String tension

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Craig Bumgarner
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String tension

Post by Craig Bumgarner » Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:47 pm

Wondering if there are elements of design that affect string tension other than the obvious like string gauge, string construction, string height off the frets and scale length? I ask because players sometimes tell me some of my guitars with all the elements just listed being identical, seem to have more or less string "tension" (their words) either under the fretting fingers or under the pick than others. What am I missing? I've always thought elements like break angle over the bridge (floating Selmer style, strings terminate at a tailpiece) and nut are not factors, though again, these elements are nearly identical from one guitar to the next. Can't think of what else might account for this.
Craig Bumgarner

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blackalex1952
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Re: String tension

Post by blackalex1952 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:23 am

Compliance in the soundboard and neck flex due to various neck woods or variations within the neck timber species? Maybe even flex in the body depending on the laminations and glues, or between solid body timber species? (speculating here...) I find that my carbon fibre re enforced necks are stiffer and I feel that they give more energy to the soundboard and increased sustain but stiffen the playing action. I know from my work on fender strats with the bridge set up for whammy bar, along with different neck materials, there is a variation in string bending feel. I also found years ago that when playing a Gibson 335 I owned that when sitting down and tired, the guitar had tuning issues. I realised that it was due to poor playing technique on my behalf. The thin mahogany neck would flex with the lightest pressure- I stopped hanging my thumb on the neck and played without pulling the neck towards me. That tidied up my technique. It is amasing how many players pull on the neck instead of developing muscle power in the large muscle at the base of the thumb and don't play with the tip of the thumb on the back of the neck whilst keeping the last joint near the thumb tip straight. (Tell these guys who want a light action to man up, after all it's Gypsy jazz!!!Ha ha! :mrgreen: ) Cheers! Ross
"Everything I say on the topic is based solely upon inexperience and assumption!"

johnparchem
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Re: String tension

Post by johnparchem » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:59 am

The angle from the nut to the tuning post will change how tense a string feels. The straighter the string run the longer the string will feel. Same tension over a longer string will not feel as tight.

Paul
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Re: String tension

Post by Paul » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:25 am

Tarrega had a thing with string tension too. Of his two Torres guitars, he preferred one because 'the string tension is perfect' (from the Romanillos book). I noticed the tension thing too, some guitars bite your finger, others feel soft. Like they have different flex in the structure.
Paul

jeffhigh
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Re: String tension

Post by jeffhigh » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:26 am

Players tend to use the term "string tension" to describe how easy it is to displace the string (fretting, bending or picking) and this is not the same as the actual longitudinal tension in the string which is pretty strictly determined by the string mass/unit length, scale length and pitch.

If the string can freely slide over nut and/or saddle, it will have a greater length to accommodate stretching from displacement and will feel looser, and additional length past nut and saddle will increase this effect. If you lock up the string at nut or saddle through high break angles or tight slots, the strings will feel tighter.

Other than that, setup is crucial with neck relief, clearance at the first fret, and 12th fret clearance being major factors.
Some players are also going to be very sensitive to neck profile and fret height.

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Trevor Gore
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Re: String tension

Post by Trevor Gore » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:21 pm

What Jeff said here...:
jeffhigh wrote:
Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:26 am
Players tend to use the term "string tension" to describe how easy it is to displace the string (fretting, bending or picking) and this is not the same as the actual longitudinal tension in the string which is pretty strictly determined by the string mass/unit length, scale length and pitch.

If the string can freely slide over nut and/or saddle, it will have a greater length to accommodate stretching from displacement and will feel looser, and additional length past nut and saddle will increase this effect. If you lock up the string at nut or saddle through high break angles or tight slots, the strings will feel tighter.

Other than that, setup is crucial with neck relief, clearance at the first fret, and 12th fret clearance being major factors.
Some players are also going to be very sensitive to neck profile and fret height.
...and what Ross said here:
blackalex1952 wrote:
Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:23 am
Compliance in the soundboard and neck flex due to various neck woods or variations within the neck timber
A better term to use would be "apparent string stiffness", but I know I'll have an up hill battle getting that term adopted!

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