Phosphor Bronze has widely become the standard go-to acoustic string for the general acoustic player. The tonal output of these strings is evenly balanced with equal measure of low, middle and treble which makes them great for general strumming or when you’re the only instrument playing; you’ll get a warm, all-round sound.
Players: Paul McCartney, Brad Paisley and John Mayer.
80/20 Bronze is a much brighter string. It has a vivid ‘zing’ and a crisp fizziness which is synonymous with a rocky acoustic or fresh bluegrass. The lows are tamed slightly and treble is boosted by the mix of the alloy wrap wire, and you can see clearly the colour difference between this gold-looking string and the darker (more orange) phosphor bronze above. It’s very common to use an 80/20 bronze set to brighten up an old, dark acoustic.
These strings have crisp, clear highs with classic Ernie sizzle. A very fresh sounding set that is perfect for adding some life and sparkle to a dark sounding acoustic guitar. Used by Slash and Joe Bonammassa, you know this is a serious string.
Aluminum Bronze is a slightly different beast. The two string sets above use a high-carbon steel core - fairly standard in guitar string construction - which is bright, with good stiffness and great break-resistance. With Aluminum Bronze Ernie Ball have stepped up the game with a maraging steel core essentially supercharging the low end, adding better tuning stability and greater fatigue strength (it’s the same core they use in their M-Steel and Paradigm strings). Thanks to the combination of added low end of the ‘m-steel’ core and inherent brightness of Aluminium these strings are more hi-fi in sound with greater projection and volume.
Used by by Andy McKee, Mike Dawes and Preston Reed.