Pulling your strings? - A review of Elixir strings


As you might have guessed just reading this site, I have quite a few guitars, so it takes a long time to get playing time on any single one of them enough to get the strings really dirty and dull-sounding.  Naturally, I do have certain favorites that I gravitate to, but I typically just change the strings on those more often than the others.  Since I go through a lot of strings, I bought a bunch of bulk packs of basic strings for cheap from juststrings.com and got a 3' length of 2" diameter PVC pipe and a couple of end caps from a hardware store in which to store them.

However, a while back I decided to try out a set of Elixir strings for my Gretsch 6120 because, well, it's worth the special treatment.  In all honesty, the bought them was because I wanted to support a local guitar shop, and Elixirs were something I was considering trying for a while.  Elixir strings cost a little more, but were reputed to hold their brightness longer because the polymer coating on them keeps the grime out.  They can apparently be cleaned repeatedly with normal solvent cleaners, etc., although I've done nothing but play them.  I am very impressed with the sound and durability considering how much I play my 6120 and how long they've been in use on that instrument.  If you just have a few guitars that receive the majority of your attention, I definitely recommend giving Elixirs a try.

Honestly, it takes a little bit to get used to the feel of the polymer coating.  At first it feels like your finger tips are sweating.  There's an unexpected slickness to them, although this is probably an advantage for players who  However, you get past this pretty quickly, and I don't even notice a difference between instruments with these string on them versus conventional strings.

As for the sound?  That was my main goal.  I put the Elixirs on the Gretsch because I really wanted strings that would hold their brightness.  Sure enough, they have so far, even more than a year later as of this point.  The only thing I've noticed that's odd about them is that the "skin" on them starts to look kind of frayed after a while where the pick strikes them.  Surprisingly, this hasn't had any appreciable effect on the tone.  I hope that continues for a long time.

I eventually bought another set for a second guitar.  I still have my original set on my Gretsch, and it still sounds great more than a year later.  I play one of my Strats a lot though, and the original set of strings were beginning to sound like by this point, so I decided to upgrade to the Elixirs on it.  Whereas the Gretsch was still fairly new by the time I changed the strings, I had been playing the Strat for years by that point, so I did notice a slight change in tone.  However, it was very minor, just a slight increase in brightness, but that is once again why I went with the Elixir strings on this guitar; most people like a bright tone on their Strat.

I also have several basses, so I would be interested in hearing how the bass Elixirs (both flat- and round-wound) hold up.  I have need for both, but I haven't purchased either yet.  If anyone has any experience with these, I would be happy to hear from you.



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