I find that picking the right flamenco guitar strings is usually a very fun process. As with all other types of guitars, in flamenco guitar, the goal is to find the best string model that we like the most and with which we feel the most comfortable.
I often compare this process with finding a new guitar. We will test several models to try to find THE right one. The advantage compared to finding a guitar is that guitar strings are much cheaper. Most strings sets are sold for less than 20$.
In this article I selected the 6 best strings for flamenco guitar that I tried (except the last one that I will try soon). Over the years I have been able to find the brand and model of string that I like the most and with which I have the best sensations.
Here are the 6 flamenco strings that I recommend:
- Savarez Tomatito High Tension Flamenco Strings
- D’Addario Pro Arte EJ25B Custom Tension
- Savarez Alliance HT 540J High Tension
- La Bella 2001 Flamenco Light Tension
- Savarez Alliance HT 540R Normal Tension
- La Bella Vivace High Tension
Before discovering the selection, let’s start with an important reminder:
High or normal tension? Which one to choose for a flamenco guitar?
When choosing a new set of strings, it is important to know your preference: do you prefer normal or high tension strings? This is especially important for the flamenco guitar. I will now briefly explain the difference between these two types of strings.
With high tension strings, the sound tends to be powerful and deep. By contrast, normal tension strings may be easier to play because the diameter is smaller. The sound tends to be more colorful and subtle.
Features of normal tension / low tension:
- an easier and more comfortable playing experience
- a fast and technical playing experience
- good for old guitars or entry-level guitars because the tension is low
- more vulnerable because they are thinner
Features of the high tension:
- produces a more powerful sustain
- harder to play because the fingers have to put a high pressure on the strings
- increases the tension on the guitar
I advise beginners who may have finger pain while playing guitar to choose normal or light tensions. The diameter of the string will be smaller than a high tension and your fingers will thank you.
In general, rhythm players (Catalan rumba…) are generally more comfortable with high tension strings with a powerful sound. Personally, I like very much the rhythmic style in flamenco and I feel with high tension strings.
I created a book for all the flamenco rumba aficionados. Inside, you’ll find 31-chord progressions that are fun to play no matter what your level is (they sound really “flamenco rumba”)!
Here is an example of a chord progression that I play and that you will find in the book :
1) Savarez Tomatito high tension strings
After testing several sets of strings at high tension (my preference), the Savarez Tomatito strings are the ones I always choose when I change strings.
They are perfect for flamenco guitar but also for world music, especially South American music such as bossa nova.
Price : 17,61$
I do a lot of rumba and these are clearly my favorite strings. As you can see above, I have a small stock. I play every day for about 1 hour and these strings last me almost for 1 month. Oxidation can be seen from 15-20 days.
On these strings, I particularly like the deep bass. It’s a very balanced string set and the trebles also have a lot of sparkle. For information, Tomatito is a major flamenco guitarist and these strings are the result of a collaboration between Savarez and himself.
Read more about Savarez:
The history of Savarez begins in 1770 when the Savaresse family, who left Italy for Paris, began to produce strings from animal gut.
They became suppliers to the French royal court. In 1843, the King of France Louis-Philippe even gave Savarez royal status. Over the years, Savarez has developed a lot, including being the first in the world to produce strings for classical guitar with different tensions.
Today, Savarez strings are still quite popular. They are produced in France near Lyon in Caluire-et-Cuire.
2) D’Addario Pro Arte EJ25B custom tension
These EJ25B D’Addario strings are part of the Pro Arte series and are dedicated to both classical and flamenco guitar. They are called “custom tension” but this is similar to a normal tension.
The distinctive feature of these strings is that the nylon trebles are black. Personally, I prefer classical nylon trebles but I know that some people are fond of this kind of detail.
Price : 21,30$
On a flamenco guitar, these strings bring a typical Spanish sound with round basses and clear trebles.
Read more about D’Addario:
D’Addario has been making strings since the end of the 17th century. It is once again an Italian family business like Savarez. It was founded by Donato D’Addario and the first strings were produced from animal gut.
With the technological progress of the time, D’Addario was able to innovate and grow. In 1905, the company moved to America in Queens, New York. At that time, they only produced strings for the violin, but with the growing popularity of the guitar, D’Aaddario began making guitar strings in 1920.
Today, it is one of the most popular string brands among guitarists. Both professionals and beginners use it. According to an interview of Vicente Amigo from an Italian magazine, the artist uses D’Aaddario strings in normal tension.
3) Savarez Alliance HT Classic 540J high tension
For people who like high tension, Savarez 540J strings are excellent for flamenco guitar. It is one of the cheapest sets on this list, yet the life span of these strings is very good!
Price : 15,11$
The sound is very balanced, brilliant and bright. Even if these strings are not necessarily dedicated to flamenco playing, they still sound very good on a flamenco guitar. They usually stabilize in a few days, which is very appreciable.
4) La Bella 2001 Flamenco Light Tension
These flamenco guitar strings have a light tension which makes the playing easier and more comfortable. These La Bella 2001 Flamenco Light Tension strings are the cheapest on this list but remain durable!
Price : 12,85$
With these strings you will have a balanced and brilliant set with a typical Spanish sound. As for the D’Aaddario EJ25B, the last 3 strings are in black nylon. You must like it!
Read more about La Bella:
In the 17th century, Salle in Italy was considered the main string production center in Europe. The most important producers were families, including the Marie family. It was the Marie family who founded La Bella and it all started with the production of strings from animal intestines.
In 1913, two brothers of the Marie family, Emilio and Olinto, left for the United States. In New York, they began to produce strings from intestines and steel in their small Manhattan apartment. La Bella strings became popular and the brothers began to expand production.
In 1914, the first small factory on Fifth Avenue was opened. The dream of two Italian immigrants was thus realized. In 1922, they opened a second factory in their native region of Abruzzo. Since 1981, the production of La Bella strings is primarily made in a factory in Newburgh, New York.
Today La Bella sells several types of strings for different instruments: Flamenco Guitar, Classical Guitar, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Banjo, etc.
5) Savarez Alliance 540R Normal Tension
The Savarez 540R are the same as the third strings I have introduced, but this is the version with normal tension. Usually I tend to like high tension strings, but I tested these strings before adopting the Tomatito, and I remember I liked them.
Price : 17,61$
On these strings, the basses are round and the trebles bright. And you can play flamenco style with them. The sound is clear but powerful enough for a normal tension. I recommend them if you don’t like La Bella light tension ones.
6) La Bella Vivace Hight Tension
I haven’t yet tested the La Bella Vivace at high tension but I discovered them via a YouTube video and found the sound not bad at all! Here is the video:
After doing some research, it seems that the transition from low to high notes is much smoother than on other sets. Note that the trebles are made of fluocarbon which would bring an even greater brilliance.
Price : 19,87$
So I will soon exchange my Tomatito strings to test this set of strings which is however a little more expensive than the others.
2 Tips to take care of your flamenco strings
If you want to increase the longevity of your strings, wipe your guitar strings with a damp cloth after playing. This will prevent corrosion on the surface of your strings, which is usually seen on all sets of strings after about 15 hours of playing.
If your strings are already worn out and you don’t have a set of strings on hand, there is a little trick. Remove the strings from your guitar and run them under water, rubbing them lightly with washing-up liquid. This procedure is laborious but if you really want to give a second life to worn strings, you should give it a try.
To avoid this last situation, I advise you to always carry an emergency spare set of strings in your guitar case. When you’re on the road it can be very handy!
I made this selection according to my order of preference but be aware that the choice depends solely on your tastes and preferences. I therefore strongly recommend that you test several sets of strings.
You may like the bass strings of one model, and the treble strings of another model. You can even make combinations of strings as some professional guitarists do. For example, bass strings with high tension and treble strings with normal tension.
Paco de Lucia himself liked to put an extra high tension string for the 2nd string (B). He also liked to choose a brand for each string. Moreover, he did not change the treble strings before 6 months because according to him these strings would sound better and better as time went by. On the other hand, he changed the bass strings every day or every other day! (to learn more : video 1 + video 2)
Usually the flamenco style of playing must be powerful and brilliant, and that is why high tensions are more suitable. But this is just a detail and you can play on normal tension strings like Vicente Amigo.
When you will be in this period of string comparison, I advise you to note the date of replacement of the strings on their package. This will allow you to note the “start of life” and “end of life” dates of your strings to see which model is the most durable for you. This will help you to know which strings to choose.