Classical Nylon string vs Steel String Acoustic - whats the difference?

Author: Raul-Alvarez  Date Posted:22 September 2012 

Hello all,

This is a question that we get asked a lot, and is a very common question around the world...

"What is the difference between a Nylon String and a steel String guitar? I am a beginner and I don't understand!"

To start, the difference in tonality between classical or flamenco (nylon strings) guitars and that of a steel string acoustic guitar exists solely for the application that they are going to be used for. 
 If you play a song on either nylon strings or steel string, the song always remains the same, but it is its 'voice' that's different. 

"What does that all mean, as I am a beginner?!"
Imagine you hear two versions of a classic John Lennon song, with all the background instruments the same, but one version sung by a man, and the other version is sung by a woman. The two versions of this John Lennon song will not 'feel' the same to you and will each create different emotions within a person listening to it. You may like the song or dislike the song solely because of the singers voice. It's that simple.
This is exactly the same between these two types of acoustic guitars. A nylon string is a softer sweeter sound  - an almost angelic sound, and a steel string is louder and more pronounced. What do you prefer? Its all up to your emotions that are created when listening to the two for any particular song you are playing. Its that simple!

"Are they, Nylon string classical/Spanish guitars and Steel string guitars both acoustic guitars?"

They are both acoustic guitars because they both produce acoustic sound wave energy by strings resonating the the hollow body chamber and therefore don't not need an amplifier. As opposed to a 'Solid body' guitar (Electric Guitars) which doesn't resonate acoustically sufficiently to be heard and so require electronics and amplification to be heard.
The more you play all types of different guitars, you will soon discover for yourself the wonderful uses.


Raul Alvarez

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