Classical Nylon string vs Steel String Acoustic: Whats the difference?

Author: Raul Alvarez  

What is the difference between a Nylon String and a steel string guitar?

To start, the difference in tonality between classical or flamenco (nylon strings) guitars and that of a steel string acoustic guitar exists solely for the application that they are going to be used for. If you play a song on either nylon strings or steel string, the song always remains the same, but it is its 'voice' that's different.

What does that all mean, I am a beginner!

Imagine you hear two versions of a classic John Lennon song, with all the background instruments the same, but one version is sung by a man, and the other version is sung by a woman. The two versions of this John Lennon song will not 'feel' the same to you and will each create different emotions within a person listening to it. You may like the song or dislike the song solely because of the singer's voice. It's that simple.

This is exactly the same between these two types of acoustic guitars. A nylon string is a softer sweeter sound - an almost angelic sound and a steel string are louder and more pronounced. What do you prefer? It is all up to your emotions that are created when listening to the two for any particular song you are playing. It's that simple!

Are Nylon-string classical/Spanish guitars and Steel String guitars both acoustic guitars?

They are both acoustic guitars because they both produce acoustic sound wave energy by strings resonating the hollow body chamber and therefore do not need an amplifier. As opposed to a 'Solid body' guitar (Electric Guitars) which doesn't resonate acoustically sufficiently to be heard and so require electronics and amplification to be heard.

Can I swap the string on my Nylon String guitar to Steel Strings?

Technically you can, but it will most likely cause serious damage to your guitar.  For more details, check out our article: Can You Swap Nylon Strings & Metal Strings?

The more you play all types of different guitars, you will soon discover for yourself the wonderful uses.

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