-Addario-NYNW068-Single-String-Nickel-Wound/art-GIT0038431-000
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2021
  17. HungryGuitarStudent

    HungryGuitarStudent SS.org Regular

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    Whatever works for you man. That being said, many players have a 56 as their 7th string and they don’t sound “anemic”; Per Nilsson being one of them. Anyhow, to each his own :)
     
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  18. Calibix

    Calibix 16.666% more string

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    I've used Elixirs my whole guitar playing life because my original guitar teacher told me to. Playing anything that isn't an Elixir is a downgrade. Nothing feels as smooth, and the reduction in finger squeak is dramatic. I can attest that I only change them because they have been on for 6+ months and still look brand new. I have never had an issue with peeling or string breakage because of the string.

    With that being said, I have recently bought some NYXL. Innitially I hated them like all things not Elixir, but after some adjustment to the sandpaper feel, they are alright. They still feel rougher than Elixirs but it's been about a month and they do sound good. I do wonder if new strings inherently sound better because of recency bias. I would love to see a side by side comparison through the same guitar and rig.

    For what it's worth I use Elixir mediums 11-59 and NYXL 11-64. I play in B standard with no plans to go down more than a full step. YMMV.
     
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  19. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    I'm using a set of Stringjoy 10-64's right now in my Kiesel in A standard. Never used these strings before - they feel good so far though.

    Kind of annoyed at the $13 price tag though. I wish I could find a $5-6 set of strings that was the right gauges for me.
     
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  20. pahulkster

    pahulkster SS.org Regular

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    I really like the NYXL 10s balanced tension set. They are expensive but my sets seem to last forever and they sound great to me. The 9s with balanced tension have a really low tension so I'd check that, but the 10s are perfect for me in standard and Eb.
     
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