Five Great Tips For Using A Nylon String Guitar On Stage

If you have a nylon-string acoustic guitar (also know as a classical guitar) that you plan to use live on stage, there are a few things you should know if you want the experience to go smoothly. Below, we look at five key tips that can help you get the most out of your nylon-string guitar in a live setting.




Talk To The Sound Guy

If you happen to own a nylon guitar with built-in pickups and a preamp, you will most likely just want to plug in directly to the PA and leave it to the sound engineer to get your sound right. While most sound guys should have experience with nylon-string guitars, some don’t and instead EQ it like a regular steel-string instrument.  That usually means scooped mids, enhanced highs and a balanced low-end. While that works on a normal acoustic, nylon-string guitars don’t need as much high-end crispness and require a fuller low-end midrange. Also, if you plan on using any percussive right-hand techniques, you’ll want them to add some slight compression.


Classical Acoustic Guitar Pickups

If you’re planning on playing in mid to large sized venue, a nylon acoustic equipped with a piezo under-saddle pickup is your best bet. Not only are they far more forgiving on nylon strings as compared to steel, making them less prone to the unwanted piezo quack, they are also great in terms of feedback rejection. If smaller gigs are more your thing, you can consider a contact pickup as they are easy to install and will give a much more natural sound.

Click here to check out our selection of acoustic pickups.



Acoustic Guitar Pickup Types - There are plenty of acoustic electric guitars out there that are built ready for the stage. Known as “stage-ready” acoustics or acoustic electric guitars, these instruments are able to convert sound waves into an electrical signal. You don’t have to buy them pre-built either as you can install pickup systems onto a normal acoustic as well. They come in a few varieties and work differently so depending on your needs, you might find that one fits the bill more than the others. We take a look at the various types of acoustic pickups for both steel-string and nylon-string guitars.




Have A Reliable Tuner

Any guitarist already knows that a fresh set of strings will go out of tune in a matter of minutes as they take time to settle in. With nylon strings, that process takes even longer so it is important that you always have a tuner nearby, either built-in, as a clip-on (like the excellent Snark or Fishman tuners) or even as a floor pedal, such as the TC Electronic PolyTune 2. If you have a fresh set of nylon strings, you should check your tuning after every song.

Click here to check out our selection of tuners.


Consider a Preamp For Your Nylon Acoustic

While the onboard preamps on many acoustic electric nylon guitars are serviceable, they often leave a lot to be desired in terms of EQ control. If that’s the case with your own instrument, a dedicated preamp can go a long way. While there aren’t a ton of options when it comes to preamps made specifically for nylon-string, classical guitars, the few that are out there happen to be excellent, such as the LR Baggs Venue DI. Notable features include an easily visible foot-switchable tuner, dual midrange EQ, XLR out, solo boost and feedback control settings. It can also run on either an AC adapter or batteries, in case an outlet is nowhere to be found. Another excellent choice is the Fishman Platinum acoustic preamp, featuring a similar level of high-fidelity pre-amplification, features, and EQ control, as well as an onboard compressor.

Click here to check out our selection of acoustic preamps.


nylon-string guitar fishman platinum preamp

Fishman Platinum DI Acoustic Preamp @ $299.95 -Completely redesigned from the ground up, the all-analog Platinum Pro EQ universal instrument preamp delivers incredibly accurate sonic detail for any acoustic instrument. A discrete, high-headroom Class-A preamp uses precision, high-speed circuitry for the highest fidelity and low distortion. Classic Fishman tone centers with sweepable mid is combined with a switchable guitar/bass EQ mode, making it more musical for bass instruments and more universal for recording and performing musicians. Purchase includes a FREE Fishman FT-2 Clip-On Tuner.




Amplification For Your Classical Guitar

The benefit of using an acoustic amp as part of your setup is that you can use it to further shape your sound, make use of any onboard effects, or have it act as an onstage monitor. And if you choose to then output that signal, you can leave the PA settings relatively flat and your amp can work as your EQ.

There are many great acoustic amps to choose from, such as the Loudbox series from Fishman. Loudbox amps come with plenty of useful features and settings including dual inputs (to connect a mic), built-in effects (such as Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Delay, Echo, and Slap Echo), phantom power and feedback control. If you're one of the growing numbers of solo performers, a dual input acoustic amp is a great choice.

Click here to take a look at more acoustic amplifiers.

Another choice to consider as far as amplification goes is a portable, all-in-one PA system. These can be highly effective for you guitar and voice. Fender’s Passport PA series or the JBL EON206P are excellent portable friendly choices that offer plenty of control options for tailoring your sound and provide more than enough power for most solo performers.

Click here to take a look at more portable friendly PA systems.


In Conclusion ...

While getting a nylon string, classical guitar to work great in a live environment isn't as easy as it is with an electric instrument, the advice and tips above should give you a solid idea of what to aim for. If you have any questions regarding the purchase of any of the products listed above or any other piece of gear we carry, don't hesitate to chat with one of our friendly PAL pros by using the live chat feature below or by calling us toll-free at 1 877-671-2200!



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What are some other tips that can help with using a classical guitar on stage?

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