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Can I Use Steel Strings on a Classical Guitar

Published on 30/07/2013

  • Can I Use Steel Strings on a Classical Guitar

We often get asked if you can re-string a classical guitar using acoustic steel strings. You have been playing a nylon string instrument and now you're wanting to experiment with a different sound. Not all guitars are equal, so don't rush out and ruin a perfecty good instrument.

What's the Difference?

Crucially, acoustic guitars have a truss rod, the steel bar that runs the length of the neck. It helps to adjust to the exertion put on the strings and allows the neck to bend slightly, avoiding any warping.

Classical guitars do not use a truss rod in the neck because the tension created by nylon strings is very low and they are not built to be adjusted to withstand significant force from the strings.

The bridge design on classical and acoustic guitars is also different. Nylon strings are usually looped and knotted at the bridge, where acoustic strings are pegged on endpins.

What Damage will Occur?

Putting steel stings on a classical guitar will very likely damage the under-the-top bracing that was designed to be pulled on by nylon strings.

The increased tension can actually damage the guitar by causing the top to warp and can eventually rip the bridge right off the guitar.

Steel strings also cut into the nylon wind-on part of the classical guitar machine heads.

So do not be tempted to try out steel strings on your classical guitar.  Keep nylon strings on the classical, and treat yourself to a new acoustic guitar if you are wanting to experiment on a steel string guitar!