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Old 08-24-2014, 09:42 AM   #1
DavidNW
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Nylon Strings?

Hi,

I'm a newbie player of just 8 months. I have a stratocaster and an acoustic. I find it hard to get on with the steel stringed acoustic - the strings seem hard to play - although I have put extra light strings on. My strat is far easier to play!

A friend of mine has been playing acoustic for 20 years - he sometimes gives me a bit of teaching. He only ever uses nylon strings and says he prefers them. Thinking of trying a nylon set on my acoustic. What would be the disadvantages of using nylon? I'm guessing the tone would be different, that is to say, not as good.
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Old 08-24-2014, 09:57 AM   #2
Bikewer
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Don't do it.
Nylon strings have about half the tension of even a "light" set of steel strings, and will make little sound. They are intended for lightly-constructed classical guitars.

It's normal for your acoustic to be harder to play than a typical electric... but you can make yours much easier to play by having it set up properly.
We address this question at least weekly on the forum here.
Guitars are normally shipped with a sort of "in-the-ballpark" setup and action since the manufacturers know that the new owner will have it adjusted to where he wants.

That's fine for experienced players who know all about such things. But newbies often don't... And they suffer. Not only are their fingers neither yet strong nor calloused, the action is way too high.
Pain results.

Take your instrument to a decent tech and have a set-up done. Price varies, but most places will do it for about 50 bucks. It's a bargain. It's not hard to do yourself, but you need special tools and experience to do it properly.
Your fingers will thank you.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:18 AM   #3
DavidNW
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My fingers tips have hardened, so no pain now! Will get the acoustic setup by my local music store.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:48 AM   #4
Blackwaterson89
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Erine ball makes extra light acoustic guitar string. They have some rock and blues as well for acoustic.
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Old 08-24-2014, 12:54 PM   #5
Garthman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidNW
Hi, . . . . . A friend of mine has been playing acoustic for 20 years - he sometimes gives me a bit of teaching. He only ever uses nylon strings and says he prefers them. Thinking of trying a nylon set on my acoustic. What would be the disadvantages of using nylon? I'm guessing the tone would be different, that is to say, not as good.


I play acoustic steel string, nylon string and electric and like them all, but if I had to choose just one type it would be nylon.

My most-played guitar is my nylon string dreadnought. I put nylon strings on it about 10 years ago and never looked back. It sounds different to steel strings - of course - quieter and more mellow but it's a sound I like. I use high tension strings (La Bella 850B-HT) and I fit a craft bead to the end to attach at the pinned bridge. The only thing you might need to do is widen the treble nut slots a little and perhaps slacken off the truss rod slightly to allow for the lower tension.

Here is a vid of the guitar (sorry it's blurred - first time I used a webcam LOL):

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Old 08-24-2014, 02:43 PM   #6
Tony Done
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Nylon strings mostly won't drive a guitar that is designed for steel. Even the 1925 Martin I had, which was a transitional gut/steel type, didn't sound good with nylon strings. But Garthman likes them, so who knows? Try it and see, it doesn't cost much. The only real downside is that it you take that approach is that you'll never get used to playing a steel strings, if that is what you want. Also, many find that narrow steel strings necks don't work well with nylon strings, because of the higher action needed and greater string excursion. I've got small hands and fingers, and I wouldn't go less than 1 3/4" neck for nylon strings, a bit more is better.
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:23 PM   #7
rohash
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I have a Yamaha classical. It feels and sounds like a toy compared to my steel string acoustics. It plays very easy though. I don't know how you would put nylon strings on a steel string acoustic since the bridge and tuning pegs are completely different. Maybe they make nylon strings with a ball end IDK. You would have to do some major adjustments on the truss rod. Nylon strings also don't last very long or stay in tune very long from my experience; probably less so with the tension of a truss rod. Classical guitars don't have truss rods. Seems like a bad idea to me. You'd probably be better off just getting a classical guitar if that's what you prefer.
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:52 PM   #8
Tony Done
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rohash
I have a Yamaha classical. It feels and sounds like a toy compared to my steel string acoustics. It plays very easy though. I don't know how you would put nylon strings on a steel string acoustic since the bridge and tuning pegs are completely different. Maybe they make nylon strings with a ball end IDK. You would have to do some major adjustments on the truss rod. Nylon strings also don't last very long or stay in tune very long from my experience; probably less so with the tension of a truss rod. Classical guitars don't have truss rods. Seems like a bad idea to me. You'd probably be better off just getting a classical guitar if that's what you prefer.


You can get nylons strings with string balls, or just salvage a few from a steel string or electric set and hold them on with a simple knot. Most traditional classical guitars didn't have truss rods, but a fair number of modern inexpensive ones do, eg Cordoba, and while it keeps the neck relief right and I see it as a plus, it won't have anything to do directly with string longevity.

FWIW, if I was looking for a compromise between steel and nylon, it would be a crossover type like the Cordoba Fusion series. While I like playing nylon strings occasionally, one major downside is that they aren't amenable to changing tunings like a steel string. They take too long to settle in.
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Old 08-25-2014, 01:09 PM   #9
ChrisGHS
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Hey! GHS Strings actually offers a combination string that blends a nylon string with an acoustic string, they're called Silk & Steel/Silk & Bronze. I personally don't have a ton of experience with the sets, but we have had lots of positive feedback.
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