Classical Guitar or Nylon String: Which Name Is Correct?

Classical Guitar or Nylon String Guitar: What is the best terminology?

Following post we received from Carolien touches upon a preference for the term “Nylon string guitar”.

She says in her post:

I think a better terminology is Nylon String Guitar (when used in Rock or Metal).

But Guitarists use a Nylon String Guitar to play Classical Style Compositions. Classical as in Genre. Actually, both in Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal Nylon String Guitar is quite Frequently used. Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Ect Ect. Even many more extreme progressive Death Metal bands use Nylon String Guitar in their songs. Even Cryptopsy. I would say other than Ambient and Ominous type melodies Flamenco style is also used a lot in Prog Rock and Metal.

I use it a lot myself and I am a Prog Metal / Death Metal musician.
Cheers. But yes technically the Nylon String is often referred to as Classical guitar but more when the Piece is Classical Music in genre
By: Carolien

My take on this is that those distinctions are personal choices and opinions. I personally never put much importance on names or labels. Classical guitar and nylon-string are really synonyms. Both names refer to the exact same thing: the type of guitar that is used by classical guitarists to play classical guitar music, which has nylon strings.


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  1. vreny Says:

    Dear Carolien,

    Thank you so much for your feedback. You’re loving many the same bands I am crazy about too.

    I totally see your point and I agree with it.

    There’s a couple of reasons though why we prefer the term “classical guitar”.

    For one: it is assumed that everybody knows that “classical guitar” indeed means “nylon string” (which we thought makes it a bit redundant to call the guitar “nylon string”).

    More importantly however:
    “Classical guitar” really is what these bands use… not just a “nylon string guitar”. The reason why we think the term “classical guitar” is more accurate in it’s description of the instrument, is that this is not the only type of nylon string guitar. “classical” in other words: really refers to a very specific type of guitar here, regardless of the genre it is used in.

    Flamenco guitars for example, are nylon string guitars too, but they have quite a different built and sonic texture than classical guitars do, and are possibly not used as much in rock settings as the classical guitar is. A flamenco guitar is smaller, more snappy sounding, more sonically aggressive, more percussive sounding with less sustain, lower string height, lower frets, a thinner top, and other differences in construction compared to a classical guitar.

    Furthermore: there is also the acoustic-electric nylon string guitars or even more experimental nylon string guitars like the Yamaha SLG 110N Nylon string Silent Guitar. This is yet an entirely different group of nylon string guitars.

    Because of all the diversity when it comes to nylon string guitars, and this being an educational site (which implies that we strive for greatest accuracy and consistence possibly in our information): “classical guitar” is preferred for it’s clear distinction between the many types of nylon string guitar.

    Thank you. Your comments and feedback are inspiring to me. They make me think deeper on things I would not have thought about myself, so your input helps me see things from different angles and from deeper perspectives.
    Keep it coming.
    Thank you very much.

    Best Wishes for 2013

    December 19th, 2012 at 3:12 pm