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Steel Strings vs Nylon Strings | Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

Steel Strings vs Nylon Strings | Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

Posted by Austin Bazaar on 19th Dec 2014

Should you get a guitar with steel strings or nylon strings? Find out the main differences between steel string acoustic guitars and nylon string classical guitars with this handy guide.

Differences Between Nylon and Steel String Guitars

Acoustic guitars are available with either steel strings or nylon strings. Guitars with nylon strings are often referred to as classical guitars. Here are some of the main differences between the two different types of guitar.

Genre Matters

When deciding what type of acoustic guitar to get, the most important factor is what type of music you want to play. The nylon strings on classical guitars contribute to a warmer, mellower sound, which is well-suited for classical, flamenco, and folk music. An acoustic guitar with steel strings would be more well-suited for playing country, rock, bluegrass, or just about any other type of music.

If you plan on playing with a pick, a classical guitar may not be the best choice for you. Most classical guitarists stick to fingerstyle playing and strumming, and most nylon-string guitars do not come with pickguards. Without a pickguard, your instrument can be quickly damaged by playing with a pick, so we discourage using anything other than your fingers when playing a classical guitar.

Physical Differences

Classical guitars have smaller bodies and wider necks than standard acoustic guitars. They typically have slotted headstocks with poles that the strings are wrapped around. A full-size steel string guitar will have a larger body and strings which are held in place on the guitar's bridge with the help of bridge pins (nylon strings are tied on to the guitar's bridge).

You will see a lot of steel-string guitars with pickguards in place to protect the instrument from damage that is caused by using a pick. This is not the case with classical guitars since nylon strings are not usually played with a pick.

Are Steel Strings or Nylon Strings Better For Beginners?

If you are a beginner, you may be wondering which type of guitar is easier to learn on. Nylon strings may seem like they would cause less pain for your fingers if you are just starting out. The truth is, your fingers will take some time to become adjusted to playing a guitar regardless of what type of strings you are playing on.

If your guitar is properly set up, the type of guitar you have should not effect your ability to learn on it. Above all else, choose a guitar type that is best suited for the type of music you want to play and practice diligently until you get the hang of your new instrument.

Still need help deciding? Give us a call at 800-511-1322 or email