Finding the best acoustic guitar strings for a warm sound is not a lifetime pursuit. When you find the right strings, it makes life a whole lot easier.
Purchasing the right acoustic guitar strings is critical for identifying the sound you are looking for. I can honestly say, I wish I would have found this post I am writing 20 years ago when I started playing acoustic. What I have come to realize is the sound I am looking for has more or less to do with the brand and more of the actual composition of the guitar.
Sure, big brands bring the trustworthiness I need to pull the trigger on nice sounding guitars, but I have always wanted to understand exactly what my ear is hearing and the science behind it.
Like you reading this today, I have always been drawn to the warmer sound of the acoustic. In the beginning, I kinda thought all guitars sounded warm, so I really didn’t hear or understand the difference. After twenty years of playing, your ear really starts to develop and you start to understand and pick up on some key elements that contribute to a good warm sound.
What I love about acoustic guitars is that the sound is not engineered by effects or any other tone manipulations. Now, I am not saying that I do not enjoy a good guitar pedal, because I really do. But any recording expert would tell you, the best type of sound is a “real” one.
The warm acoustic sound is something that cannot be manufactured (although many pedals get close). It is something that is a direct result of the guitar’s make up and string selection.
The last thing to consider for a warmer sounding guitar string is the gauge. Although some will tell you that it really doesn’t matter, let your ear do the talking. It is very clear to me that when I use higher gauged guitar strings, the sound changes. The actual gauge of the string refers to the thickness of the string. Strings that have a higher gauge are able to absorb the guitar’s vibrations at a higher level, which produces a higher frequency. On the opposite side, strings that have a lower thickness cannot absorb the guitar’s vibrations and produce a lower amount of resonance between notes.
Things To Look For In An Acoustic Guitar String For A Warm Sound
There are certain things in an acoustic guitar that makes it sound warmer. For example, guitars that are made out of mahogany have a much fuller and warmer sound than ones made out of maple. This is simply because of the actual makeup of the wood. The same principle applies to the makeup of strings.
If you are looking for a warm sounding string, the number one thing to look for is the actual type of string it is and which family it comes from. In principle, strings that are bronze plated are going to sound much brighter than strings that are brass plated naturally.
Within the brass vs bronze spectacle, there is another option to consider - phosphor or 80/20. 80/20 will have a much brighter response than strings that are phosphor. If you are looking for that warmer sound, go with the phosphor.
The coating of the string is also very important and something to consider. When looking for strings in the Elixer family, there are two main coating options for acoustic: Polyweb and Nanoweb.
Nanoweb string coatings have more of a smooth feeling and have a brighter sound. Polyweb sting coatings feel slick and fast and have a warmer sound. When looking for a good acoustic guitar string that has a warm feeling and sound, think Polyweb.