String Shootout Series: Review - D'Addario NYXL Guitar Strings

D’Addario hyped up their NYXL strings for several months before unleashing them onto the guitar string market on April 1, 2014. This was certainly no April Fool’s Day joke. D’Addario was the company that first pioneered the second generation nickel -plated steel string that pretty much all companies now use as the basis for their string-making formulas.  The family-owned company didn’t rest on its laurels though. They’ve continued to push the envelope with innovation, and their Balanced Tension string sets certainly lived up to the hype. We reviewed that set already and you can check it out here if you missed it the first time around.

With their beta-tested NYXL strings, D’Addario and Co. promised strings that “bend farther, sing louder, and stay in tune better than any string you’ve ever played.” How do they achieve this result? With a newly engineered, break-resistant, high-carbon steel core and plain steel alloy. In layperson terms? They’ve developed a formula that improves on the one they were one of the first to use successfully over five decades ago.

But I’ve never been one for marketing hype and pseudo-scientific wording on fancy posters telling me that strings are indestructible or that nine out of ten dentists do not recommend that you floss with guitar strings. What I, and Playing With Chaos readers want to know is, how did these new strings fare in our testing lab? (If you want to check out our criteria, you can do so here.)

Tone: Bright, with even tones that can be used for various genres of music.

Tuning Stability: 5 out of 5

Well, D’Addario wasn’t kidding. These beauties stay in tune after bashing power chords for songs on end! As a classically trained musician, I found this to be an absolute joy.  

Playability and Feel: 4 out of 5

The strings felt good to bend, and while I didn’t notice significantly more bendability, I did notice that the bends were more stable in terms of tuning. The playability was not as smooth as I was hoping for, and some of the high strings really did a number on my fingers during the initial days of testing, but they eventually “broke in” nicely and felt good.

Response to Pick attack and Balance from string to string: 4 out of 5

I found that the balance between one string and another was quite good, but that the response to pick attack was not as pronounced as I thought it would be. This may affect players of really heavy riffs, as I found the pick attack to be a little less responsive on the low end strings.

Depth of sound/Sustain: 4 out of 5

I noticed that the sustain on the NYXL’s was quite good, and that it was consistent from string to string. The depth of my sound and tone was also positively affected and I was happy that I was still able to get all of my usual sounds and squeals out of my Les Paul.

Durability: 5 out of 5

The NYXL’s seem indestructible. They still feel as though I could leave them on my guitar for at least another month, and there has been no loss of sound quality. D’Addario must have taken part of the formula for the Balanced Tension string sets, because the NYXL’s never sounded “chimey” like a brand new set of strings tends to sound. They were consistently smooth and balanced from the first day of testing all the way to the end of the second week.  

Overall, I’m happy with the new formula that D’Addario has developed for their NYXL strings. It’s rare that a company will have two rather significant innovations in such a short span of time in a market like the guitar string world. The NYXL’s promise to become the new standard for D’Addario, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the other competitors tried to base some of their new string formulas on D’Addario’s latest success.

D’Addario has recently added several new string gauge sets to the NYXL lineup, which tells you how popular this new release has become in just a few months. If you want more information on the science behind the NYXL's, or a list of places you can purchase them from, check out the NYXL microsite here.