Apologies in advance if this is a repeat of a post someone has already answered but I had a browse of the forums and couldn't find anything so hopefully it's not
I'm hoping for some advice or recommendations for nylgut strings for clawhammer playing style. I have bought three sets now of aquila nylgut strings and they keep breaking. I wonder is there something I should have done before switching steel strings over to nylon or do people have recommendations of maybe heavier gauge strings that will stand up to a bit of a thrashing from a clawhammerer?
Look at where they're breaking and how sharp the metal parts are that are cutting the string. Could be a burr, or a sharp edge on the tuner post or the tailpiece...I'd start there if it was banjo. The same thing that's cutting your nylguts might even cut steel strings. Cheers!
Edited by - 35planar on 08/07/2020 17:40:07
I have had far too much contact with Nylgut strings, but with very limited use on banjo. I tried them on my banjo and decided to switch back to steel strings, a personal choice.
In my experience, the material is very pliable and you must stretch the strings with quite a bit of force even before putting them on your instrument. The manufacturer changes the formula for the material from time to time, so one particular batch may be more prone to breakage than another. Not good. Nylgut strings will not abide tuning up to a higher pitch, especially the thin strings. I imagine the sets that are sold are gauged for an average string length, whatever that might be. You may want to be sure your banjo's string length is not too long and your tuning is not too high. And of course, as Mark mentioned above, you'll want to be sure there are no particularly sharp edges on the nut and bridge.
To get the most out of Nylgut, or any synthetic strings for that matter, playing clawhammerj style, you'll need to use a less substantial bridge than you might use for steel strings, Also, it's necessary to adjust the right-hand approach so that you are playing through the strings more than across the strings, if that makes sense.
The "Q" to the left of this page will keep you busy reading past discussions. Lots of opinions. I have Nylguts on 5 banjos because I prefer that tone but use steel strings on my jam banjo because Nylguts don't like to have the tension changed much (just go to modal and that's about it.) Yes watch out for burrs, sharp edges. Use sand paper. Different bridges make for different tones. Personally I like the heavy Sampson bridges for Nylguts, evens out the tone/more mellow/softer. They last 2-3 years until the fret wire thins the strings in spots and knocks out their intonation. Whatever floats your canoe. banjered
You could try plain nylon strings, these days I think La Bella is the only regular supplier of banjo sets. They don't break as easily as nylguts. An alternative to plain nylon is PVF carbon nylon strings. These are sold as lute strings by Pyramid and Savarez, and are available in a variety of gauges. They're a little higher tension than plain nylon. You can actually get away with thinner gauges.
Thanks all for the suggestions! I'll definitely look into possible sharp burrs etc as a starting point. Thanks again
Bill Rogers (Moderator)
I can’t help you on Nylguts, since I don’t use them. I use “hard-tension” or ‘high-tension” nylon guitr strings. I find them loud, punchy and able to maintain a tension close to that of. Steel strings, which makes transitions between nylon-strung and steel-strung banjos easy.l. I just bought a bunch of indidually-gauged guitar strings and tinkered until I was happy with the feel and tone. IMO, if you’re having trouble with Nylguts, make up a set of lhigh-tension strings and see how ilt works for you. Similaar diaameters to your Nylgut set should be a good starting point.
My Nylgut set is going on two years without a breakage. Upon advice from this group, I swapped out the fourth string for a wound 0.28, and that gives a nice "growl" on the low end. Otherwise they are stable as heck. I don't retune them much if at all, though.
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