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  #1  
Old 01-26-2010, 10:57 AM
ShinyBeast ShinyBeast is offline
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Default Progressive string tension

I ran across this idea on an other forum geared to electric players. The concept is to have string tension gradually increasing from the high e to the low E. Most of the standard sets have large tension jumps between strings, and the B and low E are usually floppier than the others. Anyway, I ordered a few single strings and tried it on an electric--and it works. Really feels great. I used the string tension chart from D'Addario and came up with .11, .15, .19, .28, .38 and .52. The basic change from standard sets seems to mean a heavier B, G and low E.

Has anyone ever tried this on an acoustic, or do any manufacturers have sets that follow this idea? As far as I can tell, the standard light and medium sets are all over the map, tension-wise. I've been looking at the D'Addario chart again and have come up with .12, .16, .22, .30, .42 and .59 (would be roughly the same for any string material). A set starting at .13 would be .13, .18, .24, .32, .45 and .62. The .59 and .62 seem like they would be hard to find, as most manufacturers seem to stop at .56.

Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone has ever tried anything like this and how it worked out before I started ordering strings. I have to say that it made a noticeable positive effect on my electrics.
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Old 01-26-2010, 12:30 PM
Misifus Misifus is offline
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How does it sound to you? It wouldn't cost much to order a custom set of strings and give it a try.

If it were me, I'd try to get the tension as equal as possible between each of the strings. However, the critical thing is to get the sound from each string as even as possible. I strongly suspect that's why the tension in stock sets are not perfectly uniform, it's to make the sound right. In the end, that's all that matters.

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Old 01-26-2010, 09:17 PM
mmmaak mmmaak is offline
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I'm not sure why it would really matter since we don't always play the strings in ascending or descending order. I think the "standard" gauges probably are that way for a good reason

(of course, there's no reason why we can't tailor them to our own preferences if need be)
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Old 01-28-2010, 06:46 AM
Jersyshorpicker Jersyshorpicker is offline
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Default progressive string tension

hi to all pickers,my first time here and i thankyou.to shiny beast,check this site out.-www.ZacharyGuitars.com. he puts out what he calls progressive-tension strings. quite a crazy site also. i have been playing his strings for a while now. i thank this great forum again. name is frank
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:38 AM
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Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
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Many of us have used higher gauge unwound strings (mediums, .013 & .017) with light gauge wound strings. I did this for over 10 years before switching to 24" scale guitars, which may require mediums across the board.
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  #6  
Old 01-28-2010, 09:49 AM
Explorer Explorer is offline
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I play eight-string electric guitar, and the stringing tension is fairly progressive (meaning increasing in tension from top to bottom). There have been some good conversations about it on the forums at sevenstring.org; thatís not surprising, since the seven- and eight-string guitars arenít all of the same scale length, and there are few stock string sets available. There is much better information, and much less name calling than on the site a previous poster mentions.

For electric extended range guitars (and Iíll get to acoustic guitars in a moment), there comes a point where one can have a great feeling tension at the bottom endÖ but the tone changes from the spanking, popping tone of guitar to the thud of the bass. In order to preserve that tone, people are going to longer scale lengths in order to use lighter strings with more body in the tone. Although I have a guitar with a low Bb0 at the 25.5Ē scale length, itís really a rarity for that site.

----

I use two main tunings on my acoustics, standard (for both E and for B baritone) and full fifths (C2 G2 D3 A3 E4 B4). All the guitars are 25.5Ē scale length, and are between OM and dreadnaught in size.

I find that I actually get better and more balanced sound using strings closer to the skewed tension common to acoustic sets. Even on the custom sets I put together myself for the full fifths tuning, the tension profile lightens up a bit on the bass string. I found that to be surprising, but even the string set I use for the baritone stringing on the standard-length Rainsong is close to a heavy set in terms of tension distribution.
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:08 AM
Kurt Kurt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
I find that I actually get better and more balanced sound using strings closer to the skewed tension common to acoustic sets. Even on the custom sets I put together myself for the full fifths tuning, the tension profile lightens up a bit on the bass string.
Big disclaimer here: I'm an English prof, certainly no engineer. I've wondered, though, about this 'skewed' tension in acoustic string sets from a builder's standpoint. I mean, the tensions aren't dramatically different from the outer to inner strings, but it is there -- almost parabola-like. My question for luthiers is whether this is an element in or factor of the construction and design of the bridge, and thus whether or not shifting to an even-tensioned string set might not potentially screw up the bridge or bracing, particularly in a hand-built guitar that typically is more lightly braced. I know that when I'm building string sets for alternate tunings, I try to stay with string gauges that mimic the tension, string by string, in a traditional .012-.054 set (acknowledging that string tensions do vary slightly between string makers and string types).

Again: Asking out of innocence and eagerness. Go easy on me, you scientific-engineering types. But I'm asking...
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:11 PM
Explorer Explorer is offline
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Kurt, although I'm not a builder, please allow me to share my own experiences on this.

I've had several guitars over the years on which I've experimented with gauges. Not all of them were completely traditional handbuilt guitars, and at this point, most of the all-wood guitars have been cleared out.

Over all those years of experimenting, on my all-wood guitars, on my Ovations, my Hohner Eclipse 12-string (that odd woven birch laminate bowlback they made), and on my Rainsongs, I've done experimenting to see what was the best stringing, judged by the sound coming from the instrument. Since I was working in a music store in the '80s, it was easy to order bulk strings for me, as easy as it is now with the internet. I also was fortunate to have resources for calculating string tensions, and I never took experimental sets to a higher total tension than the sets the instruments were built for.

All the guitars wound up sounding better with that parabolic arc of tension you notice, instead of straight or progressive tensioning. For me, it never even got to a question of strangely distributed string tensions, because I kept coming back to the norm for acoustic guitars.

Isn't that strange?
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:37 AM
Kurt Kurt is offline
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Thanks for the response and the sharing of experience! It strikes me that there's a technical reason for this 'curved' spread of guitar-string tensions, and it sounds as though your ear certainly has picked upon on this. I'm still curious as to how this varied tension has an effect on the bridge or bracing (or, conversely, how deviation from it might affect the bridge/bracing), and why luthiers adopt/adapt this seeming 'standard.' Anyone?
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Old 01-31-2010, 01:36 PM
Jean Martin Jean Martin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurt View Post
Thanks for the response and the sharing of experience! It strikes me that there's a technical reason for this 'curved' spread of guitar-string tensions, and it sounds as though your ear certainly has picked upon on this. I'm still curious as to how this varied tension has an effect on the bridge or bracing (or, conversely, how deviation from it might affect the bridge/bracing), and why luthiers adopt/adapt this seeming 'standard.' Anyone?
I am not a luthier but I have always wondered why some strings have to be tight and some loose, and after reading about these "progressive tension sets", I now - at least I think -understand why. I have learned that the observed string tension is relative to the string mass, even though the tension is equal, the heavier string is slightly easier to handle, because it stretches more. It also gives pressure on fingertip tissue on larger area. That the tension on the bass side has to be bigger to sound 'balanced' as well is very obvious.

There is possibly a tendency to this parabolic setting on acoustic guitars and it makes sense, like Explorer said. The acoustic guitar usually has a small radius, and the strings on the middle are easier to handle and they have a weaker sound, because they are slightly closer to the fretboard due to the neck relief and fretboard radius co-interference.

Anyway, I do not think that any experiment with available gauges brings any result on this issue. Problem is that it is it quite easy to feel and hear the difference in about 3 % difference in tension, if we stay on .002 inch accuracy, the difference may be 10 %.

To set the string balance i n some systematic way, an accuracy should be much much better to even start experimenting this issue.

In standard 13-56 set, the gap between strings g and b is 25 %! Ok, transformed to relative tension principle and compensating that mid-area, the "bias" is much less. There is also a leap from plain to wound, which is special case. This setting, how ever used and however historic and however popular - is simply way too extreme. After playing guitars (also acoustic a lot) for more than thirty years, I simply have decided to leave these standard sets, forever. Guitar playing is supposed to be easy and fun and guitar should be set properly and not randomly.

Anyway, if I tune my guitar E --> F and b--> c, my guitar sounds better. I take this as a sign to experiment towards the "right tension curve".

Right now my best guess (according to how I want to change my current set) on D'addario's current selection is

13.5 18 25 34 45 59, in Eb-tuning,

because none of e-b combinations with gauges 12,13,17,18 does not feel right. And don't say that .0005 " is such a little change that it does not make the difference. It just does. In tension, it is 10 %. That is a lot.

Tension curve on this solution is a parabolic arc and progression combined- best from both worlds. Anyway on these gauges and my playing style, I can set the neck quite straight.

I am not going to give any "test report", because this is a single experiment. Some scientist should study this thing properly. It would be very nice if the string companies should release better balanced sets. At least as an option.
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Old 01-31-2010, 01:42 PM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Hi Jean,

I can tell you're either an engineer or a machinist or a tool-maker. Nobody but one of these folks would ever say that .0005" wouldn't make a difference in an application! Thanks!

Regards,

SpruceTop
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Old 01-31-2010, 01:50 PM
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Mr. Ed Mr. Ed is offline
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Default Newtone Heritage Strings

Don't know if this fits in the discussion. However, Newtone Heritage have almost the same tension across all 6 strings. For example, the set I use on my GS is .012 - .051 and ranges in tension between 21 & 22 pounds.
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Old 01-31-2010, 02:02 PM
Jean Martin Jean Martin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
Don't know if this fits in the discussion. However, Newtone Heritage have almost the same tension across all 6 strings. For example, the set I use on my GS is .012 - .051 and ranges in tension between 21 & 22 pounds.
It sure does. There are at least four different schools hear concerning this issue

1) the progressive tension- school
2) don't give a ****ed- school
3) the old way is the right way - school

and then there is

4) There is also equal tension -school.

Equally tensioned guitar may sound and feel different than with other sets, but for me it does not feel right.

I am not for any of these school. I just would like to know how to balance the guitar strings better.
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Old 01-31-2010, 02:48 PM
Kurt Kurt is offline
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Forgive me, but I want to return to an earlier question: Are hand-built luthiers constructing their guitars to the "standard" parabolic string-tension specs? If so, and if the bridge/bracing are lightly built as a result, it strikes me that increased string tensions potentially would have a long-term, if not short-term, detrimental effect. Apart from "feel," I'd like to know what somewhat dramatic changes in string tension could do to the guitar (call me empathetic).
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Old 01-31-2010, 03:43 PM
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Mr. Ed Mr. Ed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean Martin View Post
It sure does. There are at least four different schools hear concerning this issue

1) the progressive tension- school
2) don't give a ****ed- school
3) the old way is the right way - school

and then there is

4) There is also equal tension -school.

Equally tensioned guitar may sound and feel different than with other sets, but for me it does not feel right.

I am not for any of these school. I just would like to know how to balance the guitar strings better.
I've found that the Newtone Heritage Strings (equal & less tension) work great for me on the GS. I have a variety of strings on other guitars, but just seems to work on this one.
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