There are many technological elements which may determine your guitar string selection. The properties of the sound and response of a particular string can have a significant impact on both you and the instrument. The relative hardness of a string's component parts in conjunction with the various treatments the strings undergo during manufacturing, may combine to create different levels of sustain, tone, playing feel and string life.
The best guitar strings in the world (subjective I know), will not make a bad guitar sound wonderful but a set of even average strings will render lifeless the sound of a great hand crafted guitar. So choosing the best possible set of guitar strings for your hand made guitar should be your goal. Having invested in the guitar, a relatively modest amount of time and money will bring the very best sound out of your new charge.
Classical and flamenco guitar strings are made of materials such as fluorocarbon, nylon and other similar synthetic materials. The bass strings may have a threaded or solid core which is covered with windings of various metals and nylon.
The sound of classical guitar strings varies widely, depending upon the materials used and the manufacturing processes involved. In general nylon based strings offer a warmer sound colour and more sustain. Fluorocarbon based strings generally provide a brighter sound colour and offer a more powerfully projecting sound with less sustain. Titanium based strings are another variety of classical guitar strings. They are a variation of the nylon strings with typically a more powerful high end and less mid range.
Finding The Best Guitar Strings For Your Hand Crafted Guitar
There are three main parameters to consider when selecting strings: tension, string material and string quality.
Tension - guitar strings appropriate for classical and flamenco guitars are made with different tension options. Low tension sometimes labelled as moderate or light, normal or medium tension, hard or high tension and occasionally extra high tension (not recommended).
String Material - classical and flamenco guitar treble strings are typically made with clear or refined nylon. Clear nylon strings are produced and then adjusted for accuracy. Corrected nylon strings are produced and then smoothed to produce a string that will play in tune. Treble strings can also be made of carbon fibre or other composite material. Bass strings are usually made of bronze wire or silver plated copper wire, wound around a core of fine threads.
Selecting The Appropriate String Tension For You And Your Guitar
After buying a luthier made classical or flamenco guitar, it is a good idea to try out various different string sets or string combinations to find out what works best for the player and instrument alike. This is because no two hand made guitars will have the same tension and each player has their individual style and feel of playing their guitar.
I personally recommend buying sets of low, medium and high tension of the same string series and manufacturer, try each set on your guitar and once each set is played in, record yourself playing several different pieces of music so that you can listen to how each set sounds on your guitar. Then taking into account your playing feel and experience with each set, you will have a good idea which level of string tension works best for you. Now you can narrow down the manufacturer you like without spending a fortune and don't be afraid to mix and match basses and trebles from different sets and manufacturers to find your desired sound.
Here is a list of all of string manufacturers that I have been able to find online that produce strings suitable for classical and flamenco guitars. I am sure there are others but this list gives plenty of room for experiment.
Aquila Strings, Aranjuez Strings, Augustine Strings, Black Diamond Strings, D'Addario Strings, Dean Markley Strings, Dr. Junger, Dogal Strings, DR Classical Strings, Felipe Conde Strings, Galli Strings, GHS Strings, Giannini Strings, Hannabach Strings, Hense Strings, John Pearse Strings, Knobloch Strings, La Bella Strings, Luthier Strings, Martin Strings, Oasis Strings, Optima Strings, Philippe Bosset Strings, Pyramid Strings, Ramirez Strings, Rotosound Strings, Royal Classics Strings, Savarez Strings, Sound Generation Strings, Thomastik-Infeld Strings.
Having invested good money in a beautiful hand crafted guitar, have fun and don't be afraid to experiment with string sets to develop the full potential of your masterpiece.