Are Silk and Steel Guitar Strings any Good?

Published Categorized as Acoustic Guitar String Selection, Buying Guides

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silk and steel guitar stringsSilk and steel guitar strings have their place and work well with certain guitars, styles and players.

Sometimes they get a bad rep for being strings that lack punch and tone.

They aren’t for everyone but do have their place for certain sounds and purposes.

What Kind of Sound do they Produce?

Silk and steel strings are definitely a lot mellower sounding than the likes of 80/20 bronze strings.

Since 80/20 strings are by far the norm, silk and steel strings sound unusual to a lot of people.

They have a warm and mellow tone and are often quieter than other strings like 80/20s.

What Genres/Styles are they Usually Used for?

Because of their sound characteristics and their feel, they are often used for fingerstyle playing.

They have a softer feel to them.

Genres like Gypsy Jazz and Folk work well with silk and steel strings. I think they can work for fingerstyle blues too.

Not the best for rock, country or anything that requires a lot of strumming and flat-picking (in my opinion).

For Beginners?

Silk and steel strings are a great option for beginners because they are softer on the fingers. You will get less finger soreness playing silk and steel than you would playing 80/20 bronze strings (somewhere in between nylon and 80/20 bronze).

>>Click here to learn more about choosing the right guitar strings for beginners

What Kinds of Guitars do they Suit?

They definitely go better on smaller guitars. They probably aren’t ideal for the likes of dreadnoughts – but then again if you are playing a dreadnought then you probably aren’t looking for the kind of sound that silk and steel strings produce.

Some say that they only like silk and steel strings on arch tops and not flat tops. Others like them on 12 string guitars.

>>Read more about what others think of silk and steel strings here

For Recording?

Some people like to record with silk and steel strings because they can produce less string noise.

However, they would still only be suitable for recording if they suited the sound you were trying to achieve.

For Playing Live?

Some guitarists really like the sound of silk and steel strings when amplified. It can take away some of the harshness you sometimes getting when amplifying an acoustic.

However, others don?t think that they have enough oomph for playing live.

it’s something you?d need to experiment with. However, it would also come down partly to the style of music you are playing too.

Thanks for Reading

Silk and steel strings are not for everyone, but there are times when they are the best option.

They are great for certain styles/genres, they are great for beginners and they can work well for recording and playing live (depending on the sound you are looking for).

Silk and steel strings are not bad by any stretch, they are just unsuitable for some guitars and some styles – but they are perfect for others.

Have you used silk and steel strings before? What did you think of them? Would you try silk and steel strings? Any comments or questions welcome in the comments section below.
>>Learn more about picking the right acoustic guitar strings for you here

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

4 comments

  1. I?ve been using silk and steel on my dreadnaught guitar for 20 plus years now.
    I do a lot of finger picking and hammering for my style of playing.
    They have a nice soft bright sound, great for playing indoors.
    Some people say there easy on your fingers but if you do a lot of sliding up and down the kneck they will sand out your fingers.
    If your a light strummer along with hammering and picking out your notes you will be very satisfied with these strings.
    Takes a little finesse but the sound is worth it…..

    1. Thank you. I have developed tinitus and looking to mellow the tone on my 1977 takamine f360s. Do you believe it would mellow out the guitar?

  2. I am playing with strings for my new LTD Thinline L6. I liked the Martins but the band said the D’Adario set sounded better. Since the guitar has a pre amp, volume control is not am issue. I use the guitar on Pink Floydish tunes and other ghost sounded chords. Looking for more ideas.

  3. I have silk and steel strings on a 120 yr. old parlor size guitar. They sound good and with less tension on this old guitar.

    If you’re looking for a soft sound on a guitar that you want to lower the tension, silk and steel work very well.

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