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Blues on nylons
March 28, 2010 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Is it worthwhile to learn blues on a classical guitar?

I have a great classical guitar on which I play some regular classical pieces and I am fairly decent with it. I really want to learn blues and hope to do so on this guitar. But I have very rarely seen any blues being played on nylons.

Would it be a sacrilege? Should I buy an acoustic or electric?
posted by raheel to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
My old guitar teacher played all kinds of music, including blues, on his classical. It sounded great. The wider neck makes certain things more difficult, and the sound it certainly different, but it can absolutely be done.
posted by ORthey at 2:26 PM on March 28, 2010


Would it be a sacrilege? Should I buy an acoustic or electric?

No. Blues is a form, it doesn't rely on a particular type of guitar, or even instrument for that manner.

If you are asking if there are techniques for playing blues guitar that are specifically reliant on using a steel string vs. nylon, then I'm not sure; but none I can think of. The only thing I can think that might cause you trouble is if you don't have the finger strength to do stuff like bends if you move to a steel string...but you'll pick that up anyways.

Honestly, I would suggest trying some stuff out on the classical guitar and then figuring out how much you like playing blues before you go and buy a steel string acoustic or electric, if you really prefer the way blues sounds on one of those.
posted by dubitable at 2:27 PM on March 28, 2010


FWIW, I did the opposite. I have a great steel-stringed acoustic and I started to learn some classical pieces on it. Eventually I bought a cheapo classical guitar.

You can certainly learn to play the blues on nylon strings, but I'd imagine you'd want steel strings or an electric once you start to gain proficiency. As far as acoustic/electric, it really matter what style of blues you wanna play....Robert Johnson blues or Albert King blues?
posted by gnutron at 2:28 PM on March 28, 2010


With regard to "Would it be a sacrilege?," after playing guitar for many years, I have come up with one thing I always tell myself: If it sounds good, do it. Beyond that, if you're looking to just learn the blues, I don't see any reason that a nylon would hinder learning it, but you're obviously not going to get the same sound as someone playing the blues on another kind of guitar. However, if you get into playing the blues on your nylon and you just don't like the sound or it's not working out, I'd recommend an electric because of how versatile they are and most of the time they're easier to play than acoustics.
posted by Chan at 2:31 PM on March 28, 2010


Well, it certainly doesn't stop William Beauvais.
posted by scruss at 3:13 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nylon strings are not going to make as much of a sound if you use a slide. Other than that, should work just fine.
posted by ctmf at 5:02 PM on March 28, 2010


Is it worthwhile to learn blues on a classical guitar?

Totally right ON it is!

Blues are sweet on nylon strings.

But like gnutron, I learned some classical pieces on steel-string... now that, I would not really recommend for everyone.
posted by ovvl at 8:00 PM on March 28, 2010


It's not blues, but Willie Nelson has played the same nylon string guitar forever. It's not the sound you traditionally hear in country music, but it sounds AWESOME.
posted by nosila at 8:34 PM on March 28, 2010


No reason not to. If anything playing on the higher action of a classical guitar will improve your finger strength if you ever do get an electric or a Western-style guitar. You'll find those easier to finger and play.
posted by bardic at 8:43 PM on March 28, 2010


Why not? Lots of blues is fingerpicked and you're halfway there with classical technique.

I don't know about improving finger strength, though. My classical guitar is hilariously easy to play compared to my steel-string acoustic and most of my electrics...
posted by mmoncur at 9:47 PM on March 28, 2010


Not only all of the above, but I find, for my blues guitar technique, a classical guitar has a "fuller/richer" sound. I find the steel string more "mechanical" sounding. A lot of the choice depends on which sounds/tones/timbres you are looking to produce.
posted by telstar at 1:16 AM on March 29, 2010


You can learn any style on an acoustic nylon string guitar. Don't buy anything. Buying things is bad if you really want to learn to play the blues.
posted by nicolin at 4:28 AM on March 29, 2010


I found that strings didn't bend the same as on a steel string -- you'll have to bend farther to get the same tonal change as on a steel string. Other than that, should be the same...and you'll have nice strong limber hands for when you get on a narrower neck.
posted by toastchee at 6:51 AM on March 29, 2010


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