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  #1  
Old 09-05-2022, 01:02 AM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Default National Resonator with Nylon Strings

A few days ago, I posted that a National guitar would not sound or work good with nylon strings... https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=645918 (where I was challenged with my statement).

SO... I decided to put it to the test.

Why??? Because in that thread I was made aware there were high tension classical nylon strings. I never heard of that, so I googled it up, and found a set of Martin Nylon Ball End High Tension Classical strings! Whoa maybe I'll be eating some crow!!!

So I bought a set from Amazon, and today they showed up to my house.

My National M2 wood bodied biscuit cone reso was at my studio, so I drove over there and grabbed it!

Let the testing begin.

First I played it with the nickel strings that I had on it for about 15 minutes. I listened carefully for three things: tone, volume and buzzing.

Nickel strings aren't my favorite for acoustic playing, because they sound soft in both tone and volume compared to regular Phosphor Bronze reso strings of the same gauge (I use.012 light gauge strings), but these nickels sounded pretty good all the way around.

It was much louder than a conventional acoustic guitar
The tone was balanced with much of the cone tone in the basic tone
There was absolutely no buzzing.

Next up the classical nylon strings! A Martin 160 set.

Stringing these up was easy as they had ball ends.

What wasn't easy though, was getting them to stabilize in pitch. It took me quite a long time to get these strings to settle in, about a half hour, but eventually they got there. I was amazed at how many turns of the tuners it took to get the strings to pitch!

Another problem I had was that the b an e strings wouldn't stay in their respective string slots, so I put a little piece of tape between the strings on the saddle to keep the strings from jumping out and that worked.

Okay so what it did it sound like?

Volume (very quiet, lower than most of my conventional acoustic guitars)
Tone (like a crappy cheap nylon string guitar with very little cone tone)
Buzzing (any note on the low e string lower than A on the 5th fret would cause a buzz).

Conclusion??? Want to turn you multi thousand dollar National guitar into a toy? Put nylon strings on it!!!

That was a waste of about $6 bucks and time I'll never get back.

The only upside was, besides not having to eat a heaping helping of crow, as soon as I ripped those nylon strings off, I put a nice .012 through .054 phosphor bronze set on. All 6 strings tuned as a group faster than one nylon string, and after listening to those nylon strings it sounded like the cone exploded with tone and volume, and I remembered why I love my National!

MORAL OF THE STORY???? DO NOT PUT NYLON STINGS ON A NATIONAL!!!

Pics or it didn't happen...

the main offenders


the headstock nylon rap (check out how many turns!!!!)


biscuit with a side of nylon


the phosphor bronze glow (welcome back tone)
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  #2  
Old 09-05-2022, 07:46 AM
Jamolay Jamolay is offline
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Default National Resonator with Nylon Strings

So, I am no expert, but I donít think this is a good test.

First, nylon string gauges are very different and I would not expect them to sit in the steel string nut correctly at all. Second, the tension, even high tension nylon is far lower than a set of 0.12 steels, so you probably suffered extreme back-bow. Third, nylon strings may take days or more to settle in, so you never got where they might maintain tune for more than a few minutes.

If you really want to see if they would work, I would think you would need to change the nut, significantly adjust the truss rod, possibly put in a new saddle (ie. set up the whole guitar for nylon), and be patient testing over a week, not hours.

I would not expect this to work with a simple swap at all and yes, you did find that out.

So the question remains. With a proper set up for nylon strings, can you use them on a resonator. I have no idea.
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Old 09-05-2022, 08:47 AM
ssjk ssjk is offline
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having done a couple of similar trails in a vain attempt to avoid buying a nylon string guitar, I thought this test was actually pretty effective.

You can bypass the buzzing question by ignoring it for the moment. yeah, you'd have to adjust action etc. to get rid of it but that doesn't matter if the tone is no good anyway. See below.

You can minimize the impact of the string/nut interaction by using a capo.

you can let the nylon strings settle for a week or so.

I did all of these things with an old 000 I had laying around as well as with an Emerald X20. I had big hopes for the Emerald.

Alas, for both the volume was low and the tone was wretched. I would have been surprised with any other finding for a resonator.

Bottom line - you could do a more elegant test but I'd be stunned if the tone/volume assessments changed a bit. Good on the OP for testing that assumption even with a broad brush.
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Old 09-05-2022, 09:17 AM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamolay View Post
So, I am no expert, but I don’t think this is a good test.

First, nylon string gauges are very different and I would not expect them to sit in the steel string nut correctly at all. Second, the tension, even high tension nylon is far lower than a set of 0.12 steels, so you probably suffered extreme back-bow. Third, nylon strings may take days or more to settle in, so you never got where they might maintain tune for more than a few minutes.

If you really want to see if they would work, I would think you would need to change the nut, significantly adjust the truss rod, possibly put in a new saddle (ie. set up the whole guitar for nylon), and be patient testing over a week, not hours.

I would not expect this to work with a simple swap at all and yes, you did find that out.

So the question remains. With a proper set up for nylon strings, can you use them on a resonator. I have no idea.

The question doesn't remain. I know that it won't work. You assumed that I wasn't aware of the things you stated, but I was very much aware of these things, and expecting them. To be fair, I should have stated those things in my post but I was trying to keep it a bit tongue and cheek. But if you read the bold letters below you will see why it won't work.

First, nylon string gauges are very different and I would not expect them to sit in the steel string nut correctly at all.

They sat in the nut and saddle just fine for all strings other than the high E and B strings, and the strings that sounded worse were the E, A, and D.

Second, the tension, even high tension nylon is far lower than a set of 0.12 steels, so you probably suffered extreme back-bow
.
The neck hardly moved under tension, so no back bow. I am no stranger to truss rod adjustments, and I'm an experienced guitar repair tech.

Third, nylon strings may take days or more to settle in, so you never got where they might maintain tune for more than a few minutes.

If you would have read my post clearer you would have seen that I got them to maintain tension, it just took way longer than expected.

As for the rest of your observations, with this test I learned that, this set of high tension classical nylon strings did not have enough tension to hold the cone in place properly and get it moving sufficiently for proper resonator tone. That is exactly what I stated in my other thread. And my quick experiment verified that.

But... if their was no cone rattle and decent volume (I wasn't expecting as loud as nickel), I would have went into the next stage and put a new biscuit on, a cut a new saddle. I have a drawer full of biscuits and saddle material so it would have been no skin off of my back to do that, but I wasn't going to the next step of new saddle or nut, when all I needed to learn was coming from the cone.

If I really wanted to give this a go for a guitar I would use for a specialty type tone every once in a while, I would buy a cheap wood body reso, level the soundwell as best as possible, buy a replacement cone, and setup with a perfectly cut nut and saddle, but I sure wouldn't modify a good National and destroy what it does best.

Last edited by rockabilly69; 09-05-2022 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 09-05-2022, 04:53 PM
jimmy bookout jimmy bookout is offline
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I could have saved the OP six bucks...

Savarez AJ500 Corum Alliance High tension classical strings: 92.26 pounds of tension on a 650mm (25.59") scale

D'addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Lights (12-53) steel strings: 163.2 pounds of tension on a 25.4" (645.16mm) scale

No way 92 pounds of tension was doing much of anything to the cone.

PS. This Savarez set is the highest tension I've ever seen for a classical set (I use them on a short scale classical I have). MOST hard tension/extra hard tension classical strings are in the mid-high 80 pounds of tension per set (the Martin HT ball ends are 88.9 pounds of tension)...
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Last edited by jimmy bookout; 09-05-2022 at 05:12 PM.
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  #6  
Old 09-05-2022, 09:24 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy bookout View Post
I could have saved the OP six bucks...

Savarez AJ500 Corum Alliance High tension classical strings: 92.26 pounds of tension on a 650mm (25.59") scale

D'addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Lights (12-53) steel strings: 163.2 pounds of tension on a 25.4" (645.16mm) scale

No way 92 pounds of tension was doing much of anything to the cone.

PS. This Savarez set is the highest tension I've ever seen for a classical set (I use them on a short scale classical I have). MOST hard tension/extra hard tension classical strings are in the mid-high 80 pounds of tension per set (the Martin HT ball ends are 88.9 pounds of tension)...
Hey Jimmy, now you tell me

Just joking, because I really wanted to see if it would even work somewhat decently. If it only cost me a few bucks to to find something new out who cares, it was fun. And for those that didn't catch the tongue and cheek part of my post, well bummer, they're missing out on the fun!

It's not like we're testing $1000 preamps here!

So if anybody is reading this and still wants to try this experiment, go with the Savarez But do they come in a ball end???
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  #7  
Old 09-05-2022, 09:34 PM
jimmy bookout jimmy bookout is offline
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^^^
No ball ends but I betcha the extra 3lbs. of tension makes ALL the difference in the world...

OR

You could drill a bunch of holes in the cone to make it more flexible and thereby require less downward pressure...just spitballin' here

FWIW, I've heard of people using Silk and Steels on Del Vecchios (I think Chet used to do that)
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Avian Skylark
Pono 0000-30
Gardiner Parlor
Kremona Kiano
Ramsay Hauser
Cordoba C10
Chris Walsh Archtop
Gardiner Concert
Taylor Leo Kottke
Gretsch 6120
Pavan TP30
Aria A19c
Hsienmo MJ

Ukuleles:
Cocobolo 5 string Tenor
Kanilea K3 Koa
Kanilea K1 Walnut Tenor
Kala Super Tenor
Rebel Super Concert
Nehemiah Covey Tenor
Mainland Mahogany Tenor
Mainland Cedar/Rosewood Tenor
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Old 09-05-2022, 09:53 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy bookout View Post
^^^
No ball ends but I betcha the extra 3lbs. of tension makes ALL the difference in the world...

OR

You could drill a bunch of holes in the cone to make it more flexible and thereby require less downward pressure...just spitballin' here

FWIW, I've heard of people using Silk and Steels on Del Vecchios (I think Chet used to do that)
an extra 3 lbs may crush the cone, watch it buster

Oh well, if people want to enter the Brave New World they better learn how to tie a classical string knot.

Holy Moley, holes in the cone, who wooda thought it, that's crazy talk

Don't start with the Del Vecchios, that can of worms has already been opened in the other thread
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  #9  
Old 09-07-2022, 04:52 PM
jimmy bookout jimmy bookout is offline
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Chet and Paul used to tell stories about Del Vecchios...
let's just say they were NOT complimentary

But they do sound good if you can find a good one (one that was taken apart and then put together correctly! Piece of cake...a thousand dollar repair bill for a guitar worth $200)
__________________
Avian Skylark
Pono 0000-30
Gardiner Parlor
Kremona Kiano
Ramsay Hauser
Cordoba C10
Chris Walsh Archtop
Gardiner Concert
Taylor Leo Kottke
Gretsch 6120
Pavan TP30
Aria A19c
Hsienmo MJ

Ukuleles:
Cocobolo 5 string Tenor
Kanilea K3 Koa
Kanilea K1 Walnut Tenor
Kala Super Tenor
Rebel Super Concert
Nehemiah Covey Tenor
Mainland Mahogany Tenor
Mainland Cedar/Rosewood Tenor
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  #10  
Old 09-07-2022, 06:08 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy bookout View Post
Chet and Paul used to tell stories about Del Vecchios...
let's just say they were NOT complimentary

But they do sound good if you can find a good one (one that was taken apart and then put together correctly! Piece of cake...a thousand dollar repair bill for a guitar worth $200)
That sounds about right! I'll stick with my Nationals, here's my fave, and it's built like a brick sh^$house

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Old 09-10-2022, 09:48 AM
Fathand Fathand is offline
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I can't speak to nylon strings on a National guitar as I have some typical brass or bronze acoustic strings on my 1936 Duolian. I forget which ones.

I do know that National or Resonator Ukuleles sound great with nylon strings, I have tried a Steel bodied modern National and some Asian brand as well as an Asian wood bodied and my home built wood bodied tenor pineapple uke. They have all sounded quite acceptable.

Maybe the expectations are different? We tend to think in terms of ukes or nylon strung guitars as having softer more mellow tones than the crisp, bright tones we expect from steel strung guitars or the sharp metallic tones we expect from resonator guitars. This leads to the question of why would you try nylon strings on a National unless you were looking to alter the tone to something more soft and mellow.
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Old 09-10-2022, 12:15 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fathand View Post
I can't speak to nylon strings on a National guitar as I have some typical brass or bronze acoustic strings on my 1936 Duolian. I forget which ones.

I do know that National or Resonator Ukuleles sound great with nylon strings, I have tried a Steel bodied modern National and some Asian brand as well as an Asian wood bodied and my home built wood bodied tenor pineapple uke. They have all sounded quite acceptable.

Maybe the expectations are different? We tend to think in terms of ukes or nylon strung guitars as having softer more mellow tones than the crisp, bright tones we expect from steel strung guitars or the sharp metallic tones we expect from resonator guitars. This leads to the question of why would you try nylon strings on a National unless you were looking to alter the tone to something more soft and mellow.
Uke cones are lighter and work well with nylons. I had a Johnson Reso Uke and it sounded great with Nylons.
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Old 09-18-2022, 08:43 PM
dane41 dane41 is offline
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Put a set of SCGC. Dadgad strings on there. They are fantastic and last forever take a lot of tunings and it stays stable
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