Best classical guitar nylon strings

The D'Addario EJ45 is my top pick for the best nylon guitar string because it's consistent, affordable, and widely available.

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You pluck a smooth nylon string and suddenly enter a world of old going back to Segovia and generations before. The warm and sweet tone reverberates in your head as if it bounces off the walls of an old church. But which classical guitar nylon strings can you actually rely on? Some are temperamental and squeak loudly out of the box and others take days to settle into tune. The best strings hold their tone reliably and last for a few weeks of regular playing.

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In this article, I’ll take you through my picks for the best nylon string sets. I have a bit of an obsession with nylon strings and get a different type every month or two. My advice is to try multiple brands and tensions until you find the ones you like most.

Brogan’s Quick Take

The best guitar nylon strings include sets by D’Addario, Savarez, Aranjuez, Augustine, and RC Strings DW90 JG Dynamic White NT. These strings offer distinct sound and sensation, making them a popular choice among classical and folk musicians.

My Experience With Nylon Strings

I’ve been performing classical, Spanish, and flamenco guitar for a number of years. I mainly play a Cordoba C12 which is an amazing instrument in my opinion.

For strings, I’ve tried probably a dozen sets at least, from D’Addario to Savarez and Augustine. I’ll go over my top five picks for classical guitar strings here.

7 Best Guitar Nylon String Sets

My top nylon guitar string picks include packs by D’Addario, Savarez, Aranjuez, and Augustine.

The best nylon guitar strings are:
  • D’Addario Pro Arte EJ45
  • Savarez Alliance Corum 500AJ
  • Aranjuez Concert Gold 700 LT
  • Augustine Classic NT Black LT
  • RC Strings DW90 JG Dynamic White NT
  • Aquila Alabastro 19 C
  • Savarez 520B Traditional Strings

And below you can compare the strings side-by-side:

String BrandModelTensionMaterialNotable Features
D’AddarioPro Arte EJ45NormalNylon, silver-plated copper wound bassesPopular choice, balanced tone
SavarezAlliance Corum 500AJHighAlliance treble strings, Corum carbon fiber bassesProjection and clarity, long-lasting
AranjuezConcert Gold 700 LTLowSilverplated wound basses, rectified nylon treblesWarm tone, easy playability
AugustineClassic NT Black LTLowNylon, silver-plated copper wound basses, black colorMellow tone, reduced finger noise
RC StringsDW90 JG Dynamic White NTNormalNylon, silver-plated copper wound basses, white colorDynamic range, clear trebles, powerful basses
AquilaAlabastro 19 CNormalSynthetic material (Nylgut®)Bright, rich tone, quick settling
Savarez520B Traditional StringsNormalRectified nylon trebles, silver-plated wound bassesTraditional feel and sound, well-balanced

1. D’Addario Pro Arte EJ45: The Reliable Standard

D’Addario EJ45 from zZounds

First up is the D’Addario Pro Arte EJ45 set. These strings are like the Toyota Camry of classical strings. They are dependable, available everywhere, cheap, and they sound great.

You can buy these for cheaper in bulk so you don’t have to worry about not having a replacement string on hand. I found the strings settle alright after a couple of days and hold their tuning well. The sound is the “classic” classical sound you’d expect. The G string is a little bit “tubby” at times but they are sweet and warm overall.

The EJ45 set is known for its consistency. Each set maintains the same gauge, tension, and intonation for dependable performance. As a normal tension set, it balances playability and volume. The versatility of the EJ45 set extends beyond classical guitars, as they can be used on other nylon-string instruments such as flamenco guitars or hybrid classical-electric guitars. With D’Addario’s reputation as a trusted and well-established brand in the music industry, the Pro Arte EJ45 string set is a reliable choice for classical guitarists seeking a balanced and expressive sound.

2. Savarez Alliance Corum 500AJ: Tough to use but pure and loud

If you want to fill a hall with just the sound of your guitar, this is the string to try. I’ve played the Savarez Alliance Corum hard tension many times and always love the power they project. The sound is much more intense and skewed to the treble end since these are carbon strings.

The strings are hard to press down, though. It almost feels like you’re playing a steel string acoustic and not a classical guitar. Also, don’t throw these hard tension strings on a vintage classical because the stress on the top might be too great.

If you can get around the harder playing feeling of these strings, the sound is really spectacular. With the carbon material and hard tension, the strings stay in tune perfectly, as well, and are nearly immune to changing environments.

The treble strings are made from a proprietary synthetic fiber called Alliance Cantiga, which delivers a clear, bright, and responsive tone. The bass strings are wound with a composite core material, providing a rich, warm sound with excellent projection and sustain. The Alliance Corum set is known for its exceptional balance across all strings, allowing each note to sing with clarity and definition.

Savarez, a French company with a long-standing reputation for innovation and quality, has been a pioneer in the development of synthetic strings for classical guitars. The Alliance Corum set is a testament to their commitment to pushing the boundaries of string technology while respecting the traditions of classical guitar. Whether you are a professional musician or a passionate amateur, the Savarez Alliance Corum string set offers a distinctive and captivating sound that is sure to inspire your playing.

3. Aranjuez Concert Gold 700 LT Classical Guitar Strings: Lively tone and easy playing

I have the Aranjuez Concert Gold 700 LT strings on my guitar at the moment. These are low-tension strings and are great for flamenco, which is what I’ve been focusing on recently. The strings have good longevity. Also, they are under $10 per pack, which is great. I buy mine from Strings by Mail since they have the best selection of this brand.

The Aranjuez Concert Gold 700 LT is a premium classical guitar string set that offers a combination of warmth, clarity, and projection. The 700 LT set is known for its exceptional dynamic range, allowing guitarists to express themselves with unparalleled nuance and sensitivity. The low tension of these strings provides a comfortable and effortless playing experience, making them ideal for long practice sessions or extended performances.

Despite their low tension, the Concert Gold 700 LT strings maintain a remarkable level of volume and projection, ensuring that every note is heard clearly and distinctly. The gold-plated materials not only contribute to the strings’ outstanding tonal qualities but also provide enhanced durability and corrosion resistance. This means that the Aranjuez Concert Gold 700 LT strings will maintain their sound and playability for an extended period, even under heavy use.

4. Augustine Classic NT Black LT: The Classic Classical String

Albert Augustine worked with Segovia to create the first nylon guitar strings in the 1940s. (Previously the only option was catgut.) Today, the Augustine Classic NT Black LT strings are another standby for many artists. The pack has normal tension trebles and low tension basses, which can add some upper harmonics to the lower tones.

You can find these strings under $10 which is great. I’ve tried a number of $20 and even $30 strings, which have all sounded good, but if I can get a decent pack for $10 I tend to go with those.

These strings are meticulously crafted using Augustine’s proprietary nylon formula, which is renowned for its rich, mellow tone and exceptional sustain. The treble strings, with their deep black color, provide a visual contrast against the guitar’s soundboard while delivering a smooth, balanced sound that is both crisp and responsive.

The bass strings, wound with silver-plated copper, offer a robust and well-rounded foundation. The low tension of the Augustine Classic NT Black LT set allows for effortless fretting and reduced finger fatigue, making them an ideal choice for beginners and experienced players alike who prefer a more relaxed feel without sacrificing tone or projection.

5. RC Strings DW90 JG Dynamic White NT: Impervious To Weather Changes

Last up is the RC Strings DW90 JG Dynamic White NT set. I hadn’t heard of RC strings until I noticed a flamenco player using them. RC formulated a special material for these trebles which is white. It’s not a high-tension set, but you have to wind the strings quite a bit to get them up to tune. And once they’re in tune, they stay there.

I was specifically looking for a string that stayed in tune when I came across these. The nice thing is that RC sends an extra 4th string in this set. That string is at a higher tension and can become dull faster than the others, so you can switch it out. You can find these from Strings by Mail.

These strings are the result of a collaboration between RC Strings and the renowned classical guitarist Jorge Guillen, who worked together to create a set that caters to the needs of modern classical guitarists. The treble strings are made from a proprietary synthetic fiber that provides a bright, crisp tone with excellent projection and responsiveness. The bass strings are wound with silver-plated copper, delivering a rich, warm sound that perfectly complements the treble strings’ brilliance.

The normal tension of the DW90 JG Dynamic White NT set strikes an ideal balance between playability and volume, allowing you to execute technical passages with ease while still maintaining a powerful and dynamic sound.

6. Aquila Alabastro 19 C: Slightly Rough Surface for Fingertip Playing

This string set is designed to sound more traditional like gut strings. Aquila makes a material called Nylgut that has a bit of texture and sounds more focused like a lute string. The basses have Nylgut filaments, which is more similar to traditional strings that used silk filaments.

Recently I started listening to Rob MacKillop, who plays without nails and has a warm, traditional sound. I cut my nails off as well and tried out some strings he recommends. He recommends these Aquila basses (the Amazon link is the full set but you can get the basses alone from Strings by Mail). He recommends the Savarez 520B trebles, which I’ll cover next.

Aquila’s Nylgut material closely mimics the sound and feel of traditional gut strings while providing enhanced durability and tuning stability. The treble strings are made from a specialized Nylgut formula that produces a rich, mellow tone with excellent sustain and a subtle, silky texture. The bass strings are wound with Aquila’s proprietary Alabastro material, which is a synthetic fiber that offers a warm, full-bodied sound with exceptional projection and depth.

The light tension of the Alabastro 19 C set allows for a comfortable and responsive playing experience, making it easier to execute complex fingerings and intricate musical passages. The reduced string tension also promotes a more open, resonant tone, allowing the guitar’s natural voice to shine through.

The Aquila Alabastro 19 C strings are particularly well-suited for vintage or lightly-built guitars, as their lower tension reduces the stress on the instrument’s soundboard and bridge. Whether you’re playing intimate solo pieces or accompanying a singer, the Aquila Alabastro 19 C string set provides a captivating and expressive sound that will inspire your musical creativity.

7. Savarez 520B Traditional Strings: Throwback to Old-World Tones

These strings are also slightly textured like the Aquila Alabastros. This means they have a good sound for flesh-finger playing whereas nylon strings can be too smooth. Once again the Amazon link is for the full set but Strings by Mail has half-sets.

These classical guitar strings are crafted using traditional materials and techniques, ensuring a rich tonal heritage that has been cherished by guitarists for generations. The treble strings are made from rectified nylon, which provides a clear, bright, and focused sound with excellent projection and sustain.

The bass strings are wound with silver-plated copper, delivering a robust and well-rounded foundation that perfectly complements the treble strings’ clarity. The medium tension of the Savarez 520B Traditional Strings offers a comfortable playing experience. This tension also promotes a balanced response across the entire fretboard, ensuring that each note rings out with equal clarity and definition.

The high-quality materials used in these strings provide exceptional durability and tuning stability, ensuring that they maintain their outstanding tonal characteristics over an extended period. Whether you’re performing classical masterpieces or exploring contemporary compositions, the Savarez 520B Traditional Strings offer a timeless and versatile sound that will inspire your musical journey.

How Do You Choose a Nylon String Set?

When choosing between different brands and types of guitar nylon strings, it’s crucial to consider several factors. These include the gauge, tension, and material of the set you’re interested in. Nylon tension variations can greatly affect the sound and playability of the guitar.

Medium tension is probably the most popular. But concert classical players often prefer hard tension for more projection and volume. On the other hand, flamenco guitarists may pick low tension strings because they are easier for fast playing.

Here are three key considerations:

  1. Gauge: Lighter gauges are easier to play, but may lack volume and tone depth. Heavier gauges provide fuller tone, but require more finger pressure.
  2. Tension: High-tension strings sound louder and brighter, while low-tension ones offer softer, mellower tones.
  3. Material: Pure nylon strings produce a warm, mellow tone while composite materials like carbon or titanium can deliver brighter, more projective sound.

Installation and Maintenance: Pamper Your Strings

Proper installation and maintenance can significantly prolong the lifespan of your instrument’s strings and enhance their performance. When installing, carefully unwind the old strings from the tuning pegs to prevent any damage.

For nylon strings, a specific string tuning technique called the ‘lock method’ is highly recommended. It involves winding the string around the peg, threading it back under itself and pulling tight, creating a lock.

Regular maintenance is also crucial for extending your nylon strings lifespan. Wipe them down after each use to remove oils and dirt. Do not expose them to drastic temperature changes as this could warp them. Use a tuner to maintain the correct tension and pitch.

With these tips and proper care, your nylon strings will deliver optimal performance for a longer time.

Understanding Classical Guitar String Materials

The material composition of classical guitar strings plays a vital role in determining their sound and performance characteristics.

Nylon is the most common material used for classical guitar strings, known for its warm, mellow tone and affordability. Carbon strings (also called flourocarbon), a more recent innovation, offer increased projection and clarity compared to traditional nylon strings.

Some manufacturers even experiment with exotic materials like titanium and silk to create strings with unique tonal qualities. The choice of string material ultimately depends on the guitarist’s personal preferences and the desired sound profile.

MaterialCharacteristicsPopular Examples
NylonWarm, mellow tone; affordable; stretchyD’Addario Pro-Arté; Savarez Corum
Carbon/flourocarbonIncreased projection and clarity; responsiveSavarez Alliance Carbon; Hannabach Carbon
TitaniumBalanced tone; excellent sustainLa Bella Titanium; Optima Titanium
SilkSoft, delicate tone; low tension; reduced finger noiseAquila Alabastro; Thomastik-Infeld KR116

Exploring String Tension and Its Effects

String tension refers to the amount of force exerted on the strings when tuned to pitch. Classical guitar strings come in various tensions, ranging from low to high, each offering distinct advantages and challenges.

Low-tension strings are easier to play, reducing hand fatigue and allowing for greater flexibility in bending notes and performing vibrato. However, they may lack projection and volume compared to higher-tension strings.

High-tension strings, on the other hand, offer increased volume, projection, and stability, but they require more finger strength and can be harder on the fingers. Medium-tension strings strike a balance between playability and volume, making them a popular choice among classical guitarists.

The Role of Wound Strings in Classical Guitar Sound

Wound strings are an integral part of the classical guitar’s tonal palette, particularly for the bass strings. These strings feature a nylon or fluorocarbon core wrapped with a thin metal winding, usually made of silver-plated copper or bronze.

The winding process adds mass to the string, resulting in a deeper, richer tone and enhanced low-end response. Wound strings also improve sustain and intonation, as the increased mass helps stabilize the string’s vibration.

Treble Strings: Characteristics and Considerations

Treble strings, also known as plain strings, are the unwound strings on a classical guitar, typically the first three strings (E, B, and G). These strings are responsible for producing the guitar’s higher frequencies and play a crucial role in shaping the instrument’s overall tonal balance and fingering feel.

Nylon is the most common material for treble strings, offering a soft, pliable feel and a warm, mellow tone. Some manufacturers also offer carbon/fluorocarbon treble strings for players seeking a brighter, more projected sound. When selecting treble strings, you should consider factors such as tension, gauge, and material to find the optimal combination that suits their playing style and tonal preferences.

Craftsmanship and Quality in Classical Guitar Strings

The craftsmanship and quality control involved in the manufacturing of classical guitar strings directly impact their performance, consistency, and longevity.

Reputable string manufacturers employ skilled artisans who meticulously oversee every step of the production process, from material selection to winding and packaging. High-quality strings are made with precision and attention to detail, ensuring consistent gauge, tension, and tonal characteristics across each set.

Manufacturers also implement rigorous quality control measures, such as microscopic inspection and tensile strength testing, to guarantee that only the best strings make it to the hands of guitarists. When choosing classical guitar strings, it is essential to opt for brands known for their commitment to craftsmanship and quality to ensure a superior playing experience.

The Impact of String Texture on Playability

The texture of classical guitar strings can significantly influence their playability and the overall feel of the instrument. Smooth strings, like those made of nylon or fluorocarbon, offer a slick, fast-playing surface that allows for effortless fretting and sliding. They are ideal for players who prioritize speed and agility in their technique.

On the other hand, textured strings, such as those with a matte or satin finish, provide a slightly grippier feel, which can enhance control and stability. These strings are also great for plucking without fingernails, as the slight texture helps your finger put the string into motion.

Ensuring String Durability and Longevity

The durability and longevity of classical guitar strings are important considerations for guitarists, as they directly impact the instrument’s performance and the frequency of string changes. Several factors contribute to string durability, including the quality of materials used, the manufacturing process, and the guitarist’s playing habits and maintenance routine.

High-quality strings made from resilient materials like fluorocarbon tend to last longer than traditional nylon strings, resisting wear and tear from frequent playing. Proper string maintenance, such as wiping down the strings after each playing session and storing the instrument in a humidity-controlled environment, can also extend string life. Additionally, using a string winder and avoiding excessive stretching during string changes can minimize the risk of string breakage and prolong string longevity.

Flexibility and Stretching: Key Factors in String Performance

Flexibility and stretching are crucial aspects of classical guitar string performance, affecting both playability and tuning stability. Nylon strings are known for their inherent stretchiness, which allows for greater flexibility in performing vibrato.

However, this stretchiness also means that nylon strings require a longer break-in period and more frequent tuning adjustments, especially when new. To minimize stretching-related tuning issues, you should properly stretch their strings during installation, gently pulling them away from the fretboard and releasing them until they settle into a stable tension.

Some modern string materials, like fluorocarbon, offer reduced stretching properties, resulting in faster stability and fewer tuning adjustments.

Addressing Frequent Concerns and Questions About Strings

Classical guitarists often have questions and concerns about various aspects of string selection, maintenance, and performance.

One common issue is how often to change classical guitar strings, to which the answer depends on factors such as playing frequency, personal preference, and string type. Generally, it is recommended to change strings every 1-3 months for optimal tone and playability.

Another frequent question relates to the difference between high and low tension strings, with high tension strings offering increased projection and stability, while low tension strings provide greater playability and flexibility. Beginners often wonder which string gauge is best for them, and the answer typically involves finding a balance between comfort and tone, with light to medium gauges being a good starting point.

Guitarists sometimes ask if they can use steel strings on a classical guitar, to which the answer is a resounding “no,” as steel strings can cause irreparable damage to the instrument.

Lastly, proper string storage is a common concern, and the best practice is to keep unused strings in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, to preserve their integrity and performance.

Conclusion: Best Guitar Nylon Strings

In wrapping up, the D’Addario EJ45 is my pick for the best and most reliable classical guitar string to start with. As string technology continues to advance, new materials and construction methods are likely to emerge, offering classical guitarists even more options for customizing their sound and playing experience. Ultimately, the future of classical guitar strings will be shaped by a combination of innovative research, player feedback, and the evolving needs and preferences of the classical guitar community.

Best Nylon Guitar Strings: FAQ

Below are a few frequently asked questions about nylon guitar strings:

How do nylon strings differ from steel strings?

Nylon strings have a softer, more pliable feel compared to steel strings. They produce a gentler, more rounded tone, while steel strings offer a brighter, more pronounced sound. Nylon strings also require less tension, making them easier on the fingers.

How long do nylon guitar strings typically last?

The lifespan of nylon strings depends on various factors, such as playing frequency and personal hygiene. On average, nylon strings can last between 1 to 3 months with regular playing. However, some musicians may need to change them more frequently for optimal sound quality.

Can I use nylon strings on any guitar?

No, nylon strings should only be used on guitars specifically designed for them, such as classical and flamenco guitars. These guitars have wider necks, lower string tension, and different bracing patterns compared to steel-string acoustic or electric guitars.

Are there different gauges of nylon guitar strings?

Yes, nylon strings come in different gauges or thicknesses. The most common gauges are low, normal, and high tension. The choice of gauge depends on personal preference, playing style, and the specific guitar. You’ll notice brands and materials differ in feel even within the same tension type.

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