D’Addario vs Elixir: Which Guitar Strings are Better? (2023 Edition)

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If you’re curious about D’Addario vs Elixir guitar strings, you’ve come to the right post!

Choosing the Right String Brand Isn’t That Simple

No matter the issue, it seems that guitar players have different opinions on everything. This also includes guitar strings and different string brands.

Before we get into the details of this post, bear in mind that guitar strings are a matter of preference. Thus, what one guitar player prefers may not be the preference of another.

Additionally, there’s such a variety on the market. The abundance is both a blessing and a curse. You have so many brands to choose from, but the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming.

The best way to find what’s best for you is to read articles (like this one!), try different strings, and see what you like best!

D’Addario vs Elixir: Which Is Better?

It’s not uncommon to stumble upon guitar players trying to decide between D’Addario and Elixir strings. Both are big names on the market. Let’s explore these two brands and see how they compare.


D’Addario is easily one of the biggest, if not the biggest, string brands on the market. Not only do they have a variety of strings, but are also manufacturing various guitar accessories.

Electric Guitar Strings

As for electric guitar strings, there are seven different sets. These are:

  • XL Chromes
  • XL Pure Nickel
  • XT Nickel
  • XL Half Rounds
  • XL Nickel
  • NYXL
  • XL Prosteels

XL Nickel are easily the most widespread ones. NYXL are getting more popular these days as well. XL Nickel sets are somewhat neutral but gravitate towards a brighter tone. There’s also a great choice of different gauges, even hybrid ones with heavy bottoms and light tops.

With this wider variety of choices, there’s certainly something for most people’s taste. My personal favorites are the XT Nickel strings. They bring a more or less neutral tone and have a protective coating. This prolongs their life and keeps the tone fresh.

What’s more, they have a specially designed carbon steel core. They’re not exactly break-proof (no string set is) but it makes them really durable.

Looking at their line of acoustic guitar steel strings, D’Addario also has a wide choice. There’s a total of nine different sets. Here they are from the mellowest to the brightest one:

  • Silk & Steel
  • Gypsy Jazz
  • Flat Tops Phosphor Bronze
  • XT Phosphor Bronze
  • XS Phosphor Bronze
  • Phosphor Bronze
  • Nickel Bronze
  • XT 80/20 Bronze
  • 80/20 Bronze

Once again, I need to give some credit to the XT acoustic set, the XT Phosphor Bronze. They’re durable, have a balanced tone, and keep it fresh even after months of heavy use.

All of them are pretty good from my experience. I also like the Silk & Steel set which brings some warmth of nylon strings. The Flat Tops set is also interesting as the wound strings are slightly flattened. This brings a smoother tone, less finger-related noise, more comfort, and prolonged life.

 D’Addario Nylon Strings

Nylon classical guitar strings are D’Addario’s specialty. Although I hardly ever play nylon strings, I’ve tried some of their sets. They even have strings with XT coating that extends their life.

Honestly, any of their nylon strings are worth it. You can’t go wrong with them. You’ll just have to figure what kind of tone you’re aiming for.


While they’re certainly not as big of a brand, Elixir is one of the best brands on the market. Sure, they don’t exactly have as many choices as D’Addario. And they do not offer nylon strings.

But, on the other hand, they specialize in steel strings with protective coatings. In fact, they have three of their special coatings called Nanoweb, Optiweb, and Polyweb. Essentially, they all do the same thing, prolonging the life and fresh tone of the strings.

Elixir’s electric guitar string line consists of three sets. All three of them are nickel-plated steel. The only difference is the protective coating. Polyweb is slightly warmer in tone. Nanoweb brings a smoother feel to the strings while the tone is brighter. Optiweb is somewhere in between.

Nonetheless, all three are pretty close. Generally speaking, Elixir strings have a brighter tone. And it persists throughout the string’s life.

The acoustic line also has three sets. One is phosphor-bronze with Nanoweb coating, giving a warmer tone. There’s also 80/20 bronze with the Nanoweb coating and these sets come with a bright tone. Finally, we have 80/20 bronze with Polyweb coating that’s more neutral.

Despite different materials, practical differences between different Elixir sets are nuanced. The company focuses on a slightly brighter tone and string longevity. They’re also fairly durable, very similar to D’Addario’s XT string sets.

How Do They Compare?

Coated Acoustic Guitar Strings: D'Addario XS vs. Elixir Nanoweb
Check out this video for a side-by-side comparison of two similar

As I mentioned previously, there is typically no clear better or worse when comparing guitar strings, especially two very popular brands like D’Addario vs Elixir. Both are awesome. There are, however, some things that you should bear in mind.

A huge advantage of D’Addario is that they have such a wide variety of choices. Additionally, they’re so widespread that you can find them everywhere. The smallest guitar store will likely have a basic D’Addario acoustic or electric string set. And even the cheaper ones, like the XT Nickel, will serve you well. If you don’t know which strings to get, they’re a safe bet. Just like Ernie Ball’s Slinkys.

On the other hand, I prefer Elixir. Sure, I might be biased here. But they are very reliable. And their tone always gravitates towards the brighter side.

In short, D’Addario offers a variety of choices. There’s something for everyone’s taste. Meanwhile, Elixir has a specific tone to them that most describe as bright and clean.

But everything coming out of Elixir’s factories seems to last very long and has a bright sound. Elixir is my personal choice. However, they’re very specific strings designed for those who prefer such tone and feel.  

D’Addario vs Elixir: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you think through which string brand might be better for you!

But know that the best way is to try each string brand for yourself!

Lastly, feel free to message me in the comments below if you have further questions about this or another guitar-related topic!

And if you want to read more about guitar strings on this blog, check out:

5 Responses

  1. ROBINchristian says:

    bonsoir peux tu me guider je recherche un ton chaud et equilibre pour ma takamine gj 72 .Elle m a ete offerte montée en exp 16 12.53 elixir nano est encore brillant j avais essaye des martin nickel retro sur ma tanglewood pas mal du tout. mais je prefere l equilibre de taka manque un peu plus de chaleur . pour piking arpege beaucoup de maxime le forestier cabrel certaines golman : que penses tu des xt ou xs daddario en remplacement des exp : merci à toi tes videos tres bien merci de tes conseils christian

  2. The review between the Elixir and the XS D’Addario was fun to watch. My vote with my 62 year old ears goes to the XS D’Addario strings. Simply because the Elixir to me sounded a bit too bright or tinny to me on the upper end strings. The XS D’Addario had a much more fuller rich tone to them. So there you have it. I bought the Elixir set yesterday and put them on my Ovation Legend Plus guitar and I’m not liking them so much. So now I’m going to buy the XS D’Addario set and I’m betting on my guitar sounding better with the D’Addario strings.

    1. Hi Jeffrey,

      Thanks for writing in! Elixirs definitely sound bright, and I think XS D’addario probably outperforms Elixirs on the highest notes. But something about Elixirs in general sounds a little better to me. Ultimately, it’s just about what sound you want and what you’re preferences are.

  3. Tidus Chapman says:

    For a long time I always used the D’addario EXPs on my acoustics before I heard about Elixir. Until they stopped selling them. I was not into the bright snappy tone that Elixir Nanowebs have provided but for quite awhile now I have been using the Polywebs on my Taylor 114e as it is a bright sounding guitar. But now I see that the XTs from D’addario replaced the EXP so for the first time I will be trying the XTs on my Taylor. I love D’addarios but they don’t last long as the elixirs but I will say I love the tone better from D’addario. Wouldn’t mind wiping the strings with a string conditioner once every two weeks or so. But will see what happens!

    1. Hey Tidus,

      Thanks for sharing your experience! The long life of Elixirs is just hard to beat. But I like the sound of some D’addarios even though they seem to wear out quickly!

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