Thursday, November 20, 2014

D'Addario NYXL Strings Review

Strings are a very personal thing. When you start playing you try out a few different brands before you settle on something. It's a balancing act that is a bit different for each of us. How they feel, the tension of the string, how well they stay in tune, how long they last, the cost and how they sound are all considerations. Through different points in my life I've tried different strings and tend to like certain strings on certain guitars. Some strings feel rough to me, some don't seem to last very long and still others just don't sound right. A few months ago I received a pack some of the new D'Addario NYXL strings. So I thought it was time to do a review.

First let's talk about how long they last. I've read a lot of stories about guitar players who change their strings everyday or after each gig. But most guys I know change their strings between 1 and 4 months. I tend to rotate my guitars and have two out all the time, with the others in cases. I also wash my hands before playing and wipe down the strings with a clean cloth when I'm done. I'm guessing my guitars get new strings between 2 and 4 months. So when I say that my Ibanez has had NYXL strings on it for over 6 months, and they feel and sound BRAND NEW that seems impressive to me. 

I played D'Addario XL's for many years before switching to a different brand. They feel very smooth to me, and have a higher tension than other strings I've played. The new NYXL strings are the same, slightly higher in tension than the XL's but very smooth, slick even, as if each string feels polished. Some strings feel very course to me, like running your fingers up and down an old wire fence. The smoothness is great, I do wish the tension was a little less. It's not difficult to adjust to but be prepared to reset up your guitars if you like low action and thinner necks. 

When I first put on strings I like to stretch them out a bit, then for the first day or two I find myself constantly retuning them. Then they seem to "settle in" and I only retune every so often. With the NYXL strings I don't find myself retuning as often as I did. Even with the floating floyd style wammy bar. I can dive or pull up on the bar and it seems to go back to zero with fantastic accuracy. In fact the first time I tuned it up it stayed in tune very well and the settling period was over very quickly. 

So how do they sound? The first thing you'll notice is that these things are LOUD. Even acoustically, compared to my other electrics it's noticeably louder. This means it hits your pickups harder, which hits your amp harder. If you are a player that focuses on dynamics your going to have to adjust pedals and your amp, but having this louder output isn't a bad thing at all. In fact it gives you a wider range of dynamics to work with. They also sound like a bigger string. I'm using the 10's but they sound like 11's but with the clarity of 10's

Ibby vs Strat, different guitars for different sounds
So lets talk about the cost factor. Currently these strings run around $10-$12 a pack. That's a big jump from the standard XL's that can be had for $4-$5. But your looking at a string that can last at least three times as long and stays in tune much better. And if you buy in bulk you can save quite a bit of money. Still if your someone who constantly wants new strings on your guitars this may not work for you, but I would urge you to try them. They really do feel great. 

I really like the D'Addario NYXL's on my Strat, but I haven't decided if I like them on my Ibanez. They are different guitars and I like them for very different things. For me the real test comes when I switch them back to the old strings, and I'll see if I miss the NYXL's or if I feel like I've come home. That's the real test for me.

This review was completely unsolicited and any opinion is my own.


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Kris, thanks for checking out the blog. A year and a half later and I'm still using NYXL's. As of right now I have them on all of my guitars. I've been very happy with them. The extra tension has been easy to adjust to, and I like the tone and longevity. For me the extra price is worth it.