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Play2PraiseHim
07-30-2011, 10:28 PM
I know to some this might seem like a silly question but I am honestly surprises that nylon string guitars are not more popular. It is my absolute favorite guitar. I enjoy it so much that I've totally switched to nylon . Nothing else compares to this uniqjue rich tone. My experience has been that nylon is easy to amplify and record. They are also usually built in a very comfortable body size. These are all advantages in my book.

I often wonder if people still place limits on the nylon string and have a mindset that it is for classical and spanish music only. I for one am glad to see more offerings in the crossover catagory and more non traditional musicians using nylon aa their main guitar. Hopefully this trend will continue.

ewalling
07-30-2011, 10:36 PM
Two reasons for this could be:

- the most basic form of playing the guitar - strumming with a pick - doesn't work too well with a nylon string. Therefore, nylon strings are mainly going to appeal to fingerstylists.

- this is a North American forum and the nylon string guitar is not really part of the country's culture. Country and Western, Bluegrass and flatpicking, common North American styles, are strictly for steel string instruments.

stamper
07-31-2011, 12:21 AM
... and on a related note, none of the pop culture "guitar heroes" of the past 60 years played nylon string guitars. So you don't have baby boomers trying to recapture their youth or younger guys trying to emulate the Legends via nylon strings.

Plus, you can't really bend nylon strings. And what's the point of playing guitar if you can't play mindless blues solos? :D

fitness1
07-31-2011, 04:55 AM
Plus, you can't really bend nylon strings. And what's the point of playing guitar if you can't play mindless blues solos? :D

Somebody better tell Willie:roll::roll:

Herb Hunter
07-31-2011, 07:04 AM
World-wide, nylon string guitars are much more popular than they are in the US.

Pedro Navaja
07-31-2011, 07:21 AM
Outside of the Anglophone world nylon string guitars rule.

In the US many think that nylon string guitars are for beginners due to the belief that the strings are easier on the fretting hand.

Kabalan
07-31-2011, 11:44 AM
World-wide, nylon string guitars are much more popular than they are in the US.
All over Latinamerican countries; we play nylon string guitars; the other side;
steel string guitars are not popular.
Eblen

grampa
07-31-2011, 11:56 AM
I was 16 in 1962 when I started playing and after my first "beginner" guitar, a cheap Silvertone instrument of torture, I had to make a choice which included cost. The steel string guitars in my price range weren't as good as the nylon stringers. And I thought nylon strings would be more versatile. I got a Gibson C-0 and played everything on it from classical to folk to rock. I sold it in 1982 to buy my Gibson F-25 which is a steel stringer with the exact dimensions as the classical Gibson which was the main reason I got it. I play it pretty much the same as I played the classical. I currently own two nylon stringers and will probably always have one.

Glennwillow
07-31-2011, 01:04 PM
I think all of the comments made so far are valid and accurate. In addition, for me, I simply liked the sound of ringing steel strings. I learned to play on a nylon string guitar. And I learned to play, first, with Peter, Paul and Mary, Paul playing a nylon string, Peter playing a steel string. After a while, I realized that I wanted that ringing sound you can only get with steel strings. So that's where I migrated to.

In recent years I have purchased some nylon string guitars, but I have found that after developing techniques that work best with steel strings over 47 years, I am not very good at getting a nylon string guitar to sound its best. I am working on that and getting better, but it's a challenge.

I would add that I have loved the sound of a good nylon string guitar being played by someone who is really good at it -- Andres Segovia, Laurindo Almeida, Charley Byrd, Kenny Rankin, Jose Feliciano... But I have also loved the sound of a good steel string.

I think Ewalling really nails the reasons for why the nylon string guitar is not more popular here on the AGF.

Regards, Glenn

AfterViewer
07-31-2011, 01:09 PM
Played steel string drone/fingerstyle for decades and now use same style on nylon classical, won't return to steel in this lifetime. :) "I've got blisters on my fingers" /not !

Herb Hunter
07-31-2011, 01:15 PM
All over Latinamerican countries; we play nylon string guitars; the other side;
steel string guitars are not popular.
Eblen

I spent several years in South America and never saw a single steel-string acoustic guitar.

RWG
07-31-2011, 08:36 PM
I always liked it when Chet Atkins or Jerry Reed played on nylon. Then Willie Nelson. Now Zac Brown is making waves with a nylon string. But I really don't worry about how popular my instrument is.
I have a nice collection of classical guitar albums but am not a true classical player. We have a great classical guitar society in St. Louis and I have attended some great concerts. I play Gospel, hymns, country, finger style, folk, and some Celtic music and fiddle tunes. I flat pick about 10% of the time (a skill left over from my mandolin days). I was in a working bluegrass band for 6 years when I was in my 30s. Nylon strings guitars are not very welcome at bluegrass festivals and jam sessions. What a shame. Oh well. When playing with friends it doesn't matter. My nylon string guitars have been very welcome in church. Great for backing vocal music. I think the new hybrids and the great sounding acoustic amps that can give you a nice natural sound will eventually make nylon strings more welcome. Old mindsets about what you are "supposed" to play will die hard though.

Play2PraiseHim
08-01-2011, 06:06 AM
I always liked it when Chet Atkins or Jerry Reed played on nylon. Then Willie Nelson. Now Zac Brown is making waves with a nylon string. But I really don't worry about how popular my instrument is.
I have a nice collection of classical guitar albums but am not a true classical player. We have a great classical guitar society in St. Louis and I have attended some great concerts. I play Gospel, hymns, country, finger style, folk, and some Celtic music and fiddle tunes. I flat pick about 10% of the time (a skill left over from my mandolin days). I was in a working bluegrass band for 6 years when I was in my 30s. Nylon strings guitars are not very welcome at bluegrass festivals and jam sessions. What a shame. Oh well. When playing with friends it doesn't matter. My nylon string guitars have been very welcome in church. Great for backing vocal music. I think the new hybrids and the great sounding acoustic amps that can give you a nice natural sound will eventually make nylon strings more welcome. Old mindsets about what you are "supposed" to play will die hard though.


Well said. I think your last statement hit the nail on the head.

ChiliBeans
08-01-2011, 06:09 PM
I for one am glad that nylon stringed guitars are not so popular in America. It keeps the prices on used ones pretty low. I recently picked up a Guild Mark II for less than 4 bills, and it's an amazingly loud, sweet sounding instrument. I find myself playing it more than any other guitar.

acousticaddict
08-02-2011, 07:59 PM
I will admit. Im just a typical average guitarist that just loves to play. I always played steel string guitars. Also never liked the wide nut width.

But just like the OP was saying... I was one that never gave them a chance.

Im not very good or anything so having a Larrivee l-03 is all I have ever wanted and needed.

I recently just took a trip to cozumel, mexico.

Looked up if there was any guitar stores on youtube before I left.

Came across this guys shop.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjtsMhQu3PQ
When i went to town, it took me a while to find the shop. but after asking a couple locals I found it.

It was a whole new experience for me. I ended up trying tons of guitars while also listening to him play for me.

Was hard to play at first but was getting a little more use to it. Was kind of like goin from a 1 11/16 inch to a 1 3/4 when I was more of a begginer.

He had several factory mexican made ones for 80 bucks with a case. However, at 300 bucks he had built to order solid wood construction nylon classical guitars that were special made fore his shop. It was a whole different level. But just couldnt justify that much money without doing reasearch and seeing if I was even going to like it as much as my larrivee.

I bought the 80 dollar one. Was happy to give him my business. Was worth it almost to meet him and his wife and hear him play. Was very inspirational.

pretty decent guitar for the money. Stays in tune ok. I play fingerstyle sometimes soo theres a handfull of songs I was playing while on vaction. Im a bigger guy and have big hands soo after a while it wasnt so hard. Was thinking when I got home I would be glad to play my nice larrivee.

Had a different result when I got home. The neck on the larrivee felt soo skinny. Seems soo cramped I could barely play. Plus the sound is soo different .
Been playing the classical for a while now and am in love. so much more intimate. The tone of nylon and the way it plays is something I never thought was for me. guess im just a typical american guitarist that the steel string was all iknew ..

Will probably one day want to buy a more quality nylon. With a solid top at least.

JannieA
08-07-2011, 10:07 PM
I was at a Farmers Market today, mostly to check out the street musicians, there were thousands of people there today-love summers in the NW. Stopped to listen to a Jazz Band, not bad really and the guitar player was on a Classical guitar, did quite well and it was totally unplugged and it was still okay, that suprised me - a lot. Looked like a fairly old basic Classical nylon stringed guitar.

celticguitar666
08-16-2011, 05:15 PM
I was at a Farmers Market today, mostly to check out the street musicians, there were thousands of people there today-love summers in the NW. Stopped to listen to a Jazz Band, not bad really and the guitar player was on a Classical guitar, did quite well and it was totally unplugged and it was still okay, that suprised me - a lot. Looked like a fairly old basic Classical nylon stringed guitar.
Everything was "unplugged" at one time and gut not nylon or steel
Dewey

SteveHung
08-18-2011, 02:57 PM
Nylon guitar is usually restricted to classical and spanish/flamenco music, although I'm not saying you can't play say bluesgrass on a nylon. Steel string guitar is more versatile for different styles of music, it's used to play rock, folk, country, bluesgrass, pop.......

Also, classical guitar takes a lot of discipline and dedication, and classical guitar is not as popular as say rock or pop these days.

Herb Hunter
08-18-2011, 03:43 PM
Nylon guitar is usually restricted to classical and spanish/flamenco music, although I'm not saying you can't play say bluesgrass on a nylon. Steel string guitar is more versatile for different styles of music, it's used to play rock, folk, country, bluesgrass, pop.......

Also, classical guitar takes a lot of discipline and dedication, and classical guitar is not as popular as say rock or pop these days.

I quite disagree. Nylon-string guitars are used for many different genres including folk, pop and jazz (especially in other countries where they are far more popular than steel-string acoustic guitars) and they are no less versatile. While classical technique requires discipline and dedication (so does the Chet Atkins/Tommy Emmanuel/Doyle Dykes steel-string technique for that matter), it is not the only technique used on the nylon string guitar.

CCFingerstyle
08-18-2011, 03:59 PM
I quite disagree. Nylon-string guitars are used for many different genres including folk, pop and jazz (especially in other countries where they are far more popular than steel-string acoustic guitars) and they are no less versatile. While classical technique requires discipline and dedication (so does the Chet Atkins/Tommy Emmanuel/Doyle Dykes steel-string technique for that matter), it is not the only technique used on the nylon string guitar.

I whole heartedly agree with your disagreement! I find nylon instrument to be incredibly versatile and are not really restricted to any particular kind of music. I still remember the beginning of the acoustical version of Hotel California when I went to the Eagles' Hell Freezes over concert several years ago. If I recall correctly, the dudes were doing some serious rocking out on Takamine nylons. Of course, I am a guy who plays Bossa Nova on my steel string guitars. I like crossing back and forth between metal and nylon when it comes to guitar playing...would hate to limit myself to either and call it better than the other.

SteveHung
08-19-2011, 09:06 AM
Perhaps I haven't been exposed to too much nylon string playing, but to me, steel strings seems more versatile and dynamic with the range of sounds you can get from them. When plucked lightly, you get a sweet mellow sound (Babe I'm Gonna Leave You), but when attacked harshly, you can get a thumpy sound with more bass response (SRV's acoustic version of Rude Mood). Steel strings have a scratchy percussive sound that you can hear when palm muting, and also a scratchy sound when doing a grand slide. You can also tap on them like Preson Reed or Michael Hedges to get even more different types of sounds from them. Many steel string players utilize different tunings. I might be wrong on this one, but there seems to be more body size/wood choice combos for steel strings, 12-string and baritone options, than nylon.

Most of the time when I listen to nylon players, it's that consistent warm mellow tone.

This is just my opinion, though. I love nylon guitar, and love Sergovia, Oscar Lopez, and Django Reinhardt's nylon playing. I just think steel-string guitar is a more versatile instrument.

j3ffr0
08-19-2011, 09:32 AM
Popular music in the US lends itself more to the steel string guitars. Country, rock whatever. There are exceptions, but beginners generally want to play pop, so that's what they gravitate to, and so steel string acoustics vastly outnumber nylon string guitars in most stores.

I'm primarily a finger picker and I much prefer nylon for that, because I can play aggressively for a long time without tearing my nails up. I love the sound of a finger picked steel string guitar too (the sustain and the long whining notes), but I can only treat myself to it for a half hour every now and then without trashing my nails.

BuleriaChk
08-19-2011, 09:34 AM
You really have to listen to more Flamenco.....:-)

corbetta
08-19-2011, 09:40 AM
Most of the time when I listen to nylon players, it's that consistent warm mellow tone.


I suggest you listen some more. As someone who used to spend about equal time on each, I can say that the amount of tonal variation you get from your average nylon string guitar is substantially greater than that of a steel string. It just takes a different kind of approach to coax the sounds out.

All of the techniques you mentioned (and a bunch more) are also easily employable on nylon strings. The one thing I concede to steel is that the harmonic "sparkle" is much more prominent and therefore certain things (including many fingerstyle compositions) sound more lively and punchy on steel strings.

Landru
08-21-2011, 07:22 PM
Yeah - I play electric and steel-string acoustic . . . .

Back in '86, I "quit" live music (didn't last long) and sold everything I owned. With the cash I bought what I thought would be my lifetime 'til I get old and grey" guitar - a Ramirez classical. My logic was i needed a campfire guitar and nothing else, and that the nylon strings wouldn't need callouses (since I wouldn't be playing much).

I'm so happy to have this guitar - what a friend. Interesting the world view of nylon vs. steel string - we have The Beatles and they have Jobim - and there you go.

AfterViewer
08-21-2011, 08:28 PM
Also kinda depends on what general type of music you're playing. For me, I've recently strung up with a couple different sets of strings to check out a completely different sound coming from my guitar. Have stopped playing music that was more Spanish-like to playing more Arabic/Soundtrack stuff because of the major difference. Now I've broken in the strings and will stock up on more sets to maintain that signature sound I am hooked on. I used to use high tension (red pack) Augustine strings for Classical Spanish playing. Now I'm using high tension silvered Martin wound with D'Addario pro/art tenors. Takes a while to knock some of the crisp off the silvered strings but the sound dynamics are way outspoken.

ljguitar
08-22-2011, 10:21 AM
...I often wonder if people still place limits on the nylon string and have a mindset that it is for classical and spanish music only.
Hi Lady Toni…
For me:

Lack of volume
Lack of projection
Lack of sustain
Muddy tone with my style of play
Neck too short
Fingerboard spacing too wide


While I could solve the nut and string width issues, or cutaway perhaps, the lack of volume, projection, muddiness and sustain would still be deal killers for me.

BuleriaChk
08-22-2011, 10:45 AM
I have a Takamine TC132SC. Plenty of volume, especially into a good acoustic amp (which also solves projection issues). Tone is very clear with Tak CTP-2/Palathetic pickup. My guitar is cutaway, which gives plenty of reach. The pickup/preamp is so good that I can use most effects problem free... (Stick a Tube Screamer in the chain, and you'll get all the sustain you need.....) Narrow necks are for wimps............:-)

Hi Lady Toni…
For me:

Lack of volume
Lack of projection
Lack of sustain
Muddy tone with my style of play
Neck too short
Fingerboard spacing too wide


While I could solve the nut and string width issues, or cutaway perhaps, the lack of volume, projection, muddiness and sustain would still be deal killers for me.

corbetta
08-22-2011, 11:15 AM
I too find faulting nylon strings for lack of volume and or projection to be a rather perplexing statement. Sure, if you're comparing a $100 Aria Nylon to an D-28, the former would sound wimpier and project less. But when comparing guitars of the same quality—ESPECIALLY at the higher end of the spectrum—I think you'll find nylons to move much more air and project better when unamplified than steel strings.

Dogsnax
08-22-2011, 11:54 AM
Hi Lady Toni…
For me:

Lack of volume
Lack of projection
Lack of sustain
Muddy tone with my style of play
Neck too short
Fingerboard spacing too wide


While I could solve the nut and string width issues, or cutaway perhaps, the lack of volume, projection, muddiness and sustain would still be deal killers for me.




Hi Larry,

As you may or may not remember, I'm a steel-string player who made the transition to nylon string classical guitars about four years ago. At first I really struggled to pull a decent tone out of two very nice classical guitars, one being a Kenny Hill Master Series. What I quickly learned is that volume, tone, projection, and sustain are all about technique when it comes to nylon strings. I have had to make some significant changes with my right and left hand technique.

If you ever get the chance to play a top-level classical guitar, you'll find most are very powerful with tons of volume and projection. Keep in mind almost all concert-level classical guitarists perform without amplification and they fill some good-sized venues with lots of sound.

Just want to make sure we don't critique/paint nylon string classical guitars with too broad of a brush....;)

Fred