How to Select the Best Classical Guitar Strings for Your Nylon String Guitars
The best strings in the world won't make a poor classical guitar sound great but poor strings will ruin the sound of a great classical guitar.
You may or may not have a great guitar but you will certainly be better off with the best strings you can find for it. High quality classical guitar strings that feel right for you and also improve the sound of your nylon string guitars.
This issue shows you a way to find some of the best sounding strings for your guitar.
First an announcement
The initial and continuing response to the April newsletter on how to select good sounding inexpensive nylon string guitars has been excellent. Therefore I've decided to directly import high quality Spanish made student guitars and start a line of my own. The guitars will be available in the near future at very reasonable prices.
UPDATE: They are now available. Please go to pavanguitars.com for information, photos, and pricing.
Now the String Thing
I am asked more questions about classical guitar strings than any other single topic dealing with classical guitars.
"What strings do you recommend?"
"What strings will sound the best on my guitar?"
"What strings do you use?"
"Should I use medium or high tension?"
The truth is I don't know what classical guitar strings will sound better on your nylon string guitars. And I certainly don't know what sets and brands will feel just right to you. The best classical guitar strings for you are the ones you like the best. Here's a way to eliminate the guess work and get down to finding those strings.
Finding the finest classical guitar strings
Three things to consider when selecting strings are tension, string material and string quality.
1. Tension -- Classic guitar strings are made in different tensions. They are: low tension also referred to as moderate or light, normal or medium tension, hard or high tension. There are some other tensions but we don't need to be concerned with them now.
2. String material -- Treble nylon guitar strings can be made with clear or rectified nylon. Clear nylon strings are extruded and then calibrated for accuracy. Rectified nylon strings are extruded and then ground to produce a string that will play in tune. They have a very fine roughness of texture. Treble strings are also made of carbon fiber and composite materials. Bass strings are primarily made of bronze wire or silver plated copper wire wound around a core of fine threads.
3. Quality of manufacturing -- The strings must play in tune and be made from high quality materials that hold up well.
How to select string tension
To find out what string tension works best for you buy a low, medium and high tension set of the same series and manufacturer. Lets use D'Addario as an example and choose the Pro Arte series J43, J45, and J46 sets. Use a peg-winder to change strings and try the three sets out over a few day period. Go back and forth between sets until you determine the tension you like.
Once you have selected the string tension you prefer try a few other brands in the same tension. I suggest, for the sake of comparison, you choose silver plated bass sets. Some classical guitar string manufacturers that offer excellent quality strings are Savarez, Hannabach, La Bella (the 2001 Professional series) and D'Addario.
If you have settled on the string tension that feels right for you and tried a number of brands you have probably found some classical guitar strings you are pleased with. Use the set you like the most as a comparison set. Keep the tension the same and...
Try different String materials
If you want to explore further try some rectified nylon trebles like the J29, J30 and J31 sets by D'Addario to compare the feel of rectified nylon to clear nylon guitar strings. The J29 - J31's are made with the old standard Dupont nylon and have a wonderful tone and feel. I like them very much even though they tend to be somewhat temperature sensitive. But beware, just because I like them doesn't mean you will. Savarez also makes excellent rectified nylon trebles.
Try some carbon fiber trebles. Carbon trebles are slightly smaller in diameter than nylon guitar strings of the same length and tension. Carbon fiber tends to give a brighter edge to the sound which can be a plus or minus depending on the guitar. My number one choice for carbon fiber classical guitar strings are the Savarez Alliance trebles.
A word of caution. Carbon fiber treble strings are prone to slip at the tie block as can nylon. Before I put the treble strings on classical guitars I hold the string tip above a match flame. The melted string tip balls up and prevents the string from slipping at the tie block.
Try some bronze wound basses. From my experience they tend to go dead sooner than silver-plated strings but they work well for many players.
Make your strings last twice as long
Now that you have found some excellent classical guitar strings here's a way to make them last twice as long. I'm not kidding. This simple tip will cut your string cost by half and I don't think you'll find it written on the back of a set of strings either.
Click save on classical guitar strings and scroll down to Reduce Your String Cost By Half.
Links to classical guitar string suppliers
Speaking of string cost here are some links to string suppliers with good prices. I have no business affiliation with them.
JustStrings.com offers an extensive selection of musical instrument strings for just about every string instrument imaginable.
BigCityStrings.com focuses primarily on guitar strings and has a good selection of classical guitar strings at excellent prices.
I hope you have found this information helpful. Just the tip on how to reduce your string cost has saved me hundreds of dollars. Give it a try.
Thank you for subscribing and enjoy your guitar playing.
To view Issue 1
Relative Humidity and The Exploding Guitar
Accurate Guitar Tuning Made Simple
To view Issue 2
Classical Guitars for Sale
You don't have to spend a lot of money for a good sounding student guitar
To view Issue 3
How to have a Great Classical Guitar Technique
To view Issue 4
How to select the best classical guitar strings for your nylon string guitar
To view Issue 5
Classical guitar instruction. Just do it!
To view Issue 6
Need more volume? How about a classical guitar pickup?
Tom Prisloe builds fine custom nylon string guitars. You can visit his web site at http://www.classicalguitarbuilder.com
or call Tom directly at 1-607-387-3875
Prisloe Guitars, PO Box 308, Trumansburg, NY 14886 USA
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