Never used them myself, but I had a friend who used to swear by the plastic-coated strings he bought for his electric to try and help keep them cleaner. While I realize this probably does do something to minimize corrosion, it seems it doesn't do much to help with reducing grime overall, though. Anyone else's experience bear out either way?
I can definitely attest to the fact that they last longer. I have very sweaty hands and I used to decimate acoustic guitar strings--we're talking a new set about every week and a half. Once I used coated strings I cut the change time to about a month. As to their tonal difference, I personally like darker sounding acoustics so it was a non-issue for me.
As for cost, a regular pack of light gauge Martin acoustic strings costs $4.99, and a pack of Elixers is $14.99 per pack. So, assuming we consume one pack of strings per week (let's say you have sweaty hands like me) then the total cost per month on average would be 4.99 x 4 = $19.96. Therefore, in order for it to be more cost effective to use coated strings they must last at least one month or longer. Your mileage may vary depending on the types of strings you choose to use and how long they last.
You'll also obviously be changing strings less frequently--so you'll save yourself a little time and trouble there. It takes me about 5 minutes to swap my strings out so it's not a benefit to me per say, but if you hate changing strings or it takes you longer you could realize this benefit.
Hope that was helpful!
I have personally never used them, but I know of people who have. The plastic coating does indeed pretty much protect them from oxidation. A little bit of the grime you find on your fretboard comes from the sweat and dirt on your fingers, but a fair portion of it comes from the rust on the strings. Using strings that do not rust should therefore cut down on this a bit, as there is little to no rust/gunk going from the strings to the frets. Because of their texture, they should also be a little easier to wipe down.
From what I hear they are not as harsh as regular pure metal strings on the fingers, so are better for beginners. The plastic also cuts down the trebley 'twang' that some strings produce. But some people would say that that is what they are looking for.
Sorry I can't help more.
I used to use them all the time on my acoustic. However, I stopped when I tried out someone elses' with uncoated strings. The plain strings have a much brighter, more trebley sound, allowing each note played to stand out.
It is true that coated strings did not need to be changed nearly so often—they would maintain the same sound for much longer (maybe 6 months compared to 2 months, for light playing). But to my mind and ears, the sound they produced was not worth prolonging.
In terms of advantages, I have heard that a use of coated strings beyond longevity is for recording acoustics—to reduce the 'scraping' noise made when sliding the fretting hands into new positions along the fretboard.
I'm a casual player, and I keep Elixers on my guitar for a couple of years at a time. They're much better at handling the dust and grime that settles on the strings when not in use. I think that a fresh set of Elixers sounds about like 3-day-old Martins or something--not as clean sounding as fresh non-coated strings, but not dead either. I probably wouldn't record with them, but I love them for the low maintenance.
As with most people above, my personal experience is that they never quite get the same "out-of-the-box" brightness/sparkle of a fresh new set of non-coated strings, instead they sound more like a set of new strings that's been "broken in", i.e. stretched and played for a couple of days. Some people may actually prefer that, depending on the brightness of their guitar.
HOWEVER, the difference in my view is that they will stick to that sweet spot for a lot longer than normal strings, thus making for a more consistent experience over a longer time period. You'll get a better, 10/10 sound out of conventional strings but that'll last only for a couple of weeks (depending on how much you play, obviously) whereas you'll only get a 9/10 sound out of coated strings but that'll last for more than a month.
Yes, they definitely last longer.
I always wash my hands with soap and water before playing if my hands feel even the slightest bit greasy. Doing this and playing daily, a normal pack of strings lasts about a month or two before it begins to sound and feel rusty. When I use coated strings, though, I can easily play for a year or more without the strings sounding dead to me, and I've never had one go rusty.
I should note that my ear isn't as good as many of the people here, so YMMV.
Coated strings not only last longer but reduce string friction and string noise. If you are a jazz player utilizing walking bass lines, you will love coated strings. I have found Elixir's to work the best for me.
I have not used long life acoustic strings but I have used electric ones. I have an electric guitar that I knew would not be used for a long period of time,so I stringed some nanowire elixr onto it.
That was something like 6 years ago, and they still look like new now. Started using it daily for about a month now and no signs of degrading. (I do wash my hands before playing a fresh set of strings)
I am a repair tech-luthier-continually changing strings on martins, gibsons, taylors, larrivees, ovations, u name it. On my own martin & larrivee I've tried them all.
My take: Elixer nano webs are near top of my list along with d-adario coated, tried roto sound & cleartone, both terrable , i love coated mangans & for non coated strings you cant beat pearce 80/20, elixer & dadario coated last forever( a lot longer). I change strings on acoustics much more than normal players & coated are my way to go! But last to mention is the contact-core ghs, very piano like but not coated, if pearce or ghs contact core would coat their sets, they may be the best! Experament! I do! Very disappointed with cleartones. I put pearce on glen campbells guitars-he loved them. My advise? Try everything!
My new Taylor came with Elixirs, and I'm still trying to make up my mind. I've been using D'Addario phosphor bronze on all my acoustics for many years... I was initially happy that the Elixirs did not turn my fingertips black when playing fingerstyle. However, the coating wears off the treble strings rapidly and now they do it just as bad as any others... The idea is sound; much of the deadness of old strings is due to accumulated dirt, skin-oil, etc. between the windings of the string. The coating should keep the crud out. However, it also adds a bit of mass...
I teach high school guitar ensemble classes and the coated strings last much longer, are easier on beginners' fingers and have a great timbre. Elixirs are the way to go if you can afford the price, you will get much longer life out of them. If you like a brighter sound, use the ones with the nano web coating, if you like a little darker sound, use the polyweb coating.
As a player who gigs quite frequently (atleast once a weekend), I choose to play coated simply on the means of longevity. I personally play D'addario medium bronze phosphorus. I can typically get about 2-3 gigs out of a set of coated strings compared to pretty much one gig out of uncoated. I personally am a pretty rough player too, so my strings do tend to go quicker. But in the sheer sense of ease - and less trips to Guitar Center - coated is the way to go. It really all depends on your style and how frequently you gig, or play at home. Get out there and try a few different kinds and you'll find what fits for you.
I just tried the D'addario coated strings on my 1967 D18. I put mediums on and I haven't played this guitar a lot since I put them on a month ago. They sound dead and I'm going back to the regular D'addario phosphor bronze which I have been using for many years and have them on my other instruments. The coated strings don't offer enough sparkle or treble which I want to hear especially from a warm woody D18.
They last longer. That's beyond any doubt. However, I don't like them. They don't have that edge that usual strings has.
I tried Exilirs on my electric guitar. They cost about 3 times as much and lasted almost 3 times longer.
I didn't think they sounded as good as my usual strings. (either Erine Ball or Gibson) I tried Blue Steel when those first came out and didn't care for the sound of them either.
I wasn't saving any money using them. It did save time though.
I bought a set of Elixirs for my acoustic. I almost never play it so I'd like the strings to last as long as possible.