Most helpful positive review
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Excellent balance and clarity
on 10 August 2010
For conventional, non-coated strings, .012 Phosphor-Bronze D'Addarios have been my favourite for more than twenty years. You can also get them in 80-20 'bell tone', which is slightly brighter, but my experience was that these broke more quickly. In deciding which strings worked for me, I went through Martin, Ovation, Gibson, Fender, Guild and Earthwood (Ernie Ball). Aside from the question of tone, I found that the plain steel strings retained their tuning better than Gibsons, which have a tendency to go out of tune at the 12th fret, and that the wound strings last better than Earthwoods, which tended to get worn down by the frets more quickly. Martin, Ovation and Guild were all makes I continued to buy when I couldn't get D'Addarios, or couldn't afford them -- for many years they were the most expensive strings, although the price has dipped since the introduction of coated strings.
In addition to other advantages, D'Addarios are colour coded, which is not especially important when you first fit them, as you can easily gauge how heavy they are by squeezing them gently. When a string breaks, though, it makes it very easy to find the right string from the old strings you keep in your case (if you are wise -- old strings need no additional stretching and so can go straight back on the guitar and be played during the gig).
You should take all this with a huge pinch of salt, though -- the right string for you is the string that sounds right on your guitar with your style of playing. This was the main reason I went through all those makes of strings -- you need to keep trying them out until you find the ones which are just right.
If your main or sole concern is tone, then conventional strings of this kind are probably your best bet. If longevity, cost and consistency are important, you should also consider coated strings. D'Addario make EXP Coated Strings, but my personal preference goes to Elixirs, which I find (for me, on my guitar) give a better tone. Coated strings last about 3-4 times as long with good, live tone, although the tone is slightly duller (may be an advantage on some instruments) than conventional strings at their best.
Anyway -- five stars from me for these. They've kept me gigging for 20 years.