You may have recognized on our social media channels and on our website that we are huge fans of Martin Guitars. Both the attention to detail they put into their guitars as well has how they conduct business, the company oozes pure class.
Martin has been partnering with Worship Guitar Magazine for the past two years and while we absolutely love their guitars, I personally haven’t been able to use their strings. That being said I haven’t really tried them for at least the past 5 years.
Looking back on my career as a guitarist in Church I have used only a few brands of strings, Martin being one of them. In fact when I started playing guitar I absolutely loved Silk & Steel strings. The softer feel to them was absolutely crucial to my learning guitar. After I got a bit better I wanted a bit more bite and volume to my tone so I switched to Martin SP 12-54 Phosphor Bronze strings. I played these exclusively for about three years until Elixir’s invention of the Nanoweb coating.
Before Elixir’s Nanoweb coating, was Polyweb which I always hated. The strings while consistent through the life of the string, were always dead sounding. When Nanoweb strings came along I tried a pack and while the tone wasn’t as good as the Martin SP’s the coating helped me get a few extra weeks out of them, which for a starving worship leader, less string changes was a huge win.
Fast-forward to the winter NAMM show 2019 in January. Up until this point I was still playing Elixir Nanoweb strings. During our tour of the Martin booth Martin’s PR & Marketing Communications Manager Kristi took me over to their string wall to show me their newly re-designed string lineup. To be completely honest, sub-consciously I was thinking, okay we get it, you make strings but let’s see the guitars.
Kristi explained that their new Lifespan 2.0 strings have a new patented technology that was developed to help protect both core and wrap wires from corrosion. She also stated the thing that every string manufacturer says, this corrosion resistant technology does not compromise the tone of the strings. I must say, at this point I was intrigued but also a bit skeptical. Elixir has been doing this for years, and I don’t care what anyone says, coated strings sound different than non-coated strings. It just makes scientific sense.
Martin sent me home with a press kit/goodies bag (just another way the company exudes class), and in it was a pack of each of their new sets of strings. After getting home from the NAMM show I threw them on my acoustic to give them a spin. Here is what I noticed.
All the Right Feels
Right off the bat the strings felt like standard non-coated strings but less abrasive. They didn’t feel like they were soaked in wax like Elixir Polywebs. They didn’t even feel as “coated” as Nanoweb strings feel. They had a, dare I say it, Authentic feel. They felt like those Martin SP strings that I absolutely loved but parted ways with because of longevity.
The Lifespan 2.0 strings also have less “string talk” than the standard strings I have used, but just enough to make them feel/sound authentic as you are sliding up and down the fretboard. For me this is absolutely a must have. I want my acoustic to sound like an acoustic and that includes those light sounds that come when I slide up and down the fretboard.
That being said regular non-coated strings can be a real pain in studio and live applications so these are really the best of both worlds.
You are probably tired of me saying authentic, because to be authentic means to be of undisputed origin or genuine. Well what new technology can really be like the old days, specially when it comes to acoustic guitar world.
Well all cheesy cliche statements aside, these strings sound Authentic. They have a ton of clarity in the upper mid-range and high end that Elixir and every other coated string I have played have lacked. Not only are they more punchy with increased clarity, but they have a fantastic low end to them. The set I have been using is the Phosphor Bronze, so I expect that the 80/20 Bronze will be a bit brighter with less low mid-range.
Industry Leading Longevity
Okay, at this juncture of the review I have to throw out that, these strings do not last as long as Elixir Polyweb strings for me. But with that honesty I also have to say that Polyweb strings sound so crappy that I don’t care if they were lifetime strings. They just take the fun out playing acoustic.
Now that we have that out of the way, I will put the Martin Authentic Lifespan 2.0 strings in the Nanoweb and Cleartone string families for those of those that are familiar with Cleartone strings.
Out of these three, Cleartone has had the least longevity. When I say longevity, I mean the time it takes for the strings to loose their bite, their sparkle. Everyone loves new strings and everyone hates old strings so the longer those strings retain their tonal characteristics the better. For this review I am not referring to durability of the string, as it relates to not breaking. It has been literally over a decade since I have broken a string while playing so, I am not even going to speak to that.
I have been playing acoustic consistently at home about 4-6 hours a week for the past 5-6 weeks with these Martin Lifespan 2.0 strings on and I am not noticing much degradation in the tone. The initial attack of the top end might be a bit less than when they were brand new but I am willing to go on the record here and say that I have never played a “good sounding” guitar string that has been more consistent through the life of the string than these Lifespan 2.0s.
In addition to the consistency in tone I noticed that the strings do not get hard and plunky over time like all other strings I have played. Martin sent us the new Re-inspired D28 and D18 guitars to demo and review and they came strung with the Lifespan 2.0s in the same gauge I had on my guitar. The strings literally felt identical in tension and elasticity to the one and half month old strings on my guitar.
Upon further inspection I noticed that the month and a half old strings on my guitar did not have indentations from the frets, which is something that I almost normally get after a month of strong playing on strings.
Overview & Final Thoughts
I hope that I have provided enough information and transparency in this review to give you an objective view of these strings. In summary. I am sold. While I have been playing Elixir Nanoweb strings exclusively for nearly a decade now, I am sold.
I am interested to test the consistency across different packs. I will report back with a follow up review after I have ran through a dozen or so packs of these things, as right now I cannot speak to whether or not these are consistent set to set. I know for instance Ernie Ball strings for me tend to be very inconsistent on electric. Sometimes they are great, sometimes they are DOA.
For the price of $12.99, you are saving $3 a pack over Elixir Nanowebs and as I mentioned above, I believe these retain their tonality longer than the Elixirs. For someone like myself who should change their strings once a month that is a savings of $36/year, plus with the increased tonal longevity you might even be able to get by with changing every 6-8 weeks depending on how long you play.
Overall these strings do exactly what Martin says they do.
Martin Authentic Acoustic Lifespan® 2.0 strings offer next generation treatment for long life, great playability and feel, and superior reliability with authentic tone.