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D'Addario EXL140 Nickel Wound 10-52 Light Electric Guitar Strings
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- Hybrid gauge combines EXL110 for flexibility with heavier 4th, 5th and 6th strings for a more solid low end
- Round wound with nickel-plated steel for distinctive bright tone
- Corrosion resistant packaging for strings that are always fresh
- String gauges: Plain steel .010, .013 .017, nickel wound .030, .042, .052
- Made in the U.S.A. for the highest quality and performance
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Bottom, 10-52 your strings matter.D'addario's xl nickel wound electric guitar strings are engineered to serve as the critical link between you and your guitar. Xl's are precision wound with highly magnetic nickel-plated steel to exacting specifications, resulting in strings with long lasting, distinctive bright toneand excellent intonation. Ideal for the widest variety of guitars and musical styles, XL's are the choice of countless professionals around the world.Round woundthe most popular and universal construction, round wound strings deliver the traditional textured feel most players are familiar and comfortable with.Nickel-plated steelrenowned for their distinctive, bright tone, xl nickel-plated steel is the industry standard for many genres and playing styles. Hex core D'addario nickel wound strings are wound with nickelplated steel onto a carefully drawn, hexagonally shaped, high carbon steel core. A high carbon steel alloy that is six-sided in cross section. When usedas the core or center of a musical string, the 6 edge points firmly grip every turn of the wrapwire, ensuring a tight wrap and longer-lasting string.View largerthe D'addario differenceit all starts with our exclusively engineered and built string winding machines. There is literally nothing like a D'addario string machine. The combination of the most advanced computer-controlled winding technology and stringent incoming wire inspection delivers unmatched consistency, string after string, set after set. Every D'addario string is made in the usa, ensuring the highest quality and performance.String alloys have a dramatic impact on your tone, feel and string life.
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That said, I personally own four electric guitars, and the studio I work at has about a dozen more. Over the past 15+ years as a musician, sound engineer, and stage hand, I have almost certainly played or recorded well over a hundred. So while I cannot personally swear to have done a scientific head-to-head double-blind test between every brand of strings, I can say a few things pretty categorically. And I have tried a ton of different makes of string, from Ernie Ball to GHS to La Bella to mail-order to store-brand, etc etc. (For bass, I prefer other brands than D'Addario, but that's a seperate review).
Sound-wise and playability-wise, these D'Addario Nickel Wounds are great. They have a high-quality, "as-expected" sound for a new guitar string, straight down the middle of how a roundwound nickel string should sound.
Longevity is a more-complicated story, and widely misunderstood. First off, here are the things that compromise metal guitar strings, in approximate order or importance:
1. Metal fatigue. Over time, bending and vibrating a piece of metal causes it to become more brittle and to develop microscopic cracks. Tension, stretching, and deformation exacerbate this condition, which is why even coated strings that are never played become dull and dead-sounding after a couple months of sitting on a guitar, compared to an identical set sitting in its package. This wears out strings faster if you play them, but also even if you just leave them sitting on your guitar. In my experience, D'Addario strings are among the best, if not the best, in terms of mainstream commercial guitar strings when it comes to staying supple, soft, and flexible.
2. Surface oxidization/corrosion. This is where coatings can help. Exposure to air, moisture, skin oils, perspiration, etc has a corroding effect on metal strings. Those black, coppery-smelling stripes that you get on your fretting hand are the product of some kind of chemical breakdown in the alloy your strings are made from, releasing certain minerals from the metal onto your fingers. These effects are often over-stated in the marketing materials of coated-strings: they are real, but they are not usually anywhere close to the first thing that kills a set of strings. The conspicuousness of the symptom (black, dull-looking old strings) is often confused with the effects of metal fatigue, and people sometimes think that if they can keep their strings shiny, they will sound and play like new. Not so. Coatings only help the specific problem of surface corrosion, which can be a real one, but is a minor one for most players who keep their guitars in conditioned spaces and who play with clean hands. After a couple weeks of being installed at tension, even coated strings start to succumb to metal fatigue, and need to be changed even if they have never been played or taken out of the case.
3. Physical deformation is the final and most unavoidable symptom. Unless your frets are made of softer metal than your strings (and we should hope that they are not), then playing your guitar inevitably creates "flat spots" on the strings, where they contact the frets. Probably similar at the bridge and nut. These become physical deformities in the string's resonant characteristics, as well as exacerbating metal fatigue and compromising surface integrity at those points, affecting both of the above.
Taking all of the above into consideration, and assuming that you want soft, supple nickel strings that won't chew up your frets, I think these are your best overall choice. My one exception might be if you have serious problems related to surface corrosion, due to bodily PH imbalances or outdoor gigs, etc, in which case you might benefit from coated strings. But for most players, the strings are going to wear out from metal fatigue long before corrosion has a real effect on the sound or playability.
Back in the 50s and early 60s, guitar strings didn't come in the lighter gauges that we have them today. 0.12 and 0.13 sets were commonplace. Electric guitar strings were more or less lighter-gauged acoustic guitar strings. This is how the Beatles were able to get those thick clean tones, and how Stevie Ray Vaughan (who also used 13s on his Strat) came to create his legendary tone as well. "Heavier is better" is just a myth though. Dozens of guitar heroes use standard gauge strings, sometimes as light as 0.8. It really just depends on your playing style and the amount of physical response you want from your strings. In this case "heavier is better..." IF you have a strong picking technique and hard attack.
These days I have been playing a lot of heavy metal and I needed strings that wouldn't flap around when playing those tight galloping rhythms and alternate picking runs. I decided to try out this "Baritone" guitar set on my Les Paul, and I've been really impressed with the thickness of the tone. You don't necessarily need a Strat-scaled guitar or anything longer to rock these strings, so long as you adjust your bridge accordingly.
Another benefit of using .13s is that the G-string is WOUND, which means more tension and less tuner slippage while playing. Every guitarist knows what I'm talking about when I say how frustrating it is when the G-string slides out of tune more so than any other string. On this set, the G-string is a wound 0.26, so literally twice the thickness of the high e-string. While this doesn't make it totally immune to tuning slippage, it'll get you really close.
The last benefit of using .13s is that it is like resistance weight training in every respect. After playing a couple months on .13s, if you go back to .9s or .10s you'll feel like you can fly across the fretboard with ease.
In comparison to boutique options like coated strings I think overall DR still wins in my book, but a quick spray of Fingerease on these does ALMOST just as well as long as you're willing to keep it up regularly. And they stay in tune, properly intoned, and bright sounding for MUCH longer than Elixir strings at half the price. I'm also a fan of the flat- and semi-flatwound strings that D'Addario makes for excessively bright guitars.