Pros: These strings sound great.
Cons: No major ones.
ELIXIR CUSTOM LIGHT NANOWEB ELECTRIC GUITAR STRINGS
I have heard so many different guitarists speaking about Elixir guitar strings and stating that Elixir strings were superior to many other brands that I just had to find out for myself. With this in mind, I purchased several sets of Elixir strings with different gauges for several of my electric guitars, acoustic guitars, and bass guitars. I decided that if I was going to be serious about making a comparison between Elixir strings and the brand that I have been currently using, and have been satisfied with, that I better do it correctly, and be sure that I was making the right decision. Thus I felt that if I were going to give Elixir strings a fair trial, that I needed to try them on several different instruments. I prefer to use different gauge strings on different guitars for different playing situations, and thus this was a big undertaking, and my experiment has lasted several months so far. Although I compared a number of gauges and packs of Elixir strings, I shall in this review be limiting my discussion to the Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings. Read on and see if these strings sound like they might be something that you might like to consider trying out for yourself the next time that you are visiting your local musical instrument store.
Whenever I make a decision to purchase anything, I always consider the price, as just like most of you who are reading this review, I do not have unlimited financial resources. Being a family man with many expenses, I must weigh the relative cost advantages of my purchases. Thus, the first potential problem that I encounter with regard to purchasing the Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings was their price tag. These strings have a list price of $19.50. That is the price that one would pay at their local neighborhood mom and pop music store. The Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings can however be found selling for $10.99 at a discount from some of the national musical instrument chain stores or better Internet dealers. I have seen these strings selling for $8.99 on some Internet sites, but the shipping and handling fees were $4.95, and thus that was no bargain to say the least. However you slice it, this is still a lot of money to shell out for a set of electric guitar strings. On the other hand, Elixir strings are advertized as being able to last from 3 to 5 times as long as conventional strings before they start to sound like they need to be changed, and if one takes this into consideration, then the price is not only comparable, it might actually make using Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings a cheaper or less expensive way to go than using conventional guitar strings. I needed to find out for myself.
O.K., so what is so special about Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings as compared to conventional guitar strings? There are a couple of things. For one, the lower pitched strings or wound strings have a very thin plastic coating on them, which Elixir refers to as a "Nanoweb Coating." Please keep in mind that there is no nano technology here. The term "nanoweb" may sound like it employs some form of nano technology, but that is not the case. The only similarity lies in the sound of the name, and that is all. I should also point out in the sake of fairness that there are now other competitive brands of guitar and bass strings on the market today that employ a similar, but not exactly the same, form of technology. I intend to give them a trial at some point, but I have not done so yet, and as such I can not comment on how they compare to the Elixir brand of strings. I like to have first hand experience before I give an opinion on something. At this point I am going to only focus on the Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings in this review. It would probably be prudent at this point to give a bit of background on Elixir strings in general, and more specifically about the Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings in particular. As anyone who has been playing the electric guitar clearly knows, oils, dirt, debris, and even very small pieces of skin from a guitarist's fingers get caught in between and among the windings and coils of round wound strings. It is this slow and insidious buildup of debris which causes the lower round wound strings on a guitar to go dead and lose their crispness. As I mentioned earlier, the Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings have their round wound strings covered with an ultra-thin polymer which contacts the strings on the tops of the windings only. This coating, which Elixir calls a "Nanoweb" coating prevents the buildup of the debris which I mentioned earlier. This keeps the wound strings on a guitar sounding like new for a prolonged period of time. But what about the higher pitched unwound strings you may ask? The unwound strings are covered with an anti-rust electroplated coating which prevents them from succumbing to the disintegrating effects of moisture and sweat from a player's hands. This electroplated anti-rust coating process is also supposed to extend the life of the higher, unwound strings on a guitar.
The gauges of the six strings that make up the Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings are as follows from High E to Low E respectively:
I tried the Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings on my newest Fender American Standard Stratocaster, and put a new set of my old favorite brand of strings on my older Fender American Standard Stratocaster. I played each of these guitars for approximately the same number of hours over several months. I wiped down the neck on both guitars after playing, as I usually do, and treated both sets of strings with proper respect.
The verdict is the following. I found the Elixir strings to be true to their claim. After three months of playing, the Elixir Strings that were on my newer Fender Stratocaster seemed to be just about as crisp, bright, and lively sounding and feeling as they were after about a week of playing. I must point out that I am blessed with hands and fingers that do not sweat very much at all, and thus this is clearly a part of the equation that must be factored in as well, as a person who has sweaty hands and fingers is going to get different results. Regarding my older favorite brand of untreated strings on my other Stratocaster, I must confess that they did not fare as well, and if I were not conducting this experiment, I would have probably changed them after a month, as much of the bright crisp sound that I associate with my Fender Stratocaster was not there.
However, there is more to a set of strings than their ability to hold up over time and to have a new sound to them. No thorough discussion of a set of strings would be complete without a discussion of how they feel and play, and not just how they sound. My impression of the Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings is that they were great to play on with regard to playing quick runs, sliding along the stings, and doing tricks like finger taping and the like. However, I personally noticed a definite difference when it came to bending on the top three strings, namely the high E, B, and G. To me, and for my particular style of playing, the high E seemed almost like it was a .010 than a .009, well maybe not that much, but it seemed to fight me a bit more than my old brand of untreated strings. I asked two of my sons to give me their impression of this. My oldest son claimed to feel no difference, and my youngest son said that he could mostly agree with me, but that he was not 100% sure. I decided to call folks at Elixir and ask one of their technicians about this. The technician said that there was absolutely no truth to the statement that Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings were any harder to bend than any other brand.
I decided to test this situation a bit further. A cousin of mine who was visiting for the holidays became my unsuspecting participant in my experiment. I told him that one of my Stratocasters had .009's and another had .010's, and I asked him to tell me which guitar had which strings on them. The reality was that both Stratocasters had .009's, but one had Elixir's and the other had my old brand of strings. My cousin stated that he was sure that the Stratocaster that had the Elixir's was strung with .010's. That did it for me, as I was now certain that there was a difference in string elasticity or bendability, and that it was not just in my mind. I want to be clear that it was not a drastic difference, but the Elixir's seemed a bit harder to bend in this gauge than their untreated counterparts. I should also state for the record that the Elixir's seemed to become easier to bend after they had been on the guitar for a week and were broken in a bit, and that the difference in bendability became less over time. However I still noticed it.
Would I recommend Elixir Custom Light Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings? You bet I would. I liked them even though I still perceive that this particular gauge of Elixir Strings seems to be slightly harder to bend than conventional untreated strings. Have I given up on my old brand of strings? No, the experiment is still in progress with regard to my Gibson SG's and Les Paul's, which I am using a different gauge of strings on, as well as on my different Bass guitars. Please do not feel the urge to tell me I am crazy or that I am too obsessive over these details. I have a family who does that quite well.
Well I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will excuse me I must get back to my practicing.