Are Everly Acoustic Guitar Strings Worth The Extra Couple Of Bucks?
I’m usually skeptical when it comes to claims of massively improved tone with one string brand over another. There are differences between brands but the composition of the strings and manufacturing techniques are similar and I don’t think the difference is as dramatic as the makers want us to believe. The biggest difference in string quality is how fresh and clean the strings are, not as much the brand. But brand does make a difference.
On my acoustic guitars I typically use Martin SP and D’Addarrio EJ10 which both sell for around $5.00 to $6.00 online and a bit more in stores. They’re vine strings and I’ve been using them for years. I also use extra light guage strings on all of my guitars and basses. If you use heavier gauge strings, you will get more volume and if you work the guitar hard, heavier gauge strings may be the right choice for you. That’s personal preference. But I think strings are so well engineered and designed that you don’t compromise on tone with lighter gauges. I also resist using high priced coated strings and boutique strings. I don’t think the added longevity of coated strings is worth the extra price and I don’t think boutique strings produce a better sound.
I put a set of D’Addario EJ10’s on my Babicz Spider Identity acoustic-electric, a set of Martin SP’s on my beautiful old Guild F-50, and a set of Everly Sessions (sell for around $6.50 – $7.50 online) on my Tribeca acoustic-electric. Then I got to work evaluating the results, taking into account the different guitars have different tone and volume qualities.
The Babicz Spider Identity is all solid mahogany, including the soundboard. (Babicz now uses Englemann Spruce soundboard which is a brighter sound but I wouldn’t trade mine for a new one). The Spider has a very rich, piano-like sound and the D’Addario strings support that very well. I live and work near the ocean and notice that the D’Addario strings tend to lose tone after a few weeks. But they do sound and play well.
The Guild F-50 has a beautiful, vibrant voice with a solid spruce top and gorgeious maple back and sides. The Martin Sp strings sing well on this guitar and when you strike a chord, you hear a chord, not a series of individual notes. The Martin strings are balanced and maintain their tone longer than the D’Addario’s did. I think these are excellent acoustic guitar strongs and if you haven’t tried a set, I recommend that you do.
My Tribeca is also a Jeff Babicz design. It was a prototype of a more traditional X-Braced design that Jeff decided not to produce, so it’s a rarity. I love this simple guitar with a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides. I switched Martin SP strings for the Everly Sessions on this guitar and the difference was striking. When I first put them on, the sound was beyond “bright.” It was downright glaring. I was tempted to take them off and put on a set of Martin’s but decided to let it go for a bit and see if they calmed down. In about three days, the tone did calm down and became very vibrant and lively.
I use this guitar when I perform and also it’s the guitar we make available for performers at our Open Minded Mic shows who don’t have an acoustic-electric guitar. A remarkable credit to the Everly strings is that while I had those strings on this guitar, I got so many compliments on how beautiful the guitar sounded. The comments came from people who had no idea that I changed string brands on the guitar. That’s a very revealing review.
Another favorable point for the Everly Strings is that they had great durability. In constant play, near the ocean, these strings sounded vibrant for months and that’s not only great sound, it’s great value. Too.
I recommend the Everly Sessions: great strings at a slightly higher price.
A couple of recommendations: after I play I clean my strings by using a string cleaner / lubricant like Dunlop’s Formula 65 string cleaner. Run the applicator over the strings and it cleans them and removes damaging moisture. Follow that with a quick wipe with a clean cloth and your’e strings will last longer and sound better.
Another thing to keep in mind is that when you change strings clean the fretboard (on ebony, rosewood or ironwood us a fretboard cleaner, on maple just use regular guitar cleaner / polish) and tighten the tuners. A very important consideration, especially if you change the string gauge, is to check the setup. Different string gauges can have an enormous difference on the neck.
This blog is Prof Dave’s Guitar and Bass Buying Advice. If you have a guitar or bass and you’d like to post an opinion, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – if you disagree with my opinion or have an opinion or review on an instrument I haven’t reviewed, as long as it isn’t too foul (language that is) I’ll post it. I’d love to hear from all you guitar & bass heads. Prof. Dave