Every player of the classical guitar sooner or later gets to hear of one of the most prestigious names in guitar strings: Augustine. Like every major string maker including D’Addario, Savarez, La Bella and others, Augustine strings for the classical guitar too have many variants.
These variations in string sets can be numerous and bewildering to the uninitiated. There are not only different tensions of string – low, medium and high – but they often co-exist in the same set with the trebles and basses in differing tensions. There are also different materials – silver or bronze coated basses, nylon or carbon trebles among others.
With so many variations, it’s hard to tell offhand which particular set will ideally suit your guitar. This guide aims to explain the popular options Augustine offers so that you can make an informed choice on which variation is the right one for you. The right set of strings can really make your guitar sing!
It helps to know that Augustine was the pioneer in introducing nylon strings for the classical guitar, gradually replacing the earlier animal gut strings. Egged on by the great Andrés Segovia himself, Albert Augustine, a Danish luthier who migrated to America, got himself fully engaged in figuring out special treatments of nylon which he sourced from DuPont. The rest, as they say, is history.
The longer lasting, more reliable nylon strings had a louder sound, a more consistent tone and didn’t break during concerts. The specially treated nylon strings became a big hit with the Spanish maestro as well as other professional guitarists.
Today, the company produces about 2 million string sets per year. Brand ambassadors for Augustine include international artists such as Uros Baric, Beijing Guitar Duo, Jason Vieaux and Meng Su among dozens of others. We take nylon strings for granted, but someone like Augustine had to invent them in the first place.
You can begin by thinking of Augustine classical guitar strings as 4 broad variations with sub-variants within each:
- Augustine Classic: Blue, Red, Black, Gold
- Augustine Imperial: Blue, Red, Black, Gold
- Augustine Regal: Blue, Red, Black, Gold
- Augustine Paragon: Blue, Red
AUGUSTINE CLASSIC RANGE
The Classic line of Augustine strings aims at replicating the original nylons of the company – the very strings that Segovia used and made famous. These are Medium Tension treble strings made of a nylon monofilament resin developed by DuPont for what is known as a ‘classic’ sound – sweet and beautiful.
Obviously, given all the technological advances since the original was invented, the modern Classic line has improved intonation and consistency.
The entire Classic line of strings shares the same medium tension trebles. So what’s with the color labels of Red, Blue, Black and Gold that get tagged on to the Classic variant? This has to do with the tension of the bass strings.
The Augustine Classic Blue set of classical guitar strings, for instance, pairs the normal tension trebles with high tension bass strings. The Classic Black set pairs the same trebles with low tension bass strings. Here’s the brief description of these sub-variants for your easy reference:
Augustine Classic Blue
Medium tension nylon Classic nylon trebles paired with high tension basses for a “vintage sound of the old masters.” Ease of play and full tone. Basses are high-tension nylon multifilament wound with silver-plated copper. In fact, all of the variants in the Classic line make use of only silver-plated copper basses (except for the Gold sub-variant, which you can read about below). You can check out Augustine Classic Blue strings on Amazon.
Augustine Classic Red
Normal tension nylon trebles paired with medium tension basses. It is surely Augustine’s most comfortable set. It’s an excellent choice for beginners or players in their early stages of the guitar journey. Simply because normal tension strings (in this case, both trebles and basses) are easy to play, requiring nothing more than normal pressure to press and keep a string down.
High tension strings are typically more exacting on the left-hand fingers for they require more effort to keep them down. Advanced players prefer high tension strings because they have the technique to apply the pressure required, which elicits a more expressive sound. The basses are nylon multifilament wound with silver-plated copper.
Check out the popular Augustine Classic Reds on Amazon.
Augustine Classic Black
Probably the closest in tone to the original nylons. These are the original strings with lower tension trebles although Augustine still categorizes them as normal tension. These are paired with low tension bass strings, a somewhat unusual combination. The low tension nylon basses are nylon multifilament wound with silver plated copper. This again is a favorite with beginners and early-stage players for its easy playability and the ‘Augustine sound’.
Check out Augustine Classic Blacks on Amazon.
Augustine Classic Gold
This variant is like the Classic Red in that both the trebles and basses are of normal tension but the basses are not silver-plated copper. They are brass plated copper wire, called ‘gold’ for marketing reasons, no doubt. This plating gives the bass strings a certain brightness that some players like. Flamenco guitarists will invariably prefer the Classic Gold just for its bright tone. If that’s your idea of how basses should sound, it could be your perfect choice too. Since all the strings are of normal tension, easy playability is assured.
Check out Augustine Classic Gold strings on Amazon.
AUGUSTINE IMPERIAL RANGE
As a natural evolution of the original Augustine nylon trebles, the company formulated a newer set of what it calls Premium Crystal nylon trebles. Concert artists who belong to Augustine’s “Family of Artists” invariably prefer these modern Premium Crystal trebles. These feature in all the Imperial variants (and also in the Regal variants as we will shortly see.)
All the sets in the Imperial sets have the same trebles mentioned above and all of them are medium tension strings. You can match these with your preference of silver-wound basses to make up your set. These trebles are known for their softer attack while offering more sustain to the sound.
The Imperial series is divided into four colors denoting the tension of the bass strings. Blue is high tension, red and gold are medium tension, and black is low tension – all pertaining to the bass strings. The basses are all silver plated except for the gold set, which is brass plated, providing a brighter sound. Pretty much the same use of colors as in the Classic set.
Augustine Imperial Blue
Premium Crystal nylon medium tension trebles paired with high tension basses. This blends a good mid-range with sparkling highs. It’s a good option for players who want power with nuance within an overall lighter touch. The high tension basses are silver-plated copper. Check out Augustine Imperial Blues on Amazon.
Augustine Imperial Red
Imperial medium tension trebles boast superior clarity and power. Paired here with medium tension basses, it’s an ideal combination of presence and playability. Premium medium tension Crystal nylon trebles with medium tension basses of silver plated copper. This is a popular choice of guitarists at all levels for its signature sound. Check out Augustine Imperial Reds on Amazon.
In a similar fashion to the Classic variation, the Imperial Black set pairs the same trebles with low tension basses of silver-wound copper. And the Imperial Gold set pairs the same trebles with brass plated copper basses for a brighter sound.
AUGUSTINE REGAL RANGE
All sets in the Regal series have the same trebles, which are of higher tension than the trebles in the Imperial series. They all have the clear Cristal nylon trebles. The treble strings are also thicker than the ones in the Imperial series: each one is .02mm larger in diameter. These differences make the Regal sets punchier, with a louder attack and less sustain. They’re also brighter than trebles in Augustine’s Classic series.
Again, with the use of colors, the Regal sets are differentiated by the tension in their bass strings. The Regal Blue basses are high tension, Regal Red and Regal Gold basses are medium tension, and Regal Black basses are low tension. The basses are all silver plated except for the Gold set, which is brass plated, providing its own distinct sound. We know the color routine well by now. It’s the same across all the variations.
Augustine Regal Blue
High tension Regal trebles paired with high tension basses. It’s the kind of combination that concert artists and advanced players prefer for optimal bell-like tone clarity overall. The bass strings are high tension silver-plated copper basses as with most of Augustine variants. At whatever level you are, if high tension is your thing, this is a great and reputed set to try out. Check out Augustine Regal Blues on Amazon.
Augustine Regal Red
Again, it’s Premium Crystal Regal trebles with their vaunted clarity paired with medium tension basses of silver-plated copper. This is for a “blend of power and refinement” as the company terms it. Check them out on Amazon – Augustine Regal Reds.
In a similar fashion to the Classic and Imperial variations, the Regal Black set pairs the same trebles with low tension basses of silver-wound copper. And the Regal Gold set pairs the same trebles with brass plated copper for a brighter sound.
AUGUSTINE PARAGON RANGE
The Paragon series gives us the Augustine carbon trebles instead of nylon. In recent times, carbon string trebles – made of fluorocarbons – are all the rage among many a classical guitar player for their brightness and volume.
Paragon carbon treble strings “deliver a bright, crisp, sound with brilliant projection.” Paired with Augustine Classic basses, Paragon is Augustine’s version of a modern fusion that is rated pretty highly by artists and weekend players alike.
According to the company, Augustine Paragon string sets “feature an organic quality that other carbon strings lack.” The two different Paragon variations have to do with your preference of Augustine silver-wound bass strings to complete the set.
Augustine Paragon Blue
This set is a reputed one with advanced guitarists especially – you get the crisp tones that carbon players like without losing the organic warmth of traditional nylon. High tension fluorocarbon trebles are paired with high tension basses of silver-plated copper. Available on stringsbymail.com, a popular outlet for classical guitar strings.
Augustine Paragon Red
Medium tension carbon trebles paired with medium tension bass strings of silver-plated copper. The medium tension basses maximize presence and overall the set plays well even in the hands of non-experts. As we’ve already seen, medium tension makes for easier playability and accounts for the popularity of this variant. If you want to enter the exciting world of carbon strings, this set is your fantastic introduction. Check out Augustine Paragon Red strings on Amazon.
I’d like to leave you with a nice review of Augustine trebles in their various broad categories – Classic, Imperial, Regal and Paragon – done by international guitarists Uros Baric and Karmen Stendler. Sure, they are sponsored artists of the Augustine company but it’s an informative, comparative review all the same.
Augustine strings video review by Uros Baric
A note on Augustine bass strings for classical guitar
As with all major brands of strings, you can purchase Augustine strings in bits and pieces if you like and not always as full sets. If you’re interested in their famous bass strings, here are some pointers.
As noted, Augustine basses are differentiated by colors for different tensions. Three of the four bass types are composed of nylon multifilament yarn wrapped in silver-plated copper wire. And the fourth one is the brass-plated copper wire, branded as ‘Gold’.
- Blue: high tension basses
- Red: medium tension basses
- Black: low tension basses
- Gold: medium tension basses wrapped with brass-plated copper wire
Every Augustine string set has one of these bass sets matched with various trebles, creating quite a few combinations for you to experiment with. All the variants are world class in quality, so all that matters is which one appeals to your taste.
And in the end, that’s all there is to it. Experiment, experiment, experiment. Till you find the sound that you like.
While you’re at it, considering fine strings for your guitar, you may do well to also read up about another fabulous name in classical guitar strings: the German brand Hannabach. Check out my Hannabach guitar strings review.
For some unusual sets of strings made from unusual materials, read my review of Aquila Strings.
If you need some starting help in going about choosing strings for your guitar, I’d suggest the article 5-Step Guide to Choosing your Guitar Strings.