A History in Nylon

Modern classical guitar string sets use nylon formulations for the three treble strings.   The three bass strings have metal windings over a filament core – the filament is either silk or a fine nylon.   Carbon fibre strings are also available now, and produce a brighter sound, while flourocarbon polymer strings may offer a better tonal transition between treble and bass.

For centuries, or perhaps millennia,  gut   – processed animal intestine – was used to make musical instrument strings.    Gut strings are still available, but due to the high cost of production, instability,  and the ready avalability of stable  man-made strings, it’s now mostly used for “historically authentic” purposes.

In the late 1930’s, the duPont company introduced nylon as a commercial product.    The late Albert Augustine started to experiment with it, and worked for several years with Andres Segovia to produce the first nylon classical guitar strings, leading to their first use in performance around 1949 (Segovia had broken a string just before a performance, and used a new nylon set from Augustine as the replacement).

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