4 Reasons to Not Swap Nylon and Steel Strings on Your Guitar

A classical guitar lying in the grass

Some people believe that you can swap the nylon strings on your classical guitar for steel strings, and vice-versa. Here are some reasons why that’s a really bad idea.

String Tension

Nylon and steel strings exert different amounts of pulling force (known as tension) on guitars. Nylon strings typically exert tension of 80 pounds, whereas steel strings usually exert tension of 160 pounds.

Now, a classical guitar is built to handle the tension of nylon strings. If you swap the nylon strings for steel strings, there will be much more tension, causing the guitar to bend. This can make playing the guitar uncomfortable and, given enough time, will damage it.

Truss Rod

A person playing the guitar

Steel-string guitars have truss rods to counterbalance the tension of the steel strings. Effectively, a truss rod ensures that the net tension isn’t enough to bend the guitar. However, classical guitars typically don’t have a truss rod. So, if you swap your classical guitar’s nylon strings with steel strings, your guitar will get damaged.

The Nut

The nut is the white block near the end of the guitar. The strings run over it before attaching to the headstock. Classical guitars’ nuts are typically higher and have wider slots to account for the width of nylon strings relative to steel strings. Mixing up the strings means that the strings will be higher or lower than they should be, or won’t sit properly in the nut. As a result, your guitar will perpetually be out of tune.

Action Height

The action height is the difference between the fret (the small metallic bar across the fingerboard) and the bottom of the string. If the action is too high or low, playing the guitar will be uncomfortable. Classical guitars typically have an action of around 0.5 to 1.5mm higher than a steel-string guitar. Mixing up your strings will thus lead to an uncomfortable playing experience.

If you’re looking for guitar parts to fix up your current guitar or even looking to buy classical guitar online, contact us at XYB Guitars. We’re a Chinese guitar parts supplier, who have guitar parts for sale and classical guitars online. Visit our store to shop for classical guitars and see which parts we have for sale.