Coated strings have a long and lively hatred in the guitar community and I never really understood why until I purchased a set of Elixir Nanoweb Gore-Tex covered strings for my Fender ’57 Hot Rod Stratocaster.
The idea behind having coated guitar strings is simple: The strings won’t cut your fingers and your fingers will silently slide up and down the strings without making any noise.
Oh, and it seems Elixir also thinks their Gore-Tex coating will make your strings last longer, too.
Now, I don’t understand the appeal of “long-lasting” strings because the longer any string is on your guitar, the less good it will sound no matter what the package wraparounds say.
I do know people who leave rusty, crusted, guitar strings on their guitars for a year or two — but most serious players are changing their strings after every gig or on a regular bi-weekly maintenance schedule.
When I first installed the Elixir Nanoweb strings I immediately did not like their sticky feel that transferred to my fingertips. The strings did not seem to glide — it was more like my fingers moved across the strings over a thin veil of stickiness that was just not pleasing to feel.
I washed my hands to try to get rid of the sticky sensation and returned to my guitar to tune it up with the Elixir strings.
After 10 minutes of trying to get the guitar in tune, I gave up. I could not get my ’57 Fender Hot Rod Stratocaster to bring the third or fourth strings in tune. They were always flat no matter what I did.
I was stupefied by that tuning problem because this ’57 Hot Rod is one of my favorite guitars — even though I don’t play it every day — and I’ve never had a tuning problem with it and over the last eight months I’ve probably put on 12 new string sets from different manufacturers and they all tuned in fine except for Elixir.
I suppose it was the Gore-Tex coating that was somehow affecting the guitar’s proper tuning. I was beginning to understand some of the criticism I’d read on the internets about coated strings: They’re like trying to play your guitar with plastic drinking straws over the strings.
To my fingers, the Nanoweb coating felt more like a condom preventing me from really feeling and enjoying the sensuality of playing the guitar. I could play the guitar, but the sound was dull, the experience was barren, and my fingers, while uncut, were sticky with dry Gore-Tex-as-a-lubricant residue.
I played my out-of-tune guitar for an hour or so just to be fair to Elixir — and then I cut off the Nanowebs and put on a fresh set of Gibson Brites that I’m still using today.
I don’t understand who would want to use the Elixir Nanoweb guitar strings — but now you know my experience — so buy and play wisely.