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Thread: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

  1. #1

    Default Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges



    For informational purposes only - Your playing style may dictate a larger or smaller string gauge.


    I tried for approximately 15 lbs per string for the electrics.
    Nickel Wound

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    20 lbs. per string for the acoustics.
    Phosphor Bronze & 80/20 are very similar.

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    Using Theo Parmakis' Tension Calculator

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    Here's one recommendation for Chicago tuned Fender Tenor Teles:

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  5. #3

    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    A recommendation for a 23" scale acoustic - Chicago tuning.
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  6. #4
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    Nice. Can’t decide if I’m better off with electric tension or acoustic on my ETG150.... thoughts please? Gonna try & keep it CGDA
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

    Tenor Guitars: Acoustic: Mcilroy ASP10T, ‘59 Martin 0-18t. Electric: ‘57 Gibson ETG-150, ‘80s Manson Kestrel
    Mandolins: Davidson f5, A5 "Badgerlin".
    Bouzouki: Paul Shippey Axe
    My band's website

  7. #5

    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of the Badgers View Post
    Nice. Can’t decide if I’m better off with electric tension or acoustic on my ETG150.... thoughts please? Gonna try & keep it CGDA
    Rob,
    You could try going down to an 8 on the A string and a balanced set of 15/16 pounds per string.

    8-12-20w-30 ~63lbs. Total tension.

  8. #6
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    Ya see, my brain is wired in such a way that I need things explained in a certain way...

    Treat my like an alien from the planet OMGITALLBAFFLESME, possessed of excellent language skills (clearly, as you can tell by my prose).

    What am I aiming for with string tension calculations really? I’ve never got it!

    Does the string being flat wound make a difference in tension.

    I’ve gotten thru my years of playing based on sheer ignorance of all this... bear in mind it took me i dunno how many years to string a guitar until I found my method. It took me until my near teens to be able to tie my shoe laces!!

    Any help appreciated!
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

    Tenor Guitars: Acoustic: Mcilroy ASP10T, ‘59 Martin 0-18t. Electric: ‘57 Gibson ETG-150, ‘80s Manson Kestrel
    Mandolins: Davidson f5, A5 "Badgerlin".
    Bouzouki: Paul Shippey Axe
    My band's website

  9. #7

    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    Rob,

    Can't tell if your joking or not so here goes my BASIC string knowledge.

    Using D'Addario's String Tension Pro

    Comparing the same set of strings over two scale lengths (standard 6-string tuning).

    EXL120's "Super Lights" @ 25.5" scale:

    1 E 4 0.0090 in. 13.14 lbs
    2 B 3 0.0110 in. 11.02 lbs
    3 G 3 0.0160 in. 14.68 lbs
    4 D 3 0.0240 in. 15.73 lbs
    5 A 2 0.0320 in. 15.50 lbs
    6 E 2 0.0420 in. 14.37 lbs

    23" scale - same gauges of strings.

    0.0090 in. 10.69 lbs
    0.0110 in. 8.96 lbs
    0.0160 in. 11.95 lbs
    0.0240 in. 12.79 lbs
    0.0320 in. 12.61 lbs
    0.0420 in. 11.69 lbs

    Tension drops as scale length decreases. (Think about a stretched rubber band.)

    Now if we go to a "Heavy" set XL145's @25.5" scale:

    1 E 4 0.0120 in. 23.36 lbs
    2 B 3 0.0160 in. 23.31 lbs
    3 G 3 0.0200 in. 22.94 lbs
    4 D 3 0.0320 in. 27.63 lbs
    5 A 2 0.0420 in. 25.60 lbs
    6 E 2 0.0540 in. 23.61 lbs

    23" scale:

    0.0120 in. 19.01 lbs
    0.0160 in. 18.96 lbs
    0.0200 in. 18.67 lbs
    0.0320 in. 22.48 lbs
    0.0420 in. 20.83 lbs
    0.0540 in. 19.21 lbs

    For your Gibson - you can see that strings can vary from ~15 lbs to over 20 lbs. So there really isn't a set standard for electric tension vs acoustic tension. The 15 lbs (electric) and 20 lbs (acoustic) are just benchmarks. I tend to start from there and go up or down in gauges until I find what feels and sounds best for each guitar. Tweaking the setup comes after and sometimes it takes a while to figure out what works best for me and the instrument. I tend to favor balanced sets and therefore an advocate of buying individual strings.

    Billy Gibbons favors 7's - Stevie Ray Vaughn favored heavy gauge strings. Personal preferences.

    What do you have on your Kestrel?

    For Acoustic sets - tensions range from ~16 lbs to over 30 lbs.:

    EJ10's Extra Light @ 25.5":

    1 E 4 0.0100 in. 16.22 lbs
    2 B 3 0.0140 in. 17.85 lbs
    3 G 3 0.0230 in. 27.18 lbs
    4 D 3 0.0300 in. 25.92 lbs
    5 A 2 0.0390 in. 23.84 lbs
    6 E 2 0.0470 in. 19.19 lbs

    EJ12's - Heavy @ 25.5":

    1 E 4 0.0130 in. 27.42 lbs
    2 B 3 0.0170 in. 26.31 lbs
    3 G 3 0.0260 in. 34.20 lbs
    4 D 3 0.0350 in. 34.00 lbs
    5 A 2 0.0450 in. 31.61 lbs
    6 E 2 0.0560 in. 26.74 lbs

    Changing windings: round, half round, and flat wound did not change tensions in the calculator.

    Different string materials will effect tension though.

    Anyway - I hope this helps.
    Huck

  10. #8

    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    To show different tensions at different string gauges for 23" scale Nickel Wound CGDA (balanced):

    8's
    0.0080 in. 15.05 lbs
    0.0120 in. 15.08 lbs
    0.0200 in. 15.58 lbs
    0.0300 in. 15.97 lbs

    9's
    0.0090 in. 19.05 lbs
    0.0140 in. 20.53 lbs
    0.0220 in. 19.24 lbs
    0.0340 in. 19.82 lbs

    10's
    0.0100 in. 23.52 lbs
    0.0150 in. 23.57 lbs
    0.0240 in. 22.80 lbs
    0.0380 in. 24.11 lbs

    11's
    0.0110 in. 28.46 lbs
    0.0170 in. 30.27 lbs
    0.0280 in. 30.61 lbs
    0.0400 in. 28.54 lbs

    12's
    0.0120 in. 33.86 lbs
    0.0180 in. 33.94 lbs
    0.0290 in. 33.87 lbs
    0.0450 in. 33.64 lbs

  11. #9
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    Hi mate, no i wasn’t kidding- i really struggle with some forms of learning. So the goal is even tension yeah? How much is too much?
    I really don’t seem to get it, but you are definitely helping!
    The Kestrel isn’t with me atm - it’s with a luthier for a scratchplate fitting as I want to pimp it up a little. Bloody miss it! Best tenor neck along with my McIlroy that I’ve ever played.
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

    Tenor Guitars: Acoustic: Mcilroy ASP10T, ‘59 Martin 0-18t. Electric: ‘57 Gibson ETG-150, ‘80s Manson Kestrel
    Mandolins: Davidson f5, A5 "Badgerlin".
    Bouzouki: Paul Shippey Axe
    My band's website

  12. #10

    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of the Badgers View Post
    So the goal is even tension yeah? How much is too much?
    Okay Rob let's try and work this out.

    To answer your questions:

    I like either an even (balanced) tension across the fretboard or slightly progressive. Progressive meaning the bass side is a little heavier than the treble. Let's say your C is at 18 lbs., G 18-17lbs., D 15-16 lbs. and your A is at 15 lbs. Progressive.

    Often, for me, it works best for the middle two strings to be a bit heavier. Other times, the two outside strings need to be a little heavier, but they are all within 3-4 pounds of each other.

    So yes, the goal is balanced but don't get too hung up on that. A couple of pounds of tension either way is not going to warp your neck.

    Sometimes, I will have a guitar that just needs a different gauge string to sound right. I start with the balanced set, but if my D string sounds weak, I'll increase the tension by increasing the gauge of string. To me every guitar sets up differently. My acoustics typically have a wound G, my electrics plain. Just my preferences. I'd imagine most players like a wound G. (My daughter's tenor tele has all plain strings for low re-entrant g ukulele tuning.)

    Look at what you have on your McIlroy. We can use that as a benchmark and go from there. If you enjoy playing extra lights on it, look at lower tension electric strings ~15 - 18 lbs. If your using medium gauge strings on the McIlroy go a little beefier with the Gibson ~18 - 20 lbs.

    I tend to break 10's on my acoustics and use 9's almost exclusively.

    If we look at EJ66's:
    1 A 4 0.0100 in. 23.52 lbs
    2 D 4 0.0140 in. 20.53 lbs
    3 G 3 0.0220 in. 20.08 lbs
    4 C 3 0.0320 in. 18.73 lbs

    I go down to a 9 and I get:

    0.0090 in. 19.05 lbs
    0.0140 in. 20.53 lbs
    0.0220 in. 20.08 lbs
    0.0320 in. 18.73 lbs

    How much is too much? Heavy electric sets can get up to almost 28 lbs. of tension. Acoustic sets up to 34 lbs. (Using the example sets above.) To me. it's all out feel and sound. Do the strings feel good under my fingers? Is the guitar sounding like I want it? Sometimes it is as easy as increasing or decreasing the tension - or going to a plain vs wound string and vice versa.

    Familiarizing oneself with a string calculator really helps. They can be a little overwhelming at first. Don't be afraid of changing variables-mess around. You can't hurt software! After a bit it will make all sense and become a useful tool.

    I do understand about learning things differently. I love when I have an "aha" moment and things suddenly become clear. I'm hoping that day comes to me soon with chords!

    Best,
    Huck

  13. #11
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric & Acoustic Tenor Guitar String Gauges

    Chords I can do weird init.
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

    Tenor Guitars: Acoustic: Mcilroy ASP10T, ‘59 Martin 0-18t. Electric: ‘57 Gibson ETG-150, ‘80s Manson Kestrel
    Mandolins: Davidson f5, A5 "Badgerlin".
    Bouzouki: Paul Shippey Axe
    My band's website

  14. The following members say thank you to Lord of the Badgers for this post:

    Huck 

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