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I was looking for nylon strings and noticed that Ernie Ball has two different sets available that are both gauge 28 to 42 and have ball ends.

One is sold as "Ernesto Palla" Nylon, the other as "Earthwood Folk Nylon".

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What is the difference? Does "Folk" imply a particular tone?

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The top package has silver and/or nickel windings on the bottom three strings, the bottom package has 80/20 bronze windings on the bottom three strings. That’s why the packages have those words on the front.

I’m not sure but I expect the top package has a brighter tone and is intended for classical style guitar. The bottom package probably has a darker sound that might be used more with folk, rock, and pop style playing.

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The term "folk guitar" is often used to describe a guitar which is designed for use with nylon strings like a classical guitar, but has a string spacing closer to that of an acoustic guitar and for whatever reason uses a tailpiece with notches for ball-end strings rather than one which is suitable for tying plain-end strings. This latter "feature" has unfortunately resulted in many such instruments being strung with ball-end steel strings and consequently destroyed by the higher string tension.

Using plain-end nylon strings on a folk guitar would require affixing some sort of blobby thing at the end; I would guess that sliding on a bead and then using the flame from a match to melt the nylon string into a blob would probably work, but I've never tried that. Using ball-end folk guitar strings is probably a much easier approach. Tying the knot required for a classical guitar might be awkward with a ball-end string, but cutting off the ball end should yield a plain-end string suitable for use with a classical guitar that would otherwise have trouble with a ball-end string.

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  • I have an ukulele with those bridge slots. There are ball end strings for those, but overhand knot works just fine.
    – ojs
    Feb 8 at 21:15

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