D’Addario very kindly sent me a sample of their new EXP coated string range as well as a pro-winder from their Planet Waves brand. I am a long time user of both of these companies so I was only too happy to test-drive a few more of their excellent products!
For those who aren’t in the know, Planet Waves is also owned by D’Addario. I was sent a set of super light (EXP120) and regular light (EXP110) strings for electric guitar, and a set of light (EXP16) and medium (EXP17) strings for acoustic.
D’Addario EXP Coated Strings
I’ve been using D’Addario’s EXP range of strings for probably a year or two now, and they are superb! These strings do cost a little more but they come with a special coating which should hopefully extend the life of the strings quite considerably. If you’re like me, get fairly sweaty during a good guitar session and never bother to wipe down the strings afterwards, these are absolutely ideal. I used to be able to turn a set of strings brown within a couple of weeks, but with these I can easily stretch them out for months of use if need be.
Fair enough if you play live or do session work you will want a fresh set of strings on for each and every gig, but for home practice these EXPs will keep you going for longer without sacrificing tone. A further bonus on the electric packs is the extra high-e string that comes bundled inside – something that you see less and less of these days.
Will you notice the coating on the strings? Sure, at first. As you make your first bend you will be able to feel the string grind against the fret, but this is only temporary and will quickly disappear as you continue to play. Once you’ve worn off the coating beside the frets the EXP’s feel like any other set of regular strings.
The strings come with colored ball-ends to allow for easy identification and are packaged in a sealed bag to keep them factory fresh forever. If you go through strings like nobody’s business I would absolutely recommend test driving a set of these strings out, both for acoustic and electric.
Planet Waves Pro-Winder String Tool
If your guitar doesn’t have locking tuners then a good string winder is a complete necessity. It will shave minutes off of your restring time and saves a lot of unnecessary strain on your wrist. I’ve been using a Planet Waves string winder for nearly 10 years now and it’s still going strong! This winder also features a string-cutter to help speed up the removal of old strings and tidy up the new ones.
In the image above you can see the new design on top versus my older model on the bottom. Compared to the older design, the new model is essentially the same apart from the more ergonomically designed handle. The new design also feels far more robust in the hand and generally a little better made. The longer handle design also means that you can exert more pressure to help cut those stubborn strings.
The winder also comes with a built in bridge pin puller for acoustic guitar – something I had never noticed in the 10 years I’ve been using them! A little u-shaped recess in the tuning head holder fits perfectly around the pins, allowing them to be safely and easily removed.
An excellent little tool – everything you need for restringing in one tidy little package.
Here’s something great from D’Addario that I hadn’t noticed until today – their ‘Player’s Points’ scheme. Under this scheme you can save up the packaging from your products, and then once you have enough you can trade them in for further items. Each redeemable product will have a number of points allocated to it on the packaging, for example a packet of these EXP strings is worth 5 points.
You do have to pay the shipping charge, but products available range from a lanyard for 5 points all the way up to a padded gig bag for 120 points. The company will recycle all packaging that you return to them as well. What a great idea!
I have quite a large supply of strings at home, so I already have 67 points saved up which is enough for a tshirt – excellent! If you want to see the products available check out this link for details.
You do pay a little extra for the strings, but keep in mind that they will last you longer, they come with an extra string (for electric) and you’re building up loyalty points as a bonus. As I said, I’ve been using these for a couple of years now and I don’t see any reason I’d want to try anything else.
Also make sure to pick up a Pro-Winder when you get your strings, they’re cheap, will save a lot of effort and should last you a lifetime ;)