Showing posts with label Nylons Strings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nylons Strings. Show all posts

Thursday, July 13, 2017


As a fan of the electric guitar and an enthusiastic player of acoustic music, I would like to share some of the most fascinating aspects of the nylon string guitar to give you an idea of the beauty of this instrument as a stepping stone for beginner guitarists or as the subject of a lifelong devotion. Although a nylon string guitar fan can go on and on about the wonderful mellow sound and the potential for extracting new meaning from music, maybe we can focus on the more practical aspects of the nylon string acoustic like the different styles of music played on it and the advantages it can hold for an amateur or professional guitarist.

Photo: Pexxels
First let's talk about the types of guitars using nylon strings. Many experts say the flamenco guitar with its dry sound is more typical of  what a guitar was like before the emergence of the sonorous and lyrical sound of the classical guitar which evolved in the first half of the twentieth century. The flamenco guitar has always been common in some areas of Spain, and it is simply the musical instrument used by a family or group of friends to play the local folk music. The classical guitar was developed to play the classical style compositions which became popular in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A descendent of the classical guitar is the basic nylon string acoustic guitar you see in music stores today. It lends itself to the accompaniment of all types of songs and was made popular in the 1960's folk boom by artists like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul And Mary. These artists captured the public's imagination with their songs and planted the sound of the nylon string guitar firmly in the realms of popular music.

The sound of the nylon string guitar is much more peaceful compared to the brighter sound of the steel string acoustic. Another major advantage of the nylon string guitar is that it provides musical accompaniment to songs without distracting attention from your vocals.

By the way - did you know that players of electric guitars or steel string acoustic instruments need to develop callouses on their left hand fingers? Nylon strings are generally a little kinder to your hands. You will find that your nylon string guitar is easy to tune and you can just pick your guitar up and play it at any time of day or night without disturbing anybody in the immediate environment. Also the wider fret board allows you to play chords and single notes without accidentally touching the wrong string.

Nylon string guitars are kinder to finger picking guitarists. Anybody can learn finger style guitar on nylon strings without running too much risk of breaking fingernails, plus you will be pleased at how your first finger picking efforts are rewarded by the more beginner-friendly tone of the nylon acoustic.

Now you have some idea of the attractive aspects of the nylon string acoustic guitar, I do hope you will find some time to devote to this beautiful and, in recent times, neglected instrument.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Playing an acoustic guitar. The guitar is a Harley Benton (HBF20CE/TS); an Ovation clone, that is. (A friend of mine plays the guitar on a dock by a lake, in front of a summer cottage at Mäntyharju, 

Playing an acoustic guitar. The guitar is a Ha...
Finland in July, 2004.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The nylon string acoustic guitar has a softer, mellower sound than the steel string guitar. Strangely, modern audiences can still be spellbound by the depth of feeling of a nylon string guitar.  It's entirely up to you which one you choose to play. I could cite a list of artists who used either nylon or steel string for this or that record, and make a wild guess or two at why the artists made the choices they did, but the bottom line is that if you want a deep, quiet sound that doesn't compete with your singing, the nylon string guitar is the way to go.

When you go out to buy a guitar, go past the general music store and on to your local guitar dealer if you have one. That way you will have a guitar expert guiding you and not some dufus who only plays two-and-a-half chords. Don't let the guy in the store automatically steer you to the top-of-the-range guitars, and equally don't succumb to your inner cheapskate. Pick a guitar that you like the look, sound and feel of, then come down in price range if you really need to.

To get some idea of the range you could be looking at, the Alvarez Masterworks Series MC90 Classical Guitar, a more pricey instrument, has solid rosewood back and sides, western cedar top with precision scalloped bracing, mosaic rosette and gold tuning pegs with tortoise buttons and sells for over $600. The Alvarez Regent, a beginner's model, is about $150. Of course there are many grades of price and quality in between.

The kinds of music that the nylon string guitar was designed for are classical and flamenco music. Classical guitar music is classical music composed for other instruments but arranged for the guitar, and classical style pieces composed especially for the guitar or other stringed instruments. There is a wide repertoire of music composed in the medieval or renaissance eras for the vihuela or mandolin and arranged for the guitar which can be extremely enjoyable and satisfying to play. Flamenco music is a folk music of Spain, and is usually comparatively technically advanced simply due to flamenco being a "flashy" kind of music. If you are interested in exploring either of these kinds of music I suggest you go to YouTube and check out the classical or flamenco guitar videos. John Williams (the British guitarist, not the Starwars guy) and Julian Bream are two obvious starting points for classical guitar. Paco De Lucia, Paco Pena and Sabicas will open your heart to flamenco.

We can't finish without mentioning the nylon string guitar-driven folk music boom of the 1960's which has given us a lot of great music which can be easily picked up by beginner guitarists. The music of Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, Joan Baez or The Kingston Trio still holds some interest for modern guitarists.

So that is an overview of the world of the nylon string guitar. I hope you have found something to spark your interest.