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Nylon strings on a steel string guitar?

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  • Nylon strings on a steel string guitar?

    I have a steel stringed acoustic, but I prefer the sound of nylon strings. I bought it because my roommate's girl was selling it fairly cheap, it had nice action, and I liked the overall tone of it, but think it might sound better with nylon strings. I have a couple of questions, before plunking down some cash, and putting in any time on actual work. My first question, has anyone done this before? If so, what strings would you suggest? For reference, I have an Epiphone PR-4E.

  • #2
    It won't work because nylon strings have more stretch in them than steel strings. The circumference of the string posts on steel string guitars isn't big enough to get enough string winds around to get the nylon strings in tune.

    Even if you could get the strings in tune it would likely not sound good. The steel string guitar is braced for steel strings, which have about 150 pounds of pull. Nylon strings produce about 40 pounds. They wouldn't vibrate strong enough to get the top of the guitar vibrating well enough to get a good sound.

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    • #3
      People do it. It does work. It doesn't sound like a classical, though. If you decide to give it a try, just make sure you get ball-end nylons, or it will be a real pain to get strung.
      <div class="signaturecontainer"><font color="DarkRed"><font face="Book Antiqua"><font size="3">My stuff:<br />
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      <i>Acoustics:</i></font><font size="1"><br />
      Takamine GS330S<br />
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      Cheerfully cute and cheap Mexican Requinto (made in Paracho) that I keep at the office currently<br />
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      <img src="http://img3.harmony-central.com/acapella/ubb/facepalm.gif" border="0" alt="" title="facepalm" class="inlineimg" /> I bought a Hohner Special 20<br />
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      <font size="3"><i>The only people who care about what you play are other guitar players. Everyone else just wants to hear music.</i><br />
      -- Brewski</font></font></font></div>

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      • #4
        No modifications are neccessary to try it, just capo on the first fret. If you like it you may need to widen the gap on the nut for the treble strings.

        You also need to adjust the truss rod.

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        • #5
          It won't work because nylon strings have more stretch in them than steel strings. The circumference of the string posts on steel string guitars isn't big enough to get enough string winds around to get the nylon strings in tune.

          Even if you could get the strings in tune it would likely not sound good. The steel string guitar is braced for steel strings, which have about 150 pounds of pull. Nylon strings produce about 40 pounds. They wouldn't vibrate strong enough to get the top of the guitar vibrating well enough to get a good sound.


          What he said. I tried it once. It sounded like crap. YMMV

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          • #6
            DarkHorseJ27, thank you. I appreciate the technical aspect. This was something that was on my mind, but I wasn't sure about how it would affect the sound.

            sixgunner455, I knew it wouldn't sound like a classical guitar. That much is a given. I was just looking for a way to get a different sound, and whether or not it would be worth the trouble.

            EdBega, thank you too. I would have never thought to capo the first fret. As for adjusting the truss rod and widening the nut slots, those sound like way more work than I am interested in doing, at this time. I do appreciate the advice, and may do it in the future, but my patience for truss rod adjustments is rather limited for now.

            Thank you, to all of you. You've been very helpful, and I think I'm just going to hold off on the idea, until I get an urge to experiment properly.

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            • #7
              try martin silk and steels
              <div class="signaturecontainer"><div align="center"><font size="5"><font color="Blue">✡</font></font></div></div>

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              • #8
                Unless it has some sentimental value, just sell it and buy you a nylon string guitar. Alvarez makes some real nice ones around the $300 mark, probably cheaper, used.

                BTW, welcome to the HC

                I edited this link in:
                http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Alvarez-AC460-Artist-Classical-Guitar?sku=582256
                _________________
                Strangers passing in the street
                By chance two separate glances meet
                I am you and what I see is me . . .

                Roger Waters
                Echoes
                from the MEDDLE LP

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                • #9
                  One of our forumites, garthman, has done this and got really good results. He has a couple of vids and I have to admit that I was at first doubtful -- but he changed my mind about it.

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                  • #10
                    I asked the same question awhile back. Put nylons on my Tacoma jumbo, and it sounds just fine. get strings with the ball end, will make it much easier.... I didn't do anything to the nut or truss rod and it all works. I think people worry about stuff too much. Just do it. Not as loud as with steel strings, but so what. Oh, Ibanez makes some nylon stringers that look pretty cool, never played them but would like to try.... Don't carry them over in Thailand...
                    <div class="signaturecontainer">I was kicked out of music class for passing notes...<br />
                    Tuned out, turned in and dropped off</div>

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                    • #11
                      you also might give the cort classicals a look they are a good guitar and i saw one the other day for $240 new
                      <div class="signaturecontainer">rogue radeq-c<br />
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                      • #12
                        You're gonna have two major problems.

                        1 - Nylon strings will have much less tension on them than steel strings. Your trussrod is adjusted to compensate for the higher tension of steel strings. Gradually, you neck will begin to backbow because of the lack of tension from the strings. You'll need to loosen the trussrod tension a bit to bring it back into balance.

                        2 - Steel strings are stiff at the ends. And the thicker the strings, the more stiffness. Do you see how your bridge is angled toward the tail of the guitar at the low-E end? With nylon strings, your intonation will be flat on the lower strings as you fret the higher notes.
                        <div class="signaturecontainer"><div class="bbcode_container">
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                        <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>Anderton</strong>
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                        <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>BernardAlbrecht</strong>
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                        • #13
                          People do it. It does work. It doesn't sound like a classical, though. If you decide to give it a try, just make sure you get ball-end nylons, or it will be a real pain to get strung.


                          This has been my experience not too long ago. I had a Recording King Dread and did the Martin Nylon Ball ends and it sounded okay, but not like a Nylon String Guitar. It was softer and more mellow sounding and the strings were easier on my fingers, but it also sounded kind of 'plinky' or 'plastic' if that makes sense. The key is to run the string around the tree tight to start with because you're gonna have to crank the keys alot to get them in tune.

                          Good Luck!
                          <div class="signaturecontainer">Guitar:<br />
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                          <br />
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                          • #14
                            Of course you can do it. This is my nylon string dreadnought:



                            A few things to watch for if you decide to try it:

                            Ball-end strings are easier to use - Martin, D'Addario and La Bella make them - but you can use normal loop-end strings with one or two knots tied at the end.

                            Keep the end of the strings (especially the monofilament ones) under tight tension when you thread them through the tuners and tune up.

                            You will probably need to widen the nut slots for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings - use a piece of folded emery paper - lift out the string and gently file the slot - pop the string back in from time to time to check - when it's right there should be a very small gap between the bottom of the string and the top of the 1st fret when you fret the string at the 3rd fret.

                            You might need to slacken off the truss rod a touch. String up first and tune to standard - check the neck relief - there should be a small gap between the bottom of the 6th string and the top of the 7th fret when you fret the string at the 1st and 15th fret. If you need to adjust, slacken off the 3rd and 4th strings and push them to one side to get at the tensioner socket, slacken off by 1/8 turn, recheck, continue until correct.

                            Good luck.

                            PS. High tension strings are best.
                            Howard

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                            • #15
                              Even if you could get the strings in tune it would likely not sound good. The steel string guitar is braced for steel strings, which have about 150 pounds of pull. Nylon strings produce about 40 pounds. They wouldn't vibrate strong enough to get the top of the guitar vibrating well enough to get a good sound.


                              It sounds very good to my ears (look and listen above ^^^^). Not as loud as steel strings to be sure but loud enough - very similar to a classical guitar, perhaps slightly more mellow. Oh and a set of nylon strings produces a tension in the range 75 - 95 lbs (from low tension to high tension sets). I always use high tension strings.
                              Howard

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