TOUR DIARY: Scarlet Canary’s 30-Day Elixir Strings Challenge

“In terms of brightness and clarity the Elixir OPTIWEB Coated strings are superb and unmatched…”

Scarlet Canary usually plays DR strings and our bass player (Marcos) and I have been playing them for years. They’re aggressive and perfectly matched for drop tuning. I haven’t really been interested in trying out new strings after switching to DR, so when Performer Magazine worked with us to demo the new Elixir OPTIWEB strings for 30 days, we were skeptical.

I’ve played Elixir strings on my acoustic setups for years because the POLYWEB coating reduces finger squeak to being almost nonexistent, which is huge on acoustic. Especially if you’re like me and mostly play electric it can be easy to forget to lift your fingers a bit more with the higher action most acoustic guitars have. But the thought of that thicker coating didn’t appeal to me on an electric guitar. Until now.

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The OPTIWEB coating is a lot thinner than its NANOWEB and POLYWEB cousins in the product line and while you do feel the coating a bit, after playing for about thirty seconds I forgot it was there. If you do have finger squeak problems on an electric, this string will solve that problem for you as well.

Immediately after setting up the guitar I noticed how much brighter and clearer the Elixir strings were than previous brands I had used. In fact, I had to dial down a lot of treble from my amp mix and increase the bass to get the same aggressive tone I was used to. The brighter and clearer quality of the strings really allows chord augmentations and suspensions to shine through the mix, which is often lost in drop tunings.

The brighter tone does come with a bit of a tradeoff-  as Marcos and I found we had to drive our amps to match the same aggressive tone that our previous strings had that seemed to come more naturally.

In terms of how the strings last, I have to admit they didn’t go ‘dead’ after THIRTY SHOWS(!) and we dragged them through Florida’s humidity and Arizona’s 100+ degree temperatures. The coating never felt like it was coming off and the strings remained mostly untarnished for the duration of the tour and held their tone. We did break a few more strings on this tour than [normal], though. [Editor’s note – yeah, but in fairness you guys rock pretty hard, and we challenged you to go an entire tour for 30+ days with NO STRING CHANGES! Pretty nuts that there was virtually no corrosion and they didn’t sound dead after all those gigs and climate changes.]

When I got home from the tour I used their standard gauge six string set and it fit a lot nicer.  In terms of brightness and clarity the Elixir OPTIWEB Coated strings are superb and unmatched on the current guitar string market. For dropped tunings, it would be nice to see Elixir offer even more choices in thicker gauges in the future – especially for more aggressive bands. Just a small suggestion 🙂

At the end of the day, they’re a great sounding string that lasts a long time and they’re very forgiving on fretboard noise. I would encourage any standard tuned player to try the OPTIWEB Coated strings and I’m sure you’ll fall in love, too!

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