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Thread: Action went up after string change

  1. #1

    Default Action went up after string change

    Hi folks, I have a question for you all.

    I always use D'addario J74s, as does my wife. Every time I change a set of strings on either instrument, the action goes up just a touch and it feels stiffer to play. After a week or so it all settles back down again.

    A couple of days ago I changed the strings on my mandolin and, sure enough, the action is just that little bit higher - not brutal, just slightly more.

    Just wondering if anyone else has ever experienced this? Is it normal, and just due to the new strings having a little more tension in them when they first go on?

    I'm reluctant to do a truss rod tweak as it'll probably settle back down again as it always does. The bridge saddle is as low as it'll go.

    Cheers

    Johnny

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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    As strings stretch the tension needed to bring them to pitch changes. This results in different pressure applied to the top and likewise a change in deflection of the top.
    Also, string changes can sometimes result in a different bridge angle that might affect the action and intonation

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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    I have never noticed anything like that occurring during my string changes, maybe I just wasn`t paying that much attention but it seems weird if you are using the same gauge strings and changing them one at a time and bring each one up to pitch before loosening the other one in that pair...mandolins are strange beasts and each one is different than all of the others...

    Willie

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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    My guess is you take all the strings off which relieves the tension on the top and it takes a week to settle beck where it should be. Change strings one at a time I don't think that it will happen again.
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  8. #5

    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Thanks guys.

    Pops1, I do actually change them one at a time, starting at the outermost G and working my way down one string at a time. Always the same strings and same gauge (J74/EJ74).

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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Wow, you got me there. I don't think I have ever seen that either. Been changing strings a long time now, but have not experienced something like that. My action will change, but I know it's moisture related and sometimes it happens quick, or seems quick, but not consistently when changing strings. Do you change strings in a different environment than you play in?
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  10. #7

    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    I just change them at home, in the front room. Most of my home playing is done there. I do take it to various jams too, probably 3-4 times a month.

  11. #8

    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    This is not something I see happen. Now if an instrument had a thin top or a highly flexible neck, a slight change in tension might change the action, but normally this would not happen. Changing one string at a time should not have a major effect.

    If your bridge is bottomed out and the action is higher than you like, it would be worth while to have someone remove some wood from the foot section and get more adjustment range.
    Robert Fear
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Are you sure the action is higher? Have you measured it? I notice a slight difference in the way a new string feels but attribute it to the string being " stiffer" if that's the right word and have never measured mainly because I never thought of there being a change in the height of the string from the fingerboard. After a couple hours of playing I no longer notice it maybe because the difference is so little I adjust, I don't think a string would limber up that quick. Then again it could just be one of lifes mystery I suppose.

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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    There are certainly other possibilities. Perhaps it is just an issue of perception with the new strings requiring more force to fret, and not a change in string height. Also possible that your truss rod is loose in the neck and that new strings have enough tension to bend the neck slightly? Just a guess on that one.

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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    A new string should not feel stiffer, as strings get older they loose their stretch and gain tension, so an older string should feel stiffer than a new string. That's why new strings go out of tune as they are stretching.
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    Jenny 

  17. #12

    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Thanks all.

    Ok, I've checked the action with a ruler and magnifying glass this morning and the action is absolutely stable, with the G at 12th fret at 2/32 - same as its been for over 12 months. Must be just a perceived stiffness - whether it's due to new strings or my brain, I don't know! Thanks for the advice - I'll go and stand in a corner now.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    To my fingers,new strings always feel 'stiffer' than the old ones i remove. That's one of the things i really like about new strings - my fingering always feels more 'positive'. It's one of the reasons i dislike coated strings. I tried a set of the EXP strings a few years back. They felt way too slick under my fingers & i expected them to ''slip from under'' any second - not very reassuring when playing a fairly fast tune !,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    A new string should not feel stiffer, as strings get older they loose their stretch and gain tension, so an older string should feel stiffer than a new string. That's why new strings go out of tune as they are stretching.
    I know what you say is true. I put stiffer in quotes because that just didn't seem right, but as Ivan says there is a different feel that to me seems "stiffer". Maybe it is the spring action, does a stretching strings have more "spring" than one stretched out? I don't know but I do know what the OP is experiencing.

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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    A new string should not feel stiffer, as strings get older they loose their stretch and gain tension, so an older string should feel stiffer than a new string. That's why new strings go out of tune as they are stretching.
    As strings get older, they gain tension????????????????????
    Phil

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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    As strings get older, they gain tension????????????????????
    As strings age they loose their stretch. When you play a new string as you fret, the string still has the ability to stretch. As they get older and have stretched to their limit as you fret and push the string down you add more tension than a new string would have. I have been wrong before, but that is the way I see it.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    My thoughts on this :- New strings 'stretch' (or something like it).Thus when stretched,as long as they're not being stretched above their ''elastic limit'',they will exert a force in direct oposition to the downward pressure of a finger tip - think elastic bands,so they should feel stiffer as they 'push back'. If ''old strings'' loose all their stretch,then when pressed down,they won't 'push back' - think a piece of string. All you feel with older strings is the pressure of your finger tips pressing down, with no reactive back pressure upwards = the 'difference' in feel,
    Ivan
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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    I would think this theory is measurable, and probably has been. I'm skeptical for now.
    Phil

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    I don't know if this has anything to do with your issue, but it's something worth considering. I have noticed on both my mandolins that have adjustable bridges, changing strings, one at a time, can cause the saddle to tilt slightly forward (toward the neck), putting the base and the saddle slightly out of alignment.

    It's easy to see why. When you tighten the new strings, they are pulling that direction, especially the wound strings that have "traction" on the top of the saddle. Since the whole bridge assembly normally tilts backwards a bit because of the rounding of the top, pulling the saddle forward might force the strings up. This phenomenon also affects intonation a bit.

    When this happens, I twist the saddle slightly back into position, which requires a lot of torque, but not much movement. However, I have had this problem less when I use Big Bends' Nut Sauce (NFI) on the saddle slots. It makes the slots more slippery. You could also try powdered graphite. Just a thought...

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    From Philpool - "I would think this theory is measurable, and probably has been.". If it has been measured Phil,then the results have been kept secret from us !. With a standard pressure gauge,it would be very easy indeed to measure the pressure required to fret both old & new strings. Of course we'd have variations due to string brand & gauge,as would be expected.
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Ivan - with all your engineering experience, that sounds like a nice project for you! Should keep you busy for a while.

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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    I didn't mean to hijack this thread, but now you have got me curious. Anyone interested in measuring the tension of new strings, play them a month, measure again, play another month and so on until they need to be changed?
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  30. #23
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Johnny - If i was still at work,with all the Lab. equipment we had,i could have measured many 'criteria' to do with mandolins. All that's required in this instance is a standard 'Dial Test Indicator' (DTI) style pressure gauge placed with the plunger just touching the strings = Zero pressure. The DTI plunger is then screwed down to depress the plunger onto the strings until they touch the frets, & the pressure reading is then taken. You'd do this with a set of new strings of a particular brand / gauge,play them for a set period,say 4 months or until they 'felt' different,repeat the test & note any differences.

    To address Pops1's point - 'string tension'. http://liutaiomottola.com/formulae/tension.htm
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Thanks Ivan,f I have used the string calculators before, and looked at the site. It is a wealth of information for D'Addario strings. GHS has a calculator that they have sent me in a pdf. I believe different companies use different gauges of core strings making tension different. I use a .042 white bronze guitar string. The reason for the .042 is they don't make a .040, but also the core string is .003 less than the .040 phosphor bronze so while I didn't calculate tension, I wasn't worried. I didn't see anywhere addressing ageing of the string and what it does to tension. In everything I have learned in the past I was told the age of the string increases tension, which is what I am going by. It is totally hearsay and I have done no testing so I was curious. Wish I had a dial indicator, but I don't.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  33. #25
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Action went up after string change

    Pops - There are so many brands of string / gauge combos,that it would take a loooong time to test every one. As we all know,some strings ( in my case DR's),seem to last very much longer than others.

    The basic premise of strings actually 'stretching',is a bit of a puzzle for me. Even with wire as fine as instrument strings,you usually need a tensile testing rig to 'stretch' them. They can be stretched to breaking point by cranking up the tuners,but it still takes a heck of a lot of tension to break a string unless it touches a sharp edge. Simply pressing down with normal finger pressure doesn't make me think ''stretching'' at all. To test it properly,you'd need to have a string positioned over a fretted fingerboard (mock-up) & held in such a way at both ends that it simply couldn't move = a finite length of 'x' inches / millimetres. between points A & B (nut & Bridge). Under some mechanical means,the string would then be continually pressed down onto the frets (but which ones ?) to simulate fingering over a set amount of time. Afterwards,the string could then be removed & it's length re-measured to see if it has stretched. I asked ''which frets'' because fretting a string at the top fret positions involves more finger pressure & thus maybe more ''stretching''. Pressing the strings down at the 12th fret only would require the least finger pressure (?).

    Strings when new,will have a 100% ''whatever'' in the way they vibrate & will behave in a certain manner. As strings (the metal) ages & looses it's 'whatever' (ductility / elasticity ...?) i'd expect that the way it vibrates would be modified & they'd 'feel' different under the fingers. As i proposed before,they wouldn't 'push back' at our finger tips so much.

    This is all conjecture & educated (sort of) guesswork. I'm amazed in a way that none of the well known string manufacturers have done any testing on this point.

    Interesting to speculate on,but ultimately meaningless - unless you make strings. We use what strings we buy & they behave in a certain manner over which we have little control,except the playing time we give them,
    Ivan
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