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.
I’d sooner get a thousand cuts on my fingers than not feel the strings themselves. Thanks for warning us away from these, David!
Right! Bleed instead of worry, Gordon! Your fingers will eventually get used to strings that cut but, so far, you can never seem to wash off the Nanoweb stickiness. You need to feel the string, and not a covering when you play, or you’ll never get your own tone and your vibrato will suffer.
Ick. Sticky fingers on a guitar sound like pulling through mud…..completely ruins the charm…devastating…
Yes, it was a strange experience. If I’d been able to tune the guitar, I certainly would’ve loved to play around with the strings for awhile.
I’ve got to completely disagree with you here, David. I was using Elixirs 10 gauge for a long time and then switched to Fender Bullets on my Strat. (I’m a financially messy student and Bullets are a lot cheaper in my local) Bullets, Rotosound, Ernie Ball Slinkies, you name them I’ve gone through them, changing my strings roughly every week or two weeks on top of gigging regularly, and I always wipe down the strings with string cleaner after I’ve played which helps extend the life. I’ve been playing in or around 12 years. I continued using Bullets and Rotosound, I really liked the tone from them, bright and punchy and a decent lifespan. Just the other day I spotted a pack of Elixirs and like a guilty ex-smoker I bought them, strung them on the Strat, and wow. I’m in love with them. The tonal qualities outdo the other strings by a long shot and the life is incredible. The Goretex actually does make them last longer, from the perspective of a musician who is playing 2 hour gigs 2-3 times a week, these are a godsend and a money-saver. I like the slinky smooth feeling off them… I’m kinda under the impression that you may have bought a bad pack, which is unfortunate (I’ve experienced a few TERRIBLE quality packs of Ernie Ball in the past) and should have just taken them off and brought them back to the shop… Give them a try again some time if you get the chance.
All the best,
Thanks for the detailed experience with the strings, Colm. I appreciate your insight!
Ernie balls can be dull and utterly crap. Elixir’s are consistently dull and utterly crap.
Harr! Well said! SMILE!
I’m not a guitar player, but I just can’t imagine a coated ‘anything’ vibrating correctly, which is the science guitars are based on. I’m glad you tested it, and not me. 🙂
We’re all vibrating all the time, Lillian!
Elixir nanowebs 105-45 is my favourite bass strings! I`ve tried Dean Markley stainless, D`Addario XL160, Rotosound Swing bass `66 and others, and Elixir is the BEST of them all! Great tone, LONG live (they lasts 4ever!) – you MUST try it out! I think you won`t be dissapointed!
First of all, for me, playing electric guitar with whatewer strings on is like driving a car with automatic transmission – easy, dull and boring. Second – I really like coated elixirs on accoustic guitar – the sound doesn’t fade after hours of playing and the finger feel is almost indifferent comparing to uncoated strings.
I appreciate your feedback, Martin! Thanks!
David, I completely agree. I had major tuning issues with my Les Paul after only 1 gig with these nanoweb string. They were impossible to keep in tune after only a short period. My hands had a sticky feeling and I kept washing my hands to no avail. Worst strings I every tried. The next show during sound check I could not get the guitar in tune… I quickly changed and stretched up a set of D’addario Nickel strings right before the show. What a relief.
Thanks for the confirmation, Brian! I’m not a big fan of coated strings. They dull the mechanics of playing!