In this feature, I will provide full reviews of what I believe to be the very best 8 string nickel wound strings on the market today. For those who are in possession of – or considering purchasing – an 8-string guitar, this is a must-read!
For the highly adventurous player, moving to an 8-string guitar opens up a whole new world of musical expression, with so many new directions to take your sound. 8-string guitar players have to think with much more diversity about adjusting techniques, and this is by no means an easy venture.
For those who are still in the consideration stages of playing at this level, here’s a guide to the best 8-string guitars in 2022. And for all, this guide will teach you what the best 8-string nickel wound strings are that you can buy now.
As any player knows, the type of strings you use can make or break the performance. So, if you’re branching out into the gutsy world of 8-string play, I’m here to ensure that if it doesn’t go well, you cannot blame the strings!
Before we head right into the full reviews of the strings I recommend, let’s look at those products briefly here.
At a Glance: 5 Best 8 String Nickel Wound Strings
- Ernie Ball 8-String Slinky Nickel Wound Guitar Strings – #1 Top Pick
- LaBella HRS-81 8-String Electric Guitar Strings – #1 Top Budget Pick
- DR Strings Tite-Fit Nickel Plated Extra Heavy 8-String Strings
- Stringjoy Signature 8-String Heavy Nickel Wound Guitar Strings
- D’Addario EXL140 Light Top Heavy/Bottom 8-String Electric Guitar Strings
My Bottom Line up Front: I am a huge fan of the Ernie Ball 8-String Slinky Nickel Wound Guitar Strings, and these will always be my go-to strings. However, I was almost equally as impressed with the Stringjoy Signature 8-String Heavy Nickel Wound Guitar Strings and would buy these with complete confidence.
A Brief Guide to Buying Nickel Wound 8-Strings
The cheapest, easiest and quickest way to freshen up your guitar is with a set of new strings, and this is whether you have a 6, 7, 8, or even 12-string guitar.
While there are no set rules on how often you should change and replace guitar strings, by doing so regularly, you will certainly optimize play and get the most out of your guitar. Finding the right strings, however, can be a daunting task.
Choosing the best electric guitar strings is a subjective process. You may be drawn to a certain brand or material and not wish to change this anytime soon – any regular reader will know my preference is for the Regular Slinkys by Ernie Ball, and it will take a lot to change that. But, it’s important to stay objective; who knows what we could be missing if we stay narrow-minded?!
In this post, I will look at the very best nickel wound strings for an 8-string guitar on the market today. I will fully explain my choices, beginning with why I believe nickel wound to be the best choice.
The Benefits of Nickel Wound Strings
There are so many misconceptions and uncertainty that arise when players debate Nickel wound Vs Pure nickel strings, so I’m using this feature to set the record straight by comparing the features and answering some common questions.
Definitions of Nickel Wound and Pure Nickel
Both terms refer to the wrap wire of the wound strings in the set. In pure nickel strings, the wrap wire is, well, pure nickel. In nickel wound (or plated) strings, the actual wire is made from steel (around 92%), with the rest of the component being nickel.
Pure nickel strings tend to have a fuller, warmer sound with less mid-range content. In comparison, nickel round strings have a crisper attack and sound sharper and brighter, with more mid-range. It’s a personal thing which you prefer, but for me, nickel-wound strings are the only way to go when playing the electric guitar.
Buying Nickel Wound Strings
Strings are not made equally, and brand to brand, there will be notable differences. To ensure that you buy the exact strings you’re looking for, I have put a brief buyers guide just below with some things to look out for.
A clue to the durability of the strings will generally be in the price – cheap strings will have undergone a more inexpensive manufacturing process, using more affordable and less durable materials.
Cheaper strings are unlikely to keep the guitar intonated with a lively tone for a long time.
Look for terms such as coated strings, which will be much more robust and have greater longevity.
Depending on what genre you want to play will determine the best strings for you. For example, heavy metal players will be better off with more affordable nickel-plated strings over pure nickel.
See how to choose the right guitar strings for you for more information on this.
Not all guitars are built to support heavy strings, and fitting the wrong strings to your guitar could cause issues with the neck. Look at your buyer’s manual, or find your guitar on your site to see the appropriate string recommendations.
Rather than explain in each review why I have selected the product, here are the things I was looking for across the board.
How many times do you read a ‘best of’ guide to find that the recommendations just aren’t available? This tends to be down to poor research or the writer being given a list of products to recommend – neither of which are things with our site. To ensure that readers can purchase my recommendations today, I can guarantee that they are available now.
To determine the durability of the strings I am recommending, I have discovered how they feel and play, how well they withstand different types of play, and how long they last before showing signs of wear and tear.
You will find a selection of light, medium, and heavy gauge strings in this feature in the hope that your preference has been met.
There’s a fine line between affordable strings and durable strings. I have looked across the price points to ensure that readers with every budget can find a durable set of 8-strings in this guide.
The strings you will find in this article will have a good-to-excellent level of feedback from verified consumers, so you don’t just have to take my word for it. When buying anything online, it’s wise to look at other people’s experiences, which is what I have done before taking my research further with all of the strings shown below.
5 Best 8 String Nickel Wound Strings
|Ernie Ball 8-String Slinky Nickel Wound Guitar Strings – #1 Top Pick ||Find Here|
|LaBella HRS-81 8-String Electric Guitar Strings – #1 Top Budget Pick ||Find Here|
|DR Strings Tite-Fit Nickel Plated Extra Heavy 8-String Electric Guitar Strings ||Find Here|
|Stringjoy Signature 8-String Heavy Nickel Wound Guitar Strings ||Find Here|
|D’Addario EXL140 Light Top Heavy/Bottom 8-String Electric Guitar Strings ||Find Here|
#1 Ernie Ball 8-String Slinky Nickel Wound Guitar Strings – #1 Top Pick
Wherever I can recommend EB strings, I will (see here for my round-up of the best-balanced tension strings, with Ernie Ball taking position #1, again!); the fact of the matter is I just find them to be the best. However, my experience is by no means vast. I was told the brand was good many years ago, I purchased, and have not changed, so I am aware this is somewhat unbiased.
With the Ernie Ball 8-String Slinky Nickel Wound Guitar Strings, I genuinely found few faults. As anyone with EB experience will know, they’re not the most durable out there, and during more vigorous play, it isn’t unheard of for them to snap; however, I believe the positives outweigh the drawbacks here.
These strings are a relatively new addition to the EB collection, although not much has had to be updated to the enduringly-popular Slinkys to tailor to 8-string players. However, the newer 8-string EB Slinkys are optimized for multi-scale instruments and longer scale length, with the strings being slightly longer than standard EB at 39.5-in.
They’re typical of EB construction and expertly made from nickel-plated steel wire, wound around a tin-plated hexagonal steel wire. The result is a reasonably hardy string that feels comfortable to play and a well-balanced tone.
Consumer reviews are excellent, with fellow die-hard fans of EB congratulating the brand on yet another set of awesome strings. One thing I have found particularly special about these strings is that the .80 tapers off to fit the tuner without any modifications needed, which is great when you want to restring and play in a hurry.
- Long-standing, Reputable American Brand
- Affordable Strings
- Available in Multiple Places with Easy Online Order Options
- Quick and Easy to Affix
- Well Balanced Tone
- Prone to Snapping with Vigorous Play
#2 LaBella HRS-81 8-String Electric Guitar Strings – #1 Top Budget Pick
If you’re looking to gain an aggressive rock tone, then the LaBella HRS-81 8-String Electric Guitar Strings are an excellent choice. These strings deliver a bright tone and long-lasting experience. I found them to be surprisingly flexible and that they allow for big bends and long sustain.
LaBella strings are the top choice for some of today’s most famous guitarists, including Bryan Adams and Willie Nelson. However, their origins date back more than four centuries – which makes the brand undoubtedly one of the longest established to date.
These nickel-plated round wound strings will not work with every guitar, with some older models needed to drill out the tuner to be compatible. However, they will work with most 8-string guitars with a scale length between 25-in and 30-in.
Given the affordable price point, the manufacturing process is remarkable, and each string is made in the US with American Wire. I was, too, impressed with the MAP Technology packaging, which means your strings arrive fresh and new, in excellent condition.
Now, for the sound. These are amongst the very few strings I have found that truly add something sonically; they’re very bright and withstand excessive plucking and bending. I would say that for a lighter gauge set of strings, and at this price, you’d be hard pushed to find better.
Some consumers liken the LaBella 8-strings to the more expensive Dunlop 8-strings, but with a longer lifespan and more clarity.
- Highly Affordable
- MAP Packaging
- All-American Materials
- Excellent Longevity
- Bright Sound; Perfect for Aggressive Rock
- Not Compatible With Every Guitar
- Often Out of Stock at Major Online Marketplaces
#3 DR Strings Tite-Fit Nickel Plated Extra Heavy 8-String Electric Guitar Strings
I found that the DR Strings Tite-Fit Nickel Plated Extra Heavy 8-String Electric Guitar Strings work exceptionally well for a basic string set at this affordable price; a lot better balanced than many other brands. The 75 drops to the E simply, but there’s more looseness from the 56 from B to A. A 58 would be fantastic.
The DR Tite-Fit strings hold the tuning up and down super well, with even the low F# remaining in tune. The strings don’t dull quickly and seem to retain their brightness for a surprisingly long time. They’re designed to be a good all-round string, suitable for a range of genres from heavy metal to jazz, and many consumers back these claims.
There’s great flexibility, and the tone is pretty special, but the greatest advantage is the strings’ longevity, which seems to be much greater than most.
It’s fairly unusual to opt for such heavy strings for an electric, but the bigger, fuller, and more powerful tone achieved with the Dr. Tite-Fit 8-strings makes sense. The guitar tone will never be loose or thin, and although experience and finger strength is needed to truly optimize the sound with these strings, once achieved, these strings will be a solid choice for many players.
There seems to be some common criticism of the length of these strings being too long, so they don’t fit all guitars, which confuses me slightly. Due to highly convenient tools such as the D’Addario Pro-Winder String Winder and Cutter, this really doesn’t need to be an issue.
- Excellent Flexibility
- Strong Strings
- Retain Brightness
- Good Longevity
- All-Round Strings Suitable for all Genres
- Some Consumers Cite Them as Being too Long.
#4 Stringjoy Signature 8-String Heavy Nickel Wound Guitar Strings
With such a huge online fan base, I had to look further into the Stringjoy Signature 8-String Heavy Nickel Wound Guitar Strings, and I have to say now that if I were ever to change from EB, it would be to these strings.
These hand-wound strings feel far superior to any other mass-produced string, and that could be due to the stringent quality control process of three individual people inspecting them prior to shipping. The strings are mathematically optimized to result in an even performance, with smooth and balanced tension across the entire fretboard.
The sound is incredible, powerful, and naturally perfect each time you pick up the guitar. If you like hexagonally shaped strings, you will love these and their comfortable feel. Often you have to lose something to gain something with strings, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
I found that the strings stay in tune more than any other I have come across and seem to have incredible durability. They’re easy to affix, get into tune, and have a superior sound to many others. Another great benefit of these strings is the various subscription services available on the brand’s website, with repeat order options available to ensure you never run out.
Related: Stringjoy Guitar Strings Review
- Superior Feel and Sound
- Remain in Tune for Longer than Most
- Comfortable Play
- Small Town American Brand
- Various Subscription Services
- More Expensive than Most
#5 D’Addario EXL140 Light Top Heavy/Bottom 8-String Electric Guitar Strings
The D’Addario EXL140 Light Top Heavy/Bottom 8-String Electric Guitar Strings are the most popular strings by the brand and online bestsellers on many different websites. I thought there must be a reason for this, so I investigated further and found many! Fundamentally though, they’re just good strings that do precisely what you’d want them to.
These strings deliver a distinctive bright tone with excellent intonation. If you play a lot of faster Rock/Metal style riffs, then I would rate this highly as a super choice due to them gliding so efficiently yet remaining comfortable enough on the fingertips to not cut or hurt as you’d possibly expect.
I believe these strings hold the tune longer than most other brands (sorry EB, but even you!) and even have a more pleasant ring across them. They feel super durable and are good for various genres, offering great flexibility.
Due to their computer-controlled winding technology beginnings, these strings are perfectly consistent, and being sealed both inside and out, they’re one of the strongest strings I have found.
I have come across a lot of users who have switched from their regular brands to D’Addario, and I can see why. If ever I can’t find mine in stock, these will certainly be a contender.
Further Reading: D’addario vs. Ernie Ball Strings Comparison
- Bright, Rich Tone
- Exceptional Quality
- Comfortable Feel
- Hold Tune Well
- Super Durable
- Online Best Seller
- Some Mentions of a Twang Sound by Some Consumers
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How Long Do Nickel Wound Strings Last?
Answer: How long any guitar strings last will depend on a variety of factors, such as how often they’re used, cleaned, and where and how they’re stored. Generally, you can expect around 12-weeks from a set of nickel-wound strings if you have looked after them properly.
Top Tip: Find out how to properly clean your strings to give them the greatest lifespan.
Question: How Often Should I Replace Nickel Wound Strings?
Answer: There are key indicators that will show you that your strings are due a change.
It may be that the sound becomes dull, there are issues with tuning, or the strings start to feel worn. Most of the time, players will experience a notable improvement once a new set of strings has been fitted.
Question: How Difficult is it to Play an 8-String Guitar?
Answer: It depends entirely on your experience and ability as to whether playing an 8-string guitar is a joy or a chore. If you’re unsure, you could always branch out to a 7-string guitar as a stepping stone into this world.
The Best 8-String Nickel Wound Strings – Wrapping Up!
I’m happy to recommend any of the 8-string nickel wound strings featured in this guide. I believe they all have excellent durability, comfort levels, and flexibility—however, some shine more than most.
For me, it’s always going to be Ernie Ball 8-String Slinky Nickel Wound Guitar Strings, yet I’d no longer be heartbroken if I couldn’t find these and would be happy to switch to another brand such as D’Addario EXL140 Light Top Heavy/Bottom 8-String Electric Guitar Strings, or Stringjoy Signature 8-String Heavy Nickel Wound Guitar Strings.
For those who don’t want to shell out a lot financially, then the LaBella HRS-81 8-String Electric Guitar Strings are an excellent choice and worth far more than their affordable price point in my eyes. The drawback is that the LaBella strings won’t work easily with every guitar.
Although some consumers found the length of the DR Strings Tite-Fit Nickel Plated Extra Heavy 8-String Electric Guitar Strings a little too long, I found them to be super strong strings with excellent flexibility and that they retained a bright tone for a really long time. They’re a good all-round option for a range of genres and come in at a great price.
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