Nylon String vs Steel String – Which Works Best for You?

Acoustic guitars come with both steel and nylon strings. Most of the guitars having nylon strings are referred to as classical guitars. Acoustic guitars with steel strings are often called steel-string acoustic.

Here we have listed some of the differences between the guitars have steel strings and the ones having nylon strings. We have also provided the benefits of each string.

Nylon String vs Steel String (2020)

1. Sound Effect

Both strings produce different sounds. The nylon strings are thicker; hence they produce softer and mellower sound as compared to steel strings. Such sound is ideal for classical, folk or flamenco music. Steel-string helps in producing strong, loud, bright and twangy sound. Such sound is ideal for playing bluegrass, rock, country, or any other type of music.

The sound difference is because of the types of nylon and steel used. In nylon string guitars the treble strings are made with nylon while the bass strings are made with either nylon core with metal or nylon winding technique. In steel-string guitars, several metals of strings are used. These include bronze, nickel, etc.

2. Choice of Pick

If you want to play the guitar with a pick then you can’t use guitars with nylon strings. Such guitars are ideal for fingerstyle or for strumming. Also, the majority of guitars with nylon strings do not come with pickguards. On the contrary, you can easily play the guitar with steel strings using a pick. Pickguards are provided along with the guitars having steel strings. This helps in preventing damage to the strings because of the pick.

3. Physical Differences

Guitars having nylon strings have smaller bodies but wider necks. The nylon strings are wrapped around the slotted headstocks with poles. The nylon strings are tied to the bridge of the guitar.

Guitars with steel strings have large size bodies. Also, the strings are kept in place on the bridge with the help of the bridge pins.

4. Beginners Point of view

As a beginner, you must prefer nylon strings. These strings are soft and less harsh on the fingers. Steel strings can cause you more pain if you have just started playing the guitar. Also, you may have to exert on steel strings to properly fret notes.

5. Tuning

Nylon strings require tuning frequently. This is because they are made with softer material. The material is affected by temperature and humidity. This makes it go out of tune frequently.

Steel-string also requires regular tuning if the set is new. But once it is set then you don’t have to tune regularly.

Advantages of Nylon strings

The advantages of having Nylon strings in the guitar can be listed as:

    1. These strings are ideal for playing soft and romantic music.
    2. They always produce a gentle and mellow sound.
    3. They are not hard on fingers; thus, you can enjoy playing guitar for longer durations.
    4. Ideal for beginners and new learners
    5. Guitars with nylon strings are small in size. Thus, they are suitable for small people and travelers.

Advantages of Steel Strings

The advantages of having steel strings in the guitar can be listed as:

  1. Preferred by musicians for loud and bright sounds.
  2. Helps in playing popular classic songs
  3. Guitars with steel strings are ideal for high fretwork and soloing.
  4. These strings are resistant to heat.
  5. Guitars with steel strings have a longer neck. This helps in playing higher up on the neck.

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