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Thread: String tension question

  1. #1
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default String tension question

    The Calace strings on my bowl back “feel” like they have more tension then the Thomastiks on my L&H. I do not know what the Calace tension is and cannot locate with google. Would Calace RW92B Dolce strings have the same tension as Thomastik 154 mittels when strung on to my Lyon & Healy? Or will one set have a different tension and thus feel “tighter” or “looser” compared to another set? In other words, is the tension on a given set of strings the same REGARDLESS of what mandolin they are installed on? I hope my question is clear. Thank you in advance for any comments.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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  2. #2

    Default Re: String tension question

    Tension, in part, will also be a function of scale length, same gauge strings generating higher tensions with increasing string length at given pitch. However, those two should have at least similar scale lengths. I can't find estimated tensions to compare (although this old thread might be of some interest: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/a...p/t-62829.html) That said, the Thomastik claim to be gauged down to 0.010" on e", and the Dogal to 0.009"; if anything, the Dogal should have slightly less tension. Are you feeling a difference in texture between flat- and unpolished round-wound strings and misattributing the sensation of roughness to an impression of tension?

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  4. #3
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: String tension question

    Hi Eugene -I do not believe I am reacting to the flat vrs round issue. I am VERY uneducated about the physics of sound production. So I’m a little confused about scale length. Please forgive my ignorance and have patience. I am talking about one mandolin - so to me the scale length of the mandolin does not change - only the construction of the strings. So if the material in the string is the only variable, does that change in material mean that one string could require higher tension to make the same note as compared to a different material string? Somehow that seems counter intuitive. But I may be having a “dah” moment.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
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    Michael Reichenbach
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    Default Re: String tension question

    String tension hast to do with physics - you can use the string tension calculator like this to calculate the string tension for a given length and string diameter.

    How it feels to press the strings has to do with string tension, but also on the fretboard and especially the action.

    So if you compare different strings on the same mandolin the feeling should be (almost) the same if the string diameters are the same.
    If you compare the same strings on differnt mandolins the feeling can be quite different.

    Thinner strings have a lower tension, thicker strings have a higher tension.

    Unfortunately the diameter of strings are mostly not given for classical mandolin strings like Thomastik.
    Homepage: www.mandoisland.de / Blog: www.mandoisland.com / Freiburg / Germany

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: String tension question

    Hello Michael! Thank you for responding! I have a permanent bookmark for your website as I have always found it so useful and interesting - it is a great site. Your post answers my question - I’ll see if somewhere I can locate the string diameters (although it sounds like you have tried and they are not to be had). In any event, now I have a better understanding - thank you for the help ��

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: String tension question

    I got lucky and will share the string diameter for anyone who is interested:
    Dogal:
    1st - .010
    2nd - .015
    3rd - .025w
    4th - .037w
    Thomastik:
    1st - .010
    2nd - .015
    3rd - .021
    4th - .033
    I think the only way I can truly know the answer is to put a set of Dogal Calace’s on the L&H - just as an experiment (because the Thomastiks suit the L&H very well). Thanks again for the help!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

  8. #7

    Default Re: String tension question

    Ah, I misread. I'm not sure why, but I thought you were comparing your L&H to some bowlback.

    By the way, where did you find those gauges posted, Tim?

    And finally, because flatwound strings don't have any space around the winding (little spaces are inherent to winding a fine round wire on a thicker one), flatwound strings are inherently denser at same diameter and thus tend to have higher tension. The Thomastik's finer gauges on the bass strings probably balances this out.
    Last edited by Eugene; Apr-19-2020 at 8:14am.

  9. #8
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: String tension question

    Hi Eugene - Dogal info was from Strings By Mail and Thomastik was from Just Strings. Your comment about flat strings was most interesting - thank you!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

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    Default Re: String tension question

    A variable that makes calculation of tension even more complex would seem to be the mass of the string per unit length. The relatively coarse windings on a Dogal Clalce string would have a different mass than the winding on a string of the same diameter wound with finer wire. Then there's the ground wound string, again a variable that would be difficult to quantify without actually determining the mass involved. A string calculator that goes simply by string diameter would be hard pressed to differentiate among these varied constructs, and would be less than accurately descriptive of the actual tensions involved.

    However, it might be sufficient for most practical purposes.

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    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: String tension question

    Michael has kindly linked to the string tension calculator on my website, but it does have its limitations. As Bob A has mentioned tension is based on the mass of the string per unit length, but the data on mass per unit length that is the basis of the calculator is based on weighing lengths of plain steel as well as bronze and nickel wound acoustic and electric guitar strings from the major American string manufacturers, D'Addario, GHS, Dean Markley, Martin etc that were available in Australia in the mid 1980s. It did not include any European guitar or mandolin strings, which can often be made with different types of over-wound materials and this could affect the mass and the tension of the string.

    This is a link to a pdf of the original article from American Lutherie which is also on the calculator page. You would need to be able to accurately weigh a 100mm length of the string that you want to determine the tension for and spend a few minutes with a calculator.

    Cheers

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    Default Re: String tension question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    The Calace strings on my bowl back “feel” like they have more tension then the Thomastiks on my L&H. I do not know what the Calace tension is and cannot locate with google. Would Calace RW92B Dolce strings have the same tension as Thomastik 154 mittels when strung on to my Lyon & Healy? Or will one set have a different tension and thus feel “tighter” or “looser” compared to another set? In other words, is the tension on a given set of strings the same REGARDLESS of what mandolin they are installed on? I hope my question is clear. Thank you in advance for any comments.
    You might consider a practical experiment; why not use one of each on every course? The tension could be estimated by measuring deflection, or just go by the "feel" and tone of the individual strings. Probably not an issue with the plain strings, but you might derive the information you seek from the wound examples.

    I for one would be very interested in your findings from using this method.

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: String tension question

    I might try it on the g-string (which is the string I am most curious about). I will have to check out my string inventory to see what I have to experiment with. Tomastiks are so expensive that I need to be a little judicious in my testing. I will let you know. Good idea.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

  16. #13

    Default Re: String tension question

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob A View Post
    You might consider a practical experiment; why not use one of each on every course? The tension could be estimated by measuring deflection, or just go by the "feel" and tone of the individual strings. Probably not an issue with the plain strings, but you might derive the information you seek from the wound examples.
    Thinking like a trained scientist, there would be a number of confounding factors and subjective judgment calls in such a test without the tools to take objective, quantitative measurements. The differences in both texture and especially diameter of wound strings, e.g., could influence your perception in ways not actually related to tension. I do believe, however, that such an experiment would tell you something about your own tastes and perceptions.

  17. #14
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: String tension question

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    Thinking like a trained scientist, there would be a number of confounding factors and subjective judgment calls in such a test without the tools to take objective, quantitative measurements. The differences in both texture and especially diameter of wound strings, e.g., could influence your perception in ways not actually related to tension. I do believe, however, that such an experiment would tell you something about your own tastes and perceptions.
    I will do this experiment today or tomorrow and let you guys know what the perceived difference is. It should be interesting

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: String tension question

    Well, I tried Bob A’s experiment - just on the G. I did not perceive any difference what-so-ever in terms of tension. I actually expected to feel a difference, but no. The sound was different of course - due to the material and winding. Thanks for input folks!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

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  20. #16

    Default Re: String tension question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    I got lucky and will share the string diameter for anyone who is interested:
    Dogal:
    1st - .010
    2nd - .015
    3rd - .025w
    4th - .037w
    Thomastik:
    1st - .010
    2nd - .015
    3rd - .021
    4th - .033
    I think the only way I can truly know the answer is to put a set of Dogal Calace’s on the L&H - just as an experiment (because the Thomastiks suit the L&H very well). Thanks again for the help!
    Are the Dogal string diameters that you share here for the Calace R92B Dolce?

  21. #17
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: String tension question

    They are for the mediums (R92) and were posted in error. I made a mistake because I wasn’t distinguishing the R92 vrs R92b difference. The strings I was comparing and should have provided the gauges for were actually the dolce or soft (R92b). The R92b gauges are:

    .010 .014 .024 .034

    I have ordered some mediums now and will try them as well.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

  22. #18

    Default Re: String tension question

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    They are for the mediums (R92) and were posted in error. I made a mistake because I wasn’t distinguishing the R92 vrs R92b difference. The strings I was comparing and should have provided the gauges for were actually the dolce or soft (R92b). The R92b gauges are:

    .010 .014 .024 .034

    I have ordered some mediums now and will try them as well.
    Do you think the mediums R92's would be too heavy for a 1900 DeMaglio EFiglio Bowl Back?

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