As one of the most recognized brands in the guitar industry, one would expect Fender’s strings to be nothing short of amazing. While the truth of this statement invariably comes down to the personal preferences of the player, the strings are quite high quality and will undoubtedly fulfill the demands of a variety of styles including blues, jazz, and rock. Furthermore, these strings are often the exact stock pair found on Fender instruments purchased directly from the factory, so if you liked the way your Fender acoustic or resonator felt prior to restringing it for the first time, it would be worth looking into acquiring a pair of these strings to recreate the experience.
One huge plus is that since these strings are the stock on many Fender acoustic instruments means that if you want to try these strings live, simply drive out to a music shop and pick up a Fender floor model. There’s a pretty decent chance they’ll have the 880L’s strung on them, unless the shop changed the strings after receiving it from the Fender factory for whatever reason. This way, you can get a hands on demonstration of the capabilities of these strings for free.
Like any Fender product, the number one consideration for the 880L’s is their ability to produce a fantastic tone. One area these strings particularly excel in is their ability to sustain, which is often the main area of praise in guitarist reviews. That being said, while the 880L’s do offer an extended sustain compared to many similar priced strings, Fender’s product is not the absolute authority on sustain. There are other great strings on the market that do offer equally long and clear sustain as well.
Another interesting sonic characteristic of the Fender 880L’s is their coating. Despite being 80/20 bronze strings (we’ll get into that in the next section), the coating on the Fender 880L’s prevents the strings from becoming too tinny or bright in tone. While the strings definitely have more of a punch than standard phosphor bronze’s, they aren’t as “in your face” as comparable 80/20 bronze strings. Depending on the style of music one intends to play, this can considered an advantage or a disadvantage. As for us, we like the tone.
Basic Construction and Durability
As previously mentioned, the Fender 880L’s are an 80/20 bronze string. This means that the wire wrap on the string consists of 80% copper and 20% zinc, which lends itself to a very bright tone. Furthermore, 80/20 strings tend to change in tonal characteristic as they age, which simply means players will need to break them in for awhile before the strings can achieve their highest quality tone.
There are also a few more things to consider about the Fender 880L’s unique coating on the strings. Fender labels this as “Dura-Tone”, claiming the treatment resists grime and corrosion. This definitely increases the longevity of the string and tonal changes caused by the coating are definitely present. Specifically, the coating subdues a little bit of the percussive nature of normal phosphor bronze strings which makes for a more mellow string set.
Finally, these strings are available in various gauges including extra light, light, custom light and medium, so there is one to fit your style of play.
Like any string that requires breaking in before reaching its peak performance, the initial tune on your Fender 880L’s will undoubtedly walk a little bit after a brief play period. This can be due to a variety of factors, but can be somewhat combated by using the strings in a warm, stable environment. Furthermore, properly stretching the strings both before and after restringing will help prevent them from slipping out of tune. However, like an 80/20 string, the best way to keep these strings in tune is simply to play on them hard right after string to help them stretch and relax more quickly. It takes these strings awhile to settle (about 15 minutes of playing), but once they do, you’ll find they have no trouble keeping their tune and producing a great tone. Of course in the meantime, you’ll want to have a good tuner handy.
Price and Availability
Like any Fender product, it’s pretty easy to get your hands on a set of the 880L’s. Besides being available through hundreds of different online retailers, the strings should be available in Ken Stanton, Guitar Center, Sam Ash, and most other major music retailers. Plus, there’s a pretty good chance your local mom and pop music shops will sell these strings as well.
One downside of the 880L’s is their price. On average, you’ll find these strings marketed at around $10 per pack. While this isn’t a particularly bad deal for these strings, you can sometimes find them a little cheaper if they go on sale. That being said, since this a mass marketed product, prices may vary substantial depending on location, and there’s definitely a chance of finding these strings at a lower price.