How To Choose The Best Nylon Strings For Your Classical Guitar
Classical Guitar Strings
Apart from your guitar itself the strings that you put on your classical guitar will have the greatest impact on your sound and tone quality.
A great set of strings can make an average guitar sound much better and conversely a poor set of strings can make a great guitar sound worse.
Classical Guitar String Considerations
When purchasing nylon strings for your classical guitar you need to consider a few things:
Price. For most of us out there price is one the biggest considerations when choosing strings. Most of the time we just go for whatever is cheapest often at the expense of superior tone and longevity. For people like me that change strings every two week the cost can quickly escalate over the year. I personally use Augustine Regal Blue High Tension strings because they are a high-quality string that isn't too expensive and they can endure about 60 to 80 hours of playing before their tone is lost (at least to me anyway).
Availability. The worst thing is heading to your local music store or searching online only to find that your brand is gone. Sticking to established brands with a reliable track record is really important. Brand such as Hannabach, Savarez, Augustine are all fantastic makers with a long and illustrious history of making strings favoured by the world's best classical guitarists.
Longevity. This is probably the most subjective point as when classical guitar strings or any guitar strings for that matter lose their tone is undefinable. For me that point is reached when the notes don't ring true. The sound is dull, sustain is compromised, and the clarity of the note is no longer apparent. Obviously, if you rarely play your guitar your strings will last a lot longer. If you're like me and you play and practice for several hours each day your strings will need to be replaced more frequently.
Gauge. This is the thickness of your strings. In classical guitar terms this is usually measured as tension defined as high, medium, and low. It is generally understood that the higher the tension in the strings the more punch and volume your guitar will produce. The cost of this additional punch and volume is that greater effort is required to 'finger' the notes. I would say that high tension strings are more suited to experienced players or players that have exceptionally strong hands and grip strength. Beginners or people with smaller weaker hand and finger strength should choose low tension strings to begin with.
Material. Classical guitar strings are made using a wide variety of materials with bronze, silver plating, and brass being popular choices for the bass strings. Treble strings can be made from clear nylon, rectified nylon, and carbon fibre. Bear in mind that the very traditional gut strings are still available for those seeking the most traditional sound. They tend to be far more expensive than even the highest quality nylon strings and are probably worth trying if you are seeking a different sound from the majority of players on the scene.
Mix N Match
Another popular method is to mix strings from different sets to come up with your own 'unique' sound and set that suits your playing style. Many players do this and there is no reason that you can't too!
Another classical guitar string review: http://equipboard.com/posts/best-classical-guitar-strings