by Professor String

Are Guitar String Reviews Really Honest?




So you picked up the latest copy of your favorite guitar magazine and they have done a review of many different sets of strings. Or, maybe you clicked on a great guitar news website and they did a huge benchmark test on a bunch of guitar string brands. Your curiosity drives you to read the article to find out which brand did the best, or worst. As you read the test results and comments, you take a mental note of which brand seems to stand above the rest. In turn, you later decide to try the string sets they recommended when it’s time to buy new strings. Suddenly you hear an imaginary smack noise in your head! You ask yourself, “What was that noise?!” Well my friend, that imaginary smack was the sound of a magazine editor giving a string manufacturer the high-five. Their so called “String Test” or “String Shoot-out” worked. They got you to buy the set they recommended. Is this a bad thing? Let’s take a look, and you be the judge. We will use the automotive industry as an example.

About a year ago, a popular automotive website ran by a highly respected figure head in the automotive industry let the world know the real truth about automotive awards given by publications. For name sake, we will refer to him as Lorenzo. You may have seen some respected automotive magazines review various cars and hand out their “Car of The Year” award. Lorenzo used to work in the advertising and marketing space for years and knew the real dirt about tests ran by magazines. In so many words, Lorenzo said the car that usually won the test also paid the most in advertising dollars to that particular magazine doing the tests. Think about it, if you did a brutally honest test of manufacturers, and your best advertising customer had a product that didn’t do so hot…what would you say as an editor? Would you say something like this...

“We tested Brand Z and found the results to be disappointing, with the product showing poor performance and quality. We give their product 8 points out of 100.”

As soon as you print it, the customer would pull the plug on their advertising dollars with your publication in a heartbeat. Lorenzo also exposed another secret about the “Car of The Year” award. The award has the publication name on it. So every ad shown or written about the car will have the publication’s name on it. That’s free advertising for the publication everytime the award winning car is mentioned. You would probably see something like this...

“The new ZMW es335i was recently awarded Car & Drunk Driver’s coveted Car of The Year award for the third year in a row. No other car manufacturer has accomplished this feat.”

Oh really? Are they really saying that no other car company has spent more dollars in advertising with us in the past three years? Maybe the car really is that good, and no one can touch it. How will we ever know? The answer is simple: Education. We must still do our own homework and  our own benchmarking when we go shopping. Lorenzo said to take a very close look at the Pros and Cons list of the review. Beware when you start to see a particular brand consistently getting the same Cons such as “The only issue we found with the new Lixus es175 was the ashtray did not hold enough cigarette butts.” How subjective was the test? In other words the Lixus es175 is so beyond perfect, we couldn’t find ANYTHING wrong with the thousands of components that make up its anatomy. Folks, if that statement were true, then this perfect car should last until the Earth disappears…at least according to the review. I can remember seeing a very popular guitar string manufacturer getting rave reviews in the Pros section. However, in the Cons section, the only thing the reviewer found wrong with the set, was the package did not have extra stickers included to paste onto his/her guitar case. Consequently, that particular brand reviewed had a full page ad on the inside front cover, inside back cover, and a fold-out ad in the center section! Who do you think is paying the bills for that publication? Hmmm.

So are the string reviews worth reading? Absolutely. Regardless of the final conclusion of a review, there are always good tidbits and facts to be learned in the actual review. Draw your own conclusions. Educate yourself, and be your own reviewer.


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About The Author


Professor StringTM is a leading expert in the musical string business. He leads a development group that specializes in guitar and bass string research for musicians. You can visit their site at