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View Full Version : How to select your first nylon string guitar


billder99
07-21-2010, 06:03 AM
Many ACG Forum members are first-timers with nylon, or looking for "crossover". Whether you are a beginner or a Pro, here are some things everyone should think about when selecting a NS guitar.

The first thing you should consider in your selection is the type of music you want to play. There are essentially two significantly different types of pure acoustic nylon string guitars, and each type is better for different things.

Flamenco Guitars: If you are playing (or want to play) Bossa Nova, Flamenco, Blues, Jack Johnson, REM, etc. you are doing quite a bit of strumming, sometimes hard. A flamenco guitar is designed to strum hard and project loudly... "bark and growl" they call it. It comes partially from the tone-woods, and also largely due to the setup. Strings are lower to the fretboard. This reduces pure volume and sustain, but tends to increase voice separation and clarity which improves projection... very different qualities. Traditional flamenco guitars (Blanca's) have spruce tops and cypress back and sides (cypress is the sweetest smelling wood in the world), and are best for strumming. Flamenco Negro guitars have warmer qualities, more sustain... kind of defeats the purpose IMHO (I have one and love it, but I play the Blanca more for blues, etc..)

Classical Guitars: Classical guitars are beautiful instruments for pure fingerstyle playing, Celtic music, travis picking, and of course playing classical music. Classical guitar is designed primarily for single note playing, long sustain of notes, "sweetness" of sound. When you strum a classical guitar hard, the sound "muddies up". Classical guitars typically have cedar or spruce tops (cedar seems to be preferred) and rosewood back and sides.

There is alot of difference between these guitars, much more than I have briefly described. The type of nylon string guitar you get should be based on the type of music you want to play. If you want to play "everything" it is best to get one of each type, but if you are a beginner do yourself a favor... focus your learning on only one or two similar styles (ie. jazz and bossa nova, or blues and rock, or classical and celtic).

Remember, we are talking pure acoustic... this doesn't even start to account for cutaways, electronics and amplification. My strong suggestion to anyone looking to get a nylon string guitar: Get one that plays well acoustically for the type of music you want to play. Get either a classical or a flamenco, in either cutaway or standard 12 fret body.

One mans opinions... I am sure other members of this forum will have more great ideas to add in regard to how to select your first nylon string guitar.