When someone asks me if it’s ok to put steel strings on a classical guitar, my reaction is that of horror!
Well actually it’s more of relief – relief that they asked first and didn’t do it first and then ask later.
The answer to this question is an emphatic no.
Can you feel the Tension?
Steel strings exert a lot more tension that nylon strings. In fact they produce roughly twice as much tension.
That means that steel strings are putting a lot more pressure on your guitar.
An acoustic steel string guitar is designed to take the extra tension of steel strings.
A classical guitar on the other hand is designed with the intention of holding nylon strings – a much less burdensome task.
Classical (Nylon) Strings
When you buy Nylon strings you can actually buy them in different tensions – depending on what you like the sound and feel of and what type of music you are playing.
It is even sometimes recommended that you should loosen off your strings on a classical guitar if you are using high tension nylon strings. This is to save damage to your guitar.
Steel strings produce even greater tension than high tension nylon strings so imagine the damage they can do to your classical guitar.
What Damage Could I Expect if I Ignored this Advice
There are a couple of major things that could go wrong if you fit steel strings to a classical guitar including:
- A bent neck
- The bridge being pried away from the soundboard
- Damage to the tuners
Leave steel strings for long enough on your classical guitar and it will become unplayable – if it doesn’t implode first!
If it’s not yet clear – DON’T put steel strings on your classical guitar, unless you want to experiment with slowly destroying your guitar!
If you really want to play with steel strings you will need to get yourself a steel string acoustic guitar.
If you were wanting to do this because you like the size of your classical, then there are parlour sized and concert sized (smaller sizes) guitars that are made for steel strings that you can get like the Art and Lutherie Ami
Thanks for reading and I hope this article has answered your question.