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I'm looking to install ball-end nylon strings on a classical guitar.

Which of these ways is the best in terms of tone and preserving the bridge?

  • The same way you install ball-end steel strings on a guitar: ball rests on the bridge hole, farthest from the nut.
  • Loop the string around the bridge and then pass the string through the hole in the ball-end so that the ball end is on the opposite side of the bridge, closest to the nut. See photo. Note the extra ivory to preserve the corners. It's just wood on the bridge furthest from the nut.

I'd prefer not to discuss looping and knotting a string. Let's stick to ball-end strings. Thanks!enter image description here

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    Why not cut the ball end of you believe that's the way to better tone? Or buy traditional strings? IIRC the balls are nylon or plastic, so they shouldn't do any damage (I wouldn't think) to a wooden bridge, but if you're previously inclined against them, why even bother? Jul 17, 2021 at 21:37
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    @DaveJacoby it seems the OP precisely wanted to avoid opions of people previously inclined against ball-ends. I.e., not get into discussions about ball vs no-ball, but take the balls as a given and only discuss what to do with them. Jul 17, 2021 at 23:19
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    Uuuh... that in your image is a steel string though, isn't it? Never install (normal-tension) steel strings on a classical guitar, unless you want to destroy it! Jul 18, 2021 at 16:27
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    There is no reason I can think of to loop the string through the ball-end. It's there to provide a mass that won't go through the hole at the back of the bridge. Jul 18, 2021 at 23:35
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    There exist ball-end classical strings. I think the ones I had in years ago had a plastic ball-end, not steel. Strings are cheap; buy new strings that are appropriate for your instrument. Tying to bridge is traditional for classical guitar, but you do you. You don't need to loop ball-end strings. And, as always, never put steel strings classical guitars. music.stackexchange.com/questions/11809/… Jul 18, 2021 at 23:48

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Tone wise, there's very very little, or no difference. The string doesn't vibrate past the saddle, so what you do will make no difference.

Thread the string through the hole, over the saddle, then as normal.

As a pro muso, I'd try both ways - as explained, and wrapping, and record the two, but I wouldn't waste my time. There's probably more tonal difference to be found in different makes of strings rather than using ball-ends. I'm not sure what the point is.

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    I agree, bridge to nut is where the sound is and what counts. I wouldn’t even bother doing an A/B. If anything having the ball end on the saddle side might make indentations on top of the bridge since the ball might ride up with the tension so I would just go traditional. Jul 18, 2021 at 14:45

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