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About Nylon or Strung Guitar

Nylon strings have a warm mellow tone and are most often used for classical guitar. By contrast, steel strings have a bright and harsh sound.

Ideally, your choice of a nylon or steel string guitar will be based on your musical preference. In order to help you determine that preference, we have provided the following information about the differences between nylon and steel strings, and the characteristics of each.

Select the Guitar That Reflects Your Musical Interest

Select the type of guitar that is commonly used in the music you are interested in learning, as this will greatly increase your motivation to play and practice.

Nylon String Guitars Are Typically Used for Classical and Folk Music; Steel String Guitars for Rock, Country and Most Other Styles
Nylon string, or classical guitars, are traditionally used for classical music; however, the mellow tone and responsiveness of the nylon strings can be enjoyed for folk or any other style of music (Willie Nelson performs on a nylon string guitar). Steel string guitars are used for rock, country and many other styles of music, but it is a matter of personal choice. They have a crisp, bright tone as compared to nylon string guitars. Listen to different recording artist that perform on nylon and steel string guitars to help you find the sound that is the most appealing to you.

No Matter What You Choose, Every New Guitar Needs To Be Adjusted
This is a good area in which to exercise caution. Most new guitars are sold right out of the box and are not properly adjusted for easy playability. They may have a basic factory set-up, but the entry level to intermediate selling price point prohibits extended manufacturing and adjustment time on the instruments. They are generally considered acceptable by the music industry, but as a music teacher I have found it difficult for most adults and almost impossible for young students to play these guitars (this is also true for other entry and intermediate level instruments as well). Above all else, make sure your guitar is properly adjusted, as this will greatly insure your interest and success on the guitar.

With Either Type of String, Fingers Will Initially Become A Little Tender And Sore
Initially, playing on either nylon or steel strings will make the fingertips a little tender and sore, but with a little time and practice will go away. Nylon strings are made of a softer, less dense material and are under less tension than steel strings. As a result, they are slightly easier to push down, provided the instrument is properly adjusted. Steel string guitars are under a higher amount of tension and therefore the strings are somewhat harder to push down than nylon strings, but the difference is not great as long as the guitars are correctly adjusted for easy playability.

Strings Are Not Interchangeable Between Nylon and Steel String Guitars
Whatever decision you make, remember that the two types of strings are not interchangeable on one guitar. Steel string guitars are designed and manufactured for steel strings and will provide the most playability, intonation and sound when used with steel strings. Steel strings on a nylon string guitar will damage the instrument because it is not designed or braced for higher tension strings.

Nylon Strings May Need To Be Tuned More Frequently
Nylon strings tend to go out of tune more easily due to temperature and humidity changes because they are made of a softer material. Steel is a little more stable. Regardless, an instrument should be tuned before and sometimes during each practice session.