Choosing Strings

Friday, December 1, 2006

Just as there are different types of guitars, there are different types of strings. Here are theprincipal types:

  • Nylon strings are used on classical guitars. In fact, it is dangerous to use heavier stringson a classical guitar, because the instrument is not designed to withstand the hightension they produce. The three lowest strings are made of silver-plated copper wirewound on a core of nylon strands. The upper three are pure nylon filaments.
  • Steel strings are designed for acoustic folk guitars. The bass strings are wound on a coreof silk or nylon.
  • Heavier wound metal strings are designed for electric guitars.

Core and winding materials vary among string makers, and you may wish to experimentwith different types to see which produces the sound you like best.

Strings are also available with different shapes or contours, from flat to fully rounded. Stringsare also sold in light, medium, or heavy gauges. This has to do with the amount of elasticityin the string: light-gauge strings are more elastic and therefore easier to play than heavyones. Again, depending on the kind of music you play and your own personal taste, you’ll beable to choose the proper string for you. It’s always worthwhile to try different types ofstrings on your instrument to see if a simple change of strings can lead to improved soundand playability.