Break Strings Much? Ernie Ball Offers a Solution


For the longest time, I refused to play anything but DR’s on my electric guitar. Though, once I really began gigging out every other weekend, I began to encounter a really frustrating issue. Every two-three shows, I was breaking a string. After considering a setup and messing around with new saddles, I decided to try a set of Ernie Ball coated slinky strings. I haven’t looked back since.


The strings are titanium reinforced on the wound strings to prevent string breakage, and are specially coated to preserve the life and chime of your strings. I’ve always been skeptical about Ernie Ball and their products, but after one set, my strings lasted MUCH longer than they ever had. Sure, you could say I play a little hard. I dig into my strings, but that’s how I get my sound and my tone. I love just strumming hard on one string sometimes instead of playing barre/power chords when playing rhythm. This had a tendency to encourage string snaps, but that’s part of my style.

The strings are $9.99 a set, but they last over twice as long as the DR’s I used to buy for $5.99. If I walk into Guitar Center during the right week, I can buy two sets and get one free, which is a huge bonus! Instead of having to change my strings/have a string break every two-three shows, I find myself saying (after four shows) “alright, my tone is kind of wearing off, I should probably change my strings.” It’s really great. I’m saving a lot of dough and a lot of embarrassment too. There’s nothing worse than being onstage and breaking a string. I can deal with it, but it’s just a huge pain in the ass and something that really shouldn’t happen.

I’ve read a few good things about these strings, and a lot of negative stuff too. This is an honest testimonial though. These strings really work. They preserve that new-string sound for a good month, keeping that twang alive. This is thanks to the coating that fights the elements and keeps humidity from corroding your strings like other strings will allow. I’m not saying your strings will never become gross, because all guitar strings will. It’s an inevitable law of guitars. But if you have a problem with breaking strings or losing string life, these strings might be for you. They’re a little more expensive than regular guitar strings, but there’s a good reason. You’ll find out when your strings still sing after so long, and that clumsy A string isn’t broken 3 ½ songs into your set.

Update: 12/26/2016 – Elixir Nanoweb

Elixir Nanoweb Electric Guitar Strings Review

Unless you’re some kind of Rain Man-esque character who exists for the sole purpose of routine and repetition, I’m going to assume you despise the time and effort that it takes to change a set of guitar strings. I know I do. In fact, I dislike changing strings so much that one of the reasons I switched from a floating bridge guitar back to a fixed bridge is to reduce the amount of time I spend changing strings and ensuring accurate intonation.

The Problem

For gigging musicians this can turn into a perpetual game of musical Russian Roulette, “I don’t want to change my strings… do I think I can get through another show without breaking one?” There’s also the matter of snappy vs. dull tone and the nice, smooth, frictionless feel of a new set of strings to consider. I love HAVING new strings, but I hate the process of getting to the point where I have them on, stretched and ready to go.

The Solution


That’s why I love Elixir strings so much. I’ve tried a few different brands over the years: Ernie Ball, D’Addario, GHS, etc. They’re all fine. I don’t abuse my guitars or my strings when I play so a string was a string was a string for me, until I tried a set of Elixirs. They last FOR… FREAKING… EVER. I’m hyperbolizing, of course, but it sure feels that way. Before I started using Elixirs I was changing my strings once a week to avoid oxidization issues, that nasty buildup of finger gunk, and to reduce the risk of breakage during a show. After switching to Elixirs I’m changing my strings about once per month, and I could push it further if I really wanted to.

I’m lazy, so I never wipe my strings down after playing. Still there’s no gunky buildup that forms. They also stay nice and snappy for a really (REALLY) long time where other brands of strings will start to sound dull after just a few days.

The Price

Elixir naysayers will point to how expensive the strings are as a huge drawback. Yes, Elixirs cost more than a regular set of strings, but when you consider the fact that I’m using one set of Elixirs per four sets of other strings, the financial side of the decision starts to make sense as well. Would I like to pay less for a set of Elixirs? Of course! Who wouldn’t? But they’re valuable even at their current price point… plus, if you buy from Elderly Instruments you can get them for a lot less than what you’d pay elsewhere. Buy $50 or more worth of strings (or other stuff) and you’ll get free shipping to boot.

The Exclamation Point

A few months ago I replenished my stock of Elixir Strings (from Elderly Instruments, of course). I sat down one evening to change my strings, and everything was going fine until I got to the point where I was stretching my D string (.24W). SNAP! I tried another one. SNAP! Another. SNAP! I was freaking out. Either something was wrong with the strings or something was wrong with my locking tuner. I grabbed a D string from an old set o Ernie Balls I had lying around to get me through the weekend. No problems. My locking tuner was fine. Then I sent a message to Elixir support.

In just a few days they replaced every broken D string, no questions asked, and also sent me a complimentary set of strings to replace the set I currently had on my guitar that wouldn’t last as long as a normal set of Elixirs because I had a non-Elixir D string on.

The replacement strings are working great, and I’m now an Elixir customer for life.

The Reasoning

Every company that has ever made anything will have a bad batch once in a while. It’s the companies that stand behind their products that I want to work with for the long haul. Elixir proved beyond a doubt that they understand the long term business benefits of top notch customer service. I had a problem, and they solved it. No whining, no forms to fill out, just solved it.

Great strings, great customer service. I’m in.

Well done, Elixir.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve been playing since ’86, and I play strings until they break. When strings get dead, the guitars they’re on get “demoted” to studio rhythm work (the reduced sustain is useful for some things). I’ve been switching some guitars to longer-life strings. I have Elixir Polywebs on my jazz guitars, D’Addario NYXLs on a couple guitars, and regular D’Addario XLs on a couple guitars. I thought I’d try a set of the Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinkys; I was just stringing up an old Kramer Focus 3000 (nice guitar, but original Kramer’s customer service was HORRIBLE). The plain “E” broke before I even got it tuned to pitch. Since the guitar has a Floyd, I string the plain strings with the ball end at the tuner to leave extra string in case of a bridge-end break. I let some more string out, gently bent the end, clamped it in, had just gotten it to pitch, and *PING*–it broke again. On the 3rd try, I got it to pitch (YAY!)–but I don’t expect it will be long before it breaks again. I’ve had no problem with D’Addario (including the new NYXL and Elixir), and GHS (although Boomers are hard on frets); Fender and Gibson do OK, but I’m not crazy about the feel of them. Ernie Ball, Dean Markley, DR (worst coating EVER), and SIT all break too easily and/or corrode too fast (and I clean and oil non-coated strings often). It’s been that way for as long as I’ve been playing, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a Floyd, vintage style trem, or stop-tail. I noticed that Ernie Ball string packs have a long list of players who play their strings. I don’t know how in the world EVH did all that wild tremolo stuff with Ernie Balls (a 0.009-0.040 set)–but come to think of it, on the “Live Without a Net” video he breaks a string–and I’m sure all of those guitars had new strings at the beginning of the night. I’ll make this set of Slinkys last as long as I can–I may have to replace the plain strings with D’Addario–but Ernie Ball has gotten me for the last time.

    FWIW, I don’t use locking tuners because I find the strings break too soon at the headstock. I’m fine with good “regular” tuners and a few extra winds.

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