As every player knows, a classical guitar uses nylon strings. More precisely, the treble strings – the high E, B and G strings – are made of unwound, monofilament material we commonly refer to as nylon. In recent decades, string manufacturers have experimented with other materials for the trebles – quite notably, carbon and titanium.
Carbon is short for fluorocarbon and is a real material (PVDF for the chemistry buffs). But titanium is short for… nothing in particular. It is pure marketing. Let’s clear this up before we discuss the strings.
What is Titanium nylon?
The famous and popular string maker Galli talk about their Titanium strings as being “composed of a revolutionary new titanium-nylon polymer.” It seems to imply there is actual titanium in the polymer. Fact is, there is no more titanium in titanium strings than there is platinum in your platinum credit card.
So what are titanium guitar strings?
The term “titanium” refers to the color of the trebles which is a result of the polyamide formula used in string production. There is no titanium present in titanium strings. The trebles are a type of nylon polymer blend, thicker in diameter like nylon rather than thin like carbon strings. The basses are the same basses used in other sets with no titanium windings.
Pure marketing to add perceived value, folks. This is not the first time companies have named and sold products this way nor will it be the last.
Having got that out of the way, this is not to say that titanium strings are unworthy. Quite the contrary. Titanium strings give you a brighter and different tone which you are likely to enjoy. They are not expensive. And they are popular with intermediate and advanced guitarists who want a clear, bright tone without it being shrill.
Galli claims that “the precisely calibrated treble strings are Galli’s latest contribution to musical excellence”. And there are many guitar players who will agree with that assertion.
Here are some popular titanium classical guitar strings you can try.
- D’Addario EJ45TT Titanium Guitar Strings
- Galli Genius Titanio Classical Guitar Strings
- RC Strings TTC30
- D’Addario XT Dynacore Titanium Classical Guitar Strings
- Hannabach 950 HT TITANYL High Tension
- Oasis Titanium Nylon MHT Classical Guitar Strings, Full Set
D’Addario EJ45TT Titanium Guitar Strings
D’Addario makes the most popular of all classical guitar strings – the EJ45. It has its titanium version in the EJ45TT, also normal tension. These trebles are slightly brighter than the Pro Arté nylon trebles and still sweet. Check out the EJ45TT on Amazon.
A good benefit of this set is that the titanium trebles are paired with Dynacore basses with very present overtones. The bass strings are known for their elastic quality and powerful sound rather than the stiff feel that many bass strings have. Together, the basses and trebles are well-balanced tonally.
An online user with the highly-rated Hannabach 815LT strings (regular nylon, not titanium) says he was struggling with some tremolo parts but as soon as he changed to the EJ46TT he found the going surprisingly smooth. It had to do with the soft, flexible feel of the strings according to the user.
D’Addario Titanium strings are also known for their volume and projection. The well known retailer Strings By Mail, in its evaluation, terms these trebles “a bright, edgy sound that seems to work well on spruce top instruments especially.”
There is an extra hard tension titanium variant also – for those guitars built to take extra tension: the D’Addario EJ44TT (Amazon link).
And if you want a half-set – just the titanium trebles – you can check out the D’Addario TNN-3T Pro Arte at Amazon.
D’Addario Pro-Arté Titanium Dynacore is a serious contender in this category where “each treble string is laser sorted for unsurpassed intonation consistency.” More Amazon links below:
D’Addario EJ45TT – Normal tension
D’Addario EJ46TT – Hard tension
D’Addario EJ44TT – Extra hard tension
Galli Genius Titanio Classical Guitar Strings
We’ve already mentioned Galli titanium strings. This brand, along with D’Addario’s version, wins the popular vote among advanced players especially. These titanium trebles are praised for their liveliness and my own preference is the normal tension variant (the hard tension is harder to play on my guitar).
Not only are the trebles stronger and brighter but the strings are also responsive to vibrato at lower frets. And the G string is not tubby sounding. The medium tension Galli Titanium high E string is clear and projects well without being shrill.
Galli Genius Titanio GR45 NT Classical Guitar Strings, Full Set at Strings by Mail.
Professional classical guitarists are known to perform and record on Galli Titanio Classical Guitar Strings and talk highly of their brilliance, complex tones and power.
RC Strings TTC30 Classical Guitar Strings
RC Strings is a Spanish brand well known for its quality string sets. The TTC30 is an unusual set because it is a combination of Titanium and Carbon strings. This unique classical guitar set has the first and second strings made of titanium, a carbon third string, and silver-plated basses. The carbon third provides a reinforced sound, something that most carbon string fanciers love over a tubby-sounding nylon third.
Like all RC Strings products, this set too comes with anti-corrosion treatment. You can check out RC Strings TTC30 on Amazon.
D’Addario XT Dynacore Titanium Classical Guitar Strings
The XTC series of strings from D’Addario is their extended life variant. XTC45TT combines the Pro-Arte Titanium treble strings and silver-plated wound Dynacore basses with an extended lifespan treatment, said to preserve the natural tone and feel of uncoated strings. Available in normal and hard tensions. Check out the D’Addario XTC45TT Titanium strings on Amazon.
The advanced corrosion resistance treatment on every wound string is the special feature of the set and the XTC45TT features the titanium trebles in normal tension. Titanium trebles provide brightness and projection “with a smooth, silky texture.”
The inner packaging features a re-sealable zip closure, for ease of opening as well as storage of unused strings.
Hannabach 950 HT TITANYL Classical Guitar Strings
The famous German brand has its titanium variant. Hannabach 950 Titanyl Series have basses with a “high strength flexible core that are wound with a silver alloyed wire, producing a sonorous tone with beautiful clear overtones.” The trebles are titanium plus nylon for a “clear brilliant sound with quick response.” They come in two tension variants (Amazon links).
The precisely round treble strings are made of TITANYL, which is a proprietary polyamide mixture of light grey color. They are known for their clear, distinct and brilliant sound. These are nicely paired with Hannabach’s silver-plated basses with a sonorous tone. Like most Hannabach strings, the Titanyl version is on the expensive side.
Oasis Titanium Nylon MHT Classical Guitar Strings
Oasis is a respected brand that also produces other accessories like humidifiers, guitar supports, tuners besides some excellent hand-wound classical guitar strings. Their medium-high tension version of titanium nylon trebles paired with their Sostenuto bass strings is a renowned combination. The tonal properties are outstanding and the strings score high on playability as well.
Check out the Oasis Titanium Nylon MHT strings at Strings By Mail.
If you find the medium-high tension not to your liking there is a medium tension variant as well. You will find discerning guitar players vouching for the quality and satisfaction of Oasis titanium online. Some go to the extent of saying these are the best ones in the category from all the ones they’ve tried.
So there’s a lot of choices in front of you if you want to try titanium strings first hand. It’s a good thing to remind yourself why you may want to do so in the first place.
Titanium classical guitar strings: good reasons to use them
The general consensus, at least among those who favor titanium strings, is that compared to nylon they have more power, sustain, brightness and a much less tubby G string. Those are serious advantages to have in a classical guitar sound right there.
Titanium trebles sound sweet with a diminished midrange with bell-like harmonics. They are bright overall – an edgy sound that sounds pleasing on spruce top instruments especially. Galli expands on this theme and says their Titanio trebles have “excellent sustain, great evenness and smoothness from note to note.”
The normal tension Galli Genius Titanio trebles are indeed known for their lively sound that is not harsh like some carbon strings. The sound of titanium trebles is often described as ‘steely’ like from a steel string with less midrange but pleasing nevertheless. Vibratos can be expressive and responsive.
Overall, if you love the sound of traditional nylon strings but want more volume and sustain, giving titanium strings a try is a great solution. Also, the strings come up to pitch fast and hold it well.
Yet, there are the naysayers. Those unimpressed by titanium strings, in general, say that there’s something in the initial attack – a ping – that is unsavory. Others say that titanium is not temperature resistant and detunes upwards when playing.
The ‘steely sweetness’ of titanium strings that many are fond of is the very thing that detractors find off-putting. They say the sweetness is excessive and cloying and they would any day prefer the sound of regular nylon trebles.
A few users say that while the increase in brightness and projection is undeniable, it does not last. It goes away in a few days and the strings sound dead like old strings. This has not been my personal experience but I’ve read a variation or two of this complaint here and there.
Each to his own, of course. But if you have to make up your mind, you will have to try a couple of brands mentioned here yourself. Perhaps a Galli or a D’Addario EJ45TT will persuade you completely. You won’t know till you try.
What could be valuable information to you is if you’ve already tried carbon strings before. There is a lot of comparison info available between carbon and titanium strings since they are distinct departures from the nylon norm. It’s worthwhile to look at that next.
Carbon trebles vs titanium trebles: What’s the difference?
Carbon strings are thinner, brighter and have a smoother initial attack. The high E can be notoriously bright to the point of being shrill. Carbons generally offer outstanding sustain.
Titaniums are thinner than nylon strings too but not as thin as carbon strings. Some, including me, find that carbons feel too thin to the touch and in that sense, titanium strings offer better tactile comfort. It’s of course very possible that how strings feel under your fingers may not even be a concern to you.
In terms of tone, many players find titanium trebles to be the happy middle ground between the too-warm nylons and too-bright carbons. This will depend on the guitar you own. As mentioned, titanium strings also have a steely sound which is neither good nor bad but simply a matter of taste.
Fluorocarbon strings lack the steeliness even though the sound is bright. Open chords sound crisper and harmonics clearer. Scales played up the neck may sound better on titanium strings while open chords ring better with carbons.
This sort of discussion of the sound, beyond a point, can get real subjective real fast. But what seems to be agreed upon among those who favor titanium over carbon is this: Titanium strings have the power of carbon without its over-brightness.
And for those who favor carbon over titanium, the main argument seems to be: better sustain, more brightness and nicer harmonics. For some, the ideal solution is to have a carbon G string (to cut out the infamous tubbiness of the third string – read all about it here) while having regular nylon B and high E strings.
Much depends on the guitar we own and how it reacts to various strings. Not to mention the set of ears we are blessed with and how they react to sound.
On the subject of classical guitar strings, there is a lot to learn and experiment with, given the huge number of excellent brands out there. If you need guidance on what options are available, you can check out my The Legendary World of Augustine Strings article as also a review of Hannabach Strings, the great German brand.
For a review of some unusual string sets made from unusual materials, check out my review of Aquila Strings: Very Good, Very Oddball.
For a more thorough understanding of how to go about finding the correct set of strings for your classical guitar, read my piece 5-Step Guide to Classical Guitar Strings.