The Best Nylon / Classical Guitar Strings

The Highest Rated Nylon / Classical Guitar Strings

Disclosure

We recommend all products independently of 3rd parties including advertisers. We earn advertising fees from:
• • • • •
Sweetwater
• • • • •

Amazon

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
• • • • •

Stringed instruments like classical guitars, violins, and cellos used to be strung with gut strings. These days, Nylon has replaced gut as the material of choice for strings due to its affordability, resilience, and ease of manufacture in large quantities. Some manufacturers offer Carbon/Fluorocarbon strings which are said to be closer to gut strings in terms of tone. String manufacturers take great care tweaking their strings to achieve specific tonalities and tensions.

Just like steel strings, nylon guitar strings are available in a wide variety of different options. However, the materials used in the strings, their composition, and their tension aren’t as well documented as the variables that create the tone of a steel string.

It can be hard for beginning musicians to find the ideal nylon strings for their desired tone, playing style, and preferences. Compared to steel strings, nylon strings don't get as much discussion online.

For this 2020 update, we arranged our recommendations according to tension (high, regular, and low) as well as a provide a separate portion where we select the best ball-end classical guitar string set. This increased our shortlist from 33 to 36 different sets from various manufacturers. We examined over 13,700 reviews and rating sources to come up with our new recommendations.

We also provide an in-depth look at the materials used and the differences between them, including information on ball-end nylon strings. There is also additional information about string tension and a quick tutorial on how to change nylon guitar strings.

The Best Nylon / Classical Guitar Strings

Medium / Normal Tension Classical Guitar Strings

La Bella 820 Elite Flamenco Red Nylon

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$8
La Bella Elite 820

The La Bella Elite 820 is designed and tuned to be brighter for Flamenco guitars. The strings can also be used to brighten up dark sounding guitars and provide additional attack. The Red nylon Treble strings are laser-sorted for consistency per set.

Features:

  • Red nylon treble strings
  • Silver-plated wound bass strings
  • Treble gauges: .029, .034, .041
  • Bass gauges: .029, .034, .042

Pros

Users loved the bright sound and the sensitivity to being plucked. Longevity is also reported to be very good. It is also reported to give more clarity to instruments with a warm base tonality.

Cons

One report of breakage during re-stringing but no other details were outlined.

Overall

The La Bella Elite 820 Flamenco strings are generally regarded by users as a great set for darker/warmer toned guitars or to provide additional snap and attack to players with mellower playing styles.

D'Addario EXP45

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$12
D'Addario EXP45 Classical Guitar Strings

Some guitarists prefer strings that aren't necessarily bright but have the "fresh from the pack" tone a little longer. D'addario EXP45 strings have the bass strings treated with the company's proprietary EXP coating to prolong the "new string" tone.

Features:

  • Laser-sorted nylon Classical Strings
  • Nylon and EXP-coated silver-plated copper bass strings
  • Treble gauges: .028, .0322, .0403
  • Bass gauges: .028, .035, .044

Pros

Users appreciate the length of time before the strings start sounding dull. They retain their snappy attack and strong projection for longer than most strings some users have tried.

Cons

Might be -too- snappy and bright for some that prefer a "broken-in" tone from the pack. If you play intensely and don't want to hear brightness all the time, you might want to look into more mellow strings.

Overall

If you prefer a bright tone that accentuates the attack and retains the character longer than uncoated strings, the EXP45 is the pack for you.

D'Addario EJ49 Pro-Arte Black

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$12
D'Addario EJ49 Pro-Arte Black Classical Guitar Strings

According to the D'Addario website, the EJ49 Pro-Arte Black is their best-selling string set. The black nylon strings offer a balanced tone, comfortable feel, and a wide dynamic range of projection. Being widely available means it's easy

Features:

  • Laser sorted black nylon strings
  • Silver-plated wound bass strings
  • Treble gauges: .0280, .0322, .0403
  • Bass gauges: .029, .035, .043

Pros

Aside from good comments on the aesthetic of black nylon treble strings, users report that the set has an even, balanced tone with moderately good projection. The tension was also said to be comfortable without being too light.

Cons

Multiple reports of the strings needing to settle and stabilize after restringing. They benefit from a good stretch. Some reviewers still had some tuning issues after prolonged use.

Overall

For an even, balanced tonality with good playing comfort, the EJ49 Pro-Arte Black is a versatile pick.

Savarez 540R Alliance

85
GEARANK

85 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$20
Savarez 540R Alliance Classical Guitar Strings

Savarez have been making strings since 1770. The Savarez 540R Alliance set features carbon composite nylon treble strings and silver-plated copper wound bass strings. Savarez 540R composite strings are brighter and closer to gut strings in terms of projection and balance.

Features:

  • Carbon composite nylon treble strings
  • Silver-plated copper wound bass strings
  • Treble gauges: .0244, .0272, .0331
  • Bass gauges: .0295, .034, .043

Pros

While there is not much literature on some Savarez string sets, users who stand by them praise their tone, longevity, and consistency. The 540R in particular gets great reviews from the everyday guitar player to the concert virtuoso for its bring, snappy attack. Flamenco players that prefer a strong attack use the 540R as their string of choice.

Cons

While the strong attack may be a plus for some, for others that want a more mellow or balanced sound didn't like the 540R's snap.

Overall

If you prefer a snappy, almost brassy and metallic attack to your sound, the 540R might be the string set for you.

Low / Light Tension Classical Guitar Strings

D'Addario Pro-Arte EJ43

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$10
D'Addario EJ43 Pro-Arte Classical Guitar Strings

The Pro-Arte series is arguably one of the most popular available, being available at nearly every guitar store. The EJ43 set is a light tension set for those who prefer a softer touch coupled with a more mellow tonality.

Features:

  • Nylon treble strings
  • Silver-plated copper Bass strings
  • Treble gauges: .0275, .0317, .0397
  • Bass gauges: .028, .033, .042

Pros

Several people report that the set improved the playability of their guitars; particularly older guitars with compromised string action due to body warping or age. Affordability and availability were also a plus for people who are looking to consistently use the same set.

Cons

Several low rated reviews point to the strings stretching and not staying in tune over time. Volume and depth were also said to be lacking by other reviewers.

Overall

If you are looking for a string set that will improve your guitar's playability and that you can get almost anywhere, the EJ43 set by D'Addario is a consistent favorite as evidenced by the thousands of Pro-Arte reviews from our sources.

Hannabach 815 LT

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$28
Hannabach 815 LT - Low Tension Nylon Classical Guitar Strings

The Hannabach 815 series is the brand's best selling set of strings and is presented as an all-rounder for most playing styles. The LT or Lower Tension set has lower gauges for lighter feeling playability.

Features:

  • Nylon treble strings
  • Silver-plated Bass strings
  • Treble gauges: .0280, .0319, .0398
  • Bass gauges: .0280, .0350, .0429

Pros

Users report that despite being a lighter gauge, the volume and projection were very good. A few reviews commended the feel and balance of the set.

Cons

There are very few negatives in user reviews - one report of early string breakage.

Overall

The Hannabach 815 LT is a set for those who want both light tensions without sacrificing balance and volume.

Hard / High Tension Classical Guitar Strings

D'Addario EJ46 Pro-Arte

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$10
D'Addario EJ46 Pro-Arte Hard Tension Classical Guitar Strings

The D'Addario EJ46 is one of the more popular nylon string sets. Like all D'addario nylon strings, each plain string is laser measured for consistency. It features a standard clear nylon treble and silver plated copper wound bass strings.

Features:

  • Nylon treble strings
  • Silver-plated Copper wound bass strings
  • Treble gauges: .0285, .0327, .0410
  • Bass gauges: .030, .036, .044

Pros

"Power" is a word mentioned more than once by different users. The EJ46 Pro-Arte is said to have great punch, projection and sustain. Unlike other strings that sound snappy but thin, the EJ46 is said to have an authoritative bass string sound and the trebles have depth.

Cons

Some users report short string life as the tone loses it's edge a bit fast. Others complained about how the G-string had lower volume than the others.

Overall

For more aggressive styles that require big tone and an authoritative punch, the EJ46 Pro-Arte from D'Addario will serve you well.

Savarez Corum New Cristal 500CJ

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$12
Savarez Corum New Cristal 500CJ

Gypsy Jazz legend Django Reinhart famously used Savarez strings on his Selmer guitar. Nearly a century later, Savarez is stll making qualtiy strings with new developments in technology. The Savarez Corum New Cristal 500CJ strings are designed as a high tension set with propietary materials and processes. The set features "Cristal" Nylon trebles and "Corum Polished" silver-wound bass.

Features:

  • Cristal Nylon treble strings
  • Corum polished-silver-wound
  • Treble gauges: .029, .033, .041
  • Bass gauges: .030, .036, .043

Pros

Despite being high tension, users found the playability to be excellent. Most high tension strings have some strings that sound louder than the others. String to string volume was reported to be balanced despite the high tension.

Cons

The higher tension means tying them needs to be done carefully and securely as improper tying leads to tuning instability and slippage. There were some reports of this set being more difficult to secure than other strings.

Overall

This is a great set of strings for the guitarist that wants more resistance while having a balanced tone across all strings.

Ball-End Classical Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball 2069 Earthwood 80/20 Bronze

80
GEARANK

80 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$7
Ernie Ball 2069 Earthwood 80/20 Bronze Folk Ball End Nylon Guitar Strings

For those that prefer converting a regular folk guitar into a nylon classical-style guitar, ball-end strings are the easiest solution. The 2069 Earthwood 80/20 Bronze String set by Ernie Ball is one of the most, if not, the most popular string set in this category.

Features:

  • Nylon treble strings
  • 80/20 bronze wound nylon core bass strings
  • Treble gauges: .028, .032, .040p
  • Bass gauges: .030 .036 .042

Pros

For stringing up folk guitar-style bridges with studs, the 2069 is reported to be a great sounding, balanced set. The feel is said to be a bit lighter but the tuning and intonation are said to be stable. Many of the reviewers mentioned they bought the set to convert a steel-string guitar for classical playing.

Cons

For conversions, string diameters on the set means some filing at the nut slot may be required. Some negative reviewers mistakenly bought the set thinking it was a set of steel strings.

Overall

If you're looking for the best ball-end nylon string set, the 2069 is certainly a community favorite. It's tone, feel and convenience earns it a spot on our top picks.

Things to Consider When Buying Nylon Guitar Strings

Every term you’re going to need to know to make an informed purchase is explained below, and we would encourage you to refer back to this section before you make a final purchase. This way you can be sure you’ve got a good idea of how your strings will perform.

Nylon vs. Classical Strings: Is There a Difference?

Nylon and classical guitar strings are the same. There’s not a type of string which is considered to be the classical guitar string. Rather, players use a variety of different types (we’ll go into these different types in more depth below) based on their preferences and what works well with their instrument.

However, some strings are marketed for flamenco guitar exclusively. Flamenco guitar is characterized by its bright and percussive tone, and strings intended for flamenco are meant to emphasize these elements. These strings may pair well with a darkly voiced instrument, but they’ll offer less of the overtone-ridden and gentle sound that defines the classical guitar. They also tend to sustain less than other nylon strings, making them a good fit for flamenco and some fingerstyle arrangements but a poor fit for a more traditional classical playing style.

With that being said, even flamenco players use a variety of different strings. If you’re looking to play flamenco guitar strings designed for that genre are a good place to start, but they aren’t your only option.

Materials

There are three main types of nylon string: genuine nylon, fluorocarbon (technically not nylon, but deserves to be included due to its popularity) and titanium nylon. To avoid repeating ourselves, we would like to state that the differences inherent to each type of string are going to vary based on your technique, the instrument you use, and the proficiency/intent of the manufacturer. Consider the information below a rough guide as to what you should expect from these strings, not a definitive guide as to how they sound.

Genuine nylon strings are what most players think of when they hear the term “nylon guitar string.” These strings are made from nylon, and the three bass strings are coated with a bronze or silver alloy. These strings have a warm and rich tone, though they don’t have the volume of the other types. Cheaper nylon strings also tend to sound muddy when compared to cheap titanium or fluorocarbon strings. Another advantage of nylon strings is that they help to facilitate vibrato more so than the other two types of strings.
Fluorocarbon strings, commonly referred to as carbon fiber, are voiced brighter than classical strings. These strings have more volume than nylon and a very articulate tone, but there are instances where they suffer from intonation issues. They also lack sustain when compared to nylon strings, which depending on the pieces you play may or may not be a good thing. Faster pieces benefit from the articulation that comes from a lack of sustain, but slower pieces may sound brittle and/or unemotional.
For a look at how these two (carbon and nylon) strings compare, check out this video:
Titanium nylon strings are either made from a titanium-nylon polymer or a polyamide (a repeating molecule chain linked by a certain type of chemical bond) formula, depending on the manufacturer. Galli’s GR45 Titanium Genius is of the former category, while others are called “titanium” strings due to the coloration caused by their composition. These strings have a brighter sound than nylon strings but have a lesser representation of mid-range frequencies than true nylon or fluorocarbon strings. Some musicians state that the strings have a more metallic sound than a traditional nylon string.
The video below doesn’t have the same guitar player using the same guitar showing off the differences between different strings so it doesn’t provide as accurate of a comparison, but it does help to give you a basic idea of how titanium nylon strings respond.

Classical Guitar String Tension and Gauge

The playability and tone of steel strings are largely decided by their gauge. Gauge is the thickness of the string, with thicker strings having a higher representation of low to low-mid frequencies and thinner strings having more high-mid and treble frequencies.

Nylon guitar strings are generally divided by tension. Tension is the tension the strings are under, with low tension strings feeling easier to play and high tension strings feeling stiffer. Compared to steel strings, the difference between low and high tension strings isn’t quite as dramatic, but tension has a huge impact on tone. Gauge has the same impact on the tone of nylon strings that it has on steel strings, but the main variable is tension.

Tension influences the following variables: volume, playability, and frequency representation. Low tension strings have the least volume and are easier to play, with high tension having the opposite characteristics. Medium tension strings are a middle-ground between the two.

Low tension strings have more “body” and a higher representation of low and low-mid frequencies. Body is the presence of overtones, so a low tension string will generally have a more complex and musical tone. High tension strings have more high-end representation and more “attack.” Attack is the immediacy with which you hear a note, so the more attack a string has the more notes seem to leap out of your guitar.

Another thing to note about tension is that some instruments may not be able to hold up to the strain of high tension strings. Older instruments, in particular, aren’t designed to hold up to the strain, so before you slap on a set of high tension strings research the specifications of your instrument. If you can’t find them, take your guitar to a luthier and get their opinion on the issue before you commit to high tension strings.

If you’d like a bit more info, check out this video. It’s a bit long, but it goes into the topic in way more depth.

Platings

The bass strings (the thickest three) are usually plated, almost always with a metal. Different manufacturers use different metals and alloys, all of which have their pros and cons. The general rule of thumb with platings is that denser materials offer more clarity, while less dense materials create more warmth.

Pairing Your Strings with Your Guitar

The two biggest variables on how your strings are going to perform are the tonewood the instrument is made from as well as your technique. For the sake of brevity, we’re not going to go into much depth here, but as a general rule, you should look for strings that balance out the tone of your guitar. If you have a darkly voiced instrument (cedar topped guitars are a perfect example of this) you’d likely get great results from a brightly voiced string. The inverse is true with spruce-topped instruments, which are considered to have a brighter and more lively voice.

What About Ball-End Nylon Strings?

Nylon strings are a bit of a hassle for beginners because you have to learn how to tie them, which takes some practice. So rather than learning how to properly tie nylon strings, many beginning musicians prefer ball-end strings. Ball-end nylon strings have a ball-end just like steel strings. You just feed one end of the string through the bridge, wind it around the peg, tune it up, and you’re good to go.

Nylon strings also come in more price tiers than steel strings, with some strings being aimed at beginners and others at more advanced musicians. Because they’re more convenient for beginners, ball-end strings get a reputation of being beginner-tier strings. Companies don’t launch professional quality ball-end nylon strings because professional classical guitarists generally won’t buy them due to their reputation.

With that being said, ball-end strings aren’t any better or worse than other strings in the same price tier. However, you do limit your options by not knowing how to tie plain end nylon strings.

How to Change Plain End Nylon Strings

Once you purchase a set of plain end nylon strings, refer to this video (or follow the link and bookmark it). It’s a solid tutorial on how to change a nylon string, and once you watch it through a couple of times you’ll be able to get a handle on how to tie the necessary knot (generally the same knot, tied two or three times).

Best Classical Guitar Strings Selection Methodology

The first edition was published June 2017 written by Mason Hoberg and the latest major update was published on August 18, 2020 written by Raphael Pulgar with contributions by Mason Hoberg.

We first checked all available Nylon string sets from various major online retailers. Our data consists of compiled user ratings and reviews, as well as user discussions in forums up until August of 2020. These were then analyzed by the Gearank Algorithm to produce scores out of 100 that indicate overall user satisfaction with the product. Over 13,700 rating and review sources were taken into account for this process. Finally, we selected the highest rated sets per tension category as well as having a separate section for the best ball end classical guitar strings. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

Comments

Great article! I would like

Great article! I would like to find a nylon set that produces a spanish, really warm tone in the 3 lightest stings (e, b, g) wich also is avaliable with hard tension to get a good volume. I know I can bring a warmer tone with my fingers and I can also change guitar but I would like to find strings optimized for this. Do you have any suggestions?

I am returning to playing a

I am returning to playing a dreadnought guitar after many years. I have not too old Martin extra light strings on it. Do folks ever use nylon strings on an acoustic guitar? I had always thought no.

I tried this once and it didn

I tried this once and it didn't work.

Both the tension and the gauges were wrong resulting in bad intonation.

There's nothing really stopping you from trying it on your guitar, just never put steel strings on a nylon string guitar because the higher tension can warp the neck.

You are very misinformed (I

You are very misinformed (I hope). Sweetwater & Guitar center are poor sources of information. Start with Strings by Mail or Guitar Salon International for authentic information and history of nylon strings and Tone.
This site made a choice to be ignorant. Don't let the corporate "delusions" of the above brokers be your excuse. You really don't know what you are talking about.

I'm not quite sure what you

I'm not quite sure what you mean, but the businesses you mentioned were in fact all sources we used during our research.

This is a really excellent

This is a really excellent presentation on nylon guitar strings. Overall, the best I've seen.

Thank you very much Wayne,

Thank you very much Wayne, the Gearank team really appreciates that kind of support and acknowledgement.

Post a Comment or Question

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <b> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.