Best Steel Strings for Acoustic Guitars in India 2021

If you have an acoustic guitar, then chances are it has steel-strings for sure!

If you want your guitar to sound the best every time you pick it up, then we recommend changing the strings regularly.

best-steel-strings-acoustic

In this article, you will find the list of the Best Steel Strings for Acoustic Guitar in India.

Steel strings produce much brighter sounds and have greater sustain than nylon strings. They are well suited for genres like blues, rock, country etc. Steel strings, however, hurt the fingers a little more than nylon strings.

Check out: 10 Best Acoustic Guitars for Beginners in India!!

Wondering what’s the difference between a Steel string guitar vs Nylon?

Here is a guide that will answer all your questions!!

In a hurry?

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Buying Guide for the Best Steel Strings for Acoustic Guitar

Winding Type

The thicker 4 strings are usually wounded. This means that they have a steel core over which a coil is wounded. There can be two kinds of winding: flat and round.

In flat wound strings, the winding has a round cross-section but a flat surface profile. In round wound strings, the surface profile is round.

While flat wound strings do not sound as bright as round-wound strings, they tend to have a greater life cycle.

The squeaking sounds made by strings when fingers are sliding over it are much less in the case of flat-wounds.

Moreover, flat-wounds cause less wear on the frets and the fretboard due to having a flatter surface profile.

Round wound strings have a lot of brightness to their tone. This is why they are preferred for most modern genres. They are also more easily available and cheaper than flat-wounds. However, round-wounds tend to cause more wear to the frets and the fretboard and have a shorter life cycle.

The winding can also be of different metals/alloys like phosphor bronze, nickel bronze or plated copper. Some manufacturers are also experimenting with aluminum bronze strings. Most definitely, different materials used as windings have different tonal characteristics.

String gauge

While playing guitar, the strings vibrate to produce a note. The tone produced depends a lot on the strings used on the guitar.

Heavy gauge strings produce fatter and fuller sounds with greater projection and sustain. Lighter gauge strings are more playable. It is a trade-off between tone and playability. String gauge is strictly an individual preference.

People with big hands tend to have longer fingers and find it easier to play heavy gauge strings. However, playability plays an important part in shaping the tone.

It is important to remember that fatter sounds cannot compensate for bad playability. If you find it too difficult to bend a note on heavier strings, it would be wiser to opt for a lighter gauge.

The choice of gauge should also be based on the size of the guitar body. Smaller bodied guitars cannot withstand too much tension and go well with lighter gauge strings. On the contrary, using very light gauges on larger bodied acoustics might cause excessive warping of the neck.

String gauge is referred to by the gauge (or diameter) of the thinnest string (the first string of a guitar). Usually, for acoustics, the normal range of string gauge varies from 0.010-0.013.

For a beginner, 0.011 gauge is sufficient. Some players also prefer custom gauge strings, where the thicker strings are of heavier gauge for more bass response, while the thinner strings have a lower gauge.

Coating

There may or may not be a protective layer of coating on the strings. A thin layer of polymer is sprayed onto the strings.

There are some important advantages and disadvantages of both coated and non-coated strings. Coated strings provide additional protection from corrosion, sweat, oil and weather changes.

string-coating
Photo by Ernie ball

These factors usually degrade the tone of the strings with time. It also helps in extending the life cycle of the strings. However, coating affects tone by reducing brightness. Also, playability is affected to some extent as the strings feel more slippery.

To make things simple, coated strings maintain their tone for longer periods of time while sacrificing some of the brightness. Uncoated or non-coated strings sound brighter and livelier but do not last as long.

Extra Light Gauge Steel Strings

Extra Light Gauge Steel StringGaugeToneLife
D’Addario EJ15
Acoustic Guitar Strings
0.010-0.047Bright &
balanced
~2 weeks
D’Addario EZ900 85/150.010-0.050Full bright~2 weeks
Rotosound TB10
Tru Bronze
0.010-0.050Clear, balanced,
& rich tone
~2 weeks
Martin M530
Bronze Phosphor 
0.010-0.047Clear, bright treble
& rich bass
~2 weeks
Ernie Ball Earthwood
Light Acoustic
0.010-0.050Warm & rich tone
with good projection
~2 weeks

String gauges 0.010-0.047 and 0.010-0.050 fall in this category. These are the lightest strings that you can hope to put in your acoustic. This gauge is so light that the playability feels similar to an electric guitar.

However, the sound produced is thinner as well. This is especially apparent during strumming when the volume produced is not very loud. The sustain on these strings is low as well.

D’Addario EJ15 Acoustic Guitar Strings

D'Addario EJ15 Acoustic Guitar Strings

These uncoated extra light strings from D’Addariohave a brightness that is unlike other strings in this category. The bass and treble strings have an equal amount of projection making it ideal for fingerstyle.

These strings can be used on smaller bodied guitars like the parlour and concert due to low tension at standard tuning.

Playability is very good and bending is relatively easy. However, due to no additional coating, these strings last about 2 weeks with an hour of daily playing in the average Indian climatic conditions.

Gauge0.010-0.047
Winding AlloyPhosphor Bronze
ToneBright and balanced tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeHexagonal carbon-steel core
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle
(for 1 hr of playing/day)
2 weeks

D’Addario EZ900 85/15

D'Addario EZ900 85/15

The uncoated light gauge strings have an 85/15 Bronze winding on the thicker strings. This makes the tone brighter than what you will find on a phosphor bronze winding. Due to a relatively heavier bottom string, the tone is fuller and projection is better.

These can be used on smaller bodied guitars like parlour, concert etc. No additional coating is present and the strings last for an average of 2 weeks with 1 hour of daily playing in the average Indian climatic conditions.

Gauge0.010-0.050
Winding Alloy85/15 Bronze
ToneFull bright tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeHexagonal carbon-steel core
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle
(for 1 hr of playing/day)
2 weeks

Rotosound TB10 Tru Bronze

Rotosound TB10 Tru Bronze

Rotosound is a UK based string manufacturer that is a relatively unknown brand in India. However, they have a rich heritage in string-making. These strings have an 80/20 Bronze winding, making them bright sounding.

The overall tone is well balanced. Heavier bass strings provide a better and deeper bass response.

Due to contact core technology, these strings come directly in contact with the saddle and provide a better transfer of energy to the soundboard of the guitar. Smaller bodied guitars are better suited for these strings.

A usable life cycle of 2 weeks can be expected with 1 hour of daily playing in standard Indian climatic conditions.

Gauge0.010-0.050
Winding Alloy80/20 Bronze
ToneClear, balanced, and rich tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeContact core – core wire comes in contact
with the saddle for more efficient
energy transfer
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle
(for 1 hr of playing/day)
2 weeks

Martin M530 Bronze Phosphor 

Martin M530 Bronze Phosphor

Martin is one of the oldest and best known brands that manufacture acoustic guitars. They also produce top quality strings in terms of tone. These strings have a bright treble and rich bass response with the winding being made of 92/8 Phosphor bronze.

These strings are suitable for parlour and concert sized acoustics. These uncoated strings last around 2 weeks with an average of 1 hour of playing each day in the Indian climate.

Gauge0.010-0.047
Winding Alloy92/8 Phosphor Bronze
ToneClear, bright treble and rich bass
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeTin plated steel core
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle
(for 1 hr of playing/day)
2 weeks

Ernie Ball Earthwood Light Acoustic

Ernie Ball Earthwood Light Acoustic

One of the most popular brands globally, Ernie Ball 2006 has a heavy bottom end. This gives a deeper bass response and volume than other strings in this category. The playability is also good. A warm and rich tone can be expected from these strings.

These strings are suitable for most guitar sizes. An average life cycle of 2 weeks, with an hour of daily playing, can be expected before these strings start to lose their tonal characteristics.

Gauge0.010-0.050
Winding Alloy80% Copper 20% Zinc
ToneWarm and rich tone with good projection
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeHexagonal tin-plated steel core
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle
(for 1 hr of playing/day)
2 weeks

Light Gauge Steel Strings

Light Gauge Steel StringGaugeToneLife
D’Addario Bronze
EZ910
0.011-0.052Full and
bright
~2 weeks
Ernie Ball
Earthwood 2146
0.012-0.054Full bright~2 weeks
Martin MSP30500.011-0.052Rich bass, bright
and clear
~2 weeks
Elixir Strings
Light Nanoweb Coating
0.012-0.053Full, balanced,
bright
~2 months
D’Addario EZ920 85/15 Bronze0.012-0.054Full bright~2 weeks
D’Addario EXP110.012-0.053Deep, bright, projecting~1 month

String gauges 0.011 and 0.012 fall in this category. There are a lot of options available as this is normally, the best suited gauge for most acoustic guitars.

The volume projection is good and the tone sounds very full with excellent sustain. However, bending strings is a challenge, especially for beginners.

D’Addario Bronze EZ910

D'Addario Bronze EZ910

The EZ910 is one of the most popular string sets for acoustics in India. With bronze windings, these strings produce a bright and lively tone.

The carbon-steel core provides much strength to these strings and, therefore, they have some breakage resistance. Playability is medium but good enough for most players.

All acoustic guitars from parlour to dreadnaughts and jumbos can use these strings. These strings show an average life cycle of 2 weeks with an hour of daily playing.

Gauge0.011-0.052
Winding AlloyBronze
ToneFull and bright tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeCarbon-steel core
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle
(for 1 hr of playing/day)
2 weeks

Ernie Ball Earthwood 2146

Ernie Ball Earthwood 2146

The Earthwood series is known for its exceptionally rich and warm tone. A heavy bottom end ensures good projection and deep bass response. Phosphor bronze winding adds to the warmth in the tone. Playability is good if the guitar is set-up with proper action.

Smaller bodied guitars might require additional neck adjustment to use these strings. These strings hardly ever break unless badly corroded. An average life expectancy of 2 weeks can be expected with an hour of daily playing.

Gauge0.012-0.054
Winding AlloyPhosphor Bronze
ToneNatural, warm and rich tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeHexagonal Tin-plated steel core
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle(for 1 hr of playing/day)2 weeks

Martin MSP3050

Martin MSP3050

A heavy bottom end (0.052) and lighter top end (0.011) gives the MSP3050 bell like highs and a rich bass. Bronze winding adds to the brightness of the tone. Playability is decent and it is easy to bend.

These strings are suitable for acoustic guitar of any size. Uncoated strings can only provide 2 weeks of life with an hour of daily playing.

Gauge0.011-0.052
Winding Alloy80/20 Bronze
ToneRich bass, bright and clear tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeTin-plated steel core
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle(for 1 hr of playing/day)2 weeks

Elixir Strings Light Nanoweb Coating

best-steel-strings-for-acoustic-guitar-india-elixir

Elixir has been manufacturing premium strings for a long time in the market. The tone and durability of these stings are unmatched. These strings have a full-bodied and balanced tone.

Phosphor Bronze winding adds a warm texture to the tone. Playability wise these strings might feel a bit different under the fingers due to the additional nano-web coating.

These strings are suitable for most guitar sizes and by far one of the best steel strings out there. Some additional truss adjustment might be required for really small bodied acoustics. A nano-web ultra-thin coating is sprayed on these strings. This increase the life cycle of these strings to a great extent. The only downside of these strings is its price.

Gauge0.012-0.053
Winding AlloyPhosphor Bronze
ToneFull, balanced, bright tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core type N.A.
CoatingNanoweb – ultra-thin coating
Life Cycle(for 1 hr of playing/day)2 months

D’Addario EZ920 85/15 Bronze

D'Addario EZ920 85/15 Bronze

These strings have a heavy bottom end and can project deep bass. The tone is full and bright in general due to the bronze winding. Playability is medium and bending requires some effort.

The average life expectancy is 2 weeks for these strings for an hour of daily playing. It is suitable for most guitar sizes but might require some additional truss rod adjustments.

Gauge0.012-0.054
Winding Alloy85/15 Bronze
ToneFull bright tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeCarbon-steel hex core
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle(for 1 hr of playing/day)2 weeks

D’Addario EXP11

D'Addario EXP11

These strings have deep bass and clear and bright treble. The windings are of Bronze and, therefore, there is an added brightness. Playability is medium due to additional coating.

An average life-cycle of 1 month can be expected due to EXP coating. The strings can resist corrosion to a great extent. The EXP11 is suitable for most guitar sizes.

Gauge0.012-0.053
Winding Alloy80/20 Bronze
ToneDeep, bright, and projecting tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeCarbon-steel hex core
CoatingEXP coated
Life Cycle(for 1 hr of playing/day)1 month

Medium Gauge Steel Strings

Medium Gauge Steel StringGaugeToneLife
D’Addario EXP170.013-0.056Warm and
balanced
~1 month
Ernie Ball
Earthwood 2002
0.013-0.056Deep bass &
pleasing overtones
~2 weeks
Ernie Ball 2084 Paradigm0.013-0.056Warm &
balanced tone
~1 month
D’Addario EJ17
Acoustic 13-56 Guitar Strings
0.013-0.056Bright and balanced~3 weeks

Generally, 13 gauge strings fall into this category. Players should consult a luthier before putting medium and heavy gauge strings on their acoustics.

This is because relatively smaller-bodied acoustics might get damaged from the high tension in these strings.

Proper neck adjustment should also be made in this case. This category is a real challenge for beginners. Fingers really start to hurt after playing for a little while. However, the tone, volume projection and sustain are truly unmatched.

D’Addario EXP17

D'Addario EXP17

The EXP17 has a warm and balanced tone overall due to the phosphor bronze winding. It requires slightly greater effort to bend notes or play fast.

These strings are not recommended for use on smaller bodied acoustic guitars without adjustment. The EXP coating extends life to around 1 month.

Gauge0.013-0.056
Winding AlloyPhosphor Bronze
ToneWarm and balanced tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeCarbon-steel hex core
CoatingEXP coated
Life Cycle(for 1 hr of playing/day)1 month

Ernie Ball Earthwood 2002

Ernie Ball Earthwood 2002

Like all other Earthwood strings, the Earthwood 2002 provides rich and pleasing tones with a deep bass. The bronze winding adds a certain brightness to the tone. A bit of playability has to be sacrificed for great tone and this is exactly what can be expected of these strings.

These strings are suitable for bigger bodied acoustics. For smaller bodied guitars, additional adjustment or reinforcement might be required. Since these strings are uncoated, an average life-cycle of 2 weeks is expected.

Gauge0.013-0.056
Winding Alloy80/20 Bronze
ToneDeep bass and pleasing overtones
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeHex-shaped tin plated steel core
CoatingUncoated
Life Cycle(for 1 hr of playing/day)2 weeks

Ernie Ball 2084 Paradigm

steel-tring-Ernie Ball 2084 Paradigm

The Paradigm series from Ernie Ball have the rich and pleasing tone found in Earthwood strings. However, the strings feel a little slippery under the fingers due to additional coating.

These strings are not recommended for use on smaller bodied guitars like the parlour or concert. If used, the necks might need additional adjustment. The life-cycle of these strings is 1 month due to the coating. These strings also provide additional breakage resistance.

Gauge0.013-0.056
Winding Alloy80/20 Bronze
ToneWarm and balanced tone
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeHex-shaped tin plated steel core
CoatingEverlastnano-treatment coating
Life Cycle
(for 1 hr of playing/day)
1 month


D’Addario EJ17 Acoustic 13-56 Guitar Strings

D'Addario EJ17 Acoustic 13-56 Guitar Strings

D’Addario EJ17 produces a warm, bright, and well-balanced tone largely contributed by the Phosphor-Bronze windings.

These strings are recommended for Dreadnaughts and Jumbos. Good for heavy strumming and flat-picking.

Gauge0.013-0.056
Winding AlloyPhosphor-Bronze
ToneBright and balanced
Winding TypeRound-wound
Core typeSteel core
CoatingUn-coated
Life Cycle
(for 1 hr of playing/day)
3 weeks

Words of Advice…

The tone produced by guitar strings largely depend on the instrument itself. The same set of strings will sound different on guitars of different sizes, shapes and tone wood.

The best way to settle for a string is to experiment with different strings and find out which one is the best suited for your guitar. You not only need to experiment with different brands but also different gauges, coated and uncoated strings, different winding alloys, etc.

The life cycle of strings mentioned here can never be fully accurate. This is because weather plays an important part here. Increase in humidity levels during monsoon can cause strings to corrode rapidly. Moreover, the sweat and oil on the playing hand differs from person to person.

People who sweat more are more likely to have corroded strings. The strings should be wiped thoroughly before and after playing with a micro-fibre cloth. This removes much of the sweat and dirt accumulated on them. Also, string cleaners can be used to extend the life of the strings.

Many players and luthiers believe that if a particular brand and gauge of string is used on the same guitar for a certain period of time, then it starts to sound slightly dull, even after replacing with a new set.

The general belief is that the guitar gets used to a particular kind of string. Changing the gauge or even the brand, from time to time, can make some difference in this regard.

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