Following last year’s release of the wildly successful Cobalt series electric guitar strings, Ernie Ball has a gift for acoustic guitar players with the release of their new Ernie Ball Aluminum Bronze strings. Early praise from guitar heroes like Andy McKee go a long way towards proving this technology is the answer to many players’ problem.
The Ernie Ball Aluminum Bronze string builds on the legacy of the Ernie Ball acoustic line by leveraging their proprietary M-Steel (Maraging Steel) hex core technology to create a solid, toneful foundation for their new Aluminum Bronze formula wrap. The result is strings with a noticeable increase in projection and clarity and longer life with less corrosion. The strings feel great, with the perfect balance of grip and slickness, and are currently available in Extra Light (.010 .014 .020w .028 .040 .050), Light (.011, .015, .022, .032, .042, and .052), Medium Light (.012, .016, .024, .032, .044, and .054), and Medium (.013, .017, .026, .034, .046, and .056.
The measure of any guitar string is its tone, and those looking for balanced, focused tone will find a lot to love here. Although this may be the first string for acoustic guitar to incorporate aluminum, many stringed orchestral instruments, like the violin, have relied on aluminum winding on their strings for their soulful, singing tone for decades.
When I placed the Ernie Ball Aluminum Bronze strings on my cutaway dreadnought guitar, which always exhibited a bit more of the traditional boominess of the style than I would like, two things jumped out with the first chord- the bass reigns itself in to an equally present but much more musically satisfying and focused frequency range and the highs sparkle and reveal enhanced depth. The mids richly marry the two frequencies and bring balance without sacrificing clarity or the sweet spots of the individual guitar.
Claims of increased projection are not exaggerated; the Aluminum Bronze strings make every guitar they are placed on bigger and more present. An unexpected byproduct of this is the increase in dynamic possibilities. I found I was able to drive the top of the guitar a bit more when digging in, leading to some truly visceral acoustic tones unavailable with my standard reference set of strings. The increased projection is especially impressive in smaller, parlor-style guitars that have great tone but low output.
Bringing a new sonic color to your acoustic guitar isn’t the only perk of the new Aluminum Bronze strings; players can expect a longer-lived, less reactive string that will sound and look brilliant longer than standard bronze or phosphor bronze. I have an unfortunate body chemistry many other players experience that requires frequent string changes due to my acidity and sweat that quickly deadens strings.
After two weeks of heavy playing with multiple players, the Ernie Ball Aluminum Bronze strings were still going strong with a cleaner feel and sound than I’ve experienced with other types. Visually, the strings reflected less wear, but, more importantly, they still carried their top end and increased projection long after I’d gunked up and replaced my reference set.
While some skeptics are quick to write off new alloys and metals as a gimmick to stand out in a flooded market, the Ernie Ball Aluminum Bronze acoustic series is worthy of the hype, and worthy of your attention. Whether you’re looking to increase the clarity, volume, and balance of your acoustic or just want a great sounding string that will stand up to your playing, look no further.
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.