The classical nylon-string guitar is a wildly popular stringed instrument found around the world. An integral part of stringed instruments, as their name would suggest, are the strings.
There are plenty of classical guitar brands and models out there. To offer even more variety to these beautiful instruments, numerous companies produce classical guitar strings.
Finding the best strings for your classical guitar largely dependent on your particular instrument and preferred playing style. Though the brand of strings is far from the most important factor, it’s worth considering. With so many brands out there, we’ll focus our attention, in this article, on the top 10 best classical guitar string brands on the market.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Variety of guitar strings
- Performance of the strings
- Currently in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The top 10 best classical guitar string brands on the market are:
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 10 best classical guitar string brands. I’ll share their country of origin; a bit of history; an example of a notable set of strings, and a link to their official website.
La Bella is one of the most recognized and trustworthy options for nylon strings in the world today.
Drawing on a rich heritage from 17th-century Italy, La Bella Strings was officially founded in 1914 when brothers Emilio and Olinto Mari opened the first La Bella string factory on 5th Avenue in New York City. Since 1981, the company manufactures all strings in its Newburgh facility, which are enjoyed by classical guitarists around the world.
Regarded by some as one of the finest classical guitar strings manufacturers, the company offers a wide variety ranging from traditional nylon and silver-plated wound strings to fluorocarbon, black and gold nylon, and golden alloy. Moreover, their Professional Series 500P is tarnish-proof, rust-proof, and regarded as the best in the market for touring musicians.
Notable classical guitar strings: 500P Professional (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
La Bella was founded in 1913 by Emilio and Olinto Mari in New York City, New York, USA. Today, the company is headquartered in Newburgh, New York.
Official website: labella.com
La Bella is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Savarez’s story takes us back to 1770. The Savaresse family arrived at Lyon, France, and started making strings to supply the high demand of the European market. By the 1930s, the brand had established itself as an innovator, being among the first to embrace nylon as a string material. Finally, they were the first to offer classic strings in three different tensions.
But that’s not all, Savarez is often regarded as “the best money can buy” when it comes to classic guitar strings. No other brand in this list competes with the sound and attack of Savarez strings. Furthermore, their strings are available in regular nylon (520 series), Cristal (510 series), or KF Alliance (540 series).
The Cristal line represents the future in classic guitar strings because they are made with a different, improved kind of nylon which is clear instead of white and can potentially sound brighter while lasting for longer.
The KF Alliance strings, on the other hand, are produced from a composite monofilament that resembles carbon in strength and performance but is much gentler on the player’s hands.
If you are serious about your classical playing, you need to shift over to Savarez. Once you install a set of these strings on it, your instrument will sound like never before. If you want the best, Savarez is the answer.
Notable classical guitar strings: S.A. 500CJ New Cristal Corum High Tension Classical Guitar Strings (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
Savarez was founded in 1770 by the Savaresse family in Lyon, France. Today the company headquarters is located in Caluire et Cuire, France.
Official website: savarez.com
Like La Bella, D'Addario has a long history dating back to 17th century Italy. Nowadays, the company is synonymous with quality strings at affordable prices. Furthermore, D’Addario’s extensive OEM contracts ensure that, if you've ever tried out a guitar at a music shop, you have very likely played their strings at least once in your life.
This family-owned business has offices on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean among many other locations around the world. D'Addario strings find themselves in even further corners of the world. From classical nylon strings to electric bass strings, D'Addario has a reputation for being the tested-and-true benchmark for strings.
The company has been investing in sound innovation for decades and the results are just awe-inspiring. When it comes to classical guitar strings, the XT series is designed with carbon steel cores and a treatment to avoid corrosion is as good and high-tech as strings get. The Pro-Arté strings are fabricated with a computer-controlled X-Y laser micrometre which performs diameter and tension measurements, ensuring true-sounding precision in each and every set.
Notable classical guitar strings: Pro-Arte Classical Guitar Strings – Normal Tension (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
D’Addario was founded in 1974 by members of the D’Addario family in Lynbrook, New York. Today, the company headquarters is located in Farmingdale, New York, USA.
Official website: daddario.com
D'Addario is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Thomastik-Infeld is a string company founded in Vienna, Austria in 1919 by Dr. Franz Thomastik and Otto Infeld (a violin maker and civil engineer, respectively).
They might not have the same publicity or marketing investment as the bigger players, though the company's commitment to excellence puts them up there with the best of the best when it comes to classical guitar strings.
If you're a classically trained string player, perhaps you'll know Thomastik-Infeld quite well. The lack of mainstream popularity in the brand is due, in part, to a long heritage of classic, unfretted instrument strings. Indeed, they are one of the main brands in the world within that niche and their orchestral strings can be heard in the most prestigious concert halls around the world.
As you would expect, nylon and classical players will find in the Thomastik catalogue a wide array of options. Furthermore, the company offers a carbon-nylon hybrid material ensuring more accuracy, longevity, and precision. All classical strings come in high and medium tension.
Notable classical guitar strings: Classic S Rope Core Flatwound Acoustic Strings – Nylon/Silverplate Copper .016-.039 (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
Thomastik-Infeld was founded in 1919 by Dr. Franz Thomastik and Otto Infeld in Vienna, Austria. The company headquarters is still located in Austria today.
Official website: thomastik-infeld.com
Thomastik-Infeld is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Arguably, Martin is to the acoustic guitar what Fender is to the electric guitar. Thus, speaking of their strings is to talk about a company with the know-how and leverage to create the best strings to accompany the best instruments.
In case you are not familiar with them, Martin is the top flat-top brand in the world and has been building a steadfast reputation since its founding in 1833.
Martin’s string department offers enough options to accommodate most needs. Classical guitarists love the “Magnifico” classical strings made with a polymer that’s closer to the traditional feel and sound of gut strings than to nylon. Furthermore, if you buy a classic guitar from Martin and it comes from the Nazareth facility, it is strung with Magnifico.
Martin has been a leading guitar company for a long time. They are on the receiving end of all guitar-player comments on strings. Thus, buying any of their sets is to buy nearly two centuries' worth of leverage, passion, innovation, and hard work.
Notable classical guitar strings: Martin Magnifico Premium M265 Normal Tension (link to check the price on Amazon)
C. F. Martin & Company was founded in 1833 by Christian Frederick Martin in New York City. In 1839, the company relocated to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, USA, where it is still headquartered today.
Official Website: martinguitar.com
Martin is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Ernie Ball is the name of a man, a visionary musician, and entrepreneur who opened the first guitar-only shop in the USA in 1958. Unhappy with the stiffness of mainstream strings at the time, Ernie convinced a third-party guitar string manufacturer to create a non-wound, bendable string that he would sell at his store.
That iconic moment was the birth of the Slinkys, strings used by Sir Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Angus Young, and Joe Bonamassa among millions of others in 120 countries around the world. The true founding of the Ernie Ball company came in 1962 and since then, has built its reputation as one of the best guitar strings and accessories brands on the market.
Still, the company didn’t plateau at being Jimi Hendrix’s string of choice; they went further developing other lines that would accommodate other players. In that vein, they were among the first to experiment with cobalt, which enhances strings’ magnetic qualities and offers them for bass players too.
Nylon-string players can benefit enormously from the silver/nylon and bronze/nylon variety of Ernie Ball strings. With a long history of stellar products, it's no surprise Ernie Ball earns a spot as a top brand for classical guitar strings.
Notable classical guitar strings: Ernesto Palla 2409 Black & Gold Ball-End Nylon Classical Guitar Strings – Medium Tension (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
Ernie Ball was founded in 1962 by Ernie Ball in Tarzana, California. Today, the company headquarters is located in San Luis Obispo, California, USA.
Official website: ernieball.com
Ernie Ball is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Fender is a brand that needs no introduction. The company is best known for creating some of the most iconic instruments and amplifiers in the history of music as well as the best-selling guitar of all time: the Stratocaster.
The same passion applied to the instruments goes into their string department. Although not their primary selling point, strings like the “Bullets” are well-known and used around the world because they are the best match for Fender instruments.
Nylon-string players benefit from Fender strings wound with pure silver windings and premium-quality nylon for superior warmth and stability.
A company the size of Fender doesn’t simply disembark in a business niche; it always goes the extra mile to conquer it. Trying Fender strings on your instrument might or might not be a discovery, but they are sure to sound great.
Notable classical guitar strings: 130 Classical/Nylon Guitar Strings – Ball End (link to check the price at Sweetwater)
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation started out as “Fender’s Radio Service”, founded in 1938 by Clarence Leonidas Fender in Fullerton, California. In 1946, the company had its name changed to Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Fender began producing guitar pedals in 1954 with their first volume pedal. Today, the company is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.
Official Website: fender.com
Parent Company: Servco Pacific
Fender is featured in other top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Although most people associate Aquila with the best ukulele strings on the market, their classic guitar nylon strings are also remarkably musical. Indeed, they come in eight different types of brilliance and each can be purchased in any of the three tensions offered: light, normal, and superior.
Aquila is an Italian-based brand manufacturing its strings in their Italian facility still. It was founded in 1983 by Mimmo Peruffo, a student of baroque, renaissance, and classical periods. He was trying to emulate the sound of the Italian gut that made the country so popular back in the day when he came up with the “Nylgut” concept.
“Nylgut” is a variation of polymers that can replace nylon and provide plucked instruments with a similar feel to that of traditional gut employed in the early days of stringed instruments. This is as close to revolutionizing the traditional strings as it gets.
With a philosophy based on research and continuous improvement, Aquila has become one of the best classical guitar strings manufacturers. These strings are the next level for concert players around the world who need the exact punch and snap to perform classic pieces.
If you want to try out a new feel with outstanding sound, give Aquila Strings a chance.
Notable classical guitar strings: Alabastro Normal Set 19c (link to check the price on Amazon)
Aquila was founded in 1983 by Mimmo Peruffo and its headquarters is located in Vicenza, Italy.
Official website: aquilacorde.com
Hannabach Strings was born as a side project founded by Anton Hannabach in Eger, Bohemia, in 1869. He wanted to build musical instruments and needed the strings to sell them to the public, so he started making them by hand.
After World War II, the company was split in half and the string-making part settled in Egglkoffen where it still works today.
What this story tells us is that the knowledge acquired after four generations of string making goes inside the package of each Hannabach string.
Hannabach as a string brand enjoys a close reputation to Savarez with the distinction of being more related to classic and old instruments rather than modern music. That being said, you can buy carbon strings, PSP strings especially treated to avoid moving-hand sounds, and 24 karat pure gold strings for allergic players.
Hannabach is definitely a step up from most nylon strings companies in terms of sound, reliability, feel, and variety. If you haven’t yet, give Hannabach a try on your favourite classic guitar; you’ll never look back.
Notable classical guitar strings: 652527 Series 815 Silver Special Medium Tension String Set for Classic Guitar – Black (link to check the price on Amazon)
Hannabach Strings was founded in 1869 by Anton Hannabach in Eger, Bohemia. Today the company headquarters is located in Egglkofen, Germany.
Official website: hannabach.com
Parent company: Larsen Strings Holdings
Last but certainly not least, we have Augustine Strings.
12 years after DuPont discovered nylon, Albert Augustine introduced the first-ever nylon string. In fact, before they were called nylon strings, they were called Augustine strings.
To those who are not well-versed in the field of classic guitar and academic music, his name might not ring a bell but Albert Augustine Ltd. is a huge sponsor of classic music in the USA not only through donations but also through the annual presentations at the most prestigious colleges in NYC.
To this day, the company continues to innovate and manufacture some of the most prestigious nylon strings in the world. Despite not having the same reputation as Savarez and Hannabach, Augustine offers four types of class-A nylon strings.
The company offers a tonal chart to navigate the sounds of the different experiments that have helped shape the tone of the classic guitar. For example, their gold pack uses brass-plated copper to achieve the perfect balance between brightness and punch requested by wild flamenco players.
Also, the company’s revolutionary set of strings that changed it all continues to be offered unchanged in a black package. It took 60+ years for Albert to perfect the sound of those strings; they can surely change the way you relate to your instrument and take it to the next level sonically.
Augustine could be the premium brand you were looking for, sometimes coming back to the roots where it all started is the best choice.
Notable classical guitar strings: Classic Blue Set, High Tension Classical Guitar Strings (link to check the price on Amazon)
Augustine was founded in 1947 by Albert Augustine in New York City, New York. The company headquarters is located in Mount Vernon, New York, USA.
Official website: augustinestrings.com