Recently ordered a pack of nylon strings, and on opening the pack realized that only the first 3 strings are nylon, but the last three (4th, 5th, and 6th) are wire-wound, and appear to be steel core. However, they are quite whitish in-spite of the metallic appearance (most of the steel-core wire-wound strings are brassy look). Have I been cheated ? Is this a substandard set ?

The guitar in question "qualifies" to a large extent to be called a "classical guitar", because

  • Has higher than usual nut and bridge, with much more action than one expects on regular steel-string guitars
  • Has an absolutely flat fretboard, that is certainly wider than my steel-string guitar
  • Has a bridge to which the strings can be tied, although it does have a tail-bracket into which steel-strings with ball-ends can be fitted quickly.
  • Has tuning posts which look like this

    enter image description here

Instead of tuning posts like this:

enter image description here

However, this is a guitar I bought used, some 30 years ago, and the seller had steel strings. It was my first and only guitar for next 10 years, so I've to admit that I am not 100% sure if it is indeed a real classical guitar.

Also, after having strung the guitar with the new pack, I've realized that the strings are indeed nylon (even 4th, 5th, 6th, even though wirewound are not stiff and hard to tie into a knot, as the steel string... which is in fact impossible to tie into a knot without snapping them). However, it was a nightmare to get the guitar to tune, and it just refuses to stay in tune for 5 minutes. It wasn't the case while the guitar was strung with steel strings. This could mean that it might note be a classical guitar then, although I'd have though that a steel-string guitar could be strung with nylon string, but not vice-versa.

  • You might like to mention if these strings are for a "real" classical guitar (which are not usually built for the tension of regular steel strings!) or a regular folk guitar which may be sometimes used with nylon. Also whether the bridge of the guitar ids made for "ball-end" strings fitted under six bridge pins, or a traditional drilled bridge onto which you tie normal nylon-cored strings.
    – Andy
    Aug 12, 2016 at 14:10

4 Answers 4


This is completely normal, the cores under the windings are nylon, just as the unwound strings. They are wound to provide a lower pitch when plucked due to an increased mass. The unwound strings need to produce a higher pitched note and are therefore left unwound.

Different brands/types of windings have different colors. Phosphor Bronze windings have a coppery color while steel or nickel will have a more silvery color.

This is used in every string set for guitars (not bass) and you have nothing to worry about. Install them on the guitar and enjoy :)


This answer adresses the edit

If it has a peg box as in the picture, that guitar is definitely a classical guitar. Also the strings are indeed metal-wound nylon-core strings, if they are easy to knot. (To see this beyond doubt, cut off a small part of the low E string and unwrap some of the metal – should be easy to do with some tweezers/pliers, and you should see the soft nylon fibre beneath.)

But I'm very certain that these are normal nylon strings – the fact that it doesn't keep tune further confirms this: yes, this is annoying, but inevitable for nylon strings (due to their much greater elasticity); you'll need to keep retuning the guitar after every hour of playing or so during the first week with new strings. After that, the guitar should then keep the tuning reasonably well (apart from temperature effects, which classical guitars are quite sensitive to).
That is, provided the guitar is still alright. I wouldn't be too sure about that: classical guitars aren't meant to have steel strings on them, and it's quite possible that the guitar has suffered permanent damage from them. In fact I'm rather surprised it has survived for 30 years this way!

  • The image was representative, but very close. The peg box is same, but the pegs are all steel, somewhat thinner than in the picture. The has had some body damage, but that is completely my fault as I dropped it hard. That was almost 8-9 years back, and it was doing reasonably well with steel stings, inspite of a what I did was a hack of a fix using super-glue, bit of epoxy and some duct tape. Glad to know that the "tuning hell" is not that uncommon for new nylon strings on classical guitar. Signs of hope.
    – bdutta74
    Aug 14, 2016 at 18:34
  • Oh dear. That reads like your guitar looks like Willie Nelson's. Aug 14, 2016 at 19:44

Sure about the steel core? At any rate, when buying nylon string sets, three or occasionally even four strings will be wire-wound. And indeed it is pretty much exclusively one of the wound strings that gives up the ghost first. But that's not substandard but very much standard and I'd be surprised if your previous set was different.

The coloring is usually somewhat matched between the wound and the naked strings. Again, that's not unusual.


If they are for a proper classical guitar, when you tie that special knot to hold them to the bridge, you'll know if they're steel or nylon on the inner core. If you can't tie them because they're too stiff, then yes, you've got problems. However, if they tie easily and properly, then they are good for the job.

However, you labelled acoustic guitar as well. It's unusual to use nylon strings on these, and the strings will all have to have ball ends to fit to the bridge (or tailpiece). Nylon strings- wound and plain- don't have ball ends.

  • 1
    Since when does acoustic guitar imply western guitar? I'd certainly include classical guitars under the acoustic-guitar tag. (But if the OP has a western guitar, then it would be indeed problematic to put standard nylon strings on it.) Aug 12, 2016 at 17:52
  • 1
    You do get nylon strings with ball ends. They are uncommon and they will ruin a bridge eventually, but they do exist. There does exist non classical nylon string guitars that use them.
    – Neil Meyer
    Aug 12, 2016 at 18:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.