D’Addario vs Elixir | Which Coated Guitar Strings Are The Best?

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D'Addario Xs Vs Elixir Optiweb Guitar Strings

D'Addario XS vs Elixir Optiweb Coated Guitar Strings

Guitar strings are expensive and if you have sweaty hands like me, they constantly need to be changed.

I have used Elixir coated guitar strings for many years and recently, I decided to try a set of the new D'Addario XS coated guitar strings. My recent YouTube video shares the results of this experiment although if you would rather read than watch, a transcript of the video is given below.

Did I Miss The Guitar Tone?

I recorded this video in December 2022, although I did not upload the video at the time as there was something about the tone of the D'Addario XS strings that I thought I was missing.

I decided to not upload the video and try the D'Addario XS strings again. My results and thoughts remained the same after spending more time with the D'Addario strings, so I uploaded the video with confidence in my findings.

Can You Hear The Difference between D'Addario XS And Elixir Optiweb Guitar Strings?

Continuing on my journey to find the perfect set of guitar strings, I decided to record a separate video and test the tone difference between D'Addario XS and Elixir Optiweb coated strings. Using a clean and overdriven guitar tone, I recorded various examples using sustained chords, a funky rhythm and single-note lines.

Can you hear the difference and do you have a favourite? Please let me know in the YouTube comments.

For more information about the two sets of guitar strings compared in this article, check them out on Amazon (these are affiliate links).

D'Addario XS vs Elixir Optiweb Guitar Strings Video Transcript

Hello. I have used Elixir coated guitar strings for many years and they have been a game-changer when it comes to the length of time I need to wait between string changes.

I recently tried a set of the new D’addario XS coated electric guitar strings on my telecaster. In this video, I will tell how Elixir strings compare to D’addario strings after a rigorous period of real-life playing.

Sweaty Hands And String Life

Many years ago, I used D’addario XL Nickel Electric Guitar Strings on my electric guitars. I have unbelievably sweaty hands and my hand sweat is like some alien acid when it comes to guitar strings. A set of strings would last me two gigs maximum.

Even when wiping my guitar strings after every performance, not playing that guitar between gigs and after trying many products that promised to extend the life of my strings, I would often still break one or two strings if I attempted a third gig on that set.

My Experience Of Elixir Strings

I remember trying Elixir strings in the very early days of their production and I did not like them at the time. I didn’t like the feel or the tone of the strings back then, so I continued to change guitar strings regularly and spend a fortune on them.

A few years later, I purchased a Taylor acoustic guitar and that guitar was strung with Elixir strings. Taylor also recommend Elixir strings for their guitars and I was converted. I then started using Elixir strings on my electric guitars and I now love them.

How Often Do I Now Change My Guitar Strings?

Even with a busy teaching and gigging schedule, I now change my strings around every month to six weeks. Elixir strings are more expensive than uncoated strings, but I have saved a fortune by not having to constantly change strings. It is also great not having to change strings every couple of gigs.

The Different Types Of Elixir Guitar Strings

Elixir strings have three thicknesses of coating. Polyweb strings have the thickest coating, Nanoweb are next and Optiweb has the thinnest coating. Strings with the thinnest coating sound the most natural and sound similar to uncoated strings. I use Optiweb strings on my electric guitars and Nanoweb on my acoustic guitars.

D’addario’s latest venture into the world of coated strings is their XS series. The marketing of these strings sounded very impressive, so I thought I would give them a try.

About This Test, Results And My Thoughts

The guitar I use for most of my gigs that require electric guitar is my trusty Fender Telecaster. This is the guitar on which I conducted the test and the string gauge is 11 – 49.

I make a note of when I change my guitar strings and this has been helpful when running this test. I last changed Elixir strings on the 3rd of September, then again on the 15th of October. I replaced the strings with D’addario XS strings on the 18th of November. At the time of filming this video, I need to change my strings again and the date is the 14th of December.

To save you from doing the math, the elixir strings were on my guitar for 6 weeks, then the next set for one day short of five weeks. The D’addario strings stayed on my guitar for under 4 weeks.

Even when I changed the Elixir strings, they still looked pretty new and sounded great. I could see some of the coatings had worn, although the tone had not deteriorated too much and I could have waited longer before changing strings. The only reason I changed the strings was that I had a run of gigs and it seemed a good idea to be totally confident of not having a string breakage on stage.

My initial thoughts about the D’addario XS strings were that they sounded great and felt really good to play. The guitar tones from my Kemper were sparkly and defined. The drive tones especially had a crisp, but tonally satisfying quality to them. So far so good.

December is always really busy for gigs and I play various shows and Christmas parties throughout the month. I was in unknown territory with the new D’addario strings and I just hoped they wouldn’t break. Some of the shows I play in December are sight reading gigs, so I can’t have string breaking on me and messing up the show. Luckily, the marketing material was true to its word when it came to string strength and no strings were broken.

Why Did I Need To Change My Strings?

So why do I need to change my strings? Well, they have discoloured, and the strings are black near the bridge which is the point most vulnerable to string breakage. This is not a problem if the strings don’t break, although the colour is not the reason I need to change the strings.

The strings now sound very dull and have lost all that tonal loveliness that I experienced when I first played them. Although I don’t mind sacrificing a bit of tone for a long string life, the Elixir strings would not sound as dull after this amount of time.

Would I Buy D'Addario XS Guitar Strings Again?

So would I buy D’addario XS strings again? I will give them another try at some point as I love the sound of the strings when I first used them. The test is reasonably accurate as I have played each set of strings for around the same amount of time, although there has been more live work with the D’addario strings, which one could argue that live work is more demanding on guitar strings, although I don’t think this would make much difference.

At the time of filming this video, the D’addario XS strings are £14 per set and the Elixir Optiweb strings are £13 per set, so the price is very similar. This single test resulted in Elixir strings seeming to last quite a bit longer before they require changing, so the Elixir strings will be cheaper in the long run.

Do I prefer the sound of the D’addario strings? I did initially love the sound of the D’addario strings and there was a difference to the Elixir strings, although both strings sound great. When playing live, subtle nuances are lost anyway, so for me, it comes back to how long the strings will last for my style of playing.

I will continue using Elixir strings for now, although I will try the D’addario strings again at some point.

What Are Your Favourite Guitar Strings?

Have you compared D’addario XS strings to Elixir strings, or do you have any other string choices that you have fallen in love with? Please let me know in the comments as this is an ongoing experiment.

If you did enjoy this video, please give it a like and hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss out on future videos. Bye for now!

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