String Tension Super Thread (Got a string question? Post it here!)

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by MaxOfMetal, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Many questions that often comes up on the boards are those involving string gauge. This thread will help to create a knowledge base of sorts to help guitarists with their string gauge woes.

    To aid me in creating this, I have chosen to use this string tension calculator: String Guage and Tension Calculator - Version 0.1.4 - 26 apr 1998. It's not 110% accurate but it's accurate enough to positively answer MANY, if not most questions involving gauge, scale, etc.

    Let's start with some basics involving the factors at play.

    Scale Length
    This is the estimated distance from the string's two termination points. One being at the nut, the other being at the bridge. What does that measurement have to do with string gauge? Well, look at it like this: say you take a rubber band and stretch it 12" and feel the tension that the rubber band is exerting. Now, stretch that same rubber band to about 18", now feel the tension. You should be able to easily tell a difference in tension. Now, in order to sound a given note, a string of a certain gauge must be under a certain amount of tension. The tighter, the higher the pitch. The looser, the lower the pitch.

    Tension
    Here, we'll be looking at tension as a measurement in lbs. Thus, for instance, if the scale of the guitar is 25.5" and a .009 gauge string is tuned to a standard 6-string guitar's high E (E4), the tension would be 13.13lbs. If we reduced that tension to 10.42lbs, then the note would ring out as a D, or one step down (D4).

    Gauge
    The gauge of the string, is it's thickness, or the diameter of the string itself. For instance, the commonly referred to "9s", are .009", or nine one-thousandths of an inch. The thicker the string, the more tension it'll need in order to reach a higher pitch. For instance, where a .009 at E4 is at 13.13lbs of tension, a .010 (just 1/1000 bigger) would have a tension rating of 16.21lbs at E4 on 25.5" scale.

    Why is tension so important?
    Well, to best illustrate this, lets perform an experiment. Take your guitar and down tune the low E (6th string, E2) and tune it down to B (B1). Notice how loose the string is, and how it buzzes and overall, just doesn't sound so great? That's why having proper tension is so important. It's why all the strings on your guitar aren't the same exact size, but a calculated, ever increasing gauge as the tuning of the strings gets lower.

    If we can just keep using bigger strings, why bother with longer scales?
    The lower you tune, the thicker the string will need to be to still have that ideal tension (which is different for everyone), eventually the string will have to be so wide around, that it's feel and timbre (tone) will start to suffer.

    So why hunt down the proper strings?
    To give your self the ideal feel, tension, and timbre on your chosen instrument taking scale and tuning into consideration. Look at it as finding the right sauce to put on your pasta. :lol:
     
  2. McCap

    McCap SS.org Regular

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    Nice post and cool calculator!
     
  3. TheDeltaOrionis

    TheDeltaOrionis SS.org Regular

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    Hello guys, I have a question for you.
    I have a Schecter Hellraiser C7 with a D'Addario 0.10 - 0.59 (0.10 - 0.13 - 0.17 - 0.26 - 0.36 - 0.46 - 0.59) string set.
    But that string gauge doesn't work for me, because I often switch between Standard Tuning, Drop A and Drop G#... And with Drop G# that gauge doesn't really work fine.
    I want to buy a string set, whose gauge would suit pretty well all these tunings, maybe a hybrid set.
    Infact I was thinking about buying an hybrid D'Addario 6 string set like this:
    0.10 - 0.13 - 0.17 - 0.30 - 0.42 - 0.52
    but don't know what gauge should I choose for the 7th string.

    What do you think about it? Any suggestion?
     
  4. preboha

    preboha jebnem potebe volaco

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    try EB 13 - 72 with added 10 for the high E
     
  5. TheDeltaOrionis

    TheDeltaOrionis SS.org Regular

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    I think that it will work perfectly for Drop G#, but in standard B E A D G B E a 10 - 72 set seems too much to me, isn't it? Would a 26,5" scale guitar work with that?
     
  6. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I hate to always be the parade rainer, but B-standard and drop G# are pretty far away from one another. It would be advisable to use two different sets of strings, preferably on two guitars, or two different guitars with the same strings with two different scale lengths.

    At least buying individual strings would save you some headache over sticking to sets.
     
  7. xwmucradiox

    xwmucradiox sweep.tap.sweep

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    GHS makes a 10-60 set of boomers that would probably work well for drop G#. Might not be extremely tight so keep that in mind if you prefer really tight feel for rhythm. Thats the set I plan to use on my JP7 for drop G.
     
  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I know I risk :flame: for bringing it up, but what about using a capo at the first fret for standard and drop A tuning, and removing the capo for drop G#?
     
  9. preboha

    preboha jebnem potebe volaco

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    the 72 looks scary but i use it on my 1527 in standard 7string tuning and i love it! i also tuned the guitar to e-b-g-d-a-d-g and the tension was fine .... i know that schecter is 26,5 but friend of mine is using exactly this set for drop A on a 27" scale guitar and is fine too ..... give it a try i think you will like it too
     
  10. xwmucradiox

    xwmucradiox sweep.tap.sweep

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    Who makes a 7 string capo? I would think a big string would end up pushing the limits of the capo's ability to hold down the other small strings effectively.
     
  11. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Any Capo made for classical guitars will be more than wide enough (some are even wide enough for some 8s), and even take into account the usual flat[er] fretboards that 7+ string guitars have.
     
  12. TheDeltaOrionis

    TheDeltaOrionis SS.org Regular

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    What about a set like:
    0.10 - 0.13 - 0.17 - 0.30 - 0.42 - 0.52 - 0.68 ?
     
  13. bronz79

    bronz79 SS.org Regular

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  14. GuitaristOfHell

    GuitaristOfHell The Optimist Prime.

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    I currently use D addarrio EXL 115's. (11-49), but I want to know what feels like 11's in drop B. I had I think EXL 158's once, but are rare to find by me and since I refuse to buy online ( I detest credit cards, and I'm 16 so I can't use them). What else is good for that kind of stuff? I don't like EB ( Ernie Ball) too much cause they surface is rough. To get an "11's" feeling in Drop D/ Db what do you people recommend for that in drop B.

    Different string companies are welcome. I mainly want to experiment for those reasons and a set lasts me 2 months at longest so if any last longer ( other then coated) please let me know. Sorry if any questions are "stupid" I'm a noob.
     
  15. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    GuitaristOfHell likes this.
  16. GuitaristOfHell

    GuitaristOfHell The Optimist Prime.

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  17. MaKo´s Tethan

    MaKo´s Tethan SS.org Regular

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    well, Here is my question (I just can`t use those calc, I suck)
    7 strings bass, 35" scale, with the 7th string tune to B with a .120 string(like a standard 6 strings bass with a higher string) the whole tuning is the next:
    beadgcf
    rep to the best and clearer answer (harry up man, is Maxofmetal around and he`s fuckin fast)
     
  18. alexguge

    alexguge 1338

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    I'm thinking of buying a 0.75 string from juststrings.com. But i'm not certain which one to get. Can someone guide me in the right direction?
     
  19. JamesM

    JamesM The Armada

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    Search and you'll find a great deal of string threads with a great deal of insight. ERG strings are confusing, I know. But I'm sure one of the many threads made here on that topic will certainly help you.

    Cheers!

    EDIT: And we've moved. ;)
     
  20. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    What scale guitar?
    What tuning?
    What strings do you typically use?
    Are you buying bulk?
     

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