12 Best Classical Guitar Strings in 2017

Guitar strings are a dime a dozen, but those that sound good on an acoustic guitar will have a completely different effect on a classic guitar.

Classical guitar strings aren’t as exotic as ones made for other styles, but still require research since you have to think about tension, the ends, and the construction. You may want to consider using an “authentic” classical string set, as well.

Not sure which strings you should use? Check out our list of the best classical guitar strings below and what tips our experts suggest to help you choose the right ones.

Top 12 Classical Guitar Strings Comparison Chart

DesignNameTensionEndsRating (1-5)
  1. D’Addario EJ45TT ProArte DynaCore Classical Guitar Strings Normal Tie-on 4.6
  2. Savarez 520R Traditional Classical Guitar Strings High Tie-on 4.6
  3. Savarez 540R Alliance Classical Guitar Strings Normal Tie-on 4.5
  4. Dunlop DPV102B Premiere Series Ball End Classical Guitar Strings Normal Ball 4.4
  5. D’Addario EJ43 Pro-Arte Nylon Classical Guitar Strings Light Tie-on 4.4
6. Martin M160 Silverplated Ball End Classical Guitar Strings High Ball 4.3
7. D’Addario EJ27N 3/4 Student Nylon Fractional Classical Guitar Strings Normal Tie-on 4.3
8. Ernie Ball Earthwood Folk Nylon Ball End Set Medium Ball 4.2
  9. Martin M260 80/20 Bronze Ball End Classical Guitar Strings Regular Ball 4.2
  10. Ernie Ball Ernesto Palla Nylon Black and Silver Classical Tie On Set Medium Tie-on 4.2
  11. Augustine AUGBLKSET Nylon Classical Guitar Strings Light Tie-on 4.2
  12. Albert Augustine 525A Gut Classical Guitar Strings High Tie-on 4.1

Tension

Guitar strings come in several different gauges and tensions, which make come as a complete surprise to new guitarists just getting started. That means shopping for the best classical guitar strings is harder than it should be. It doesn’t have to be however as the tension on nylon strings do not have the same impact as they would on an electric or acoustic guitar. You will notice a difference, but this is one of those rare times where you actually need to experiment a bit.

We’ve simplified things to a degree as light guitar strings have a bright tone, and are easier on the fingers although that’s usually not an issue with nylon strings. If you want a smooth sound for practice, normal or regular strings are your best bet more often than not. Medium is right there with those, and you may not notice a difference depending on the manufacturer. As for high tension strings, they will fell tighter under your fingers and can sound “bright” or loud, but again, it depends on the manufacturer, construction, and your guitar.

The Ends

Regardless of the tension, you decide to roll with; you still have to install those new strings on your classical guitar. We can’t walk you through that tricky process, but there are two types of ends you’ll deal with in the classical world with Ball and Tie strings.

  • Ball – If you’ve played any style of guitar before going classical, you have encountered ball ends. As the name implies, there are little balls on the end that goes into the bridge. You simply need to set the bridge pins, adjust the tension up top, and you’re ready to go.
  • Tie – Before there were ball ends, consumers had to tie-on their guitar strings. Well, there are millions of guitarists still doing that today, but they can slip if you don’t lock them down properly. Beginners will want to choose a ball end, as there is no difference in the sound and they are easier to string.

String Construction

You can’t play strings built for electric guitars or regular acoustics on a classical guitar. They sound terrible, and you could damage your instrument as well. Oddly enough, the best nylon string guitar may not actually have nylon strings at all. Guitarists looking to keep things “real” may want to consider using gut strings. Once referred to as Catgut, manufacturers often use fibers found in the intestines of sheep or goats in this style of string.

They are not as popular as nylon, but still around an option if you want to try something different. Traditional nylon strings have trebles made from nylon, while the back end typically uses finer nylon threads wound with silver or copper wire. Other materials used include titanium and carbon fiber, each with their advantages and drawbacks. We hate to sound like a broken record, but this is another area that may require some experimentation before you settle on a style you like.

Top 5 Best Classical Guitar Strings Reviews

1. D’Addario EJ45TT ProArte DynaCore Strings

The first set of strings we chose from D’Addario are from their ProArte lineup and are a bit exotic compared to others on our list. That’s due to the fact they use titanium in the construction which makes this a bright set of strings that will project better than regular nylon.

D’Addario pulled out all the stops for these DynaCore strings. Every string is laser sorted for accuracy and consistency to ensure a balanced sound from this set. They are listed as normal tension according to the manufacturer with the trebles clocking in at .0280, .0332, and .0403, while the bass strings are 0.28, .035, and .044. While there is only one set per package, they are affordable enough to allow you to stock up, and these are even made here in the USA.

Another thing we like about these strings aside from their quality lies with those titanium trebles. This is a great set to use if you want to “mix and match” strings on your classical guitar although they do not have the old-school ball so you will need to learn to tie them on.

2. Savaraz 520R Traditional Classical Guitar Strings

Savaraz is a favorite brand among classical guitarists, and they managed to crack our list several times with various string sets. The 520R Red Card strings won’t be for everyone due to their tension but well worth a look for experienced players that want something tighter.

Don’t let the “traditional” moniker fool you with this set of strings. While they are top-notch and traditional in a sense, they do not use catgut in the build. Instead, you are going to get something called rectified nylon on the trebles. This means they will have a rough texture compared to smooth nylon guitar strings which give you more feel on the strings and less chance of slippage. The wound silver-plated bass strings aren’t quite as fancy, but highly accurate.

Consumers looking for the best classical guitar strings with a higher tension should seriously consider these. On the downside, they are tie end strings which can be difficult for beginners; especially considering the high tension. That should not rule these out although you need to take a trip to the guitar shop if you’re inexperienced.

3. Savaraz 540R Alliance Classical Guitar Strings

Our second set of Savaraz strings are from their Alliance HT series. These are normal tension, so they will have a different sound and may be easier to play than the 520R’s, but there is no rectified nylon in the mix this time around – just carbon.

Carbon-based guitar strings have a tone all their own and can be thinner than typical nylon strings as well. The material comes into play on the trebles with these strings which are from the Alliance KF series. Your bass strings are more traditional feel and are considered fast with bold projection thanks to their wound and silver-plated nature. Again, you will not get ball ends on these strings although the 540R’s are easier to tie and less prone to slippage than similar strings with a higher tension or exotic design.

These solid strings are an easy contender for the best nylon guitar string set. They sound beautiful once properly tuned up and ideal for guitarists looking for something that stands out from typical nylon guitar strings.

4. Jim Dunlop DPV102B Premiere Series Strings

Dunlop makes all kinds of great accessories for your guitar, including pickups, pedals, and strings. The first two won’t be of any use for most folks, but their Premier Series Classical Strings stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Dunlop has plenty of strings available for classical guitars, and there’s a tension available to suit everyone’s playing style. The gauges on this string set are .028, .032, .040, for the trebles. They’re made from something called DuPont Timex, which is easy to tune with a warm tone. The last three strings sizes are .29w, .35w, and .43w with a silver-plated copper wrap set around a nylon core. These strings will be fresh out of the pack courtesy of the company’s VCI corrosion inhibiting tech as well.

One major advantage with this set of strings compared to others in our Top 5 are the ends. The Dunlop DPV102B’s have ball ends, so most folks will be able to change them out with ease regardless of their skill level, especially at normal tension.

5. D’Addario EJ43 Pro-Arte Nylon StringsStrings

It was difficult to narrow down the choices from D’Addario. The company makes so many great string sets, choosing the perfect ones proved to be a tall task. We went with the EJ43 Pro-Arte strings which are light tension and sound entirely different from the DynaCore’s as they are best suited for musicians looking for a natural sound.

Looking for a string that is easy to play and relatively easy to attach to your instrument? The D’Addario EJ43 Pro-Arte Classical Strings fit that bill and sound outstanding when correctly set up. The three laser sorted measure .0275, .0317, and .0397. The basses go the silver-plated route measuring .028, .033, and .042. Again, you can mix and match these if you want a different sound although we think you will be thrilled at how they sound as a complete set.

From the nylon core bases to those precision sorted trebles, there is a lot to love about the D’Addario EJ43 string set. The only negative is the same factor that applies to most of these strings as you have to tie them on which is going to be difficult for beginners due to slippage.