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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Trigger



'scuse me while I kiss the sky.
Nov 3rd, 2016 07:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

Trigger, Willie Nelson's iconic Martin N-20 nylon-string classical guitar is always strung with steel strings on the E,A & D strings. As opposed to the usual steel wrapped nylon strings.
Ive often wondered what detrimental effect this added tension has on a classical guitar vs benefit gained. Certainly it's done some hard miles but I don't believe the added tension is to blame.
Any comments?

Contributing Member


Christian Slater
Nov 3rd, 2016 10:37 PM   Edit   Profile  

The danger of increased tension is damage to the bridge, because a classical-style bridge does not have the string balls anchored beneath the bridge, inside the body.

Instead, the strings are anchored at the back of the bridge, on the guitar's top. This is dangerous because the increased string tension can pull the bridge off the face of the guitar.

With a traditional flat-top bridge, the string pins lock the string balls not beneath the bridge itself, but beneath an internal bridge plate glued beneath the top of the guitar. So the strings are not simply pulling on the bridge--they're pulling on the entire top.

This is what a bridge plate looks like inside a flat-top.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Nov 4th, 2016 03:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

The longer-term risk is deformation of the top. If you look at the guitar edge-on from the treble side, the cumulative force of the strings tends to rotate the bridge clockwise, raising the action and causing a hump south of the bridge and a hollow in the sound hole area.

The relatively light fan bracing in a classical guitar is not as effective in resisting this as the X-bracing in a steel-string acoustic. Even so, all but the most overbuilt steel-string acoustics eventually succumb to the constant pressure, it's the main reason they eventually need neck resets.

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 05:31 PM, Nov 4th, 2016)

Contributing Member

Hemet, SoCal

Let's do the Funky Alphonzo
Nov 6th, 2016 11:24 PM   Edit   Profile  

Somehow I doubt that Willie is worried about the damage this may do to his


FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Trigger

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