If you’ve been playing guitar for any kind of length of time, you probably deserve to tell the difference between the loud, bright sound that a steel-string acoustic guitar and also the softer, warmer sound that a classical. And if you play a steel-string, you could want to try out classical guitar sound without shelling out the cash because that a brand-new instrument. Yet can you put nylon strings on her steel-string instead? Let’s discover out.

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Why would You put Nylon Strings top top a Steel-String Acoustic Guitar?

If you’re hope to switch out your stole strings because that nylon ones, you aren’t the first to perform so. In the 1950s and also 1960s music scene, many of people guitarists provided nylon strings on steel-string guitars. That’s due to the fact that nylon has tendency to have actually a “rounder,” mellower tone the works specifically well for fingerpicking.

But often, guitarists swap the end their strings out of pure curiosity. And because an altering strings doesn’t take a entirety lot of technical know-how, the something even novice players have the right to do.

Lastly, you could want to move to nylon strings if you a beginner through sensitive fingers. Starting out on a steel-string have the right to be stormy on her fingers. It’s understandable to desire to start with nylon. But if you just want a much more comfortable playing experience for those early days, using silk and steel strings is simpler and also easier.

Is It safe for the Guitar?


Most of united state feel a genuine connection to our instruments. And if you wanting to switch to nylon strings, you’ll desire to make sure that the process is for sure for your guitar.

Putting nylon strings on steel-string guitars have the right to be safe, yet there is some danger involved. Much of the risk needs to do with string tension. Steel-string acoustics have a string stress and anxiety of end 150 pounds, while timeless guitars have a stress and anxiety of under 100 pounds.

That might not sound favor a big deal, but think about how in different way steel and also nylon-string guitars need to be constructed in order come accommodate the tension. Steel-string tools come v a truss rod, a steel rod inside of the neck that adjusts neck tension.

On many guitars, friend can access the truss pole either appropriate under the soundhole or top top the headstock behind the nut. To accessibility the truss rod at the headstock, you could need to unscrew a small piece the plastic first.

Most truss rods can be readjusted with an allen wrench. Turning the wrench adjusts the pole to counteract the traction of the strings. Without the counter-pressure, your guitar’s neck is most likely to bow over time.

But what does that have to do through the safety and security of the guitar? A steel-string etc neck is constructed to counter the high stress and anxiety of stole strings. If you move to nylon without adjusting the truss rod, the neck is very likely come bow end time. That’s because the tension exerted through the neck is much, much greater than the anxiety of the nylon strings. To stop that from happening, you’ll want to loosen her truss rod greatly so it exerts very tiny tension. As soon as you switch to nylon strings.

How execute You do It?

Before we run through the straightforward steps you’d should take in order to placed nylon strings on your guitar, it’s vital to encompass a disclaimer. Most specialists will advise you come take her instrument come a guitar tech, especially if you require the truss rod adjusted.

Simply changing strings is for sure for even beginners come do, however if you make a mistake as soon as adjusting a truss rod, you have the right to potentially reason serious damage to her guitar. With that said, below are the measures to take it if you want to placed nylon strings on your steel-string.

Choosing Ball-End Nylon Strings

If friend have any kind of familiarity v the timeless guitar, you understand that the strings are properly tied around the bridge and also saddle. Since getting that process right takes some practice, nylon-string guitars deserve to be tougher to re-string than their steel-string counterparts.

Metal etc strings have actually ball ends, which renders it therefore your bridge pins can hold them in place. Pins won’t job-related with traditional nylon strings, however they’ll occupational with nylon ball-end strings. This strings no enormously popular, but Fender, D’Addario, and also Ernie ball (as fine as various other brands) carry out offer them.

Installing her Strings

Some steel-string acoustic guitars have string-through bridges, additionally called “pinless bridges.” through these bridges, girlfriend might have the ability to get away v tying classic nylon strings. However, ball-end classical strings are faster, easier, and more secure come install. To gain these strings end the bridge saddle, just slip each string with its matching bridge hole.

For guitar v bridge pins, you’ll require to first remove each leg pin. Bend the string slightly, around 3/4 that an inch from the ball end (this will aid the wire naturally autumn over the saddle). Then, put the ball end through the hole. Replace the pin, making certain the bottom of the is securely stop the ball-end down.

What If They nothing Fit?

Even if girlfriend do get the ball-end nylon strings secured, you may uncover that the diameter of the heavier-gauge strings is too vast to string them v each tuning machine. This have the right to be extremely frustrating, and there’s no easy method around it.

To minimize the threat of your nylon etc strings gift too big for your acoustic, try to purchase nylon strings in the lightest gauge you have the right to find. Lighter-gauge strings are thinner in diameter, and they tend to have a an ext treble-rich tone 보다 heavier strings do.

If no one of the ball-end nylon strings fit, you might think about how bad you want to placed nylon strings on steel-string guitars. In bespeak to gain nylon strings come fit, you’d need to readjust the tuning devices on her guitar.

Adjusting the Nut

Selecting her strings and putting lock on is just the an initial step in her re-stringing adventure. Probably you’ve secured your strings with your bridge pin system and gotten them through the an equipment heads on her acoustic guitar, yet you watch that the strings room sitting on peak of the nut slots quite than in them.

Steel strings space thinner 보다 nylon strings, for this reason it adheres to that the nut slots space thinner. To truly optimize the setup, you’ll need to widen the nut slots. You’ll need nut papers to do this. The process is reasonably straightforward, however if girlfriend haven’t excellent it before, you might want to seek some guidance.

If you choose to widen the seed slots, it’s essential to realize the your steel-string guitar won’t play as well if girlfriend switch ago to steel strings. You should only attempt this action if you intended to store nylon strings top top the etc for the foreseeable future.

Should You simply Buy another Nut?

You could think the widening the nut slots sounds tedious — i will not ~ buying a classical guitar nut and putting that on rather be lot easier? The idea is tempting, however classical guitar strings have wider string spacing 보다 steel strings. The spacing gives classic guitarists an ext room for facility fingerings. If you put a classical nut top top a steel-string acoustic guitar, it will certainly (1) prolong past the political parties of the fretboard and (2) make it for this reason the cable spacing is different at the bridge 보다 it is at the nut.

That said, if did you do it been reasoning of upgrading her nut anyway, now would it is in a great time to perform so. There are plenty of materials out over there that can improve her tone — bone, brass, and composites favor Tusq or NuBone room all great choices.

Setting Up your Guitar

Once you’ve performed all the important adjustments and have tuned up, try playing a little. In most cases, you’ll an alert some buzzing, and your intonation is almost certainly off. In order to make your acoustic etc play well, that will need a setup.

Setting up a steel-string etc strung through nylon strings deserve to be a challenge, and also if possible, having a etc tech execute it professionally is best. However if you carry out it yourself, remember the loosening the truss pole is crucial.

When setup the action, remember that a timeless guitar generally has greater action than a steel-string acoustic guitar. Since there’s much less tension top top nylon strings, they’re an ext likely to buzz. If you collection your nylon strings in ~ the same height as stole strings, play is most likely to come to be extremely frustrating really quickly.

What Does the Sound Like?


As we discussed earlier, steel-string acoustic guitars have a bracing pattern that’s designed because that much higher tension. Together a result, as soon as the lower-tension nylon strings space strummed or plucked, the sound will certainly be a little bit quieter and also mellower.

Of course, tone is subjective, but you might find that you prefer the sound. This is a nice setup for people musicians and fingerstyle players. Putting nylon strings top top a steel-string acoustic results in a warmer sound. If you have an acoustic-electric, your pickup will still work even with the different strings. That’s because acoustic pickups sense the cable vibration as soon as each string is played.

Depending ~ above your exact guitar setup, there room some potential tonal drawbacks. Because there’s much more slack in the nylon strings, there’s an ext risk of wire buzz as soon as you play. Additionally, specifically when you placed them on, nylon strings have tendency to need regular re-tuning. Brand-new strings require time come “settle,” and also during that period, be all set to stop and re-tune frequently. This can be frustrating to transaction with, yet most nylon strings will hold tune fairly well once worked out (as lengthy as her guitar has actually decent-quality tuners).

Also, you’ve most likely noticed the guitars with nylon strings don’t have actually pickguards. That’s since classical guitarists nothing play through a pick. Nylon strings no necessarily created strumming — you deserve to play them through a pick, but because they no as robust as steel strings, playing through a pick will certainly wear them out faster. Depending upon your playing style, that trade-off may or may not be worth it.

Is do the Switch worth It?

As you have the right to see, switching her acoustic etc over come nylon strings deserve to be a facility process. And if you want your guitar to sound its ideal with nylon strings, it’s not most likely to sound its ideal or be together playable if you do the switch back to steel.

If friend really prefer the sound that nylon strings ~ above a steel-string acoustic, it’s ideal to choose a etc to convert and then keep it with the nylon strings. Switching back and forth merely isn’t useful in the long run.

If you’re committed to the idea and also have some extra money, you can be interested in “crossover” guitars. These tools effectively integrate the qualities of steel and nylon strings. They have actually nylon strings, yet they likewise have many of the playability functions of steel-string guitars.

Can You put Steel Strings top top a Nylon-String Guitar?

If you have a classic guitar, you can wonder what it would sound like with stole strings. However, this is not a great idea. We mentioned over that the tension on most nylon-strings is fairly low. Thanks to that low tension, traditional classical guitars do not have actually truss rods. There’s no means to gain the neck to counter the extreme pull from the steel strings. If you carry out put on steel strings and also tune up, your neck is most likely to bow or also break.

Of course, some nylon-string guitars (like those offered in flamenco music) do have actually truss rods. That’s due to the fact that most flamenco players use high-tension nylon strings because that lower activity and a snappier sound. Also though this guitars have actually truss rods, they quiet aren’t constructed to take care of the extreme tension you acquire with a steel-string guitar. In short, putting steel strings on a nylon-string etc isn’t a an excellent idea.

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Final Thoughts

Some guitarists love the mellow sound the nylon guitar strings top top a steel-string acoustic guitar. Others say it reasons string buzz and dampened sound. And still others would rather not risk damage to the neck. The selection is yours. However if girlfriend do pick to use nylon strings top top steel-string instruments, remember that the guitar’s setup needs to adjust — both to protect it indigenous damage and to make it sound great.