Just like all the other guitarists around the world, I have also experienced all the relatable troubles that a guitarist encounters at one point. Can you put nylon strings on a steel string guitar, which gets infuriating with all the confusion that goes along with it.
I’ve played guitar for over 12 years, and without a doubt, guitarists go through some really annoying things – picks getting stuck inside an acoustic guitar, untangling cables, developing callouses, or even spending hours obsessing over the intonation of your guitar. But there is one thing I fear above everything else. The bane of my existence. The most frequent yet unpredictable issue that guitarists have to deal with: breaking a string and not having a spare set of new ones.
Back when I was a beginner in my childhood, I started out with classical guitars. They were cheap, relatively easier to maintain, and somehow easier to learn guitar on due to the taller fretboards. Eventually, I moved on to steel string guitars which sounded better to me but introduced me to the world of having to take care of a guitar and treat it like a baby.
I regularly oiled my fretboard, perfected my setup, and did my best to keep them clean. But despite my efforts, steel-string guitars also seemed to have me buying new strings. Especially for guitarists with sweaty hands like me, breaking a string seems inevitable.
At one point, I joined a band and played for several years. More time playing the guitar equated to a whole lot of more broken strings for me. As a student with not enough allowance to keep buying new strings while also having enough money for food in a week,
I got tired of this. Sitting at home one day and laying my eyes on my old classical guitar and two fresh sets of nylon strings, I had a very smart yet very stupid idea: can I put nylon strings on my steel-string acoustic guitar? Of course, I never bothered with electric guitars because they require steel strings for the pickups to actually translate the vibrations into sound. But the idea of installing nylon strings on my trusty acoustic guitar was tempting.
I unpacked a set and noticed the major flaw that debunked my genius idea. Nylon strings are tied onto the bridge of a classical guitar, while steel strings have ball-ends to be inserted and held into place by bridge pins. Without ball-ends, I couldn’t install nylon strings into my acoustic guitar.
My excitement died out. But it couldn’t end there; I had to prove to myself that I was onto something and that someone on the internet was smarter and found a solution to this nylon-string-acoustic-guitar monster.
For all guitarists who want the warm and smooth tone of nylon strings on their steel-string guitar, I have great news for you. Ball end nylon strings exist, allowing you to install them just as you would steel strings onto your guitars! Although I realized that my seemingly breakthrough genius idea was already thought of by someone else, and had the means to actually make it possible,
I was happy to know these existed. Ball end nylon strings are commonly used by folk guitarists on their acoustic guitars, and even used by some classical guitarists who enjoy the ease and speed of installing them.
Some ball-end nylon strings are produced by famous guitar string manufacturers such as D’Addario with their Folk Nylon Ball-end Strings and the Earthwood Folk Ball-end Nylon Strings by Ernie Ball.
Personally, I’ve used and trusted these two brands with their steel strings, so finding out they have those in their lineup will give me confidence with the experimental switch.
Of course, switching to nylon strings on your acoustic guitar will require you to set it up again for the best sound and intonation.
Ball-end nylon strings are not exclusive to steel-string acoustic guitar players. There are no “rules” in the world of guitar; that’s what makes us rock – even classical guitarists! Feel free to swap out your traditional nylon strings tied to your guitar bridge with ball-end nylon strings.
Many classical and folk guitarists do this and can be done whether you got your guitar for under a hundred bucks or if you own a high-quality, expensive classical guitar. Their quick-to-install feature is great, and as long as the ball end fits through the guitar bridge, you should give them a try. However, it can be found online that installing steel strings on your classical guitars is a bad move as this will cause permanent damage to it.
Making the switch to nylon strings from steel will have various effects on your guitar’s setup, which can be easily fixed if you’re familiar with setting guitars up. However, you may also take your guitar to a shop to have a guitar tech set it up for you.
Due to the different behaviour and tension of nylon strings, switching our your steel strings for a set of these can cause excessive string buzz, low action (due to less tension from the strings), the 1st and 6th strings slipping off the edges (due to slack), and the sticking of the treble nylon strings on your guitar’s nut slots.
To fix the string buzz and low action, a simple truss rod adjustment can be done to remedy these issues. Tightening the truss rod will elevate the strings gradually, eliminating the low action and buzzing. However, strings slipping at the edges of your guitar neck and nut slot binding will require a setup or even a modification to fix.
Of course, these issues may be tolerated if you’re making the switch temporarily for experimental purposes such as me as setting up your guitar for nylon strings will be for nothing if you switch back to steel strings. However, a setup is recommended for people making the permanent move to maximize their guitar’s playability and overall sound.
I was glad to find out about this innovation in nylon strings and was able to prove to myself that there is no such thing as a crazy guitar idea, everything that is experimental has its benefits as long as it doesn’t damage your guitar. Now that you’ve learned about ball-end nylon strings don’t be afraid to try them out and enjoy the sustain, warmth, and richness of nylon strings on your trusty acoustic guitars.
D’Addario Pro-Arte EJ45 classical guitar string is quite popular among guitar players who prefer a more traditional feel to their instruments.
It is also ideal for players who want a more stable and accurate sound. The EJ45 being made of quality nylon, it is a versatile string that can be used for many different types of guitars, including mandolins, basses, and more. It also offers a lot of flexibility in how it can be used.
The windings on this string are oriented towards a more traditional feel while still maintaining a wide range of tone, clarity and warmth.
This .028 to .043 calibre classical string is a perfect example of the quality of Martin’s range.
It’s a very lightweight provides a very stable and consistent tone. The nylon quality is very good, especially compared to other counterparts in the market, and the sound offered is very balanced. It features a low resistance to vibrate, allowing for great sustain and accuracy.
There are numerous improvements over the regular string configuration for those who want the best in sound with the least amount of stress on the strings.
Martin Strings have proven themselves over the years to be very dependable. Known for their reliable tuning experience and performance, they are applauded by enthusiasts worldwide for their ability to perform at a level well beyond its own specifications. And Martin Specialty Strings, in particular, are among the most reliable on the market!
Rated 4.5/5 based on 635 reviews, Ernie Ball Earthwood Folk Nylon Ball End Set is clearly on track with its claims to be a better value than the other similar products on the market. Featuring 80/20 bronze wrap wire, you get a solid, yet rugged feel and a good balance between stability and durability.
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