3

We all know the traditional nylon strings for the classical guitar, which in turn replaced the even more traditional gut strings.

Lately, more and more string manufacturers are introducing products that feature carbon strings for some specific strings in the set, or all the strings in the set. Daddario, Savarez, Hannaback, La Bella, RC, Thomastik; seems that everyone is looking to offer options made of fluorocarbon.

What's the difference?

  • 1
    The evolution of materials for stringed instruments is driven by performance of the product and the subsequent demand for it. The answer would lie in the consistency of tone dependent upon varying tension. Somewhere there should be engineering documentation that relates frequency, amplitude, and material. – Francis Phillips Oct 12 at 19:59
  • @FrancisPhillips That's what I'm looking for! How do the carbon strings affect tone, durability, intonation, and other dynamics, in contrast to nylon. – Lyd Oct 12 at 21:54
  • There are two answers. 1)Try them and see if you like the tone; 2) sometimes things are manufactured for quality and sometimes for price. – Carl Witthoft Oct 13 at 16:10
3

Fluorocarbon have a harder, more direct response and feel, and less of a “singing” tone. In some sense, switching from nylon to FC has a similar effect as switching to a longer scale length. For an electric-guitar analogy: it feels like switching from a Les Paul to a Strat (though obviously the difference is not so extreme).

Most of that difference is just due to the higher tension, which you could also get with simply heavier nylon strings – but those still feel softer and kind of sweeter because they're also thicker, unlike FC. Thick strings can have problems with tone clarity and intonation, so if you want a more powerful sound without sacrificing that then FC can be a good choice. The downside is a somewhat less expressive, less malleable character.

  • By less malleability you mean that it's harder to do stuff like vibrato? And what about tone, is there an important difference in brightness? – Lyd Oct 13 at 23:11
  • And by singing, you mean less sustain (faster decay)? – Lyd Oct 13 at 23:17
  • 1
    Indeed, vibrato is one of the things that's easier on nylon than FC. “Brightness” – I wouldn't say there's much difference there. “Singing” – I don't mean sustain per se but tone development. In fact, FC have probably a bit more sustain, but it's a more plain, “flat” sound, whereas nylon has more of a sweet harp-like trickle in each note. ...I don't know much water that description really holds, objectively, it's more of a subtle difference in feel. – leftaroundabout Oct 14 at 8:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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