Elixir vs D’Addario Strings – Which One to Go For?

Author: Ross McLeod | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

Choosing the best strings is a dilemma that all guitarists and bassists are presented with. Elixir and D’Addario are two of the finest string manufacturers, but which one is the best option?

When deciding between the two, you must consider the various factors. Tone, feel and durability are three of the qualities that guitarists and bassists require from their strings.

In this compressive guide, I’ll compare Elixir and D’Addario strings so that you can make an informed decision on which to use.

Elixir Strings

Recommended Elixir Strings


Elixir produces unique and innovative strings for guitar and bass. They originated out of experiments made by the technicians of their parent company, W.L Gore & Associates, who produce futuristic, synthetic materials.

After a long period of experimentation, the engineers came up with the design that would become known as the Polyweb strings. These strings are Elixir’s flagship offerings, which use advanced manufacturing techniques.

Elixir’s strings are encased in a polymer sheath, which prevents corrosion from occurring and protects the spaces between the string windings. Coated strings are quite common, but Elixir’s are particularly unique.

The innovative design even prevents the polymer from invading the space between the windings. Not only does this improve the longevity of the strings, but it also protects their tone, allowing them to vibrate freely and thus produce a richer sound.

D’Addario Strings

From their humble beginnings as a family business in a small Italian town, D’Addario has evolved into one of the top producers of guitar and bass strings. In the process, they have retained their family-run ethos.

Beginning in the late 1600s, the D’Addario family began producing instrument strings and selling them to local musicians. Fast forward to the 1970s, and they had established themselves as a popular choice amongst rock musicians.

In the modern era, D’Addario produces a vast range of strings for acoustic and electric instruments. They are renowned for their distinctive tone, and their durability.

Although they were originally popular mainly amongst rock guitarists, they have expanded into many other styles and genres over the decades.

Comparing Elixir Strings to D’Addario

As I previously mentioned, three main qualities determine how well a string performs. These are:

  • Durability
  • Tone
  • Feel

To decide which string to go for, we need to rate both Elixir and D’Addario on each of these categories. Both manufacturers have strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed if you are to make an informed choice.

Durability & Longevity

Using the popular Nanoweb strings by Elixir and the XL strings by D’Addario as examples, both offer impressive durability. However, in this case, Elixir’s offering comes out on top. 

Due to their unique composition process, Elixir’s strings seem to be almost indestructible. Of course, the thinner-gauged strings are less durable than the thicker ones, but overall, Elixirs are extremely robust.

Some guitarists like to change their strings frequently, while others prefer to get their money’s worth. If you fall into the latter category, then you’ll be highly impressed by the longevity of Elixir’s strings.

Tone

The tone is ultimately a subjective matter, with some individuals preferring certain sounds over others. However, some key distinctions can be made between Elixir and D’Addario strings.

D’Addario strings are renowned for their warm tone. Their composition involves a complex, round-wound process that ensures that the fullness of every note is apparent.

Elixir strings have a fast attack, but their sustain is less prominent than D’Addario’s. This is great for energetic styles of guitar or bass, but less desirable for producing powerful rock tones.

D’Addario strings tend to lose their “new string” tone after a few hours of playing. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – many guitarists prefer their strings to sound slightly worn as this emphasizes their character.

Due to the synthetic materials used to construct Elixir strings, they tend to retain their “new string” sound for longer. Again, it comes down to personal preference, but if you enjoy the bright sound of new strings, Elixir is the better choice.

Feel

Both D’Addario and Elixir offer a brilliant feel. Indeed, this depends on the gauge and individual string type you choose from both manufacturers’ extensive ranges. The round-wound design of D’Addario’s strings feels very smooth under the fingers.

The special coating that is used by Elixir is designed to allow the fingers to run effortlessly across their strings. It’s hard to deny that their strings are incredibly playable and comfortable.

Overall, the feel of both strings is great, and this category is a difficult one to choose a clear winner.

Summary

If you prefer a deep, warm tone, then D’Addario’s XL strings are a brilliant option. On the other hand, Elixir produces strings that are smooth and responsive, and have a sharp attack. Now you can make your decision based on the qualities of both manufacturers!

About Ross McLeod

Ross is a music producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. He is the frontman of The Blue Dawns, where he handles vocal and bass duties. He has extensive experience with bass, drums and guitar. His most recent project is named Gold Jacket.

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