pav1 wrote: ↑
Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:52 pm
Hello friends at Classical Guitar,
I recently bought my first classical guitar and I'm confused about the strings. I don't understand why usually the first 3 strings are nylon and the remaining 3 are metallic wound. I don't understand why the string material isn't consistent in order to get the same tone, sustain, etc. I was also thinking about a slightly more flamenco tone as opposed to classical. If anyone can shed some light on this, I'd appreciated it.
Without going into too much detail, let me just say that the string companies are just following the laws of physics. The main frequency of a vibrating string is proportional to the square root of its tension and inversely proportional to the square root of its density (weight per unit length). Since the optimal string tension range is pretty much predetermined by the instrument (for the playability and the tonal quality) the manufacturers have to change the density of the strings to achieve the desired pitch. Without the winding filaments, the solid bass strings would be bulky and extremely stiff. In addition they would behave more like a tube than a string which would lead to undesirable severe inharmonicity. Just examine the G-string and you'll know what I mean. That particular string is notorious for "tubbiness" and intonation problem. As for the treble strings, their diameters are smaller, making it impossible to fabricate durable wound strings. There are a few wound G-strings for the CG on the market but they wear out pretty quickly and the tone is not desirable to some players. At the end of the day, everything about the guitar is a compromise, and it is actually amazing that the instrument sounds as good as it does, a testament to hundreds years of trials and tribulations by the the guitar builders who are, IMHO, pretty smart people.