Can you use nylon strings on an acoustic guitar?
Yes, using nylon strings on an acoustic guitar is possible. But we don’t recommend this. An acoustic guitar often uses steel strings.
So if you replace it with nylon strings, the sounds of your acoustic guitar will change quite a lot.
The differences between nylon strings vs steel strings
Nylon strings are common strings of classical guitars. Steel strings are used for acoustic guitars. Nylon strings are more suitable for beginners. They are easier to grasp than steel strings.
Besides, they are softer than steel strings. Thus, they don’t hurt fingers as much as steel strings. For children and people under the age of 15, nylon string guitars are better than steel-string guitars.
People tend to buy small-sized guitars for their children. These guitars have nylon strings. Yet, if children learn to play guitar with these guitars, they will never master a full-size steel-string guitar. So, if you intend to buy a nylon string guitar, it’s better to buy a full-size one.
Another difference between nylon strings and steel strings is the quality of sounds they produce.
Nylon strings produce mellow, peaceful, and naturally cool sounds. Nylon strings are quite “friendly” with fingers. They don’t create finger pain even after a long time of practicing. Moreover, nylon strings are elastic, so it is suitable for folk and flamenco music.
Steel strings, on the other hand, are stiffer and better for advanced players. Acoustic guitars with steel strings will produce bright and metallic sounds. So, people who like playing pop or bluegrass music will prefer steel-string guitars.
It is difficult to learn to play guitar with steel strings at first. But it will gradually become easier and you can play guitar seamlessly.
Furthermore, nylon string guitars have a string tension of 75-90 pounds. Meanwhile, the string tension of steel-string guitars is 150-200 pounds. That means nylon strings are easier to pluck than steel strings.
Why you should not put nylon strings on an acoustic guitar
Using nylon strings on an acoustic guitar is possible. But you should not do this unless it is necessary. The reason is that the structure of acoustic guitars is not suitable for nylon strings.
The saddle of acoustic guitars is designed to secure steel strings that have a ball-end. Nylon strings don’t have a ball-end, so it is difficult to secure nylon strings on an acoustic guitar.
This is the strings division of the guitar, which determines the notes. The gauge of nylon strings is bigger than that of a steel string.
Thus, when you put nylon strings on the nut of an acoustic guitar, they will not match.
As a result, the produced sounds will be weird, and you can’t play the right notes. If you play with this guitar for a long time, your sense of music will be affected.
Steel strings are thinner than nylon strings. So the headstock of acoustic guitars is also smaller than that of classical guitars.
Besides, the tuning keys of steel strings are not the same as nylon strings. Thus, you should not replace steel strings with nylon strings on an acoustic guitar.
How to put nylon strings on acoustic guitars?
If you still want to use nylon string on an acoustic guitar no matter what the consequences, follow the instruction below:
- Find nylon strings with ball-end to fit with the bridge pin of the acoustic guitar. If you can’t do this, you have to find the proper way to bind the nylon strings to the bridge.
- You should change the nut properly to fit nylon strings. You can buy a modification nut file set and feed the string up the nut.
- Adjust the nylon strings so that they can fit into the tuning machine
- Loosen the truss rod to reduce tension for nylon strings. Nylon string tension is much smaller than steel-string tension. So, when you put nylon strings on, loosen the truss rod to avoid bowing in the guitar’s neck.
In conclusion, you can use nylon strings on an acoustic guitar. But don’t do it unless necessary. Nylon strings can make your acoustic guitar sound weird.
However, if you insist on making this replacement, remember to follow the instructions above. We hope that you will have a happy time with your guitar!