Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Slotted Headstock

Does a slotted head stock always take nylon strings? I came across a guitar that’s 36” long, (2) quarter notes on a slotted head stock, but no other identifiable markings to speak of. I’m guessing it is an older children’s guitar.

4 Likes

C F Martin has produced many slotted head steel string guitars.

5 Likes

Thanks. I’m new to the art and it seemed every time I saw a slotted head it had nylon strings. So can you pretty much put steel or nylon strings on any guitar?

1 Like

ABSOLUTE NO ON THAT ONE. Classical guitars are made for nylon (or originally gut) strings, which carry much lower tension, and therefore require much less robust construction. If you place steel strings on a classical guitar the likely outcome will be that the instrument comes apart. Either the neck will come loose, or more probably the bridge will separate from the body.

4 Likes

Also putting nylon strings on a steel string guitar is unlikely to be satisfying because steel string guitars are more heavily built (and have narrower necks) than guitars intended for nylon strings, as Robert in the previous post notes, to accommodate the higher tension of metal strings. I have a couple slotheads; other than looks, they are not much different to regular paddle head guitars.

4 Likes

Look inside the sound body/box they sometimes have stamps or serial # or a brand of some sort on the inside to help identify it. I might be wrong but check there. Or ask Jake! He’s a lot smarter than I am! in fact everybody’s a lot smarter than me! :upside_down_face:

4 Likes

@epjacobs,

I am going out on a limb to show my ignorance on this…

Is this why it is rather important to identify an Accoustic as a STEEL guitar versus a general term of Accoustic or Classical?

I don’t have/play Accoustic… (Obviously) but just never pondered this before. I plan Mando and Banjo

Just for curiosity… Can’t put Steel on Classical Guitar (built for Nylon) but can you put nylon on Steel Guitar since it is “stronger” or is that bad also?

Learning…

3 Likes

Go back and read the previous posts…it’s all explained…

PS Classical model is classical, but also can be acoustic (non electric)
Steel guitar is a different animal you meant “steel stringed guitar”
Mando & banjo can both be acoustic…just don’t use a pickup.

4 Likes

@WillCoop I went to a music store today and learned a lot about how to identify a classical vs acoustic guitar. For instance, what I thought were E, A, D steel strings were actually nylon strings with a steel wrap. Anyway, it was beneficial to be able to discuss it live with someone and actually touch and feel the nuances between classical/acoustic and nylon vs steel.

4 Likes

A summary might clarify things. First, a steel guitar is a separate category, played with a metallic (or glass) slide, and not to be confused with a steel string guitar. An acoustic guitar is a hollow-body instrument which can be played without amplification, but can have a pickup installed and be played through an amplifier. Solid body guitars, typically used in rock bands, including country-rock, are virtually always played plugged-in, and make very little sound when not connected to an amp.
So, let’s differentiate among acoustic guitars. Arch top instruments obviously have a convex arched top surface, typically with f-holes, and are generally used for jazz. The remaining guitars are flat tops, including classical and steel string instruments. Classical guitars have wider necks, nylon strings, and are “lighter” ;in construction due to the lower structural demands. Steel string guitars have relatively narrower necks and more robust structures. As discussed in prior posting, placing steel strings on a classical guitar would likely pull it apart. Nylon strings would not hurt a standard steel string guitar, but would not produce good sound, as the structure is designed to respond to the output of steel strings. Classical guitars are very rarely played with a pick, and are not used in bluegrass music. Comments, questions, or has everyone had more than they could stand?

6 Likes

Dave, I read the previous posts…

It wasn’t - and still isn’t answered for me… Sorry. I know classical is classical and can be considered Accoustic… but clearly cannot be steel-strung as the guitar cannot be put under the stress.

That said, can a guitar that is “Steel String Strong” use nylon strings since they are lighter?

Mando and Banjo are Accoustic if not electrified with pickups… I know that and didn’t lose this question at all.

My inquiries were limited to Accoustic Guitars only in the two styles of Classical (nylon strings) and Steel-Stringed models… as this particular aspect was just nothing I thought of before.

Was it explained that Nylon string can or cannot go onto an Accoustic guitar that had and was built to withstand the heavier strain of steel strings?

Maybe I did miss that?

2 Likes

As I stated above, a guitar built for steel strings would not be damaged by being strung with nylon strings. However, the structural design of that guitar was optimized to produce sound from steel strings and would probably not produce the best response from nylon strings. An additional issue is that the cross section area of nylon treble strings is larger than the corresponding steel strings, so they might be too large to fit in the slots in the nut on a steel string guitar. A luthier could file the slots to accommodate the thicker nylon strings, but that would probably result in buzzing when going back to steel strings. The best answer is to play both types of guitars and then buy the one that you are comfortable with. If you have a steel string instrument and want to try nylon strings on it go for it. If the strings fit in the nut slots you can play it without doing damage, but you may be disappointed with the sound. Just don’t try going the other way and putting steel strings on a classical-built guitar.

6 Likes

yeah maybe, in my first post. I build both style guitars; a crossover either way is no good for previously stated reasons. Interesting discussion, but anyone contemplating switching up these two types of guitars should just pick one and enjoy it or get both and enjoy each for what it brings.

5 Likes

Willie must have missed that during his classical guitar lessons as a child!

Long ago, I installed nylon strings on my old Yamaha steel stringed acoustic guitar and it worked fine and sounded pretty decent! I shimmed the saddle to get a little higher action to accomodate the thicker strings and I had to play with a little less force, but I did get an ok classical sound out of it. With the narrower neck, it’s a little harder to play clean and fret clean with the thicker strings, but just something to get used to.

Just make sure you use ball end nylon strings or you’ll have a hard time getting the looped end strings to work with your bridge pins!

3 Likes

I was thinking precisely of Willie when I said “very rarely”. He is exceptional in many ways. Can you name another player who flat picks a classical guitar?

3 Likes

Yeah sure, as long as his mom doesn’t mind not choosing his name

3 Likes

Good one!! :rofl:

3 Likes