The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Classical

Thread Tools
Old 10-19-2018, 04:32 PM
lacatedral lacatedral is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Argentina.
Posts: 56
Arrow Carbon vs Nylon Strings.

Greetings, I've been using nylon strings all my life, never tried with carbon.
I know they are thinner (my Tablon device,, uses carbon ones so I can see they are slightly thinner, but as it is a device for study it doesn't produce a sound, but instead a noise).

Reading some posts on another forum, I read that they are more tense or harder than the nylon and the sound is somehow thinner. The repertoire is mostly classical and some fingerstyle pieces. I don't know the main use of carbon strings, are they for flamenco or any other popular genre? Is it normal to use carbon for classical repertoire?

But I also read some reviews stating that carbon strings work quite good on low-quality guitars, as mine is a 100-150$ guitar, getting good instruments in Argentina usually is expensive. On the other side, I read that carbon strings on good quality guitar sometimes produce an undesired sound, and work better with nylon.

So basically, are they harder to play? As high action strings? Is the sound really thinner? Does it boost the sound of a low-quality guitar a little better?

-Generic classical guitar, no electronics (Medium tension strings)
-Taylor GS Mini-E Walnut (0.13 strings)
Mics: Rode M5, match pair, small diaphragm. Also AT2020, large diaphragm.
PC: Win 8, Netbook, 4GB RAM
DAW: Ableton Live 9 Suite
Interface: TASCAM Us-144 MK II
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2018, 05:42 PM
john bange john bange is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: seattle
Posts: 328

the ones I've used feel like a higher tension. I've had some success getting more volume out of a quieter guitar with them.

I don't look for them or feel I need to pay the increased price, however.

I know guys who swear by them.
Martin 000c nylon string guitar
Ome Grubstake long neck banjo
Kamaka HF-4 baritone uke
Kerry Bannister nui (big baritone) uke
Tommy George tenor banjo/ukulele
Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2018, 08:27 PM
Bax Burgess Bax Burgess is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: SE PA
Posts: 1,767

Isn't the intention of carbons to produce a thinner/drier note, not as comparatively sweet/lush as nylon? I've tried two carbon sets, one the D'Addario Pro Arte Carbon EJ46FF Hard, and I won't tune them anywhere near to standard pitch on my guitars, the sound would doubtless be direct, satisfying for purposes of volume and clarity, but the higher tension would concern me as to the guitar's health. Using carbons at a higher classical action should add noticeable effort to fretting, but try it, if you would like some extra firmness. In direct contrast, have you tried low tension nylons for a lusher sound? Is the saddle bone, plastic, or something else? Holding the guitar up, viewing the saddle from the side, a bright light behind it, are there gaps between saddle and bridge slot?
Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2018, 01:54 AM
sirwhale sirwhale is online now
Registered User
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Spain
Posts: 936

Carbon strings have a higher density and therefore can be thinner than nylon strings. This means they can produce more overtones which makes them sound brighter. They also have higher tension than nylon which helps to get more volume out of a guitar. This has an advantage over high tension nylon strings which have to be quite thick in diameter and produce a tubbier sound.

Carbon strings have a more crystalline, clear sound compared to nylon. My personal complaint is that most brands do not match the tensions correctly in the trebles. They tend to have a very tense 1st string compared to the 2nd and 3rd. I guess they do this because people complain about the thin diameter of the string, so they make it thicker. I have just been using Knobloch CX carbon strings and had the medium-high tension 1st string, and the high tension 2nd and 3rd strings. This was a much better balance.

I believe that they are especially good at improving cheap guitars. For this reason alone I have but medium tension knoblock CXs on my mum's and my mother in law's classical guitars. It has made a big difference.

Personally, I am not a nylon man, and have always used carbon. But I don't play classical music.

Last night I put on some Aquila Rubino strings, which I think you may like. Here is a thread about them:
Camps Primera Negra A (a flamenco guitar), Cordoba Mini M

Music I tend to play/am learning currently: Acoustic blues and folk, Bert Jansch, John Fahey, Joseph Spence, Skip James, Gary Davis

Last edited by sirwhale; 10-20-2018 at 08:03 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2018, 08:00 AM
David Rock David Rock is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 170
Default more on carbon strings...


As always you will have to buy some different types and try them. You are bound to make your own decisions based on the experience you have. It is difficult though to try to compare strings over what can be quite a long time (relatively speaking).

If possible record yourself to try to let the machine remind you what each style sounds like. I am thinking properly done it could conceivably take months to do a more or less 'complete' trial.

No doubt the guitar will pick it's strings!

I use Daddario carbon hard trebles and composite very hard basses. Here are couple of songs to hear what they do to my cedar/rosewood crossover. These are recorded with a Shure SM81 with a super simple chain and virtually no post processing.

and a very different song...

best of luck on your project,
Slowing down the human race.
Reply With Quote

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Classical

Thread Tools

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:49 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=