can you put nylon strings on a steel string guitar

Can You Put Nylon Strings On A Steel String Guitar?

Whether you are a professional or aspiring guitar player, you know the differences of the sounds if using different string on any type of guitar. This said, placing strings on different guitars would be found a bit tricky, and you would immediately identify even the slightest of difference between the two.

Restringing or replacing the strings of your guitar isn’t particularly a hard to do. Though, it is essential that you are placing a string that is right for the specific type of guitar that you have. A question that most guitar players ask is whether nylon strings can be put on a steel string acoustic guitar.

Can Nylon Strings Be Used on Steel String Guitars?

Yes, and it is possible to use nylon strings for steel string acoustics, but it will sound very different. However, I would not recommend trying the other way around and using a steel string on a classical guitar because steel strings have a ball end that are not very compatible with a classical guitar bridge.  They also would have a different tension and action between nylon strings vs steel strings.

Important Note: The type of guitar setup may affect your decision and ability to switch out your steel strings for nylon strings, like Ernie Ball Earthwood Folk nylon. As mentioned, traditional nylon or classic guitar strings naturally don’t have ball ends. This being said, they are usually wrapped around and tied with another across the base of the bridge – kind of tied onto the bridge instead of using bridge pins. If you are one with this type of setup, there can be an option for you to prevent strings slipping.

Classical or nylon guitar strings with ballend strings are actually available. Ball end classical or nylon guitar strings names are most popular string instrument with the majority of Folk guitarists. These are also available even for those who simply want and aim to go for the mellow and smooth sounds of nylon strings on their steel string guitars.

Must-Knows About Nylon Strings for Guitars

Before jumping into the answer to the question, here are a few things you should know about nylon strings on guitars.

Nylon Strings lasts longer and can be used for a long time

Putting nylon strings on your guitar may take you some time to warm up and stretch, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that nylon strings can last longer. These strings, depending on use, may last an entire year or even more. Given that nylon strings are plastic, they are stretchier and durable, which makes them last longer. Unlike steel string guitars, nylon strings won’t rust.

When it comes to fingerstyle Nylon Strings are great

If you wish to play a song that requires fingerpicking, it would really be great for you to use nylon strings. Since nylon classical strings are made of plastic, they are a lot easier on the fingertips and much softer to play. Nylon strings often offer wider necks and are usually found and seen on classical guitars. With this, you are free to play all various styles and interesting chords without any worries of hurting your fingers or your fingers bumping into themselves.

Nylon Strings are beginner-friendly

For beginners in guitar playing, it is recommended for you to use a guitar with nylon strings. When you are first time learner in playing guitar, you will find that steel strings have higher tension, which makes it uncomfortable for the fingers, and eventually leads to pain. This is normal, especially if you are a beginner. You should stick with guitars, using nylon strings because it is made of plastic, making it easy and super soft. Classical nylon strings are also beneficial for practicing chords, especially barre chords. It is easier to hold down all the strings with a finger rather with steel strings, which require high tension.

How to Put the Nylon Guitar Strings on the Steel String Guitar?

For those of you who wish to try nylon strings with your steel string guitar, here are steps and issues that you need to follow in order to do so:

  1. Mostly common steel string acoustic guitars use a bridge pin system, so the first thing that you have to do is to find a way in order to secure the bridge.

 You should know that most nylon strings do not have ball-ends like steel strings and are really designed for pull-through bridges. If you have managed to buy and find ball-end nylon classical guitar strings, look for a way to secure them there.

  1. The nylon strings can be found to have a bigger gauge that the guitar’s original steel strings. With this said, the next thing you have to do is feed the strings up the nut.

 To make sure that the strings fit perfectly to the slot, you should properly modify the nut slots. A specialized set of nut files can be used for the modification, and prices usually start at $50.

  1. Make sure that the nylon strings fit into the tuning machine.

 Most of the time, it is a good thing to know that, in most cases, the strings actually fit perfectly into the tuning machine. Just like the original steel string, tune the nylon strings up to the pitch that you would normally want.

  1. To loosen the truss rod either all the way or tremendously, use an Allen wrench to do so.

To counteract the high tension that is exerted and delivered by steel strings, the truss rod is the one that does that job. Given that you will be using nylon strings, the truss rod is not needed anymore and may as well cause the guitar’s neck bow into a shape that will make it unplayable. This being said, before using the guitar, it is a must that you remember to loosen the truss rods tremendously, or even better yet, all the way.

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The Difference between Steel Strings and Nylon Strings

Before deciding which type of string to use, keep in mind which genre you want to play. Classical guitars with nylon strings produce a mellow, softer, and warmer sound. It is suitable and preferred for folk, classical, and plucked string flamenco music. Having steel strings on guitars, on the other hand, produces a harder, rock, still smooth sound. This said it could be suitable and preferable for bluegrass, country, rock, and other genres that you want to play along with.

Whether you choose to use nylon or steel strings, both can produce great quality of music that you most will love.

Wrapping It Up

Whenever you would want to restring your guitar, it is important to choose a string that is suited and right for the type of guitar setup that you have. With incorrect strings, it may have the possibility of damaging the guitar’s neck by placing either too high or too low pressure on it. Also, if you want to place nylon strings on steel string guitars, you must find a ball-end nylon or classical guitar string for it to fit with the steel string guitar. Be cautious in placing it and take in mind the notes that you will find in this article.