Can you put nylon strings on a steel-string acoustic guitar?

Many players wonder if nylon guitar strings can be put on a steel string guitar. The short answer is “Yes!”. However… 

Replacing steel strings with nylon strings on an acoustic guitar can lead to some issues related to their installation, the sound you expect them to produce, and the different tension placed on the guitar. 

In this article, we have described everything you need to know if you decide to replace steel strings with nylon ones.

What are the strengths of nylon strings? 

It is no accident that so many guitarists are considering replacing steel strings with nylon strings. 

  • they are cheaper and more durable than traditional steel strings
  • the string needs less tension 
  • they are softer, making them easier on your fingers
  • they are fitting for beginner guitarists
  • they have a mellow warm sound
  • they do not oxidize or rust
  • they are suitable for Classical music, Jazz, Flamenco, and Folk

classical guitar with nylon strings

The risks and issues of using nylon strings on a steel-string guitar

Before you get down to installing nylon strings on your steel guitar, there are a few factors to consider:  

Nylon strings can damage your guitar neck

Nylon strings can’t produce enough tension like steel strings, and this can cause damage to the guitar neck.

Nylon strings have a hard time staying in tune

Nylon strings are very sensitive and need to be tuned more often. Especially if they are new. When they are adjusted and settled in, they become more stable.

They are affected by temperature changes and humidity, which also affects their setting. 

You can’t use a guitar pick with nylon strings

Nylon strings are classical guitar strings and are used for fingerpicking with long fingernails. They are unsuitable for strumming because the guitar pick will wear them quickly.

We recommend you check out some strumming techniques for classical guitars, but keep in mind that the sound will be different.

Restringing problems 

In classical guitars, the bridge is made with holes through which the strings pass and are secured in a knot. With acoustic guitars, things are different. 

When we put in a steel string, a ball at the end goes into the guitar’s bridge and is held in place with a peg.

Regarding nylon strings, their ends are flat and do not have a ball end. This creates a severe problem when installing them on a steel-string guitar. 

Fortunately, ball-end nylon strings are now available, making them easier to insert. 

guitar steel string

What to consider when applying nylon strings

You already learned the traits of the nylon strings and what problems can arise while installing them. But there are a few more things you should expect. 

Winding the nylon strings around the tuner

When installing the nylon strings into the tuner, you may need to wind them several times until they are tight enough to hold. This may take you a little longer, and a few failed attempts, but it’s nothing to worry about.

Nut size and the nylon string gouge 

Pay attention to the sizes of the nut. 

If the nylon strings you have selected have a different gauge than the nut, you may need to seek the help of a technician.

Tuning nylon strings on steel-string guitars 

We must warn you that this step can be quite complicated and take more time. It may even take you days to get it right. Especially if you are tuning nylon strings for the first time, you should be prepared that there is a huge difference from traditional steel strings.

We recommend that you try tuning the guitar a little lower than standard. 

Adjusting the truss rod  

Nylon strings don’t need as much tension as steel strings. For this reason, when you use them on a steel string guitar, you need to make an additional adjustment on the truss rod. 


Can you combine steel and nylon strings on a guitar?

Yes, but we want to point out that using a combination of steel and nylon strings will result in uneven tension distribution. Nylon strings are more flexible and loose, while steel strings should be wound more tightly to be tuned.  

Can you put steel strings on a classical guitar?

Short answer – No. Long answer – check this article where we explain why it is not a good idea to put steel strings on a nylon string guitar.

Should I start with a guitar with nylon strings?

It depends on your musical preferences and the style you will play. But in general, nylon strings are more suitable for beginners because they are easier on the fingers.

Do nylon strings sound better than steel?

It’s very personal and depends on the taste. 

The sound of nylon strings is soft and warm and fit for playing classical music, jazz, folk, and flamenco.  

If you play guitar with steel strings you will have a strong and clear tone. This type is used for playing rock, country, and bluegrass.

What is a Nylon string crossover guitar?

This relatively new model nylon string guitar brings the feel of a steel string acoustic guitar but sounds like a classical guitar.


By trying out different strings, you learn your style and gain experience. Feel free to experiment to keep your love of playing alive.

We advise that if you decide to use nylon strings for a steel-string guitar for a more extended period, you should visit a guitar tech to do a complete tune-up of your instrument.

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