If you own an acoustic or classical guitar, it’s highly likely that they’re strung with nylon strings, and sooner or later, you’ll need to change them. Using ball-end strings will speed up the string-changing process without sacrificing the sound or string quality you can get from tie-end strings. But all of the factors that you need to consider will leave you wondering which is the best string for your needs; luckily, we’ve compiled a list for you!
The best ball-end nylon guitar strings are the D’Addario EJ34, Martin Guitar M160, Ernie Ball Earthwood Folk, Fender 130 Classical, Martin Guitar M260, La Bella 830, GHS Strings 2050W, and Ernie Ball “Ernesto Palla” nylon guitar strings, depending on whether you have an acoustic or classic guitar.
In this article, we’ll go over a detailed list of the best ball-end nylon strings you can find on the market today and briefly discuss how to know which strings you should buy depending on the factors you need to take into consideration. Now, let’s get right into it.
Knowing Which Nylon Strings to Buy
There are many factors that you need to take into account when buying new strings for your guitar, the first of which being the type of guitar you have. Classical and acoustic guitars can both be strung with nylon strings, but their strings aren’t interchangeable. Stringing an acoustic guitar with strings made for a classical guitar can cause severe damage, and vice versa, as the neck, saddle, bridge, and top bracing on each is constructed differently.
You’ll also need to take into consideration the string gauge you play with, their tension designation, and the materials they’re made from. All of these factors combine to create the sound that you’re hearing when playing your guitar, and different combinations will produce different sounds.
However, if you’re choosing between tie end string and ball end string, it all comes down to personal preference. While many old school guitar players will tell you that you should never use ball-end strings or that it’s wrong to do so, this is just their opinion, because, in reality, ball-end strings wouldn’t still be on the market if there was something wrong or damaging about using them on your guitar.
There isn’t a big difference in the sound or string quality between tie ends and ball ends, and those who choose to use tie ends usually only do so because of tradition or because they like the look of it. Ball ends are more straightforward to set up when changing out your strings, so if you’re a beginner, these will be easier to use.
When buying ball-end strings, be sure to buy from a reputable source and a well-known brand, as some lesser-known manufacturers will try to cut corners and use poor quality balls, which means that they are more likely to break a lot faster than the more expensive string sets. So it is best instead to invest a little more money from the start and ensure that you are getting high-quality ball-end strings that won’t break after only one or two uses.
All that said, let’s take a look at the best ball-end nylon strings you can buy for your guitar.
As discussed previously, there are many factors that go into deciding which ball-end string set you buy for your guitar; luckily, there are many different types to choose from, so you’ll most definitely find something that suits your needs and personal preference.
We’ve compiled a list (in no particular order) of the best ball-end nylon guitar strings, all with varying combinations of the factors mentioned above, to ensure that you’ll be able to find a string set that matches what you are looking for.
D’Addario has long been hailed as one of the best (if not the best) guitar string manufacturers, and guitarists who use their strings have always been happy with the quality and consistency of their strings. It should come as no surprise then that the D’Addario EJ34 Folk Nylon strings are on our list. While the name suggests that these strings are made for Folk music, they can also be used for other styles, such as classical guitar.
These strings can be used on both classical and acoustic guitars, something that you don’t see all too often. They come packaged in a low waste, corrosion-resistant case that ensures the strings are always fresh when you get them.
You have the option of 80/20 bronze or silver-plated basses and either black or clear nylon trebles for these strings. The clear nylons are the traditional type of strings used on folk and classical guitars and will give you an even balance of brightness and warmth (Related question: do classical guitars have nylon strings). However, the black nylon strings are known to have a less harsh, warmer, and mellower sound giving your guitar an overall more mellow and soft sound and are not as commonly used.
Black nylons are certainly not suited for all styles of playing but will give you an alternative sound if that’s what you’re after. The string gauges range from 0.028 inches (0.71 mm) on the high E to 0.045 inches (1.14 mm) on the low E, with normal tension that will be good for beginners. They are priced exceptionally well for the quality that they offer.
The Martin Guitar Company has been making high-quality guitar strings for well over 150 years, and these M160 Silverplated strings are no exception. Although they are known mostly for their guitars, their guitar strings live up to what you will have come to expect from a Martin Company product.
The M160’s are nylon strings plated in silver to give them a more traditional sound and exceptional articulation. The silver plating is also said to be more resistant to the corrosion that can occur due to the sweat and oils on our hands that get transferred onto the strings while playing. Some say that silver-plated do not offer as much warmth as 80/20 or phosphor-bronze strings, so there’s that to consider.
The string gauges are rated at 0.028 inches (0.71 mm) on the high E string and 0.043 inches (1.09 mm) on the low E string. Their tension designation is high, so they are not necessarily the best choice for an inexperienced or occasional player. However, the silver plating is said to make them easier on the fingers. The consensus on these strings is that they offer a pleasant tone and high quality for a great price.
And though they may not match up to more expensive strings, one shouldn’t expect them to since they are a more budget-friendly string set.
Although the Ernie Ball Company has not been making strings for as long as some of the other companies on this list, they have quickly become one of the most loved manufacturers when it comes to guitar strings. And these Earthwood acoustic strings are one of the best ball end string sets available on the market today.
This set includes a combination of strings made from clear nylon filament and 80/20 bronze alloy wrapped around a nylon floss core. The clear strings also come accompanied by a clear ball end, and the 80/20 bronze strings are attached to a gold ball end. This string set is a medium (or normal) tension set and has string gauges of 0.028 inches (0.71 mm) on the high E through 0.042 inches (1.07 mm)on the low E string.
The Earthwood Folk strings produce rich treble tones and a wonderfully percussive attack, all while being very reasonably priced.
Of course, we can’t write about great guitar strings without including Fender. These strings are made for acoustic guitars, and while they may not be the very best on the market, they are still up there in terms of quality and sound. Their manufacturing process uses cutting edge machinery to create high-quality strings that could rival D’Addario’s lineup any day.
They market these strings for classical players and finger-stylists who want reliable strings with excellent warmth, clarity, and sustain. The treble strings are made from clear nylon, while the bass strings are made from nylon that is wound in pure silver, which helps produce better clarity of sound and projection and reduce finger noise.
Their strings are given a normal/medium tension designation, which makes them comfortable to play on for players who are slightly less seasoned. The string gauges range from 0.028 inches (0.71 mm) to 0.043 inches (1.09 mm), as is typical of these types of strings. Overall, these strings are an excellent set for a not-so-expensive price, with strong bass and clear treble.
Another set of strings from the ever-loved Martin Guitar Company, the M260’s are made for acoustic guitars. These 80/20 strings are made from crystal nylon and bronze alloy for long-lasting strings and a fantastic sound. These strings offer great tuning stability, a comfortable playing feel, and a warm, almost “jazzy” tone that will suit many playing styles, like classical, flamenco, Spanish, and folk styles.
These strings are evenly balanced across the set and come in “normal” tension and “hard” tension variants, measuring 85.4 and 88.9, respectively. The high E string measures at 0.028 inches (0.71 mm) and the low E at 0.043 inches (1.09 mm). These high-quality acoustic strings will allow you to brighten up the tuning of your guitar, as well as the tenor, mid-tones, and bass, and are a very well priced set of strings.
The La Bella 830 String set is another very well-loved string set for classical guitars and can be used for Spanish, folk, and classical playing styles. They use high-quality materials, and manufacturing expertise gathered over many decades of string making to make strings that guarantee a consistently well-balanced performance.
The bass strings are golden alloy (80/20 brass) wound nylon strings, and the treble strings are black nylon. The golden alloy strings have an excellent memory for consistent sound production and pitch, while the black nylon strings give great aural transparency and sound projection. The combination of black and gold strings also creates a unique look on your guitar that will catch the eye of many admirers.
The strings have a medium tension designation that affords them a nice balanced volume and comfortable resistance when playing and have also been said to reduce the ‘pick’ sound you may be used to hearing from acoustic guitars. The string gauge starts at 0.028 inches (0.71 mm) for the high E string and goes all the way to 0.044 inches (1.12 mm) on the low E string. This string set produces warm, bright, well balanced, and consistent tones.
They are packaged using Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) technology to ensure that they don’t get tarnished and stay fresh until you open the package to use them.
GHS is another one of the younger guitar string manufacturers, but their strings have been getting good reviews for quite some time. Their strings are durable and of good quality, resisting wear-and-tear more than one would expect. The 2050W strings are made to be used on classical guitars for various styles, including classical and bluegrass.
These strings are manufactured in a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled facility using precision equipment and high-quality materials. Each of the strings in the set is individually sealed in tear-resistant packaging and packed in a nitrogen environment that eliminates all oxygen, ensuring that the strings are still factory fresh when they reach you. It also means that you can keep the strings that you don’t change fresh until you do need to use them.
You can choose either a combination of clear tynex-nylon trebles and silver copper basses or black nylon trebles and phosphor-bronze basses for these strings. The clear nylon and silver copper combination will give you a clear and bright sound, while the sound from the black nylon and phosphor-bronze combination will give you a warmer and mellower sound.
This set has string gauges ranging from 0.028 inches (0.71 mm) to 0.043 inches (1.09 mm) and a high tension designation. Regardless of which combination you choose, you’ll be getting high-quality strings with lasting intonation and a consistent and harmonious sound. And as they put it, “GHS strings feature professional quality at economy prices.”
Here’s another string set from Ernie Ball, this time from their Ernesto Palla line of strings. We already know that Ernie Ball makes great quality strings, so a second string set from them on this list should come as no surprise. They are also one of the few string manufacturers who make various ball-end strings, unlike some others who only make a few variants.
This string set is made for classical guitars and can be used for classical, Spanish, and bluegrass styles, among others. They are durable and hold their elasticity, comfort, and sound longer than one would expect from strings at this price point. And that’s not all! They come in three (that’s right, three) different variants of string combinations.
When buying these strings, you can choose between either black nylon trebles and 80/20 bronze-plated copper basses, black nylon trebles and silver-plated copper basses, or clear nylon trebles and silver-plated copper basses. Each variation will give you a slightly different sound. The black and gold combination is the warmest and most mellow, the clear and silver the smoothest and most articulate, and the black and silver a combination of both.
The trebles are all made of a single nylon filament of different gauges, and the basses are made of a nylon floss core wrapped in either a bronze- or silver-plated copper wire. They are manufactured to exact specs to ensure consistency, long lifespan, and optimum performance, and offer balanced projection coupled with a smooth and rich tone.
The Ernesto Palla line of strings have a gauge of 0.028 inches (0.71 mm) at the high E string and 0.042 inches (1.07 mm) at the low E string and have been given a medium tension designation, making them comfortable to play on for players of any level of experience.
Every good guitar player knows that even the most professional guitar won’t sound right without the proper strings, so making sure you have the right strings for your guitar is essential. However, with the plethora of strings available nowadays, finding the right one can be tricky. The most important things to remember are that you need to use strings to suit the build of your guitar and your style of playing, and that you should enjoy the way they sound.