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WRAP (OR WINDING) MATERIAL
Wrap Material refers to the metal used in a wound guitar & bass string construction.

N.B. This does NOT relate to the non-wound strings in electric and acoustic sets (high E, B, and sometimes G), which are referred to as “plain strings”, and are generally always made of plain or high-carbon steel, though there are exceptions, such as coated or plated strings.

ELECTRIC GUITARS AND BASSES
Wrap material is important to take into account when it comes to electric guitars and basses because, for the most part, they use magnetic pickups, and the type of metal used largely affects the magnetic output of the string, thus affecting tone by dictating how hard the pickup is driven. While any of the sets mentioned below can sound great on any guitar, there are a few defining characteristics to each that are important to remember. As always, there are sometimes exceptions, and it is important to read descriptions carefully before purchasing, but here is a good general guide:

NICKEL-PLATED - shop Nickel-plated strings >
Nickel-plated electric strings consist of nickel-plated steel wire wound around a steel core, which produce a tone that is rich and full, while also relatively bright. These are by far the most popular choice for electric guitarists and bassists, and are found in most of the standard sets available today, such as Ernie Ball Slinkys and the D'Addario XL series.

PURE NICKEL - shop pure Nickel strings >
Pure Nickel electric strings consist of a pure nickel wire wound around a steel core, which produce a warm, smooth tone due to their low magnetic output. These are popular with guitarists seeking a more 'vintage' tone, as most early electric guitar strings were produced this way.

STAINLESS STEEL - shop stainless steel strings >
Stainless-steel guitar strings consist of a stainless-steel wire wound around a steel core, which produce a very bright, clear tone and longer sustain due to their high magnetic output. These are popular with guitarists seeking a punchy, heavy tone when overdriven, or for those who prefer plenty of twang in their clean tone.

GOLD-PLATED - shop Gold-plated strings >
Gold-plated electric strings consist of a gold-plated steel wire wound around a steel core, which produce a bright, brilliant tone with plenty of sustain. These are famously used and endorsed by Brian May of Queen.

MONEL - shop Monel strings >
Monel electric strings consist of a relatively evenly mixed nickel/copper alloy wire wound around a steel core, which produce a tone that is similar to pure nickel, but somewhat brighter. In fact, due to it's anti-corrosive properties and increased strength, Monel has been used in the string industry as an alternative to pure nickel as far back as the 1930's.

ALLOY-52 - shop Alloy-52 strings >
Alloy 52 electric strings consist of a 52% nickel/48% iron alloy wire wound around a steel core, which produce a bright, punchy tone due to their high magnetic output.

COBALT - shop Cobalt strings >
Cobalt electric strings consist of a cobalt/iron alloy wire wound around a steel core, which produce a loud, bright, punchy, clear tone due their very high magnetic output.


For visual approximation of brightness vs. output have a look at the graph below.*


ACOUSTIC & SEMI-ACOUSTIC GUITARS, BASSES AND FOLK INSTRUMENTS

Wrap Type is very important when it comes to acoustic strings, because tone comes from the vibration of the soundboard, which in turn resonates throughout the body of the instrument. That being said, it stands to reason that the type of material used to produce the strings largely affects this vibration, along with which tonal characteristics are most prevalent throughout the instrument.

This also applies to most semi-acoustic instruments, as the under-saddle pickups are designed to amplify vibration, unlike electric guitar pickups which amplify the magnetic output of the string. While any of the sets mentioned below can sound great on any guitar, there are a few defining characteristics to each that are important to remember. As always, there are sometimes exceptions, and it is important to read descriptions carefully before purchasing, but a good general guide can be found below:

PHOSPHOR BRONZE - shop Phosphor Bronze strings >
Phosphor Bronze acoustic guitar strings consist of a 92% copper/8% zinc alloy wire wound around a steel core, which produce a warm, full tone with bright overtones. These are very popular with most acoustic players due to their great balance between warmth and brightness, and have become somewhat of an industry standard over the years.

80/20 BRONZE - shop 80/20 Bronze strings >
80/20 Bronze acoustic guitar strings consist of a 80% copper/20% zinc alloy wire wound around a steel core, which produce a bright, brilliant tone with plenty of high end and projection. These are second in popularity only to phosphor bronze, and are the string of choice for players who prefer a brighter tone than phosphor. These are also great for adding life to inherently ‘dark’ sounding acoustic instruments, such as un-lacquered or all-mahogany types.
 

85/15 BRONZE - shop 85/15 Bronze strings >
85/15 Bronze acoustic guitar strings consist of a 85% copper/15% zinc alloy wire wound around a steel core, which produce a warm, vibrant tone. These are a great middle-ground for players seeking the warmth of phosphor and the brighter highs of 80/20.

NICKEL BRONZE - shop Nickel Bronze strings >
Nickel Bronze acoustic guitar strings consist of a nickel-plated phosphor bronze wire wound around a steel core, which produce a rich, balanced tone with plenty of harmonic overtones. The nickel-plating of these strings adds brightness to the phosphor wrap, while also creating a higher magnetic output, which makes them a great choice for acoustic instruments with magnetic pickups installed in place of the more common under-saddle variety.

SILVER-PLATED - shop Silver-plated strings >
Silver-plated acoustic guitar strings consist of a silver-plated copper-steel wire wound around a steel core, which produce a warm, sparkling tone with plenty of projection and excellent percussive qualities.

GOLD-PLATED - shop Gold-plated strings >
Gold-plated acoustic guitar strings consist of a gold-plated steel wire wound around a steel core, which produce a bright, brilliant tone with plenty of sustain.

MONEL - shop Monel strings >
Monel acoustic guitar strings consist of a relatively evenly mixed nickel/copper alloy wire wound around a steel core, which produce a warm, mellow tone. These are great for players who prefer a more ‘vintage’ sound, and due to their anti-corrosive properties and increased strength, they have been used in the acoustic guitar industry as far back as the 1930's.

ALLOY 52 - shop Alloy 52 strings >
Alloy 52 acoustic guitar strings consist of a 52% nickel/48% iron alloy wire wound around a steel core, which produce a bright, punchy tone that is similar to stainless steel, while not being quite as bright.

NICKEL-PLATED - shop Nickel-plated strings >
Nickel-plated acoustic guitar strings consist of nickel-plated steel wire wound around a steel core, which produce a tone that is relatively bright. Although it is somewhat rare to find these on acoustic guitars, they are widely used for the production of other acoustic instruments, such as resonator guitars and banjos.

PURE NICKEL - shop pure Nickel strings >
Pure Nickel acoustic guitar strings consist of a pure nickel wire wound around a steel core, which produce a warm, smooth tone. Although rare, these do exist on certain acoustic sets.


CLASSICAL (SPANISH/NYLON-STRING) GUITARS

Wrap Type is important to take into account when it comes to classical guitar strings because, like a standard acoustic, tone comes from the soundboard of the instrument, and the type of material used in the strings largely affects the vibration of the soundboard, along with which tonal characteristics are most prevalent throughout the body. While any of the sets mentioned below can sound great on any guitar, there are a few defining characteristics to each that are important to remember. As always, there are sometimes exceptions, and it is important to read descriptions carefully before purchasing, but a good general guide can be found below:

SILVER-PLATED - shop Silver-plated strings >
Silver-plated classical guitar strings consist of a silver-plated copper steel wire wound around a nylon core, which produce a relatively warm, sparkling tone with plenty of projection. These are the most popular among most guitarists.
 

GOLD-PLATED - shop Gold-plated strings >
Gold-plated classical guitar strings consist of a gold-plated steel wire wound around a nylon core, which produce a bright tone with plenty of sustain.

PHOSPHOR BRONZE - shop Phosphor Bronze strings >
Phosphor Bronze classical guitar strings consist of a 92% copper/8% zinc alloy wire wound around a nylon core, which produce a warm, full tone.

80/20 BRONZE - shop 80/20 Bronze strings > 
80/20 Bronze classical guitar strings consist of a 80% copper/20% zinc alloy wire wound around a nylon core, which produce bright tone with plenty of high end and projection.

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