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  #1  
Old 04-26-2016, 07:42 AM
Miriel Miriel is offline
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Default Nylon String or Steel String ? Which one should I choose ?

Hi everyone,

First post on the forum and also beginner about guitars.

As a beginner I'm in the dilemma, I love the sound of classic guitar but I want to play not only classical and flamenco music but also country music etc.

Therefore I can't decide which one should I choose ? Can any of two facilitate my learning process ? What do you suggest ?

Thanks..
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2016, 07:43 AM
Lacks Focus Lacks Focus is offline
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Willie Nelson plays nylon strings.
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:51 AM
zabdart zabdart is offline
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I think there's a general consensus that if you're just starting out, nylon strings are the way to go because they'll hurt less while you're building up your calluses. Because of the wider spacing of strings on the neck, however, certain things, like barre chords for example, are going to be a little more difficult. Anything you learn on classical guitar will eventually prove useful and find its application to any other form of music you might want to try, although this may take awhile before it becomes apparent. If you just want to learn chord forms and songs and strumming or picking patterns, then I'd suggest you start out on a steel-string acoustic, but try using silk and steel strings until you start developing your calluses; otherwise, it's going to hurt.
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:52 AM
redir redir is offline
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Both... Problem solved
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:55 AM
MC5C MC5C is offline
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As an ex-guitar teacher, I used to always recommend that if a person wanted to really learn how to play the guitar, as opposed to playing songs by strumming a few chords and singing (a totally worthy desire, but different from actually learning the techniques of playing the instrument) then they should start with a classical guitar and learn classical technique. You learn the notes, what time and rhythm is, how to use your hands and fingers efficiently, how to use the right hand, how to read music, and how to play several notes at once to create a melody with harmony. Nothing in this is going to limit in any way the eventual path for that student, and frankly very few go on to pursue classical guitar as their path. But the steps to learn the classical technique of approaching the instrument physically give you that stepping stone to anything else you care to try, and knowing the names of the strings, the names of the notes, the difference between 3/4, 4/4 and 6/8 time and how to read those never hurt anyone.

Now, if someone came to me (as one recently did) and said I want to learn (in her case ukulele) so I can strum as I sing, I teach a few chords, how to tune up, and tell them to have fun and they know where I am if they want to go farther. In all cases I say that I can teach you how to play the instrument, but after a certain point you need to learn how to play music. I can't teach that.
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:57 AM
Realbluesman Realbluesman is offline
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Welcome. I would suggest finding a steel string that plays easy...maybe with light strings. The neck will be a little less wide and maybe more friendly than a classical style guitar to get started.
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Old 04-26-2016, 08:05 AM
jds22 jds22 is offline
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Whichever you choose, steel or nylon, make sure you have it looked at and set-up if needed by a guitar tech.

It shouldn't cost much and you'll be doing yourself a big favor.

Many beginners buy a guitar that may not be set up properly and being a beginner they don't know the difference. It ends up being difficult to play and the beginner gets frustrated. Many times a few simple adjustments can make all the difference.

Good luck and most of all have fun.
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Old 04-26-2016, 08:05 AM
Bikewer Bikewer is offline
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They are both versatile instruments. I have gone from years (many....) of playing mostly steel-string guitars for bluegrass-country flatpicking and a certain amount of folkie "fingerpicking" to playing nylon strings almost exclusively for fingerstyle jazz.

I would not particularly recommend learning formal classical technique unless you want to be a classical guitar player. It's true that the standard method of instruction will show you a great deal of technique and theory....But it's a very particular technique, not particularly applicable to knocking out "Don't Think Twice" or acoustic blues tunes.

The steel-string is the go-to instrument for flatpicking. (By which I mean "grass" style flatpicking combining rhythm playing with fast single-note runs and solos.)

For those who find (like me) that they do not get along with the wide, flat fretboard of the standard classical guitar, there are now available many "crossover" instruments which are set up more like a steel-string with narrower, radiused necks.
I have a "Manuel Rodriguez" crossover currently.

Quite a lot of jazz players, especially fingerstylists, use nylon-string guitars... Also sort of standard for the various flavors of Latin jazz and Latin music in general.

So consider where you want to go and what music you want to play. And warning, it'll very likely change if you stick with it (40+ years for me) and you'll find yourself with a room full of guitars. (and banjos and ukes and harmonicas...)
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:01 AM
sam.spoons sam.spoons is offline
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I have a close friend who is a guitar teacher, much in the same mould as MC5C above. He can teach you to play the guitar "properly" and is himself an accomplished classic guitarist, composer and musician. IMHO many classical players (I hasten to add, not all, but like many orchestral players can't improvise and are lost without the dots.....) are not good at playing other genres, there's no reason why you can't aspire to playing both styles of guitar but the demands of each are distinctly different and as Bikewer says learning classical will not be much help if you want to be a Bluegrass picker (or vice versa).

I play electric blues/rock, acoustic flat picking/bluegrass/Americana, traditional and contemporary folk (both fingerstyle and flat picked) and, currently obsessively, Gypsy Jazz. Being realistic, my ability varies, depending on genre from intermediate to, just about, with a good run up and a following wind, pro standard. I have decent theory though I'm not a sight reader and my musical knowledge is pretty good. I'm also virtually self taught (I've been playing over 50 years).

So, If your main interest is in Classical/flamenco (quite different genres BTW) you need a classical guitar for starters. You can play country on it too. However if you also want to play country I'd advise learning some country songs alongside your classical guitar training (think of them as 'light relief' if you like) to help retain that natural feel of the self taught guitarist, classical players can sometimes sound a little stilted when they try to play in a less formal style.

Good luck and go to it.......
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:50 AM
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Remember, that you're not stuck for life with whatever you buy now. As someone who likes to play blues, I'd offer a different assessment of the transferability of classical technique. You won't learn thumb-wrapping (fretting the lowest-toned string with your thumb, wrapped over the neck) from any classical teacher and it's pretty much essential for playing some blues chords. The wide, shallow fretboard of a classical works very well for some techniques but not others.

Take your best stab at guessing what you'd mostly like to play and get a guitar that works well for that. As your musical tastes evolve, you will likely want another guitar at some point. If your initial guess is wrong about what you want to play, you can correct when you get a second guitar. Any guitar that's easy to learn on will be fine to get started.
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:07 AM
mercy mercy is offline
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Ive played both but had to quite classical cause it was too hard with the wrist problems I had but I can play a Martin 00-18 or 000-18. The reason is they are short scale. I cant play OM's or anything with long scale. Silk and Steel strings are a good suggestion. Another is double what you plan to spend if you are serious out playing. The better guitar you have the easier it will be to play ie learn on. If it doesnt work out for you a better guitar will have better resale value. Other reasons classical is harder in addition to there being more to learn are that the necks are too wide and the fingerboards are too flat. Yes everything you learn on a classical will be useful if you want to be a musicain but in my opinion from my experience the only reason to go the classical route is if you want to play classical or flamenco.
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:15 AM
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Welcome to the forum! As you can tell from the responses, there's not a whole of consensus on which would be "best" for you. I started on a classical, learned the basics, and moved to steel strings within a year. Many of my friends started with steel and stayed there. A few really got bit by the classical bug and never strayed from nylon.

You can play any kind of music on any guitar you want, and as someone noted earlier, your first guitar probably won't be your last. The MOST important thing is to practice. A few in-person lessons will definitely help. Maybe find a teacher first, and see what he/she recommends.
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:18 AM
sam.spoons sam.spoons is offline
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Not so sure I'd agree about a better guitar being easier to play (and certainly not out of the box, so see above about getting a setup) or losing less money, if you buy a $2k martin and lose 3% when you sell it you've lost $60. If you buy a used acoustic for $60 you can lose the guitar and be no worse off. However, I do agree that a better guitar will be more inspiring to play, sound better and, if it's good enough, might even appreciate in value (but that's probably not the best reason to buy a specific guitar). If you're serious that's good advice from mercy.
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:56 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Miriel,

First, welcome to the AGF! Glad you have become an official member of this great community.

Regarding nylon vs steel string guitars, I started out on nylon strings, then I shifted over to steel. Now, 52 years later, I bought a nice classical and am learning to play some classical pieces. I like both. You can have both for a reasonable price these days, actually.

I would choose the sound you like the best, and it sounds like you like the sound of nylon strings. And as has been said, there are country players who play nylon string guitars, not just Willie Nelson but also Zac Brown.

Regarding classical guitars, there are plenty of good crossover guitars these days, which I think are easier to play compared to true classicals. Check out of classical sub-forum on the AGF for crossover guitars and check them out on You Tube.

Best of luck to you!
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Old 04-26-2016, 11:10 AM
Johan Madsen Johan Madsen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miriel View Post
Hi everyone,

First post on the forum and also beginner about guitars.

As a beginner I'm in the dilemma, I love the sound of classic guitar but I want to play not only classical and flamenco music but also country music etc.

Therefore I can't decide which one should I choose ? Can any of two facilitate my learning process ? What do you suggest ?

Thanks..
A nylon crossover properly set up may be a good place to start. Check Cordoba's one, some are very good value for their price
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