Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: String tension?

  1. #1
    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Lancashire/UK
    Posts
    1,369

    Default String tension?

    This may be a stupid question but do light gauge strings produce more tension than heavy. For instance, my bass guitar strings are obviously under less tension than my guitar so the pressure put onto the top of the instrument will be less with heavy strings.
    If this is true, why are we told to put light gauge strings on old mandolins to stop the chance of the top sinking?
    I never fail at anything, I just succeed at doing things that never work....


    Fylde Touchstone Walnut Mandolin.
    Gibson Alrite Model D.

  2. #2

    Default Re: String tension?

    A thinner string requires less tension to get to the same pitch as a thicker string.

  3. #3
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    15,558

    Default Re: String tension?

    +1) Other way round, to reach the same pitch a heavier string , say a .0115",
    will be at higher tension, than an, .010" or .009"
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  4. #4
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rockville, MD
    Posts
    1,502
    Blog Entries
    7

    Default Re: String tension?

    Putting it yet another way, pitch and string length matter. If you swap to even heavier strings on your bass, they will be higher tension. Conversely, thinner strings will be low-tension on your bass. This principle is universal, but you have to compare equivalents, not very different scale lengths and pitches.
    Blog--Miniature Orchestra
    Sound Clips--SoundCloud
    Videos--YouTube
    The viola is proof that man is not rational

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,453

    Default Re: String tension?

    The bass strings look large compared to a mandolin or guitar string, but it is it winding and the core that make the tension. The bass will have a heavier winding or even two windings and a much longer scale length. They are also tuned an octave below the guitar. If you put bass strings on a guitar I doubt you could even get them up to pitch before breaking either the string or the guitar.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  6. #6
    Registered User O. Apitius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: String tension?

    Quote Originally Posted by G7MOF View Post
    This may be a stupid question but do light gauge strings produce more tension than heavy. For instance, my bass guitar strings are obviously under less tension than my guitar so the pressure put onto the top of the instrument will be less with heavy strings.
    If this is true, why are we told to put light gauge strings on old mandolins to stop the chance of the top sinking?
    There are no stupid questions, just stupid answers. (So far, none here) As the previous posters have unanimously stated, lighter strings require less tension to reach a given pitch than do heavier gauge strings. Is it possible that your perception that the strings on your bass are under less tension than the strings on your guitar results from the bass having a longer scale which makes string deflection easier?

    Here's a handy string guage tension calculator on the D'Addario strings website.
    http://stringtensionpro.com/Search#
    https://www.instagram.com/apitiusmandolins/
    What is good Phaedrus? and what is not good? need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

  7. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to O. Apitius For This Useful Post:


  8. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    1,856

    Default Re: String tension?

    For a given musical note: The less massive the string, the less tension required.

    If you're interested in the basic physics, then here it is. The fundamental frequency, f, of a plucked string is given by

    f = (1/2L) * SQRT (T/m)

    where L is the length of the string, T is the tension in the string, and m is the mass-per-unit-length (i.e., the linear mass density) of the string. SQRT( ) means to take the square root of the quantity inside the parentheses, and * means to multiply.

    rearranging this equation and solving for the tension, we get:

    T = 4m*(L*f)^2

    where( )^2 means to square the quantity inside the parentheses (sorry, there are no superscripts in this editor).

    So, for a fixed note (frequency), and a fixed scale length (L), the tension is equal to

    T = (a const.) * m

    where the const. is equal to 4*(L*f)^2 and is different for every different length and open note of the string.

    This means that the string tension is strictly proportional to the mass per unit length (mass density).

    If you go to a lighter string (less mass), you can drop the tension. If you go to a heavier string (more mass), you need to increase the tension for the same note.

    By the way, the mass per unit length of a solid string is proportional to its cross-sectional area, which, in turn, is simply proportional to the square of its diameter, so we have

    T = (another const.) * d^2

    where d is the string gauge (diameter). This means that if you drop the string diameter by a factor of two, the tension needed goes down by a factor of FOUR. So you see, a small change in the string gauge can make for a fairly dramatic change in the tension required. For wound strings, the linear mass density is not as simply related to the diameter, since the core and winding are usually made of different density materials, but it's still true that the tension is more-or-less proportional to square of the diameter, with a different const. in the equation. The excellent D'Addario string calculator (Oliver supplied the link, above) is a great place to get real numbers.

  9. #8
    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Lancashire/UK
    Posts
    1,369

    Default Re: String tension?

    So pitch and tuning are two different things. For example, My Bottom E string on my guitar and my top E string are the same tuning but not the same pitch?
    I never fail at anything, I just succeed at doing things that never work....


    Fylde Touchstone Walnut Mandolin.
    Gibson Alrite Model D.

  10. #9
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rockville, MD
    Posts
    1,502
    Blog Entries
    7

    Default Re: String tension?

    Same note name, not same pitch. Pitch is equivalent to frequency. Top E on mando is called E5. Low E on a bass is called E1. The high G on the bass is G2, the low G on a mando is called G3.

    "Tuning" is a vague term, sometimes referring to 5ths vs 4ths, or whether in tune or not (intonation), or whether intervals are equal-tempered.
    Blog--Miniature Orchestra
    Sound Clips--SoundCloud
    Videos--YouTube
    The viola is proof that man is not rational

  11. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,453

    Default Re: String tension?

    Quote Originally Posted by G7MOF View Post
    So pitch and tuning are two different things. For example, My Bottom E string on my guitar and my top E string are the same tuning but not the same pitch?
    And the bottom E on your bass is an octave below the bottom E of your Guitar
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •