Guitar Musician News

Classical Guitar Strings – What’s Unique About Them?

by on Feb.16, 2012, under General

One of the most important differences between the classical guitar and other models of guitar are the classical guitar strings. These strings are made of nylon, which accounts for several differences both in tone and in design of the instrument.

  • The lighter nylon design means that there is a more resonating sound. This allows the guitar to have a polyphonic effect; in other words, several notes can be sounded at once through the right plucking technique. This is what makes the guitar popular in classical music, as the effect gives it more range than steel strings. With this effect, there is not much need to strum, and classical guitar strumming patterns are always discernible when used.
  • Because nylon strings put less tension on the neck, there is less need for bracing. Therefore, the necks of classical guitars are made entirely of wood instead of incorporating a metal truss rod (in most cases).
  • The machine heads of the classical guitar are also designed with the tone and the construction of the strings in mind. They are perpendicular to the fretboard.

It is important to note that nylon strings are not nearly as hardy as those made of steel. They are therefore likely to break more easily and advanced players will find that they are changing strings quite often, some up to once a day. Price is a definite consideration when classical guitar strings are concerned, and if you do not believe in using your fingers instead of a pick you will soon find out why it is not recommended.

Evolution

Over the past half century or so, the construction of classical guitar strings has undergone three different changes within popular usage. Generally, the treble strings of classical guitars are composed solely of nylon, while the bass strings consist of nylon wrapped around a steel string.

  • Gut Strings These were the only type of strings used on guitars (and almost everything else that needed strings!) until just before the middle of the 20th century. Gut strings were usually made from pigs or oxen. These strings could be difficult to secure and to make, so
  • Nylon Strings were invented out of necessity in the 1940s. A player named Augustine found that the restrictions of World War II meant that he could not find classical guitar strings made from gut. He instead strung his instrument with nylon found at a surplus store, and liked the effect. He tried the innovation out in a blind test for a string producing company, and thus the treble nylon strings were found.
  • Composite Materials Recently, classical guitar strings are also being made of composite materials such as carbon fluorid. Some players suggest that this offers a more reliable transition tone, as well as being of better durability than nylon.

Despite the differences in string material and design, many guitar accessories used for electric and acoustics will work for the classical guitar. Included in this category are some of the most useful innovations when it comes to changing classical guitar strings.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...