If you’re a guitarist like me, you probably take great pleasure in purchasing the necessary accessories for you to play at your best. From guitar straps and plectrums to cleaning products and music books, there are a ton of things that you need to consider aside from purchasing the guitar itself. However, one thing that is often overlooked is the guitar strings themselves – they’re the most essential part of your guitar whether it’s acoustic or electric, and there are many different types of them too.
One of the most popular types of guitar strings for acoustic guitarists is Phosphor Bronze 6-Strings guitar strings, and if you play the acoustic like me, you’ve probably heard of them. However, all those technical terms can get a bit intimidating – what does “Phosphor Bronze” even mean, and how do you know whether they are right for you?
This is a great question – it’s a confusing subject and there are a ton of different phosphor bronze guitar string products out there, so it’s important to do your research. Luckily for you, I know all about this through many years of research, and I’m willing to share my knowledge with you! Read on to find out more!
Bottom Line Up Front: Phosphor bronze 6-string guitar strings are made from 92% copper and therefore are more durable than most acoustic guitar strings and produce a dark, deep, and rich tone. Brands such as Elixir Strings produce fantastic sets of these strings at a very reasonable price, although if you don’t like the bright sound of the Nanoweb coating, something from Martin or D’Daddario may be more appropriate.
What Are Phosphor Bronze 6-String Guitar Strings?
Before we dive deeper into what you should look for in phosphor bronze guitar strings, it’s going to be essential for you to understand exactly what they are. As the name suggests, phosphor bronze guitar strings are a form of guitar string specifically designed to suit 6-string guitars. This means that they have an appropriate gauge for such guitars, more specifically, acoustic guitars. This last bit is super important – these guitar strings aren’t going to work on your Gibson Les Paul!
They were first invented in the 1970s and were designed as an alternative to the traditional 80/20 6-string guitar strings. Perhaps the most unique quality about these strings is their compound makeup – they’re made from 92% copper and 8% brass, and this allows them to have a significantly higher level of durability than lower-copper alternatives.
In addition to durability, this also allows them to be less prone to corrosion from sweat, and this ultimately means that they feel better on your fingers, produce less residue and smell, and overall perform better.
Another thing to note about phosphor bronze guitar strings is that they sound darker and bassier than alternatives such as 80/20 strings. The compound makeup of 80/20 strings allows them to be designed in a lower gauge format, ultimately making them brighter and more treble-heavy. This essentially makes phosphor bronze guitar strings a better option for playing low-pitched chord progressions, earthier recording sounds, and darker sounds in general.
Many people will try to put you off from purchasing phosphor bronze strings for this exact reason – it’s a common misconception that you should always go for brighter tones, and therefore 80/20 strings are a better option. However, I think this is bad advice because after all, every guitarist and their tonal preferences are different. If you’re producing folk or country music, it’s certainly worth considering getting phosphor bronze strings to achieve the darker tones that are synonymous with the genres.
It’s also worth considering durability – even if you prefer the sound of 80/20 strings, they don’t last nearly as long as phosphor bronze strings. You’ll be having to change your 80/20 strings frequently, and this can get seriously expensive over time.
The feel of them simply isn’t as nice either, I would always recommend phosphor bronze strings over 80/20 strings as long as you don’t mind losing some of those high frequencies.
Should you buy guitar strings in bulk? Read here to find out.
What to Look For in the Best Phosphor Bronze 6-string Guitar Strings
I recently heard a friend of mine tell somebody that all phosphor bronze guitar strings were identical – I couldn’t help but laugh and correct him, because that is just nonsense! Phosphor bronze 6-string guitar strings have all manner of different properties depending on the brand that is selling them, and you must assess such properties to find the right product for you and avoid any form of disappointment. To help you do this, I’m now going to break down everything that you should look for in the best phosphor bronze 6-string guitar strings.
Number of Strings
This first criterion may seem a bit unusual to you – after all, surely the name ‘phosphor bronze 6-string guitar strings’ suggests that these products will always come in the form of six strings? Believe it or not, this isn’t the case, and the reason for this is simple. Rarely, guitarists will ever need to replace all of their guitar strings at once, instead usually only needing a single replacement string. This means that phosphor bronze strings are sold in various quantities.
Sometimes you will come across single replacement strings such as the commonly snapped high E, whilst other times you will come across packs of five of that same string. In other cases, you can save some money by purchasing packs of phosphor bronze strings in bulk, resulting in companies offering packs of two, three, five, or even ten string sets!
This is why it is so important to carefully read every phosphor bronze guitar string listing and check whether you are paying for what you are looking for. I remember one time when I was looking for a full set of phosphor bronze guitar strings for my six-string acoustic, and I found a perfect product at a bargain price. I was so excited about the cheap price (I think it was around $5) that I added the product to my basket without thinking, paying promptly, and immediately became excited about their arrival.
You would not believe my disappointment when a single A string arrived on my doorstep. What was I supposed to do with that, play “Smoke on the Water” with a single string?! I was gutted, and I immediately realized my mistake when I read the listing in its full detail.
Don’t make the same mistake as me – always check the number of strings in a phosphor bronze guitar string product. This won’t be a problem that will cause you much hassle, as long as you use your brain and read the darn listing!
Quality vs Cost
The next criterion, and arguably the most important to consider, is quality vs cost. It’s an undeniable fact in life that spending more money on a product will generally result in you receiving quality. It’s the same with guitars, cars, houses, and food products, and guitar strings are arguably no exception.
You can find some seriously cheap guitar strings out there and the product of these is undeniably going to be somewhat lower. On the other hand, “premium” phosphor bronze guitar strings will be listed at a significantly higher price, and the quality that you will receive is likely going to be higher.
However, this is not always the case – brands often take advantage of this general rule of life, listing their products as premium even though it is the same quality as the cheaper options. Sometimes this will come in the form of fancy branding that features your favorite guitarist or a cool logo, yet the product itself will be no different from the strings found in a plain package.
I’m not at all suggesting that you avoid splashing out on premium phosphor bronzes guitar strings – after all, they’re incredibly durable and therefore you will not have to replace them too often, so it’s better to spend more on them for long-term satisfaction. However, just be careful to meticulously research the quality of each product. This can often be found in the reviews, something I will now explain further.
Reviews, reviews, reviews – the number one tool for buying anything on the internet. Whether it’s Amazon, eBay, Etsy, or an independent online store, you will always find some sort of rating or reviewing system on an eCommerce website. Many people don’t bother to read these as they are often wordy and take time away from the customers’ day, but trust me – you don’t want to fall into this trap.
The reason that reviews are so important is that they are user-generated, meaning that other people around the world who have bought a product can provide you with unbiased information about the product. In the case of phosphor bronze guitar strings, this means that you can discover information such as strings that are uncomfortable to play, strings that snap easily, strings that cannot be installed properly, or even products that never arrive despite payment!
On the other hand, positive reviews can provide you with the comforting information you need that confirms the high-quality nature of a product. From excellent tone to fantastic customer service, satisfied customers love to share their positive experiences with a brand.
You should take reviews with a pinch of salt – some brands pay people to leave fake reviews, and many people believe that satisfied customers rarely leave reviews, it’s usually the angry customers that take the time to mention something. I don’t believe this, but it’s worth considering. Always take five minutes from your day to read the reviews for phosphor bronze guitar string products, but take them with a pinch of salt.
Shipping Costs and Delivery Time
The final thing that I would recommend you always investigate when it comes to purchasing phosphor bronze guitar strings from a new website is the shipping costs and delivery times. If you’ve ever bought guitar strings online before, you’ll know that they arrive in tiny packages.
The strings can be wound around each other in a spiral fashion, allowing them to squeeze into the size of an envelope. This means that the shipping costs of guitar strings are almost always cheap or even free, but this is not always the case.
Sadly, some companies take advantage of customers’ passion for music, charging insane fees for shipping despite them not being necessary – they’re just trying to make a quick buck. This is often hidden by the low cost of a product, making up for this with extortionate shipping costs.
This isn’t always the case though – sometimes you might just be looking for a product that is shipped from a faraway country, hence the expensive cost. Regardless of the reason, you should always avoid phosphor bronze guitar strings with expensive shipping costs, it’s simply not necessary.
Another thing to consider is the delivery time – it’s all very well if you’ve found a bargain online from China, but if they’re going to take a month to arrive, is that worth it? I can remember encountering this exact problem years ago when I first bought phosphor bronze guitar strings – I was skint but I needed a new pair of phosphor bronze strings for my acoustic, and to my delight, I found a retailer in Africa selling the strings I wanted for only $8! I ordered without hesitation, understanding that I’d probably have to wait a little longer for it to arrive. Three months later, it’s safe to say that it wasn’t worth it. I’d already borrowed some money from my parents and spent it at Guitar Center since then!
Thankfully, it’s not difficult to avoid problems such as these – every listing should state where the strings are being shipped from, so just check this and you’re golden. Don’t forget to check the reviews as well, because even if it’s a domestically shipped item, sometimes people can take ages to post them.
My Top 3 Phosphor Bronze 6-Strings Guitar Strings Recommendations
Hopefully, you should now have a good idea of what phosphor bronze guitar strings are, why they can be handy, and what you should look out for when purchasing them.
However, the market is still a minefield, and that’s exactly why I’ve decided to put together the following list of my top three phosphor bronze 6-string guitar strings recommendations. Hopefully, they should help give you some inspiration!
Daddario EJ26 Phosphor Bronze Light Gauge Strings
The first phosphor bronze strings on my recommendation list are the D’addario EJ26 Light Gauge strings a string set the signature warmth, brightness, and balanced resonance of phosphor bronze strings.
The most obvious benefit to these strings is the price – as long as you’re purchasing them from the U.S, you’ll get an excellent price accompanied by cheap shipping. However, it’s worth noting that the shipping costs increase dramatically if you are ordering elsewhere – it showed as 20 Euros shipping cost when I was on holiday in Europe!
However, as long as you are buying domestically, these are a fantastic
- Seriously cheap
- D’Addario is a well-respected entry-level brand for guitar strings
- Nice and light gauge
- There are better quality phosphor bronze strings out there
- The shipping costs can be seriously pricey if you’re not based in the U.S.
Martin Guitar MA540 Authentic Acoustic Light Guitar Strings, 92/8 Phosphor Bronze
I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you’re already a fan of acoustic guitars, and therefore I would be shocked if you’ve never heard of the brand Martin. Martin has a worldwide reputation for producing some of the greatest acoustic guitars on the planet, so it should come as no surprise that their acoustic guitar strings are also of stellar quality! This pack in particular sounds great, producing the perfect deep, dark, and moody tone expected from phosphor bronze strings.
Whilst you may have to watch out for single-string packs, Martin also sells these strings in bulk which I think is great – the three-pack is a particularly great value. The gauge is light, and the price is right, so I couldn’t recommend them enough. Whenever I use them, they also seem to stay in tune much longer than other strings! I’m not sure why that is, but I like it!
- You can’t go wrong with Martin products
- High tension and light gauge, perfect for performances and recording sessions
- Excellent price, especially considering the brand name!
- The variety of products on the Martin string range can make purchasing them a bit confusing, so remember, you’re looking for six-string packs of phosphor bronze!
- Some people claim these strings can only be used on Martin guitars, but I think that’s a load of rubbish
Elixir Strings Acoustic Phosphor Bronze With Nanoweb Coating
The final product on my recommendation list is my personal favorite – the Exilir Strings Acoustic Phosphor Bronze With Nanoweb Coating, a fantastic set of six phosphor bronze strings to get you started.
Anyone who has ever bought guitar strings should already know about Elixir – they’re a staple of the industry and provide a wide range of products. These strings feature Nanoweb coating, a thin providing a thinner protective coating than usual phosphor bronze strings.
The protective layer is so thin that you can barely feel it on your fingers, providing a seriously comfortable playing experience. The thin layer also helps to deliver a brighter tone than traditional phosphor bronze strings, emulating the brighter tone found on 80/20 strings.
Perhaps my favorite thing about these strings is the fact that they are available in many different gauges, from Extra Light .010-.047 up to HD Light at .013 to .053.
It’s great to have this customization available, as it allows you to perfect that sweet tone that everyone is searching for. Watch out though, because this product is only available for delivery in the U.S.
- Elixir Strings is well known for producing high-quality guitar strings
- Nanoweb coating provides a brighter tone than usual Phosphor Bronze strings
- Available in many different gauges
- A decent price considering the high quality
- Only ships to the U.S
- Some people specifically buy phosphor bronzes strings for their dark tones, so the Nanoweb coating may prevent this
We sure have covered a lot of information throughout this guide to the best phosphor bronze 6-string guitar strings, so I’ve decided to round it all off with a quick FAQ. Take a look at the answers, and hopefully, you should leave this guide without any remaining burning questions!
Question: What are 6-String Phosphor Bronze Guitar Strings?
Answer: 6-string phosphor bronze guitar strings are guitar strings specifically designed to provide dark, deep, and rich tones for 6-string acoustic guitars.
Question: What’s the Difference between Phosphor Bronze and 80/20 Guitar Strings?
Answer: 80/20 guitar strings feature 80% copper and 20% brass which improves the high-frequency response and produces brighter tones, although this results in decreased durability. Phosphor bronze, on the other hand, contains 92% copper making them far more durable and of high quality, whilst giving the tone a much darker and deeper edge.
Question: Can Phosphor Bronze 6-String Guitar Strings Be Used on Electric Guitars?
Answer: Whilst you could theoretically apply phosphor bronze 6-string guitar strings to a 6-string electric guitar, I wouldn’t recommend it as they will not be of an appropriate tension, the tone won’t sound right, and they will snap easily.
Well, that brings us to the end of this guide to the best phosphor bronze 6-strings guitar strings! I hope that you have learned a lot by reading this – when I was first buying phosphor bronze strings, I had to go to the library to do my research, and whilst this information is available online these days, it still takes a lot of time to read. Hopefully, this guide should have summarized a lot of information for you and made your research process a lot easier.
Clearly, there are many brands of phosphor bronze strings out there, but I couldn’t recommend Elixir Strings enough – I was super happy with their phosphor bronze Nanoweb coated strings last time I bought them, and I think it’s a perfect middle-ground between 80/20 and phosphor bronze strings. If you’re looking for a darker and more traditional tone, then the D’Addario or Martin strings might be a better option, but why not try them all out to see for yourself?
Good luck on your acoustic guitar journey, and don’t forget to check out those reviews and do your research!
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