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gut vs nylon vs steel

Posted by danjogfy on Monday, June 13, 2011

OK frailers,  which string give the best old timey sound gut, nylon or steel? How about durability? I just started learning clawhammer and want that specific old timey sound.

8 comments on “gut vs nylon vs steel”

kevinwholmes Says:
Monday, June 13, 2011 @5:14:44 PM

Most clawhammer players I see use steel strings, which they then mute by stuffing a rag or something in the back between the dowel stick/co-ordinator rods and the head. I've tried all three you mention, and I like nylon for the feel (on both hands) and sound, and I don't stuff anything in the back. Plus they're CHEAP, but hard to find locally. I get mine online from Elderly or Janet Davis. They are very durable, but do take a while to settle in when new; up to a week. You could have some issues with fit at the nut and bridge also. I found Nylagut worse in both those areas, plus they felt like half-cooked spaghetti on my fingers, and they can be pricey; however, I hear they are very durable as well. If you want to be mid-19th century authentic, you should use one of these two.

If you intend to play with a group, you may want steel strings; they are definitely loudest of all three.

danjogfy Says:
Monday, June 13, 2011 @7:52:46 PM

Thanks great advise, just what I was looking for.

Marc Nerenberg Says:
Monday, June 13, 2011 @8:37:36 PM

I love 'em so much that I've converted 5 of my six banjos to it (and would have converted the 6th if it weren't a long neck (and NylGut strings are too short). I've never tried nylon so I can't compare, but I sure like 'em better than steel. I posted 3 videos today on 3 different banjos - each very different from the others, all with NylGut strings - if you check them out, you can hear some of the different ranges of sound available. (you can find them easily by going to the "sound-off" forum, and looking for my name as original poster - or you can just go to the video section of my page). My BHO friend, and brilliant player "Frailblazer" has converted ALL his banjos t NylGut - check out his page for some truly awesome banjo music with NylGut strings. It was hearing his sound that tempted me to try NylGuts in the first place. After converting one banjo, I was hooked, and ordered a whole bunch of sets of strings from Elderly, in both gauges "Classical" and "Minstrel". I think I prefer Minstrel - but it's a close call!

Karen Kruske Says:
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 @4:15:16 AM

I tried NylGut and hated how they kept stretching and stretching. I finally took them off and pitched them. I"ve never had any problem with breaking steel strings and I like the feel of them better. Guess it's all a matter of personal, feel.

TonyS Says:
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 @4:28:42 AM

In the Long Neck Group hear at BHO, we have a player who uses fishing line - cheap by the roll I guess, long enough for a LN. The sizes (pounds !) he uses are posted there as well.

kevinwholmes Says:
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 @5:28:34 AM

I've used fishing line for the first and fifth string.

danjogfy Says:
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 @6:20:01 AM

Great info thanks everyone. I am also interested in neck inlay, the "vine" variety, any good links or pictures please post them.

kevinwholmes Says:
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 @7:18:38 AM

Not a great picture, but this is my "eBanjo", made from parts bought on eBay, including the neck:

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