Welcome, once again, to my ongoing Strings Saga: Yes, I’ve Gone Back to Elevens (And, “No, We Have No Bananas)! Yes, I know. This is like the 20th time you’ve read a strings review from me or found out that, once again, I had changed my mind about my Favorite Strings Ever. Welp, today is another day, and here’s another dollar: I’m back to .011-.049 strings — and this time — I’m staying! I think.
You can blame my recantation back to Elevens on Gregor Hilden from GregsGuitars on YouTube. When you visit Greg’s YouTube page, he provides information about how he creates the incredible sounds from his guitars. Greg plays Darco Elevens:
Darco is the Martin Guitar brand for electric strings, and they’re cheap as chips.
I still have a stack of D’Addario EXL115s hanging around, but I cannot wait to try on some Darco strings. I also think the .011-.049 version of the Gibson Vintage Reissue strings will be something I will like a lot. We’ll see.
I installed the D’Addario EXL115s on my 2008 Gibson Les Paul Standard, my Gilmour Black Strat, my Clapton Custom Strat, and my ’57 Gibson Les Paul Custom VOS Black Beauty with three pickups.
All those guitars sound better and sharper with the heavier strings gauge installed. I can really feel the neck vibrating in my left hand when I play. The D’Addarios are a little bright for my taste, and I am hoping they will mellow a bit with age.
I had to make a few guitar adjustments for the EXL115s. First, I installed the strings, properly stretched them, brought them into tune, and then let them sit on the guitar for a day or two to allow the new, higher, tension to settle into the wood. Then I re-tuned and played off my fingertips!
After playing a bit, I realized the added tension of the higher gauge strings — I’d been using D’Addario EXL110s on all the guitars — raised my strings action a bit too high for my liking, so I did a setup, lowered the action and tweaked the intonation on all the guitars just a smidge. Re-tuned. Played my hands down to the bone! Perfect!
The larger sound is there. The chord vibrations last longer. Individual note sustain is incredible. The strings stay in tune so much better. I’m no Gregor Hilden, but I know that by moving up to Elevens, I have improved my sound, tone and playability in every way.
Long live Elevens!