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They are plenty kinds of guitar strings for my classical guitar : silver or titanium (or platinum ?) coated, crystal ones...
Some are for commercial attractiveness, some might increase longevity of the strings, but which of them really changes the timbre of their sound ?

If I want to experiment many different timbres possible when I change my set of strings, to find the final set I enjoy the most, what families of :

  1. Lower strings
  2. Upper Strings

will give me a different timbre ?

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  • I'd think that, somewhere like Just Strings or the D'addario site, there'd be an explanation of the different variations. My classical guitar has a busted but and hasn't seen new strings in a decade, so I'm not the one to answer, but it seems like a low-fruit answer outside of MSE. – Dave Jacoby Oct 12 '20 at 2:27
  • I'm not a guitarist, but in the world of woodwind instruments material doesn't affect sound at all. I imagine, with strings it affects responsiveness which, in turn, might affect timbre. Back in the day, some bassists would let their strings rust, to give them more of a "dirty" sound. I believe, Todd Rittmann of U.S. Maple substituted the low 3 strings on his electric guitar with bass strings, which provided for some of the band's unique sound, so that could be something to experiment with as well. – Pyromonk Oct 12 '20 at 8:09
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but which of them really changes the timbre of their sound ?

The shortest answer would be - "all of them." It's one of the main reasons why there are so many different types of strings to begin with. The gauge, material, and winding affect the overall quality of the sound. Even coating on guitar strings changes the timbre and tone - even though strings are coated mainly for the purpose of preservation, the coating definitely changes the quality of sound... love it or hate it.

Some guitarists spend years experimenting with strings to find the right fit... generally, once a musician discovers their preferred string, they tend to play with it exclusively.

As far as the material of a string, for classical guitar in particular, this article is helpful in answering your question.

Treble Strings

Clear Nylon: This is the most common material for treble nylon strings. Clear nylon offers a good balance of brightness and warmth in tone and are known for their projection and sustain qualities and easy vibrato.They aren’t as loud or as powerful as other string materials like titanium or composite.

It is the smoothest material used for nylon strings, which can feel the best when playing finger style.

Black Nylon: This produces a warmer, more mellow tone with more treble overtones than clear nylon. It is a popular choice for folk.

Titanium: Titanium produces a brighter crisper sound. Strings made with titanium are often used to brighten up a darker sounding guitar. They also have good sustain and easy vibrato.

Carbon Fibre: Strings made using carbon produce a loud sound and tend to be longer lasting. They are characterized by a short sustain and can go beyond bright to a more ‘thin’ or ‘harsh’ sound. These can work well depending on the guitar.

If your guitar already has a bright sound, then carbon strings are likely to sound too bright but they can be good for a darker sounding guitar.

Composite: This material produces a very bright sound with strong projection. Composite is often used for G strings to make for a smoother transition in sound between the treble and bass strings.

Bass Strings

Bronze: Bronze windings are typically composed of 80% copper and 20% zinc. This material is sometimes known as 80/20 bronze, brass or gold. These strings produce a bright sound with good sustain.

Silver: Silver windings are typically made of copper with a silver coating. Silver coated windings help to produce a warmer tone.

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