Can you put steel strings on a classical guitar?

If you like to experiment with your strings, you may have wondered how your classical guitar would sound if you put steel strings on it.

Is it possible? Yes, you can practically put steel strings on a classical guitar. Is it okay to do it? Definitely not.

Putting the wrong strings on your guitar can lead to a number of problems. Not only you’ll not get a perfect sound, but you can seriously damage your guitar.

In this article, we have described all the negative consequences of putting steel strings on a classical guitar.

steel strings on a classical guitar

Why you shouldn’t put steel strings on a classical guitar

The problems that can emerge are mainly due to the differences between the two types of guitars.

Guitar tops and bracings

Classical guitars are designed to be used with nylon strings and have characteristics that distinguish them from acoustic guitars.

They have tinner tops and flexible braces, while acoustic ones have firm, thicker tops and heavier bracing.

String Action

Acoustic and classical guitars also differ in the distance between the strings and the fretboard, or in other words, the string action.

Nylon string guitars have more string action – around 3-4 mm, while acoustic guitars have around 2-2.5 mm.

Truss Rod

The truss rod is a metal beam inside the guitar’s neck that helps balance the tension of the strings. Classical guitars don’t have one because nylon strings produce low pressure. Some new models have a truss rod, which isn’t enough to counterbalance the steel strings.

The Nut

The classical guitar nut has wider slots because nylon strings are much bigger than steel ones.

steel strings on a nylon guitars


Is Steel String Guitar good for beginners?

It is usually recommended for beginning guitarists to start with nylon strings because they are softer and more forgiving to the fingers.

We think that it’s most important to know what style of music you want to play and start practicing the right guitar for it.

Do steel strings hurt more?

We’ll be honest – yes, they will hurt your fingers more than nylon strings. They are made of steel, after all. Not only that, but we have to exert more force when we play because they are under more tension.

Do steel strings rust?

Yes, steel strings rust because there is iron content in them. How quickly rust will appear depends on the moisture levels in the air.

We advise storing your guitar correctly, cleaning the strings after playing, and using high-quality strings with more rust resistance.

Which metal string is best for guitar?

There are many good string manufacturers, but as the most popular brands, we recommend Ernie Ball, D’addario, Elixir, Dunlop, Ibanez, Gibson, Fender, and Prs. 

steel strings on a nylon guitar

Wrap it up:

Don’t put steel strings on a classical guitar because:

  • you’ll have problems with intonation and tone stability
  • the bridge can break off of the soundboard and make the guitar unplayable 
  • the neck may swell or bend 
  • tuners may refuse to work 

There are many different ways to experiment and diversify your playing. We advise you not to do this by putting steel strings on a guitar designed to be played with nylon. 

Each guitar has its characteristics, and we as musicians must appreciate them to feel and enjoy all the possibilities the instrument gives us.

Doing the opposite and putting nylon strings on an acoustic guitar is also not recommended. Make sure to check this article before doing so.

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