Changing and tuning strings on a classical guitar

IceTre

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
872
I've played electric and acoustic guitars for a long time, and recently decided to learn classical guitar. Eventually the strings died, of course, and I had to change them. I quickly found out that's a whole different ball game from acoustic guitars. I looked on the web for help, and found a few articles, including this one:

http://www.derek-hasted.co.uk/faqs/restring/

I followed the instructions-- at least I think I did-- but the strings keep going flat. I've stretched them over and over, tuned back up, but they don't stay. The next day they're a quarter-tone flat. So I could use some tips from any classical players out there.

The strings I used are D'Addario Pro-Arte EJ45, Normal Tension, Silverplated Wound Clear Nylon. I'd also love for someone to educate me on the different types of classical guitar strings-- when looking I found out that's a whole different ball game as well. High tension, low tension, silverplated, other stuff I never heard of with acoustic strings... what does it all mean? How would I know which ones to buy?

Thanks,
 

mc5nrg

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,042
Only a 1/4 step flat....that 's pretty good.
Assuming you have the tie-on at the bridge done right (sounds like it), and the string locked under itself at the tuner, they will stop stretching eventually.

The Gryphon Instruments site was useful to me.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,907
Never put new strings on a nylon the day before a gig...

Seriously they will stretch and settle for days. Some types, like EJ-45s, seem to take longer. In my experience composites and carbons settle more quickly. You can expect to tune more over the life of a set with nylon strings in my experience. You mentioned stretching the strings. Not sure what you meant but generally hand stretching nylon strings is not advised. Word is they can elongate unevenly when you overload them quickly and this leads to poor intonation since the string cross section is then variable. At most I might tune me a half step or so high for a day or so while letting them settle.

You can speed up the settling process if on day 1 you check and retune the guitar 20 or 30 or 40 times. Or retune as often as you can.

What you describe is pretty normal.

If you didn't double loop the trebles at the tie block you can slip there but you can visually spot that.

And FYI, trebles can last a long time. I may change basses two or three times for every treble change.

hunter
 

riffmeister

Member
Messages
16,605
There are a couple of "tricks" to minimize the stretch-in time for nylon strings.....the way the strings are tied and snugged down at the bridge, using an absolute minimum number of wraps on the tuning rollers, etc....but they always take a couple of days to settle in. Nylon and carbon trebles stretch about the same amount, but titanium trebles come to pitch and keep their pitch much more quickly than the other two. Some things in this world you just can't rush. ;)
 

IceTre

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
872
I'm getting the message: classical strings take much longer to settle than acoustic strings; I have to be patient. Thanks for the replies, I didn't know that. It really is a different instrument. And thanks for the suggestions about string types that tune faster, I'll try some of those next.

MC5NRG: I found the Gryphon Instruments website, but didn't see anything about classical strings.
 

Pitar

Member
Messages
1,859
Yep, new strings but you can't play them. I use the GHS set 2510 with the wound third. These are nickel plated and last quite a while.
 

Rob Taft

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,523
The comments by Hunter and others are spot on. I will say that the DAEJ45 strings in my experience take a good week to settle. I also change the bass strings about two times for every treble set. Given that a number of online string sellers sell bass sets as well as treble sets it is easy to mix and match. My favorite D'addario blend is the Composite bass strings mixed with their Titanium Treble sets. The Titaniums (as well as carbon) settle in a lot faster than the EJ45 set and brighter up a darker guitar. Be careful of the string tension as every string MFG definition of "normal" tension is a bit different. e.g. Hannabach 815 normal tension vs D'Addario normal tension. Also the carbon sets will usually have a smaller diameter and have a stringer tension than plain nylon.

By the way, you will know if you have a slipping string versus the normal break in and resit the urge to over-tighten your strings to stretch them out. I triple wrap all of the trebles and double wrap the bass string.

String vendors that I have used are: Just Strings, Stings By Mail and Amazon.
 

AcousticDude

Member
Messages
407
My rule of thumb is change strings three days before a performance and practice the heck out of them in those three days. By then they lose their tuning at a much slower rate. But I usually have to check the tuning after each piece.
 

CactusWren

Member
Messages
810
I've changed strings the day of the gig. What I do is to tune them a half step sharp. Keep tuning them up and play them for an hour or so. Then drop it to standard tuning. You will have to keep adjusting the tuning periodically. If you are playing classical guitar or fingerstyle, you will better be able to keep track. Otherwise, just do it between pieces.
 

CactusWren

Member
Messages
810
Hmm, as opposed to all concert classical or working flamenco players, who think the characteristics of the string are more important than an idiot-proof attachment scheme.
 

EricPeterson

Member
Messages
49,033
Hmm, as opposed to all concert classical or working flamenco players, who think the characteristics of the string are more important than an idiot-proof attachment scheme.
Willie uses ball-end strings too. There are lots of options, OP said he was a casual classical player, ball ends might be exactly what works for him. No need to insult people who find a different solution to the problem than you. There is nothing inherently better about tie-ends, there are more string options for sure, but if he can find a set of ball ends that work for him, what is wrong with that?
 

CactusWren

Member
Messages
810
Willie uses ball-end strings too. There are lots of options, OP said he was a casual classical player, ball ends might be exactly what works for him. No need to insult people who find a different solution to the problem than you. There is nothing inherently better about tie-ends, there are more string options for sure, but if he can find a set of ball ends that work for him, what is wrong with that?
I didn't mean to come off that harsh, it was poorly-chosen. But there is a reason good players don't use the ball-ends. Tying on a string is not hard, and the selection is now immense for regular strings. Now, those terrible peg things that you have to push into the bridge--that is a crappy system.
 

EricPeterson

Member
Messages
49,033
I didn't mean to come off that harsh, it was poorly-chosen. But there is a reason good players don't use the ball-ends. Tying on a string is not hard, and the selection is now immense for regular strings. Now, those terrible peg things that you have to push into the bridge--that is a crappy system.
What is the reason to not use ball ends? Just curious, is it just selection of strings or does the tying transfer more energy or alter the tone?

I think there are good reasons to use ball ends, for one, I have less tuning issues when I use them, and on my cheap classical that gets played rarely, it just works better for my application. String changes are also easier in a live environment, should you happen to break a string.
 

CactusWren

Member
Messages
810
What is the reason to not use ball ends? Just curious, is it just selection of strings or does the tying transfer more energy or alter the tone?

I think there are good reasons to use ball ends, for one, I have less tuning issues when I use them, and on my cheap classical that gets played rarely, it just works better for my application. String changes are also easier in a live environment, should you happen to break a string.
String energy transfer difference is probably minimal. Selection is the biggie. Peruse all these classical guitar strings. Few of them are "ballies".

https://www.stringsbymail.com/classical-guitar-strings-1/

Most players who break a nylon mid-gig will just change guitars, won't they? I have only had that problem when I lent my guitar to a heavy-handed player who went on right before me. He managed to break a string, and then I had to go on with 10 dancers. I have shown up to gigs and noticed a broken string occasionally, and I had no problem tying on a new one and having it ready to go in 4 minutes. A string is just a string. It just has to be tied.
 

EricPeterson

Member
Messages
49,033
String energy transfer difference is probably minimal. Selection is the biggie. Peruse all these classical guitar strings. Few of them are "ballies".

https://www.stringsbymail.com/classical-guitar-strings-1/

Most players who break a nylon mid-gig will just change guitars, won't they? I have only had that problem when I lent my guitar to a heavy-handed player who went on right before me. He managed to break a string, and then I had to go on with 10 dancers. I have shown up to gigs and noticed a broken string occasionally, and I had no problem tying on a new one and having it ready to go in 4 minutes. A string is just a string. It just has to be tied.
Cool, thanks for the reply, I should preface that am coming at it from a different perspective, I only have one classical, and it gets used on old outlaw country tunes we play, and with a pick! (hides his head in shame) :D


So I am not a typical classical player by any means. Blame Willie.
 

Semitone

Member
Messages
899
My nylon strings take a couple of days to stretch out. Normally D'Addario EJ46, but I've found brand doesn't matter much regarding stretching. Just make sure the strings aren't slipping at the bridge. Sometimes, the B/E strings have a tendency to slip if not done just right.

Try a few different brands/tensions and see what sound and feel best for you. Savarez are very popular besides the D'Addario. Hard to beat D'Addario on price.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,244
As a long time classical player, my rule of thumb is when the strings stretch to the point they stay in tune, it's time to change them:)
ha!

that's up there with mandolin players, who legendarily spend half their time tuning and the other half playing out of tune.

and +1 to ball end nylons being strictly "student" strings, that's just not legit.
 




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