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Cleartone Vs Elixir: Which Guitar String Brand Is Better? [2021 Edition]

If you’re curious about Cleartone vs Elixir guitar strings and which string brand is better for you, you’ve come to the right post!

I’ve been playing the guitar since 2003.

And although I’m not exactly an expert, I thought I’d share my opinion on these string brands here on the blog.

Let’s get to it!

Steel Strings

Steel strings aren’t as simple as they seem. They consist of a steel core and a wrapped wire. The core is usually hex-shaped, but there are also round-shaped ones.

The wire winding gets a bit complex. There are different materials for this purpose. The wrapping wire is usually round-shaped, but there are also so-called flatwound strings.

As far as wire materials go, different materials are used for acoustic and electric guitar strings. For acoustic strings, the most common materials consist of:

  • 80/20 bronze
  • Phosphor bronze

As far as electric guitar strings go, these are the usual wire materials:

  • Pure nickel
  • Nickel-plated steel
  • Stainless steel

Materials will affect sound and performance. Additionally, steel strings can come with protective coatings. These are polymer coatings that protect strings from outside factors and rust. Their life is usually much longer.

Cleartone Vs Elixir: Which Guitar String Brand Is Better?

Among all of the string brands, I wanted to compare Cleartone and Elixir. They’re not as big as, say, D’Addario or Ernie Ball. However, Cleartone and Elixir are both a bit more high-end compared to famous brands.

But which of these two is better? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Cleartone

Cleartone has four groups of products. They focus on acoustic, electric, and bass strings as well as nylon strings for classical guitars. In this article, I won’t be discussing their nylon strings since Elixir has none and we can’t compare them.

As far as acoustic steel strings go, they have three sets. They have phosphor bronze, 80/20, and so-called EQs. The EQs are a hybrid set in terms of winding material where:

  • the bottom string is copper,
  • 4th and 5th strings are phosphor bronze,
  • and the 3rd is 80/20.

This is a pretty interesting approach and the only set I know of that has mixed and matched string materials. Here’s how they sound in action:

For electric guitars, they have nickel-plated and the so-called Heavy series. These are essentially hybrid gauge strings with heavy bottoms and regular high-end strings. But other than that, they all have nickel-plated wounds.

Here’s a deeper look into their electric guitar strings:

As far as bass strings go, there’s one series with regular gauges. These are also nickel-plated.

As you can see, Cleartone electric and bass strings are exclusively nickel-plated. This also gives them a generally brighter tone. However, some may feel a bit limited having just one material variant.

Patented Cleartone Treatment

What’s typical of all Cleartone strings is their patented treatment. A lot of strings have a protective coating, making them last longer. However, some complain that coatings feel a bit too smooth or slippery.

Instead, Cleartone has this protective chemical layer. The idea was to have a longer string life without adding coatings. According to the company, this brings more sustain as there’s nothing to dull out the tone.

There’s definitely a difference in feel compared to regular coatings. They’re great if you prefer regular strings. However, some claim to not have noticed a substantial improvement in sustain despite chemical treatment. 

Elixir

Elixir has become increasingly popular in the last several years. They’re one of the most famous string brands that come with a protective coating.

They also have acoustic, electric, and bass strings as well as mandolin and banjo strings.

They have three acoustic sets:

  • Phosphor bronze with Nanoweb
  • 80/20 with Nanoweb
  • 80/20 with Polyweb

Elixir’s electric string line also has three sets. All three are nickel-plated variants but differ in the coating type.

As with bass, there are also three different sets. Each has the same Nanoweb coating, but they differ in materials – nickel-plated, stainless steel, and 80/20 bronze. In short, there is great diversity in their string options.

Elixir Coating Types

Elixir strings have three coating types:

  • Nanoweb
  • Polyweb
  • Optiweb

There’s not much info on the exact materials. However, they’re supposed to affect the tone of your strings in different ways.

According to Elixir’s official site, Polyweb is slightly warmer. Nanoweb keeps the brightness of the strings and has a really smooth feel under your fingertips.

Optiweb feels the closest to uncoated strings. Its tone is also more neutral, somewhere in between these two options.

Here’s a head-to-head comparison of Nanoweb vs Polyweb:

Cleartone Vs Elixir: How Do They Compare?

With all this said, it’s honestly really hard to choose between these two brands. Both can remain sounding fresh for longer periods. They all are resistant to outside factors and have noticeably better tuning stability.

From my experience, I really like how Elixir strings feel and sound. They can sound great for years!

And I have personally tested this using Elixirs on my main guitar and my guitar hybrids!

On the other hand, Cleartone is a very popular brand too.

And one advantage that Cleartones have is that they are treated and not coated strings. A lot of players feel like coatings make things more slippery.

If you like the classic grip of conventional strings, I recommend treated Cleartone strings.

Bassists may like Elixir more for their diversity. After all, there are three material choices here compared to Cleartone’s one.

But generally speaking, many have praised the sound of Elixir strings. If you’re fond of a bright guitar tone, you might like them more.

This has been my personal experience as well. I prefer their bright yet balanced tone. And although they claim these coating types affect the tone, I haven’t noticed much difference in most cases.

And in fact, their smoothness seems to reduce string squeak as you move up and down the fretboard.

But, as I mentioned already, both string brands are a bit expensive. They’re about two to three times more than average sets.

This is certainly a downside to many. However, I think these strings, particularly Elixirs, last at least three times as long as an average string set. So investing in Elixirs is a no-brainer to me.

Other than that, both these brands have similar prices and they both work well.

Are Protected Strings Really Better?

Bear in mind that although these are both higher-end string brands, no strings last forever.

That said, I’d choose Elixirs over standard strings any day because their durability more than offsets their price.

But even if it didn’t, I’d happily pay extra for the sound I get from Elixirs.

I’ve played lower-quality instruments with Elixirs that sound better to me than higher-quality instruments with non-coated strings.

But ultimately, it boils down to preference.

My brother doesn’t like any coating on strings because to him it sounds unnatural.

So try both and see which you prefer!

Cleartone Vs Elixir: Conclusion

In the Cleartone vs Elixir debate, it’s not exactly a secret that I prefer Elixirs because coating doesn’t bother me.

In fact, I prefer it.

However, each string brand has its strengths and weaknesses.

So make sure you try both to see which you prefer!

And if you have further questions about this or another guitar topic, be sure to leave a comment below!

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