Be careful when shopping for cheap guitar strings! While price isn't
always an absolute determiner of quality, there are some very poor
products at the budget end you should avoid like the plague.
If you're gigging, you want guitar strings that are affordable, durable
and bring out the best in your guitar's tone. Even if you're just a
bedroom player, choosing the right strings will make your practice
sessions easier and more fun.
So here are the best cheap guitar strings as rated by literally
hundreds of users, many of whom are experienced players and guitar
technicians, so you can be sure of the quality when it comes to tone,
intonation and longevity.
Best Cheap Electric Guitar Strings
Hands down the best value electric guitar strings on the market,
XL Nickel range are long time favourites among experienced
players. With Ernie Ball's Slinky range not far behind, the XL's take
the lead on consistency, long life, sound and price, at under $4 per
pack (online) or 3 set packs for under $10.50.
D'Addario XL Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
Consistent best seller
Long lasting, reliable
Over 30 gauges
What users say
These are your basic "every day" electric guitar strings.
The first, and to many the most important box checked is quality
consistency. Many users (myself included) have, by all intents,
confidently settled with D'addario XL's for life because of their
You always get that crisp, clear and bright yet gutsy tone every
restring. As your ear develops and you find your tone, you will notice any
inconsistencies, and many have found other makes of cheap guitar
strings rather unpredictable in that sense.
For the gigging guitarist on a tight budget, XL's are a solid choice.
They offer the best compromise between longevity, feel, sound
and price. Particularly taking note of comments from users who have
tried several brands, it's clear that the less obvious
features - minimal, air tight corrosion-free packaging and even a
unique serial number
to confirm the pack's authenticity on their website (not necessary, but
there for peace of mind) - all go towards reaffirming the value of
Some find the individually coloured string balls a bit "goofy" and
unnecessary, but to some they are useful in quickly identifying the
confirming the correct string gauge. I'm not embarassed to admit I
still refer to these, (although now almost subconsciously!) to confirm
packed the correct gauges. With individually wrapped
strings, preferred by other brands, with the uniform gold or silver
balls, it's not always immediately obvious if two strings of the same
been shipped in the pack by mistake.
By far the most consistently positive comments are in regards to how
long the XL's last, not just on physical string life but also how long
before any noticable deterioration in tone. Personally, ever
using D'addarios, I
struggle to remember when I last broke a string. Reliability is
obviously important for giggers and those who have used them for any
time develop a strong trust of XL's.
D'addario do it again... this time with their Phosphor
Bronze acoustic guitar strings. Recommended for the same
its XL's - corrosion free packaging, well balanced tone and great value
single and multipacks. A favourite of qualified techs and expert
D'addario Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings
Well balanced tone
Corrosion free packaging locks in string
What users say
Users appreciate the consistency of Daddario's Bronze Phospher acoustic
strings in the same way they do the electric XL's. There's no
risk of oxidation
as with other cheap strings packaged in paper envelopes, thanks to the
corrosion eliminating air tight packaging. This facotry freshness is an
often overlooked benefit and really does impact the longevity of your
strings, both with tone and durability.
Looking at reviews where players have switched from brands such as
Martin and even the more prestigious Elixir, D'addario BP's deliver a
favourably balanced tone, with plenty of depth and mid-high end
response. Brightness is retained longer than other brands, so there's
no frustration of losing that irresistable zing after a mere week of
fitting new strings.
The balanced tone also means fingerpickers and strummers alike can
easily find their sound. Those with cheap
acoustic guitars (which this
humble site does have a certain bias towards!) will find the BP's
breath new life into what was perhaps a restrained tone due to poor
quality stock strings. If anything, these strings prove that so much of
your tone is locked into the strings and the D'addarios will open it up
better than other brands.
Surely the most flattering comments are from those more experienced
players and techs who have tried countless brands over two and three
decades and just discovered D'addario. Those who do make the switch
find not only is their a vast improvement in tone, but also comfort,
with the BP's supporting a smooth action and ease of playability with
less overall tension than its competitors.
Just goes to show - playabiltiy vs
tone is indeed a false dichotomy...
I would just like to make it clear at this point that I do not work for, nor am I
affiliated with D'addario! The unavoidable truth is that D'addario's
Pro Arte strings are a clear favourite among classical guitar
players on a budget. The reviews and comments from players of all ages
and experience don't lie. To choose another brand for the mere purpose
of appearing unbiased would go against everything this site stands for
- best user rated
gear. Ok, I'll stop being so defensive now...
D'addario Pro Arte Classical Guitar Strings
Balanced, rounded tone
Varying tensions available
Available in multipacks savers
What users say
The low price of Pro Artes
means you can change them more frequently to maintain that fresh, new
string tone, especially important for recording and gigging players.
However, like its acoustic and electric offerings, D'addario are again
praised on how much life you get out of each set of their classical
Many players discover the true tone of their acoustic after switching
to Pro Artes. It's true that a decent budget
classical guitar will often be harshly judged based on poor
string choice. String up with Pro Artes and hear the difference.
not much to say that deviates from the reviews above - the consistent
output, anti-oxidising packaging and great balanced tone is all there.
Add to this a choice of light through to extra hard tensions, and many
classical players are more than happy to settle on Pro Artes for the
forseeable future, using the money they save for a rainy day (...or new