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Elixir Guitar Strings Review – The Best Coated Strings Ever!

Hello there, welcome back to my blog! In this article, I would like to provide you with a long-term review of my favourite guitar strings, Elixir electric guitar strings!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you should already be aware of my love for Elixir guitar strings. I have been playing the guitar for over two decades and using Elixirs exclusively since 2009! I’m not endorsed nor paid by Elixir company to write a review, but as you can see I’m a long-term customer and a very big fan of them! So you can take this article as a very honest and real, long-term Elixir guitar strings review! 🙂

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Thomann's 70th Anniversary Offers

Elixir Guitar Strings

For those who have never heard of Elixir strings, here’s a quick introduction. Elixir Strings is an American company based in Maryland and operates under W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. company.

The company was founded in 1997. Elixir is one of the most unique companies in the musical instrument accessories business since it has come out of a multinational manufacturing company focusing on high-tech materials.

If you know about the musical instruments industry, you are surely aware this is usually not the case with most manufacturers.

You may come across a lot of negative comments on coated strings on the internet, however, this simply does not change the fact that Elixir Strings is the leader in this niche! Just ask any guitar player what brand comes to their mind when coated strings are mentioned, they will 99% of the time tell you the Elixir brand!

Why should you use Elixir coated strings?

Elixir Strings guarantees you the longest-lasting strings with the best tone and feel not only for your electric guitars, electric bass and acoustic guitars but also for your 12-string acoustic guitars, acoustic bass guitars and even for your banjos!

They are engineered for great tone, long life and excellent playing sensation. Corrosion, oil, and dirt build-up will not give you any issues even when used for very long times! They guarantee you the longest-lasting tone compared to any coated or uncoated strings on the market.

This is very important if you play your guitar often or regularly gig. Uncoated, standard strings still sound good but frequent guitar playing will get them corroded very quickly. So you will find yourself changing your guitar strings very often.

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Check out the best guitar pickup company, Seymour Duncan here!

Elixir Strings feature an ultra-thin coating and anti-rust plating that feels and plays great. This also stops gunk and dirt build-ups. Since these strings are very resistant to corrosive factors, you will also experience better tuning stability and intonation in every kind of environment!

Why are coated strings so expensive?

You may have noticed that coated strings are more expensive in comparison to standard, uncoated guitar strings, and this is true. However, if you sit down and calculate, how many uncoated string sets would you need to buy to keep the same consistency and fresh feel, you will find out that Elixirs are actually cheaper!

Don’t be one of those guitarists who is proud of how rarely they change their guitar strings! Your guitar strings are a crucial part of your instrument. Playing with an old, rusty set of strings on a dirty, gunked up fretboard is not a cool thing!

How I switched to Elixir Strings for good

Before 2009, I wasn’t able to try out different brands and would usually stick to standard guitar strings around by the D’Addario brand. Around 2009, I was going to replace one of my guitarist friends in a cover band and I had to meet him and find out about the setlist and how they would play the songs. I didn’t bring a guitar with me so I was using his backup guitar.

While I was playing his guitar, I asked what gauge those strings were and he told me 9s and asked me how old I thought these strings were. I answered: “Should be 2-3 weeks old.” He told me the correct answer: “8 months old!“.

Elixir Strings ultra-thin coating
Elixir Strings ultra-thin coating Image source:

This was the moment that I realised that it was possible to use the same set of electric guitar strings for months without any corrosion occurring. Whenever I restrung my guitar with a set of new D’Addario standard guitar strings and played for a few hours, plain strings would go dark and wound strings would lose the spark in a day or so.

Even though I have been playing and testing other guitar brands such as Pyramid, La Bella and D’addario, I still think that Elixir Strings is the best!

Check out my other guitar string reviews here

Do coated strings sound dull?

Before I switched to Elixir Strings, I had always kept hearing people complaining about Elixir Strings online and also claiming that their tone is completely different and not useful. Most tone snobs didn’t like the feel of them and even commented that they sounded terrible!

If you think your guitar strings are the only component of your guitar tone and they will 100% affect your tone, you are wrong! They do affect the tone and feel of the instrument, however, they can just contribute to your overall guitar tone as any other component does. Elixir Strings definitely don’t sound dull at all and will not negatively affect your tone!

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Coated vs Uncoated strings

Coated strings definitely sound and feel different! Always keep in mind that guitar strings may sound different from each other. This is perfectly normal and expected. I never understand people confusing simple concepts such as things being different versus being better or worse.

In order to prove these claims wrong, the Elixir company has released a very cool page in which you can listen to uncoated strings and Elixir strings side by side.

Just simply go to the Elixir Strings Experience page and listen to each sample here!

Elixir Strings comparison
Elixir Strings comparison chart image source:

As you can see from the chart above, they manufacture three different series of coated strings. When I switched to Elixirs, there was only the original series Polyweb and Nanoweb. I must say I have never played Polywebs, but extensively used Nanowebs on all my guitars. Later on, they released Optiweb coating which sounds crispier. I have also had a chance to play them for over 2 years already. Nanowebs are my all-time favourite!

Check out all the videos featuring Elixir Strings on my blog here

Are coated strings harder to play?

Absolutely not! If you prepare a blind test for guitar players and ask them what type of strings they are playing without seeing or knowing them in advance, most would fail to distinguish between them. The ones who can distinguish coated and uncoated strings would definitely do so by their feel and sound, not by how difficult it would feel to play with one!

Although it’s no different, you should be careful what gauge string you put on what scale length. Having a thicker gauge at standard tuning will feel harder to play in any case. So don’t blame the brand but blame your lack of basic guitar set-up knowledge! 🙂

Elixir Strings stock for years!
Elixir Strings stock for years!

You can check out Elixir string tensions here

How long do coated strings last?

To be able to answer this question, first, we need to determine how long it would take to change standard, uncoated strings. As I have mentioned above, some people are proud of their lazy, dirty-ass habits when it comes to changing strings!

For standard guitar strings, I can easily claim that 2-3 weeks is the maximum amount of time while you can enjoy them optimally. This is for people who play every day for a few hours.

For Elixir Strings, I would leave them on my guitar for at least 5-6 months. As suggested by Elixir, you should also wipe off the dirt on your strings in longer usage times (without any cleaning agents).

The cool thing about coated Elixir strings is that even if you don’t play them often, whenever you pick up your instrument after a long time, it will feel fresh and lively! This is one of the main reasons I like Elixirs a lot!

Sometimes I don’t have time to play often, but I know for sure those strings will still feel fresh and new even after a long break. This is definitely the opposite with uncoated strings. When you don’t play for a long time and pick up your guitar, you will feel the rust on your fingertips immediately with uncoated strings.

Mind you, I kind of forgot to restring and take care of my Epiphone SG Custom for a long time and when I checked the last restringing date with Elixirs, I was shocked! I used the same Nanoweb set on this guitar for one and a half years! It was still playable!!!

Are plain Elixir strings coated?

The short answer is no! All Elixir plain strings come uncoated but they have an anti-rust plating on them. Combined with their Polyweb, Nanoweb or Optiweb coatings on wound strings, you have the longest-lasting guitar strings!

Are Elixir strings the best?

In my opinion and experience in the musical instruments business, I can easily say yes! Elixir Strings are the best-coated strings in the market and they are the pioneers of this niche! During my service in the musical instruments industry, I had the chance to play other coated or extended life span strings by other brands. However, none of them could come close to what Elixir offers.

Elixir vs Cleartone coated strings

I had access to Cleartone strings and heard many good comments on that, but my first and last experience with this brand was awfully bad! I opened a new package and found corroded strings!

I was working in an online music store as the biggest retailer in Turkey and immediately contacted the distributor. They were upset but replaced them with new ones. More interestingly, I contacted Cleartone company, told them what happened and shared photos. Their answer was extremely off-putting. They told me this could happen!

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Martinic Plugins - Precisely Modeled Vintage Instruments and FX Plugins

With Elixir Strings, I have never experienced such a thing. The only problem we detected was that once there was a single string missing in the package. Possibly a human error, but we never detected a corrosion problem with brand-new Elixir strings.

Are Elixir Strings good for drop tunings?

Definitely, yes! I used to have an Ibanez AR300 reissue and wanted to play some songs by one of my favourite Turkish progressive metal/rock bands, Kök. I quickly realised that they extensively used D standard and Drop C tunings throughout their albums.

Check out my Kök covers here

So I got myself a set of Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 (12102, medium) strings, set up my guitar for this specific tuning and voila! It was one of the best-sounding combinations I had ever played! I believe on 628mm scale lengths, Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 sounds and feels the best to me.

Recently, I got myself an Epiphone SG Custom Ebony, primarily for being able to play D standard/Drop C tunings and just made a quick video. Check it out for yourself and see how it sounds! To me, it’s an even way better feeling than playing on standard tuning.

Elixir Guitar Strings Review

Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 (12102) Sound Demo & Test (no talking)

Even though it’s not recommended to use 11-49 for standard D tunings as it may feel a bit loose, I have been using them both in standard E and D tunings on LP scale lengths without any issues.

Recently, I tried switching to Elixir Nanoweb 12-52 (12152) for standard D tuning and I must say I love them a lot! Overall, if you play rhythm on the wound strings, this gauge is pretty good!

Here’s a quick test video that I made using Elixir Nanoweb 12-52 (12152)

Elixir Nanoweb 12-52 (12152) Sound Demo & Test (no talking)

However, it’s not as easy to play lead as with an 11-49 gauge set and also the G string is wound and since it’s thin and wound in comparison to thicker strings, the flakes occur quicker (which is a turn off for some people, just FYI).

Elixir Nanoweb 12-52 (12152)

Also, I would never use standard tuning with this gauge. I can’t play these at standard tuning. I think 11-49 is one of the best gauges for both standard E, D and Eb tunings and allows me to play these tunings on the same guitar (LP scale length).

Elixir Optiweb 10-46 (19052) Sound Demo & Test (no talking)

As you can see from my Elixir stock images, I have stocked so many Elixir Optiweb 9-42 and often go back to this set of strings and try. However, I think Elixir Optiweb 9-42 (19002) go well with my Ibanez RG565 and Fender Stratocaster rather than on my guitars which have LP scale length. I think they feel pretty loose on these guitars.

So I also wanted to give Elixir Optiweb 10-46 a try and tested them on my LP scale length guitars on standard and Eb tunings. I think these feel the best on standard tuning on LP scale guitars.

Here’s another test video that I prepared (pretty random playing, sorry).

Lastly, I would like to share a quick comparison video for Elixir and Pyramid strings.

Elixir Strings vs Pyramid Strings Comparison

Here in this next video, I quickly compared Pyramid Strings and Elixir Optiweb in 10-46 gauge. I think you can clearly hear that the Optiweb has more presence, but very slightly more.

It’s not like people claim on the internet that they sound sterile or trebly or anything! I wasted a new set of Pyramid strings just for the sake of a demo and immediately (not a couple of weeks later!) restrung my guitar with Elixirs to give you honest audio samples.

I recommend anyone to try Elixir Strings at least once and see how it feels every day! If you have been focusing only on standard, uncoated strings, you are missing out on a lot of comforts!

As you can see from the image above, I have already stocked up my lovely Elixir strings for my Fender American Standard Stratocaster, Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid PT-7 and Epiphone SG Custom Ebony and will be sharing more test videos with you! I hope you have enjoyed this article and found this helpful so far!

Thanks for visiting my blog and supporting me so far! I will hopefully see you in the next review here!

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