For people who have always used steel strings, there is a parallel world besides the conventional guitar you see or have. This world is right next to yours, and still miles away. It is like another dimension. This is the world of nylon strings.
It is certain that the more common of the two worlds is the world of steel strings, but that is probably because the world of nylon strings is not for everybody. It is more like a niche. You certainly do not choose that world, that world chooses you. It is not for everybody and it is a class apart.
Nylon strings have not been around for as long as steel strings but that does not compromise their significance. They are used for a very specific style of music. While steel strings are bright and crispy, nylon strings are softer and more subtle. They are calm to the madness. They produce soft sounds that resonate with your heart. According to most musicians, nylon strings are made for specific kinds of genres. If you are into blues, or jazz, or finger-styling, nylon strings will make your music reach a level that steel strings can never. They are a classic; so much so that even the guitars they are put in are known as classical guitars.
Yes, the difference is not just the strings and that is precisely why it is an entire parallel world. The difference initiates from steel to nylon, but then it stretches to every end. First and foremost, the guitars are entirely different. Nylon strings will not work in a guitar made for steel strings and steel strings will not work in a classic guitar. A classic guitar, to begin with, has a different headstock. It does not have poles coming out of it to roll the strings on. The poles are inside the headstock, in the center of it, and the strings are rolled and tied on it. Secondly, it is pretty different on the other end, too. A classic guitar does not have a bridge as you might have seen in a conventional guitar. Because the strings do not have a ball-end, the bridge does not have bridge pins. It kind of has holes. The strings are put into these tiny holes, pulled out from the other end, and are literally tied around the bridge, in a specific manner of course. Moreover, if you play nylon strings with a pick, you really need to google stuff. Nylon strings are not played with a pick, they are played with finger or fingers. Because they are supposed to be soft and warm, using a pick does not make sense and does not even create a pleasing tone. With fingers, the nylon strings show you their true potential, and then obviously, you cannot fingerstyle with a pick. So, picking, plucking, finger-styling, percussion guitaring, licks, and all of this stuff becomes really easy on nylon strings and well, that is what they are made for. Oh, and they also last way longer than steel strings. And they also do not rust.
However, the genre is not the only reason one might choose nylon strings over steel strings. Nylon strings are extremely soft. It is not even half as much effort playing nylon strings as steel strings. The fingers do not hurt at all, and the shifts and transitions are smooth. All of these characteristics also make nylon strings a great choice for beginners.
But obviously, you still have multiple options for nylon strings. There is classification in this world too, just like the steel strings world. Some nylon strings are top of the line, some are great, some are average, and some are a waste of resources. So, what is common between the two worlds is the importance of choosing the set of strings wisely. And that is what is list aims to do; classify the strings for you.
Top 10 Best Nylon Strings For Your Guitar 2021
1. D’Addario EJ45 Pro-Arte Nylon Guitar Strings
The name says it all. D’Addario initiated their string making thing back in the 1700s in Italy. They even faced a natural downfall when their hometown underwent an earthquake, but they did not let this affect their growth. They moved to New York and continued manufacturing. Since their times in Italy till the date you read this, they have been labeled as one of the very best, the crème de la crème in the string making industry.
The EJ45 Pro-Arte is legit a piece of art. For the treble strings, they use a nylon monofilament material. These 3 strings, the E high, the B and the G, are pure nylon. No additions made or needed, for that matter. The bass strings, however, are a beautiful fusion. At the core, these 3 bass strings are made from a nylon multifilament material. But this nylon multifilament is given a copper casing, or copper winding as they say, but even this copper is just copper. It is silver-plated copper. The primary reason to do this is to make the bass strings sound heavier and a little louder than the treble strings. They give the sound the largeness it craves.
Moreover, D’Addario uses its laser technologies to maintain the standard of quality in its strings. The lasers measure the precise diameters and the tension levels of each string throughout the manufacturing process. Why, you may ask? Primarily to make sure that the intonations of the strings are beyond perfection. There are absolutely no chances taken.
All of this, cumulatively, give these strings the amazing quality, the big yet soft sound, and the life they have. D’Addario has not even priced them high and that is another plus.
Recently, we have also shared best acoustic guitar strings.
2. Ernie Ball Earthwood Nylon Acoustic Guitar Strings
Ernie Ball is the guy who taught Fender a lesson. He was a musician himself and back in his days, the era of rock n roll, the set of strings Fender used to sell felt pretty heavy to most guitarists he knew. So, he thought of developing a new design altogether. He did go to Fender and tried to convince them to take his design and start manufacturing (shows he really wanted to do this out of goodwill), but fate had other plans. It was Fender’s refusal to his design that the company, Ernie Ball, was established. He started with that 3rd string unwound design and today, Ernie Ball makes pretty much everything related to guitars.
Earthwood Folk Nylon is some serious Ernie Ball standard. Although they do not go for innovative design with nylon, they compete in the market with their exceptional quality and sound. So, the design is the same, the 3 highs are pure nylon and the 3 lows are wound. However, they have ball-ends. Yup, just like steel strings, these strings have ball-ends that are essentially needed for steel strings to fix inside the bridge and pins to the rest. But classic guitars do not have pins. Ernie Ball still argues that ball-ends can work with classic guitars and that it makes the entire string installation process one-tenth as troublesome. Some agree to this argument and some don’t.
The sound is brilliant. These strings are more versatile than normal nylon strings. Their tone has been designed such that they suit classical and folk music both. Classical needs the subtleness and folk needs a little brightness, and these strings are able to provide both just enough.
3. D’Addario EJ27N ¾ Student Nylon Classical Guitar Strings
What was the other reason someone would prefer a nylon string set and a classical guitar? Yep, you got it right. Learning. Beginners would really prefer going for nylon strings. Nylon strings are extremely smooth, they are really soft, and the guitarist can focus on learning instead of figuring out what ointment to put on his fingertips.
D’Addario has made an entirely different set of strings for beginners. If they are beginners, they are probably using a smaller guitar. The ¾ scale, as they are generally known. And if it actually is the case, they obviously can’t work with full-length strings. D’Addario knew it and they released the EJ27N. Apart from the ¾ size, everything else is 4 on 4.
Just like their full version, the Pro-Arte, the higher 3 strings are made from pure nylon. No winding, no plating. But the lower 3 strings, the E low, the A and the D, are copper winded and silver-plated. The core is, again, multifilament nylon. But it is wound with copper that is silver-plated. The sound is absolutely beautiful, warm, and wholesome to say the least.
4. Augustine Classical Guitar Strings
Now it is probable that most of you might have not heard the company’s name. That might be because they entered the business quite recently, compared to other brands who have been here for centuries, not even decades. But there is one thing about them that will introduce them to you in high regards and once and for all. Albert Augustine, the guy himself, was a Danish. A guitar legend back in those days mentioned to him that there really are no good quality strings available in the US. This clicked Augustine. He moved to the States and officially initiated the company in 1947. But, nothing of this will introduce them to you in high regard. What actually will is the fact that Augustine was the company that INTRODUCED the Nylon string. These guys made the first Nylon string in 1948. They are the first movers!
The Red Series being featured here is one of Augustine’s bestsellers. They manufacture all kinds of strings but, obviously, they are renowned for nylon strings. Red Series is a nylon string set that is one of its kind. The sound this set offers is out of this world. The treble strings are subtle and soft, and the bass strings are deep and clear. The balance is just not something you will find easily.
The price is greater than normal nylon strings but that is the whole point; they are not normal. They are the freaking best.
5. D’Addario EJ34 Folk Nylon Guitar Strings
Yeah, another D’Addario set. They took over the world of strings and mentioning multiple sets from them is more like a necessity! EJ34 is obviously not similar to the ones mentioned earlier. Obviously. Why would they make another set if it were the same?
EJ34 is pure nylon for treble strings but not for bass strings. They have offered a coating for bass strings and it is not silver. It is Bronze! They coated their bass strings with black bronze, and this does two very different jobs. One, it gives the set an entirely beautiful design. And two, it offers a sound like no other. The black bronze nylon strings are way warmer than usual, yet still loud. They give the sound the bigness it needs while still keeping it warm.
The best part, however, is certainly the price point. At this price, there is no one even near.
6. Hannabach 652537 Series 815 String Set
With nylon strings, you might see a lot of non-American manufacturers and companies in the market. The reason for this is the fact that classical guitars were not an American thing. They traveled from other places and cultures into the American music scene but have stayed since then. Hannabach is one such manufacturer. Although most of you might not be familiar with the name, it does not change the fact that Hannabach has been in the scene for the last 150 years or so. They were probably founded somewhere around 1869 in Germany and they have managed to maintain their unique sound and exceptional quality.
815 Silver Special is their masterpiece. It has always had so much demand in the market that the same set comes in different tensions, from super high to super low. The higher treble strings are pure nylon, being warm and resonant. And the bass strings, the lower strings, are made of nylon but have a silver coating over them. Probably why they called it the Silver Series. And this silver does the game for the bass strings. It makes them a little crispier and louder and “big” to what they would have been otherwise. As far as sound is concerned, it is as versatile and complete yet balanced as the manufacturing and design of the strings.
Also, one really important thing to be mentioned about these strings here is their sensitivity. These strings are insanely sensitive. Every tiny little error will be clearly evident because they are made to be that way. This is a set for professional players; for players who want every inch of their finger movement to create a sound and who can play for hours without even a bit of error.
7. Fender Classical Nylon Guitar Strings
Fender is a brand who is “supposed” to be in every segment of music. They are so big that there is nothing they can miss. They will have to manufacture almost every product of every category to maintain their reputation.
Now Fender has never been known for strings. They make decent sets; they are not bad. But they are also not the best. So, like, just make good strings. And that is especially true in the segment under discussion right now: nylon strings.
This set of nylon strings by Fender is not bad at all. It is a good set, but it would not really be the top priority. The price, the quality, the tone, everything is mediocre. People, even the ones with low budgets, do have better options available in the market.
The treble strings are pure nylon and the bass strings are silver-coated. The strings sound good but the tone is not specific to any genre. They can play anything reasonably, but no genre at its best.
8. GHS Strings 10 set, Hawaiian D-tuning Ukulele Strings
It is necessary to include a ukulele option in a conversation of nylon strings. They have a greater part to play in the world of ukuleles than guitars. So here it is, the best choice in Uke strings: the GHS Hawaiian D-tuning strings set.
The quality has been taken care of to an extent that each string is separately packaged in a controlled climate. The strings are packed in a nitrogen-filled environment to protect their quality and corrosion/oxidation. This process not only gives them a long life but also maintains their sound quality until they last. Also, although they are marketed as Hawaiian D-tuning, these strings work as great as any other (or even better) on GCEA tuning. However, they are only available for Standard and Soprano. For Tenors, you will have to check other options.
9. Augustine AUGREGALBLUSET Regal Blue
This is one beautiful set from Augustine. They offer three types in the nylon string section: The Classic, the Imperial, and the Regal. This one is called the Regal Blue, and it obviously falls in the Regal section, but it has bass strings from their exclusive blue set. The colors, like blue over here, denote the tension levels. Every tension level has a different color and blue, in Augustine language, is known as high tension.
The trebles in this set are super-high tension, but as said, the basses are high tension. This gives a great variety and scope to the overall sound of the set. It is rich, it is soft, it is wholesome, it is loud, it is resonant, and it is subtle. So, apparently, the fusion seems to be working. The best part about these strings is their impeccable ability to hold intonations perfectly.
10. D’Addario EJ25B Pro-Arte Flamenco
Here is another one from the Pro-Arte series by D’Addario. As mentioned earlier, D’Addario has made numerous nylon string variants. They are all over the market and therefore, they deserve multiple mentions.
The quality is unquestionable. It is D’Addario and the standards of EJ25B match D’Addario’s. Just like the other variant from the Pro-Arte series we mentioned earlier, the EJ25B have multifilament bass strings. The treble strings are black nylon coated and this gives them a unique brightness. Essentially, this coating is the only difference between EJ25B, and the version mentioned earlier in this list. They have also been manufactured with D’Addario’s patent laser technology.
Getting nylon strings is a great idea, but you should definitely see if you need them. As in, you need to see if you have the right guitar for them and if it suits your style of music. Obviously, if you play rock or even upbeat pop, nylon strings are probably not your choice. But if you are sure they are your thing, you need to choose a set keeping the trebles and basses into consideration. The trebles should not be too bright, and the basses shouldn’t be too soft. There should be a balance and the set overall should still have the “loudness”. Just a piece of advice; do check tutorials on how to change nylon strings. They are pretty different because they do not have ball-ends and need to be tied to the bridge.