With so many different string brands on the market today, it can be a bit confusing to decide which strings to go for. And even when you have decided on a brand, which series of strings do you pick?
Often times the names given to each series of strings aren’t all that helpful. Such is the case with D’Addario.
With names like XT, NYXL, and XL, how do you tell the difference? Is there any real difference?
That is the topic of today’s article. I want to go over these three sets to find out how they differ from each other and what makes them unique.
The three series actually don’t differ too much in terms of their construction. There are a few minor differences in terms of winding.
The XL series features a carbon steel hexagonal core with a nickel-plated steel winding.
The NYXL series has the same high-strength hexagonal core as the XL series. The main difference between the two is the more advanced nickel winding used over the core.
The XT series has the same core and winding as the XL series. The only difference is that it also has a thin water-resistant coating covering the strings.
Strength and Lifespan
Because all three series use the same hexagonal core, their strength and tension are very similar. All of these strings are more than capable of taking a real beating,
Even with heavy strumming, picking, or bending, none of these strings ever feeling like they are about to break. They also stay in tune no matter what. Even heavy whammy bar movements aren’t enough to make any of these strings go out of tune.
Lifespan is where the biggest difference comes in between these series. While all three can last for long stretches of time, they aren’t all made equal.
The XL series has the shortest lifespan of the three. Depending on how often you play, XL strings can still easily last up to a month before becoming too worn out.
The NYXL series has a much longer lifespan than the XL series. This is thanks to the better nickel winding on the strings.
This winding gives it extra strength that makes it more resistant to wear and tear. A set of NYXL strings will easily last twice as long as XLs. Depending on how often you play, they can even last three times as long.
But the longest lifespan certainly goes to the XT series. Even though they have the same winding as the XL series, their coating gives them a major advantage over both the XLs and NYXLs.
This coating makes them much more resistant to corrosion. The oil and sweat produced by your hands are the biggest factor when it comes to your strings’ lifespan. But having a coating on your strings, even a very thin one, can significantly improve how long they last.
The XTs can last up to four times as long as the XLs, and twice as long as the NYXLs.
This is another aspect where the XL and NYXL strings are fairly similar, but the XTs are very different. The main reason for this is the fact that the XLs and NYXLs are uncoated, while the XTs are coated.
Uncoated strings will have a rougher, more natural feel. Coated, on the other hand, are much smoother and therefore, more unnatural feeling.
Luckily, even though the XTs are smoother than the other two series, D’Addario has kept the coating as thin as possible. This makes them feel not too smooth, while also keeping them feeling as natural as possible.
Sound is where these strings differ the most. Each has its own unique tone, determined by the way they are made and whether they are coated or uncoated.
D’Addario strings are generally quite bright. The XLs are no exception.
They have a very nice top-end, with a punchy, tight attack. They are also able to mellow out quite a bit on a clean tone, providing a beautiful, warm sound when played more delicately.
The NYXL strings can be considered the upgraded version of the XLs. They have a similar tone but are just amplified.
They are brighter, with a much more aggressive midrange. They aren’t as warm as the XLs but have a lot more volume and weight.
NYXL strings also have more sustain than the XLs. And while they do have a great clean tone, they are much better suited for high amounts of gain and distortion.
The XT strings are a bit of a mix between the XL and NYXL strings. They are a bit brighter than the NYXL strings, but also have a similar warmth to the XLs.
The overall tone is a bit more rounded than the NYXL strings. They aren’t as punchy, but that is likely due to the coating that does still dull the sound a little bit. They do also have a bit more volume than the NYXLs.
As you might expect, the construction and materials of strings have an effect on the price. D’Addario strings are no different and each of these string series does differ in price with the exception of the NYXL and XT strings.
The XL strings are the cheapest, at around $6 per pack. The biggest factor in the price is likely the less advanced winding compared to the NYXLs.
Surprisingly, the NYXL and XT strings are actually priced similarly. Both cost around $13 per pack. My best guess is that, even though the XTs are wound the same as the XLs, their coating is what pushes the price up to the same range as the NYXLs.
If you’re interested in purchasing a single set and still get free shipping, you can order from Sweetwater. What’s more is that they add free candies to every order. Here are the Sweetwater product links for:
Even though strings are made by the same company, they can differ quite a lot from series to series. If you have ever looked at these three D’Addario series and wondered what the difference is, I hope this article has cleared up some of that confusion and helps you decide the next time you are picking out strings.