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REVIEW: Elixir Optiweb electric guitar strings

REVIEW: Elixir Optiweb electric guitar strings

When innovative US company W.L.Gore & Associates announced to the world that they would be launching Elixir Instrument Strings and leading a new revolution in instrument string manufacturing back in 1997, few believed then that the idea of a coated guitar string would take hold in a marketplace where brand loyalty remained so key to the success of the product.

Companies such as Ernie Ball, D’Addario and Rotosound had firmly established themselves over many, many years and continued to add to a growing plethora of artist endorsees using their products. And anyway, who exactly were W.L. Gore & Associates, and how can a company that used fluoropolymer technology to waterproof fabric revolutionise the string market?

Exactly 20 years later, and Elixir Strings have certainly done just that, with a variety of product across the electric guitar, acoustic guitar and bass guitar string market and variations of the coating process including Nanoweb, Polyweb and new for 2017, Optiweb, with each particular range aimed at meeting the different needs and playing styles of the individual guitarist.

The idea behind the process used is fairly straight forward, each string is coated in a fluoropolymer product that seeps into the windings of the string, thus preventing dirt and debris building up and extending the playability and bright tone of the string. The coating also effects the actual feel to each string, with Polyweb offering a fast, slick feel and warm tone while Nanoweb offers a much more smooth feel and brighter tone. So how would the new Optiweb range shape up?
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Our beta sample packet consisted of 10-46 gauge of strings for electric guitarists. This would be the first time that I’ve used Elixir strings on an electric guitar, my personal choice tending to favour Skinny Top, Heavy Bottom Ernie Ball 10-52 gauge strings on my trusty Gibson SG and Regular Ernie Ball 10-46 on my Fender Thinline Telecaster. I have used Elixir Nanoweb strings on all my acoustic guitars and have always been impressed by them – I tend restring my electric guitars more frequently than my acoustics, so using Elixir acoustic strings suits my playing needs in that sense.

For this review, I opted to place the Optiweb strings on my Telecaster, which was done with the minimum of fuss. Out of the packet the strings all looked fresh and clean with no rust spots on the high B and E, which can often be the case if the strings have been left in a warehouse for any period of time.

The strings were also all brought to pitch without any annoying breakages, again (unless you’re a beginner or particularly heavy handed) another sign that the strings could have been left for a particular length of time in a warehouse before being sent to retail. Nowadays, with the invention of foil, sealed packets, the quality of metal on the string tends to be the same as the day they left the manufacturers, but it is still worth checking.

Instantly, I could tell a difference with the actual feel of the Optiweb strings as compared to playing the Nanoweb’s on my acoustic, with a very natural feel similar to the Regular Ernie Ball 10s. The strings stayed in pitch well and after an hour of continued use I found that they had bedded in nicely, there was almost no need for me to check the tuning as they were holding well. The tone was also very good, a bright, natural sound that wasn’t dissimilar from my trusty Regular 10s.

Time will tell how well the strings perform, but knowing how long my acoustics can last with Elixir Strings fitted I’m pretty sure adding the Optiweb set to my electric will take the need out of restringing on such a regular basis. And from a retailers perspective, changing the strings of the pricer guitars in stock to Optiweb will certainly offer playability and a nice bright tone that far exceeds the manufacturer fitted variety, which could result in that unexpected Thursday afternoon sale…

Elixir's Optiweb strings are available from 1st March 2017.

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Tags: elixir strings , guitar strings , Reviews , optiweb

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