Silk 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).
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).
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.
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