Every guitarist knows how important it is to use the right strings, and how much they can change your tone and feel, but what strings are the best classical guitar strings? You might be aware of certain brands that you know are good, but what’s the difference between their different classical strings and is it really any use to pay more to get a more exclusive set of strings rather than going for just acoustic guitar strings or similar?
We know that it can be tricky, and it does take some time to do your research if you have to go to many different websites to find the answers to your questions regarding the different string sets and options. For that reason; we decided to do the research for you, so that you can find all the information you need in the same place.
So, here are the 5 things you Must Know about Nylon Guitar Strings:
D'Addario EJ45 Pro-Arte Nylon Classical Guitar Strings
Established in 1974, D’Addario is one of the leading manufacturers of instrument strings (though primarily guitar strings) and instrument accessories currently on the market. Currently based on Farmingdale, Long Island, D’Addario is still a family owned and operated company. This means that while they’re business has grown to impressive heights they still retain the values and dedication to quality that made them such an impressive force when they were first established.
A fact that may surprise many of you is that the brand actually got their start producing classical strings, first made from sheep or hog cut and then nylon following the material’s invention by DuPont during WWII. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the company first stepped into the world of steel strings.
Given the fact that the company built their reputation on producing classical guitar strings, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the D’Addario EJ45 Pro-Arte Nylon Classical Guitar Strings are a quality product.
The most important thing to note about these strings is that they’re a normal tension, and when the company states that they mean it in a way that’s more in line with the industry standard. Other companies have a tendency to market their strings as normal or high tension without really qualifying it compared to more popular brands, resulting in a string that disappoints some musicians because the set is not of the tension that they were expecting.
To reiterate on a principle that was previously stated elsewhere in the article, normal tension (or medium tension, depending on the brand) is the middle ground between high or low tensions. This offers the benefits of both types of strings, with plenty of warmth, volume, and clarity. We’re going to go more in-depth with this later in the article.
These strings are also plain ended nylon, meaning that to put them on your guitar you are going to have to tie them. While this can be a bit intimidating if you’ve never done it before it’s really not that much harder than putting on standard ball end strings. There are a wealth of resources available online which give you a step-by-step guide with pictures to help you accomplish this, so as long as you’re willing to research how to put on nylon strings you should be able to accomplish it fairly easily. If you’ve never done it before it’s probably going to be worth it to buy two sets of strings in case you make a mistake with putting on your first set.
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Ernie Ball Earthwood Folk Nylon Guitar Strings
Founded in 1962 in California, Ernie Ball is easily one of the most notable manufacturers of guitar strings ever. While producing a lighter-gauge string seems like common sense, at the time it was completely unheard of. Beginning musicians were forced to suffer through a process of building callouses that was many times more painful than it is for the majority of beginning musicians in modern times because light gauge strings just weren’t available. Heavy gauge strings also limited professional musicians, making bends and fast passages harder to play because heavy gauge strings don’t facilitate these playing techniques as well as thinner strings.
Though the company’s claim to fame was producing strings that were much lighter than those of their counterparts Ernie Ball has gone on to produce a variety of different string to appeal to different sections of the market. A perfect example of which is the Ernie ball Earthwood Folk Nylon Guitar Strings.
The first thing to know about these strings is that the wire wrapping is made from 80/20 bronze, sometimes known as brass (guitar strings generally denote the composition, even though in other situations this alloy is what’s commonly known as brass).
The strings are medium tension, which is the middle ground between low and high tension classical guitar strings. High tension strings have a brighter voice and a great amount of volume, though they tend to lose some warmth. They’re also harder to play when compared to low tension strings, though this difference is less notable when compared to high and low gauges of steel strings.
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Savarez 500CJ Corum Cristal Classical Guitar Strings
Founded in 1770, Savarez is arguably one of the most prestigious producers of classical guitar strings on the market who offer products that are both affordable and widely available. The company has had a place in the industry almost since the inception of the guitar, and has been providing musicians with quality examples of a variety of different guitar strings (everything from gut to the Argentina strings famously used by Django Rheinardt). Considering the company’s history, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Savarez 500CJ Corum Cristal Classical Guitar Strings are a quality option for any musician.
The key thing to note about these strings is that they’re intended to be an affordable option for those of you looking for a higher fidelity of sound. These are “proper” classical guitar strings, and are designed with the needs of classical guitar players in mind.
Savarez nylon strings are available in low, medium/normal, and high tension. Tensions for classical guitar strings are the equivalent of gauges for an electric guitar string (nylon strings are still available in different gauges, but the impact of nylon string gauges are less dramatic when compared to the impact that gauge has on the feel of electric strings). Low tension strings have more warmth and bass response, but high tension strings are generally capable of producing more volume and on average are more articulate than low tension strings. Normal or medium tension strings are obviously going to combine elements of both.
These strings are also subject to very precise production, with the tension of the nylon strings all being balanced to one another. While D’Addario or Ernie Ball nylon strings are perfectly acceptable for a lot of situations the balance of these strings is going to benefit those of you who focus on the classical guitar as your primary instrument.
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Martin M160 Silverplated Ball End Classical Guitar Strings
C&F Martin & Company, founded in 1833, is easily one of the most prolific manufacturers of acoustic guitars in the world. They were the first company to launch x-braced guitars that were suited to the added tension of steel guitar strings (while many believe that Martin was the first company to use the design, there were a variety of German immigrants who also utilized the design), and the guitars they’ve made have been used to great effect by musicians who have literally defined Western music.
Though they’re mostly known for their guitars, Martin has also produced a variety of different instruments and products. They’ve made ukuleles, acoustic archtops, mandolins, electric guitars, electric basses, and even a variety of different guitar strings.
While the company’s guitar strings may not have the glowing reception of their guitars, they actually do produce a few interesting additions to the market. They’re one of the few companies who make Monel guitar strings (used by Tony Rice) and high-quality ball end nylon guitar strings.
A perfect example of Martin’s nylon string offerings is the Martin M160 Silverplated Ball End Classical Guitar Strings.
They feature ball ends, as opposed to the plain nylon strings more commonly produced. The benefit of this is that it’s going to be much easier for those of you not accustomed to tying nylon strings.
These strings are silver-plated, which is nice for those of you looking for a more traditional sound. 80/20 or phosphor bronze coatings on nylon guitar strings do add warmth to your sound, they don’t have the articulation you get with silver-plated strings. Volume is going to vary from string to string depending on how they are designed as well as the tension they come in.
Lastly, the silver-plated coating is also considered to be more resistant to corrosion from the oils present on your fingers. The difference between this effect on silver-plated strings vs. bronze plated isn’t overly dramatic, though it is widely acknowledged nonetheless.
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Albert Augustine 525A Gut Classical Guitar Strings
Founded by Albert Augustine (1900-1967) in the mid-1940s, Albert Augustine Ltd. Is literally the company who pioneered nylon guitar strings. They were the first company to utilize nylon, a material created by the DuPont family, in guitar strings.
Albert Augustine was an immigrant from Denmark who, after arriving in the country, resided in New York. He moved to America to pursue a career as a luthier. The advent of nylon guitar strings was actually spurred on by a conversation that Agustine’s partner Andres Segovia had with General Lindman of the British Embassy. Segovia mentioned that there was a shortage of good guitar strings available, and because of this comment Lindeman later presented Segovia with nylon strings (in a guitar gauge, though not the strings we know today). Segovia wasn’t impressed with the tone of the strings, and it wasn’t until he was introduced to Augustine by their mutual friend (and the editor of Guitar Review) Vladimir Bobri that nylon strings became the product we know today.
Given the impact that Augustine has had on the industry it isn’t surprising that these strings are a very good product.
So right off the bat, these strings are made from gut. They aren’t made from nylon. With that being said, the formulation of these strings is intended to approximate the tone of original gut strings. This does result in a tone that is different from your standard nylon guitar string.