From the July 2016 problem of Acoustic Guitar | by PAULINE FRANCE

Switching indigenous steel-string to nylon-string guitar is probably something girlfriend haven’t considered—at the very least up till this point. I gain it. Unknown territory have the right to be scary, however embarking top top the discovery of a new guitar might just be what you need to spark part creativity. So allow me to present you to a fabulous new—yet ancient— instrument together I malfunction the ten points you should know aboutnylon-stringed guitars, if you’re a steel-string player.

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Here’s a overview with links to each ar in this article:

1. One has metal strings,the other has nylon

Steel-string guitars room equipped with metal strings, developing a brighter and crisper sound. Classic guitars have actually nylon strings that create a softer sound. Metal strings deserve to be tougher on her fingertips once pressing versus the fretboard, specifically if you in your early guitar-playing stages and also haven’t emerged calluses. Nylon strings are easier on her fingertips, do fingerpicking andpressing versus the fretboard less hard onthe fingers.

2. Flick the pick

Why limit yourself come one pick as soon as you have five attached to her body? In classic classical guitar, you don’t use picks—you use the five fingers on her picking hand instead. An advantage of playing through your fingers versus making use of a choose is the orchestra-like impact you have the right to achieve. Gretchen Menn, composer, solo artist, and also guitarist for Led Zeppelin tribute tape Zepparella, is fond the this effect and the versatility timeless guitar has to offer. “One of my favorite aspects of classical-guitar training is slowing under to the micro level and also really exploring the breadth of tonal spectrum the your best hand offers. Recognize your personal tonal varieties and understanding and working with this spectrum in a music context brings up another concept—the creation of convincing polyphony not simply through exactly execution that the notes, but likewise through carving out tones for various voices come exist. Once done well, numerous pieces for solo classic guitar can really sound prefer a duet to someone not acquainted with this possibilities,” Menn says.

3. Embrace a new body

The body of the classical guitar uses elegant simplicity. When you gain your hands on one (at least the classic kind), don’t expect to see things you’d normally discover on a steel-string guitar, such together electronics, a cutaway, fretboard markers, or also strap buttons. However some the the most far-ranging structural differences aren’t so noticeable to the plain eye. Because that Andrew Enns, head luthier in ~ classical-guitar agency Córdoba Guitars, the bracing and also top thickness play an essential role in the difference between the two guitars. “Nylon-string tops space thinner, v smaller, much more flexible braces, if steel-string guitars have actually thicker tops with larger, much more rigid braces. The principle behind both is the same, to make the guitar strong enough to organize the strings in ~ pitch, however flexible enough to vibrate when the strings space plucked,” Enns says.

4. Aclassical guitarhas a more comprehensive neck than itssteel-string sibling

Because that the extra width on the classical-guitar neck, that is less complicated to avoid stroking bordering strings, particularly when executing elaborate chord shapes or fingerpicking patterns. And also while girlfriend can absolutely fingerpick on a steel-string guitar, it’s merely much much easier to execute so ~ above a classical, given the extra room between her strings.


5. Lower tension method less pressure and smoother sounds

The string-load tension on a steel-string guitar is about 100 pounds higher than top top a timeless -guitar. Together a result, a noticeable difference is the ease v which you deserve to press on the classic guitar fretboard. One more direct result of the difference in stress is the kind of sound the strings ~ above each etc produce. “A nylon string is much more flexible and also under less tension in ~ pitch, providing it a slower attack and an ext mellow sound, if a stole string is under much higher tension giving a faster attack and brighter sound,” to add Córdoba head luthier Enns.

6. Prepare to take a seat

In the traditional world of classic guitar, friend sit through the instrument in in between your legs. The belt of the guitar body rests comfortably and falls normally on your thighs. Since conventional timeless guitars don’t have actually a strap button, you’ll nearly always see world playing sitting down and using a footstool for support, matches standing up as most steel-string football player do.

7. Consider lettingyour pond grow

While having actually long nails on your picking hand is no mandatory, long nails will carry out you with a crisp and also louder sound, conversely, playing just with her fingertips will provide you a dull, much less lively sound (plus having long pond is type of a cool, dead giveaway letting people know friend play guitar).

8. You’ll need a footstooland a couple of other gadgets

Some necessary items in the timeless guitarist’s toolshed incorporate a footstool to mount your foot ~ above for ideal posture and hand positioning; a comfortable chair with no eight (a high bar stool is not recommended as it would certainly interfere with appropriate posture); and also a nail file to immediately treat chipped fingernails. These are items that space not typically in the steel-string player’s arsenal, but that definitely make a difference for classical-guitar players.


9. You’ll want to learnhow to restring

You’ll notice an immediate distinction in the means a timeless guitar is restrung contrasted to the steel-string guitar. The nylon strings top top a classic guitar have actually a level end, which method you need to tie them come the bridge with a knot. A steel-string guitar has ball-end strings the are fixed with bridge pins.

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10. Classical guitar is notlimited to classic music

This is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about classical guitar. It is straightforward to assume that because the native “classical” is in the guitar’s name, one is obliged come play only pieces belong to that genre. However this is no at all the case; in fact, you can play virtually any kind of style of music on classical guitar, including pop fingerstyle arrangements, country, tangos, bossa nova, jazz, and yes, classical, too. Take it artists choose Rodrigo y Gabriela that rip with such Metallica songs together “Orion” on their nylon strings, or singer-songwriter José González, who produces lilting indie-folk melody on his nylon-string guitar.

So there you have it. Together the speak goes, “If you constantly do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” ns hope these tips empower friend to try something new!

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This post originally showed up in the July 2016 worry of Acoustic Guitar magazine.