Review: D’Addario XS Acoustic Guitar Strings

I was recently invited by D’Addario to review its new line of “XS Acoustic Guitar Strings”, which of course I’m more than happy to do here.

This couldn’t have happened at a better time as I’d just finished another modification to my Peavey DW-3, trashing the tarnishing 12:1 ratio brass machine heads with rubber-coated buttons and replacing them with Kmise chrome 18:1 ratio tuners. Admittedly, they’re certainly not the best brand in the world, but still head and shoulders above what was previously installed.

Properly completing winds during string changes is a bit more tricky (especially on pinned bridges), but that fine ratio makes it well-worth the effort. They keep the guitar in pitch so perfectly, I think you’d have to pull a Pete Townshend on it to knock it out of tune.

The gauges I was provided with for this review are the “Light 12-53” variant, with four of the six being wound.

Since the photos above are a bit difficult to read due to most of the printing being in silver, description and specifications are as follows:

  • D’Addario’s most advanced coating technology allows the string windings to be completely protected from contaminants preserving a lasting, clear tone with maximum life.
  • High carbon steel wire and Fusion Twist technologies deliver unrivaled tuning stability and break resistance. Strings stay in tune 131% better than traditional strings!
  • Less acoustic damping than other coated strings, delivering true and pure iconic D’Addario tone.
  • The inner packaging features a resealable zip closure, for ease of opening as well as storage of unused strings.
  • String Gauges: .012, .016, .024w, .032w, .042w, .053w


XS is breathing new life into coated strings. With its ultra-thin film coating on every wound string and unique polymer treatment on the plain steels, XS offers our highest level of protection for maximum life with an uncommonly smooth feel. XS also features NY Steel high carbon core and plain string wire, along with our exclusive Fusion Twist, for incomparable break strength and tuning stability. XS is the most innovative coated string ever created.

A tremendous leap forward in coating technology allows the string windings to be completely protected from contaminants for lasting tone and maximum life. With NY Steel at its core, XS offers greater break strength and tuning stability which are only enhanced by our proprietary Fusion Twist technology. Thanks to an incredibly thin coating, every XS string stays true to the iconic D’Addario tone.

Thus far, without a doubt, I have to agree with all these claims.

  • They literally made this DW-3 project nearly twice as loudly as before. Yet, they still manage to produce very clear sound and accurate tone.
  • Their “ultra thin film coating” makes them smooth as glass.
  • Exceptionally strong, yet unbelievably flexible.

Most notably, the effort required to play extreme bends is comparable to the Ernie Ball Slinky strings I use on all of my electrics. Doing so repeatedly didn’t affect the tuning in the slightest, and both these points are pretty amazing considering they’re obviously intended for acoustic guitars.

“Super Slinky”, but not Ernie Ball!

Time will tell as to their durability, but as of now I’m quite impressed. When it comes to D’Addario products, that’s really no surprise.

Naturally, sound is of most importance. Since I don’t have a decent video camera, here are several great demo videos from YouTube

Speaking of durability:

“3 Month Longevity Test”

A well-done general review:

“First impressions”

Lastly, I felt compelled to capture a few photos of the DW-3 with these strings installed. Not only do they sound awesome and provide excellent playing comfort, but they’re absolutely beautiful in appearance to boot.

At between $18 and $28 a set, they’re not the cheapest date on the block. However, in this case you truly get what you pay for, and these are well-worth those few extra dollars.

If you decide to pick some up and check them out for yourself, I’m sure you’ll agree with all of the conclusions above regarding this super-high quality product.

Among other retailers, they’re currently available on Amazon in five different gauges:

D’Addario XS Acoustic Guitar Strings

Happy playing, and keep on Rockin!

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