Are you the owner of a classical guitar, wondering if it’s possible to swap out your nylon strings for a pair of steel strings?
Wondering whether or not you can put metal strings on a classical guitar is a common question, and I’m glad that you took the time to research this before jumping into it.
Long story short, putting steel strings on a classical guitar is not advised. Not only may it damage the guitar itself, but it will also be uncomfortable play. This is still true even for light-gauge steel strings.
For more details on why this is the case, read on. In this article we’ll cover why you shouldn’t put steel strings on a classical acoustic guitar.
1. Steel Strings Drastically Increase String Tension
Out of all potential reasons to avoid steel strings, this one should be sufficient on its own.
Guitar necks are built to withstand certain levels of string tension. While it is certainly possible to purchase other sets of nylon strings with increased or decreased tension, the jump to steel strings increases tension far too much. In some guitars, this may cause the neck to start bending and otherwise cause permanent damage to it.
In fact, the tension can be nearly twice as much with steel strings – one heck of an increase!
While some people may claim they have put steel strings on their classical guitar without issue, this is a serious risk and is best avoided.
2. Most Classical Guitars Do Not Have A Truss Rod
If you’ve never heard of a truss rod, it is essentially a steel rod inside of the neck of a guitar that helps to stabilize the neck. In steel-string acoustic guitars, this can help to offset some of the tension introduced by the strings, and help to keep the neck straight. You can kind of think of it as the ‘spine’ of the guitar.
Most classical guitars do not have truss rods inside of them, although one example of a classical guitar with an adjustable truss rod is the Cordoba C5.
Despite having a truss rod, it is still inadvisable to try putting steel strings on the guitar. However, you can use any strings designed for classical guitar – even high-tension nylon strings, without worry.
3. Higher Action
Stringing a classical guitar with steel strings, would lead to a higher action for the steel strings on classical guitar, than the action height you’d typically find on a regular acoustic.
Combine this with the increased string tension, and this would make it extremely uncomfortable to play for any significant period of time.
While it is certainly possible to purchase nylon strings with a higher tension, it is never a good idea to put steel strings on a classical acoustic guitar.
At best, you get a guitar that is uncomfortable to play. At worst, you permanently damage or break it.
If you chose a classical guitar simply because you liked its size, it is possible to purchase steel-string equivalents instead.
So, in any case, there are always better alternatives available!
Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions about classical guitar strings, feel free to ask them via the comment form below.