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Nylon Strings

22 Jan 07 - 05:10 PM (#1944731)
Subject: Nylon Strings
From: Riginslinger

If one has big clumsy hands, is there any truth to the rumor that it would be easier to learn to play on a classical quitar with nylon strings and a wide "nut width?"

22 Jan 07 - 06:35 PM (#1944851)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: s&r



22 Jan 07 - 11:01 PM (#1945085)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Songster Bob

In general, yes. Your beginner usually has problems with sore fingers (nylon strings have less tension, hence fewer calluses) and finger placement (the wider board gives you more room between finger-tips). Then again, after a few months, you may want to switch to steel strings, based on the tone and volume you'll probably eventually want to get.

Many of us started on nylon-strung guitars (mine was a cheap Egmund guitar from Holland) before moving on to other instruments.

By the way, large fingers are not a real bar to playing small-stringed instruments. John Duffey, late lead singer for the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene, and a mandolinist of note (pun noted but ignored), had huge hands and long, thick fingers. But he played just fine, thank you.

Good luck!


23 Jan 07 - 03:56 AM (#1945167)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Waddon Pete

All the previous comments are true, however don't feel you have to move on to steel strings! It is not a natural progression!

Nylon strings these days have a great range of tone and tension. Not only do they make the most ordinary guitar sound great, but you will stand out from the crowd!

As with anything else, guitars should be tried on in the shop before you take them home. Don't be afraid to say no! One day, in a music shop somewhere, you will meet your new best friend!

Best wishes,


23 Jan 07 - 10:53 AM (#1945508)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Riginslinger

I looked up the "nut width" on Willie Nelson's old Martin guitar, and it's listed as 2 1/8 inches. Most of the models where I could get this information on the guitars available now list a "nut width" of 2 inches. Is this eighth of an inch significant?

23 Jan 07 - 12:03 PM (#1945599)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Bernard

I'd say it was - as long as the strings are spaced in relation to it. Otherwise, you've just got an extra fat neck. Nothing personal, you understand!

23 Jan 07 - 12:56 PM (#1945668)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Riginslinger

I guess a fat neck is better than a fat head.

Actually, I need all the help I can get. I don't see instruments out that are built with wide necks just for drill. I suspect if they build it that way they intend to use it.

23 Jan 07 - 02:45 PM (#1945776)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Riginslinger

For some reason, a number of the manufacterers are making their instruments with a 1 7/8 inch "nut width,"--Taylor included-- making the case that the narrower width would help the musician make the transition to steel strings.

       This seems counter-productive to me. First it assumes that the individual would want to switch to steel strings, and it would seem to compromise the classical design of the nylon stringed guitar.

       There must be something I'm missing.

23 Jan 07 - 06:38 PM (#1946015)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Bee-dubya-ell

I've played a number of Taylor nylon string guitars. From the way they sound and feel, I get the impression they're primarily intended for the steel-string player who wants to add a nylon sound to his bag of tricks. Hence the narrower neck and a sound that's quite a bit different from that usually associated with good classical guitars. I like 'em a lot, but I'm not a classical guiatrist. I imagine a lot of purely classical players find them to be abominations.

23 Jan 07 - 06:45 PM (#1946030)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Bernard

Perhaps I should have mentioned earlier... I've got hands like a pound of pork sausages, but it hasn't stopped me playing fairly narrow necked instruments - including the mandolin and banjo.

I play fairly complicated Ragtime guitar, so I'm not just a chord basher. Mind over matter, y'see... it's got a lot to do with disciplining your fingers to fret correctly - fat fingers aren't necessarily a problem. Not for me, anyway!

23 Jan 07 - 11:10 PM (#1946208)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Don Firth

2 1/8" is really pretty wide, even for a classic. Standard width of a classic guitar fingerboard at the nut is 2 to 2 1/16 inches. My classic is 2 1/16, and my flamenco is right on 2. I have no trouble at all switching back and forth between them.

In fact, I have a steel-string travel guitar with a 1 11/16 inch fingerboard, and that's not a problem either, but it does take me a few minutes to get used to it when I first pick it up.

Don Firth

24 Jan 07 - 12:16 AM (#1946233)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: GUEST,picker

Ah, Bernard beat me to it... I was just going to mention that Segovia had fingers like sausages. And he's got a good point: largeish fingers shouldn't be a problem. You play with the calloused tips of the fingers in any case.

Learn the kind of guitar that pleases you to hear, don't be swayed by generalities about hand size. I have large hands myself, and play a steel-string with a 1 11/16th" neck. No big deal.

24 Jan 07 - 05:29 PM (#1947047)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: McGrath of Harlow

that Segovia had fingers like sausages So does Julian Bream.

But there are plenty of people with big hands who seem to play brilliantly with guitars far narrower than that. Width of the fretboard is only one factor, depth is every bit as important in deciding what feels right to you.

And you can always expriement by using a capo on any guitar, because of course the neck gets wider as you go higher up.

25 Jan 07 - 02:25 PM (#1947856)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: GUEST,Bardan

I don't think I'm going to add anything particularly original here, but think more about what tone and volume you want and what kind of style you want to play. (E.g. lots of plectrum stuff or mainly fingers.) Also watch out for the action-how high the strings are off the fingerboard. My first guitar had quite a high action- when I started my fingers suffered a little bit and when I moved on to doing barre chords etc I had to really train up my hand and arm to exert enough pressure on the strings.

25 Jan 07 - 02:34 PM (#1947869)
Subject: RE: Nylon Strings
From: Riginslinger

That's something that hadn't even occurred to me.