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Jtmart

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Reply with quote  #1 
When deciding what gauge strings to put on your instrument, what is a good average tension for the bass side strings? I know they won't all be the same but at least the four heavier gauges are usually within a 4 or 5 lb range. For ease of play on a touchstyle instrument I'm sure there is an optimum tension, I just don't know what that should be.

With 10 or 12 strings and tensions around 20 lbs each you quickly go over 200 lbs pulling on your neck and peg head. The lowest overall tension would be better for structural reasons but I know for tone reasons some people like heavier strings which require greater tension but that's a discussion I don't wish to have. (Heavy vs light) There has to be a happy medium.

If anyone puts together their own string sets here is a link to D'Addario's complete string chart with scale lengths and tension at the desired open note. http://www.daddario.com/upload/tension_chart_13934.pdf

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TxTouchStylist

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jtmart
When deciding what gauge strings to put on your instrument, what is a good average tension for the bass side strings? I know they won't all be the same but at least the four heavier gauges are usually within a 4 or 5 lb range. For ease of play on a touchstyle instrument I'm sure there is an optimum tension, I just don't know what that should be. With 10 or 12 strings and tensions around 20 lbs each you quickly go over 200 lbs pulling on your neck and peg head. The lowest overall tension would be better for structural reasons but I know for tone reasons some people like heavier strings which require greater tension but that's a discussion I don't wish to have. (Heavy vs light) There has to be a happy medium. If anyone puts together their own string sets here is a link to D'Addario's complete string chart with scale lengths and tension at the desired open note. http://www.daddario.com/upload/tension_chart_13934.pdf

Dang great question !!!! I don't have an answer tension wise, never ever thought about it from that perspective, tho I will surely do so now. I've a coupla instruments that suffer from "string flop" and have always wondered why that is, changed a bridge saddle on one, changed the string gauge on another. Thanks for posing this question, more later.............
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DF-Mark

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Reply with quote  #3 
Its a great chart by D'addario ... for what its worth, I have found that there can be quite a bit of variance in bass strings when using strings from other manufacturers ... presumably because of their particular construction, materials etc. (hence the 'k' value). 

Heres an article I read the other day (a bit off topic) that you might find interesting in relation to string tension and compliance  (the tension perceived by the player) ... its another great site too. I find the issue of compliance interesting in terms of considering how to choose appropriate string gauges for an instrument that feels right across all the strings. 

http://liutaiomottola.com/myth/perception.htm

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Jtmart

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Reply with quote  #4 
That's a good article, I've read some of his other articles in the past so I bookmarked his site this time.

Still hoping someone will have an answer of what an appropriate range of tension is for a bass strings. I know it has to be out there but I haven't come across it yet.

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #5 
I asked how to calculate string tension over at luthiertalk.com and they said a search on Google for string tension formula comes up with;

The formula is T = (UW x (2 x L x F)^2 ) / 386.4

UW = unit weight (mass per linear inch of string)
L = scale length in inches
F = frequency of the note in herz

btw you'd probably really like their forum. People post hundreds of free instrument blueprints. Very cool.
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Jtmart

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Reply with quote  #6 
Yes, I know how to calculate the tension or figure what guage I need for a given tension on a certain note (frequency). What nobody seems to have the answer to is what the ideal tension for bass strings would be. I'm sure it is a matter of debate and depends on how you want the strings to feel. I can take the string gauges of a Megatar string set and take the 33.5 inch scale and come up with an approximate tension of a megatar but I would like to know if that is the optimal tension and why.
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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #7 
I asked on luthiertalk.com about the range of acceptable tensions for a bass guitar. Maybe they'll get back to me by tomorrow.
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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #8 
For a bass, the benchmark is 35-45 pounds per string.

As for why....it has to do with tone and feel. Tighter than 45 pounds, and you find that the string is more difficult to depress than it should be, there is more stress on the neck than there needs to be, and you risk breaking strings where they slide over the nut, bridge saddle, and where they wrap at the tuning machine. I also feel like they lose some harmonic content and sustain when the string is too fat for the note, and therefore too tight.

When a string is too loose (i.e., smaller than it needs to be for a given note), the note decays quickly and sounds kind-of...warbly. Loose strings also feel very floppy and are not fun to play on. They kind-of always feel like the thing is about to fall apart.


My own personal goldilocks zone is 39-40 pounds.
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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #9 
Renkenstein also posted some great links especially the first one.

http://www.stringtensionpro.com/

http://www.luthiertalk.com/forums/guitar-building/910-renk-siren-build-thread.html

http://www.luthiertalk.com/forums/guitar-building/703-renkensteins-lp-build-thread.html
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Jtmart

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Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks!
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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #11 
I found a published set of Chapman Stick string gauges. I don't know if it's for their 36 in scale length or their earlier, shorter scale length. But it was definitely one of their older sets of strings. I can't remember what their older scale length was but I might be able to dig it up again later.

The bass side is .012 .018 .022 .040 .065 and .095.

The melody side is .038 .026 .018 .012 .009 .008.

I don't know if these are for homogenous or semi-polished or if that even matters. Looks like only two of the melody side strings are round wound in pictures but I'm not 100% sure. Seems the thinner ones don't need/can't use windings.

I'm sure five of the bass side strings are round wound and I'm fairly certain the last string isn't.

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Reply with quote  #12 
That's interesting to see such a high tension range on the bass strings.

Since my main instruments are 8-string extended range guitars, the string tension range is pretty low compared to that. My lowest string is .090 tuned to E1. I doubt it's more than 25 lbs.

If the idea is to have the bass strings on a tapping instrument at 35-40 lbs., what would be the target range on the unwound strings?
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Jtmart

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Reply with quote  #13 
I believe 35-45 is too high, at least for a touchstyle instrument. I've calculated the tension for the sets sold by Warr guitar and their heaviest gauge tuned in 5ths is bumping up close 35, the light is well below that, in the low 20's range.
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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #14 
Yes too high for touchstyle. Thanks for your information. Someone posted about Steinbergerish solution for a bridge and they recommended ABM 3801 single bridges. They're about $34 U.S. each.

http://www.thomann.de/gb/abm_3801b_single_headless_bridge.htm
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Jtmart

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Reply with quote  #15 
Yes, I'm aware of the ABM singles, very good solution except that it has a minimum spacing of 10mm and you had speced a .300" spacing. Quite a bit larger, relatively speaking and would result in about an inch wider finger board on a 12 string instrument.

I seriously considered using them for my current build but a $400+ bridge pushed it out of my target price range.

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