What Strings Does Billy Strings Use? [String Guide]

Billy Strings has been creating quality music for many years but it is in the last few that his fan base has truly grown. Now he sells out shows at Red Rocks and plays sensational live performances. His unique guitar playing style is refreshing and admired by all.

What strings does Billy Strings use? Billy Strings uses D’Addario EXP Coated Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings EXP17 Medium/Red 13-56 strings. The gauge on Billy Strings acoustic guitar strings are .056, .045, .035, .026, .017, and a high E of .013.

Continue reading to learn more about what strings Billy uses and where you can get them.

What Strings Does Billy Strings Use?

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What Gauge Strings Does Billy Strings Use?

Billy Strings uses the following string gauges on his setup:

Low E.056
High E.013
Billy Strings string gauge

This gauge setup is defined as medium gauge. Billy Strings uses these gauges because he digs in when he plays and needs strong strings to keep up with his heavy flat picking. With bluegrass, aggressive strumming is necessary due to the fast paced flat picking that occurs. This is the reason why Billy uses these heavier strings. He plays hard and needs the strings to hold up over time. This is similar to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rationale. Stevie played extremely hard and needed heavy strings to match his style.

“I wish I learned to play lighter honestly, I’ve always dug in and it’s one of the things I am learning as I grow”

Billy Strings referring to his playing style, Premier Guitar

To compensate for these heavier gauges, Billy’s action is higher than most. He plays hard with heavy strings so without a high action, the strings would buzz out.

To summarize, on Billy Strings Thompson electric acoustic guitar, he uses these string gauges: low E-.056, A-.045, D-.035, G-.026, B-.017, and high E-.013.

What Strings Does Billy Strings Use?

Billy Strings uses D’Addario EXP17 Coated Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings on his Preston Thompson Electric Acoustic guitar. Billy uses these strings because they are difficult to break, comfortable to play, and offer a well-balanced tone with bright intonation.

D'Addario EXP Coated Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings EXP17 Medium/Red 13-56 strings
Source: Strings and Beyond

Billy is truly one of a kind. He is a bluegrass musician at heart but shows his blues and classic rock influences by playing many covers during his live shows. Most notably are his Grateful Dead covers. Jerry Garcia came from a bluegrass background so the covers have an authentic and true feel to them. Let’s get to the strings.

Billy’s main guitar is a sunburst custom HD-28-style Preston Thompson Guitar, with a personalized D-18-type rosette. It is not often that he uses a different guitar, at least for his main songs. For that reason, his string setup is relatively easy to decipher. Billy has been quoted saying he is all about consistency, meaning his setups often do not change as soon as comfortability gets established.

One of the main reasons that Billy uses D’Addario strings is because they do not break. He mentions how he has never had a problem with strings breaking on stage once he started using them. D’Addario are highly touted across the guitar community as the ‘unbreakable’ strings. This is a crucial characteristic to have in strings for live performers like Billy.

D’Addario EXP 13-56 Strings Review

D’Addario EXP strings give a well balanced acoustic tone with bright intonation. These strings are known to last 3 to 4 times longer than typical acoustic guitar strings, justifying the higher price point. The coating creates a warm and fret friendly feel compared to non-coated strings.

“D’Addario EXP strings provide insurance against corrosion and tarnish. The coating helps preserve the crisp tone that Dave prefers.”

Monk, Dave Matthew’s Guitar Tech

So if Billy uses them, then they must be good right? Not entirely. It truly depends on your playing style and if you prefer light, medium, or heavy gauged strings. These strings are medium gauge, but they are on the heavy side of that distinction.

Even if you are playing acoustic, many players still enjoy to bend up notes. These strings will make it more difficult to do so because of the heavier nature. If you are a heavy bender then I would advise to look into lighter strings. It is not impossible to bend on these strings, it is simply harder than if you were to bend on lighter ones. I tested these strings out and was still able to bend but had to work a little harder to do so. The bright yet warm tone of these strings certainly outweighed the heaviness and they are now my number one acoustic guitar strings.

Where Can You Get D’Addario EXP 13-56 Strings?

Guitarists can get D’Addario EXP 13-56 strings via the sources below.

Strings and Beyond (best source for the authentic version)$12.09
Amazon (EJ17 Version)$7.99
Guitar Center (authentic version)$15.99
Where to Buy D’Addario EXP 13-56 Strings

Unfortunately these strings are not as easy to come across as Ernie Balls or another name brand. The EXP version are in high demand and are often sold out on most sites, leading guitarists to buy a different version with the same gauge. By the time you are reading this, if one of the above sources have them in stock, I would jump on it.

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