Discussion:
Tension and tone quality
(too old to reply)
Mack
2007-01-07 04:32:45 UTC
Permalink
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.

I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
David Schramm
2007-01-07 04:49:47 UTC
Permalink
Very simple, try different tensions and brands to see how they work for you
and your guitar.
--
David Schramm
Clovis, CA
http://schrammguitars.com
http://onlineapprentice.com
John Rimmer
2007-01-07 04:50:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
I'm not being flippant, but I think if you buy a mess of different strings
and investigate it, yourself, you will be better off. What anyone here says
will be meaningless for you and your guitar, except in the most general of
terms. You will likely find things about each of the different types that
you like/dislike and be able to make a good choice for what you want to
play.

You can see Doug Neidt's web page. He did a study of his own. Also, there
is stringsbymail.com to get those strings moving your way, tonight!

Good luck.

John
Mack
2007-01-07 05:33:56 UTC
Permalink
I have tried several different strings and have discovered some things
that I like and some things that I dislike. My immediate problem is
the result of a series of mistakes in recent orders.

I received a set of Aquila nylgut trebles last week that are high
tension. I have played them and I like them. But I think I would like
something just a little mellower sounding. So, being relatively new at
this, and thinking tension may make a difference, I requested another
set (medium tension) to try this week (for comparison purposes) but
was sent another set of high tension instead. So, I'm wondering if it
really matters or not. High tension, low tension, if the strings are
made of the same material and are played on the same guitar, may I
assume that the "darkness" or "brightness" will not be affected by the
designed tension? Or is it necessary for me to actually get the medium
tension (identical material slightly different gauge) so I can make a
live comparison myself?
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
David Kilpatrick
2007-01-07 10:35:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mack
I have tried several different strings and have discovered some things
that I like and some things that I dislike. My immediate problem is
the result of a series of mistakes in recent orders.
I received a set of Aquila nylgut trebles last week that are high
tension. I have played them and I like them. But I think I would like
something just a little mellower sounding. So, being relatively new at
this, and thinking tension may make a difference, I requested another
set (medium tension) to try this week (for comparison purposes) but
was sent another set of high tension instead. So, I'm wondering if it
really matters or not. High tension, low tension, if the strings are
made of the same material and are played on the same guitar, may I
assume that the "darkness" or "brightness" will not be affected by the
designed tension? Or is it necessary for me to actually get the medium
tension (identical material slightly different gauge) so I can make a
live comparison myself?
you can check quite easily. Tune the superior tension trebles down one
full pitch, put a capo on 2, and you will get a sound and feel which is
more like the standard tension.

Similarly, if you have a guitar where medium tension is sounding weak,
it is safe to experiment briefly by tuning the instrument up to F or F#,
and see whether this transforms the response in any way. If tuning a
standard string set up to a higher tension improves the sound of the
guitar, then a high tension string set will probably do the same.

David
John E. Golden
2007-01-07 06:58:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
IMO, [Super High Tension = Super High Tone and Volume] on most guitars.

Regards,
John E. Golden
virtual
2007-01-07 16:25:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
There is no rule and no rule of thumb.

It is like saying: which is the best set of golf clubs?

It all depends on the player. It all depends on the guitar. It all
depends on the interaction between the player and the guitar. Sometimes,
it might even depends on what kind of music you are playing.

Get yourself ready for a period of trial and error ;)

Have fun
--
Resources to play the guitar for fun and relaxation

http://www.virtualguitarcenter.com

***@virtualguitarcenter.com
Mack
2007-01-07 17:09:01 UTC
Permalink
I'm, beginning to sense that musicians, as a group, are not ones to
settle for yes or no answers. That is meant as a compliment.

BUT--- if you will, consider two seperate B strings, made by the same
manufacturer, made of the same material, played on the same guitar,
temperature and humidity the same, venue the same, etc., tuned
correctly--- would the high tension version play a "brighter" sound
than the medium tension version?

If a few of you will try to muster a yes or no answer, I'll try my best
to go back to doing technical exercises today and not pester you about
this anymore.

The ability to share via the internet is invaluable and timely. I
guess I could just wait until my lesson next Friday and ask my teacher
this question. But being the passionate seasoned teacher that he is, I
know it would provoke a very interesting, but long, explanation. I'm
still hoping for "yes" or "no" :)
Post by virtual
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
There is no rule and no rule of thumb.
It is like saying: which is the best set of golf clubs?
It all depends on the player. It all depends on the guitar. It all
depends on the interaction between the player and the guitar. Sometimes,
it might even depends on what kind of music you are playing.
Get yourself ready for a period of trial and error ;)
Have fun
--
Resources to play the guitar for fun and relaxation
http://www.virtualguitarcenter.com
Jez
2007-01-07 17:22:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mack
I'm, beginning to sense that musicians, as a group, are not ones to
settle for yes or no answers. That is meant as a compliment.
BUT--- if you will, consider two seperate B strings, made by the same
manufacturer, made of the same material, played on the same guitar,
temperature and humidity the same, venue the same, etc., tuned
correctly--- would the high tension version play a "brighter" sound
than the medium tension version?
Sometimes........
:)
Post by Mack
If a few of you will try to muster a yes or no answer, I'll try my best
to go back to doing technical exercises today and not pester you about
this anymore.
You keep pestering dude !
It might seem like a battle-zone here sometimes, but it's not really.
Post by Mack
The ability to share via the internet is invaluable and timely. I
guess I could just wait until my lesson next Friday and ask my teacher
this question. But being the passionate seasoned teacher that he is, I
know it would provoke a very interesting, but long, explanation. I'm
still hoping for "yes" or "no" :)
If only life were so simple !
I've spent the last year going through various different sets of strings,
(Cost a small fortune ! lol), and am yet to settle on one set that I can
say...'Thats the one for me!'

Good luck anyways !
--
Jez, MBA.,
Country Dancing and Advanced Astrology, UBS.
'It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick
society.'- Krishnamurti
e***@yahoo.com
2007-01-07 17:38:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mack
I'm, beginning to sense that musicians, as a group, are not ones to
settle for yes or no answers. That is meant as a compliment.
BUT--- if you will, consider two seperate B strings, made by the same
manufacturer, made of the same material, played on the same guitar,
temperature and humidity the same, venue the same, etc., tuned
correctly--- would the high tension version play a "brighter" sound
than the medium tension version?
If a few of you will try to muster a yes or no answer, I'll try my best
to go back to doing technical exercises today and not pester you about
this anymore.
The ability to share via the internet is invaluable and timely. I
guess I could just wait until my lesson next Friday and ask my teacher
this question. But being the passionate seasoned teacher that he is, I
know it would provoke a very interesting, but long, explanation. I'm
still hoping for "yes" or "no" :)
Post by virtual
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
There is no rule and no rule of thumb.
It is like saying: which is the best set of golf clubs?
It all depends on the player. It all depends on the guitar. It all
depends on the interaction between the player and the guitar. Sometimes,
it might even depends on what kind of music you are playing.
Get yourself ready for a period of trial and error ;)
Have fun
--
Resources to play the guitar for fun and relaxation
http://www.virtualguitarcenter.com
One aspect of string tension is how the strings feel under the LH and
the expected resistance to the RH. I used D'Addario normal tension on
my first Pavan until I tried the Hard tension to see how they would
sound. I never went back. In addition to liking the sound, I like how
the strings "resist" my RH. I think/feel the tension helps me to play
without plucking horizontilly. Normal tension trebles now feel too
spongy. I have a SoloEtte and GraduEtte, each with D'Addarion J33's
(recommended) which have hard tension basses and normal tension trebles
and those strings feel different - just what I'm now used to.

As far as sound, I now use Savarez Alliance hard tension carbon trebles
with D'Addario hard tension basses (J46). I can get more brightness
out of the trebles but can also get a fatter sound closer to nylon.
And they last longer.

Here's an unscientific approach, if you put on new strings and
weeks/months later you can't remember when you changed them, you
probably like how they sound.

Ed S.
kristina
2007-01-17 19:38:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@yahoo.com
I used D'Addario normal tension on
my first Pavan until I tried the Hard tension to see how they would
sound. I never went back. In addition to liking the sound, I like how
the strings "resist" my RH. I think/feel the tension helps me to play
without plucking horizontilly. Normal tension trebles now feel too
spongy.
Ed S.
Ed,

Could you elaborate on this, specifically about them helping you not to
pluck horizontally? Do you mean this as opposed to playing on the left
side of the nail?

Do you angle your hand towards your left ear or play more parallel to
the strings in a Segovia fashion?

I am currently using the "lightly polished" D'Addarios, normal tension.
Once I found out that they are supposed to look like tarnished crap
and I got over it, I found I really like them. I don't notice it
anymore, but when I was getting used to them, they seemed far less
slippery {the basses} than what I was using, which were the normal
tension D'Addarios.


-kristina
Larry Deack
2007-01-17 20:07:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by kristina
Ed,
Could you elaborate on this, specifically about them helping you not to
pluck horizontally? Do you mean this as opposed to playing on the left
side of the nail?
Do you angle your hand towards your left ear or play more parallel to
the strings in a Segovia fashion?
Not to jump in but...

Pluck is an unfortunate word since it implies pulling the string and
letting it snap back. If you push the string toward the fretboard then
let it pop back up (sliding off the fingernail at an angle)you can get
more volume and a rounder sound. This is easier to do with rest stroke
than free and also much easier to show students than describe it in text.

I think the major difference in tone between most fingerstyle players
and "classical" players is that most classical players learn to "get
into" the strings more and not hook the string with the nail. At first
it does not seem "natural" and tends to be slower but with time it
becomes intuitive and can be done at high speed.
kristina
2007-01-17 20:36:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larry Deack
Post by kristina
Ed,
Could you elaborate on this, specifically about them helping you not to
pluck horizontally? Do you mean this as opposed to playing on the left
side of the nail?
Do you angle your hand towards your left ear or play more parallel to
the strings in a Segovia fashion?
Not to jump in but...
Pluck is an unfortunate word since it implies pulling the string and
letting it snap back. If you push the string toward the fretboard then
let it pop back up (sliding off the fingernail at an angle)you can get
more volume and a rounder sound. This is easier to do with rest stroke
than free and also much easier to show students than describe it in text.
Larry,

Yes, I agree - I just wanted clarification on Ed's definition of
horizontal plucking. I am working to make my free stroke nearly
indistinguishable from my rest stroke. Tone production is something I
need to think about more often.


-kristina
e***@yahoo.com
2007-01-18 00:26:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by kristina
Post by Larry Deack
Post by kristina
Ed,
Could you elaborate on this, specifically about them helping you not to
pluck horizontally? Do you mean this as opposed to playing on the left
side of the nail?
Do you angle your hand towards your left ear or play more parallel to
the strings in a Segovia fashion?
Not to jump in but...
Pluck is an unfortunate word since it implies pulling the string and
letting it snap back. If you push the string toward the fretboard then
let it pop back up (sliding off the fingernail at an angle)you can get
more volume and a rounder sound. This is easier to do with rest stroke
than free and also much easier to show students than describe it in text.
Larry,
Yes, I agree - I just wanted clarification on Ed's definition of
horizontal plucking. I am working to make my free stroke nearly
indistinguishable from my rest stroke. Tone production is something I
need to think about more often.
-kristina
Kristina,

Larry's post explained it better and was right on target. I thought I
removed the word "pluck" because I felt it was the wrong word to use.
I practice a warm up that allows me to monitor that I'm pushing the
string down toward the top while my RH finger moves across the string.
Along with all the experts here (really) Douglas Niedt has a good
article on the free stroke.

http://www.douglasniedt.citymax.com/GettingAGoodFreeStrokeTone.html

Ed S.
kristina
2007-01-18 17:05:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Post by kristina
Post by Larry Deack
Post by kristina
Ed,
Could you elaborate on this, specifically about them helping you not to
pluck horizontally? Do you mean this as opposed to playing on the left
side of the nail?
Do you angle your hand towards your left ear or play more parallel to
the strings in a Segovia fashion?
Not to jump in but...
Pluck is an unfortunate word since it implies pulling the string and
letting it snap back. If you push the string toward the fretboard then
let it pop back up (sliding off the fingernail at an angle)you can get
more volume and a rounder sound. This is easier to do with rest stroke
than free and also much easier to show students than describe it in text.
Larry,
Yes, I agree - I just wanted clarification on Ed's definition of
horizontal plucking. I am working to make my free stroke nearly
indistinguishable from my rest stroke. Tone production is something I
need to think about more often.
-kristina
Kristina,
Larry's post explained it better and was right on target. I thought I
removed the word "pluck" because I felt it was the wrong word to use.
I practice a warm up that allows me to monitor that I'm pushing the
string down toward the top while my RH finger moves across the string.
Along with all the experts here (really) Douglas Niedt has a good
article on the free stroke.
http://www.douglasniedt.citymax.com/GettingAGoodFreeStrokeTone.html
Ed S.
Ed,

Ok... so basically it is easier for you to execute a crisp, snappy,
push-and-release free stroke on the tighter string. Yes?


-kristina
e***@yahoo.com
2007-01-18 18:41:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by kristina
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Post by kristina
Post by Larry Deack
Post by kristina
Ed,
Could you elaborate on this, specifically about them helping you not to
pluck horizontally? Do you mean this as opposed to playing on the left
side of the nail?
Do you angle your hand towards your left ear or play more parallel to
the strings in a Segovia fashion?
Not to jump in but...
Pluck is an unfortunate word since it implies pulling the string and
letting it snap back. If you push the string toward the fretboard then
let it pop back up (sliding off the fingernail at an angle)you can get
more volume and a rounder sound. This is easier to do with rest stroke
than free and also much easier to show students than describe it in text.
Larry,
Yes, I agree - I just wanted clarification on Ed's definition of
horizontal plucking. I am working to make my free stroke nearly
indistinguishable from my rest stroke. Tone production is something I
need to think about more often.
-kristina
Kristina,
Larry's post explained it better and was right on target. I thought I
removed the word "pluck" because I felt it was the wrong word to use.
I practice a warm up that allows me to monitor that I'm pushing the
string down toward the top while my RH finger moves across the string.
Along with all the experts here (really) Douglas Niedt has a good
article on the free stroke.
http://www.douglasniedt.citymax.com/GettingAGoodFreeStrokeTone.html
Ed S.
Ed,
Ok... so basically it is easier for you to execute a crisp, snappy,
push-and-release free stroke on the tighter string. Yes?
-kristina
Kristina,
Post by kristina
Ok... so basically it is easier for you to execute a crisp, snappy,
push-and-release free stroke on the tighter string. Yes?
Yes. But after posting my comments and thinking about answering your
question to me I began to think that it is time to test my own theory.
Then I read Ted Haskell's post and Al Carruth's post and thought I
definitely need to test my own theory.

Last night I ordered 2 sets of D'Addario J45 bass strings and Saverez
Alliance carbon trebles (normal/standard tension) and I will install
the normal tension strings Sunday night after guitar orchestra reheasal
and salon.

I'll let you all know what happens as far as RH resistance and free
stroke sound and overall guitar sound with normal tension strings.

Ed S.
e***@yahoo.com
2007-01-25 05:06:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Post by kristina
Post by e***@yahoo.com
Post by kristina
Post by Larry Deack
Post by kristina
Ed,
Could you elaborate on this, specifically about them helping you not to
pluck horizontally? Do you mean this as opposed to playing on the left
side of the nail?
Do you angle your hand towards your left ear or play more parallel to
the strings in a Segovia fashion?
Not to jump in but...
Pluck is an unfortunate word since it implies pulling the string and
letting it snap back. If you push the string toward the fretboard then
let it pop back up (sliding off the fingernail at an angle)you can get
more volume and a rounder sound. This is easier to do with rest stroke
than free and also much easier to show students than describe it in text.
Larry,
Yes, I agree - I just wanted clarification on Ed's definition of
horizontal plucking. I am working to make my free stroke nearly
indistinguishable from my rest stroke. Tone production is something I
need to think about more often.
-kristina
Kristina,
Larry's post explained it better and was right on target. I thought I
removed the word "pluck" because I felt it was the wrong word to use.
I practice a warm up that allows me to monitor that I'm pushing the
string down toward the top while my RH finger moves across the string.
Along with all the experts here (really) Douglas Niedt has a good
article on the free stroke.
http://www.douglasniedt.citymax.com/GettingAGoodFreeStrokeTone.html
Ed S.
Ed,
Ok... so basically it is easier for you to execute a crisp, snappy,
push-and-release free stroke on the tighter string. Yes?
-kristinaKristina,
Ok... so basically it is easier for you to execute a crisp, snappy,
push-and-release free stroke on the tighter string. Yes?Yes. But after posting my comments and thinking about answering your
question to me I began to think that it is time to test my own theory.
Then I read Ted Haskell's post and Al Carruth's post and thought I
definitely need to test my own theory.
Last night I ordered 2 sets of D'Addario J45 bass strings and Saverez
Alliance carbon trebles (normal/standard tension) and I will install
the normal tension strings Sunday night after guitar orchestra reheasal
and salon.
I'll let you all know what happens as far as RH resistance and free
stroke sound and overall guitar sound with normal tension strings.
Ed S.- Hide quoted text -- Show quoted text -
Kristina,

I put on the normal tension strings Monday night. The Alliance normal
tension carbon trebles have more texture than the high tension Alliance
trebles and just a bit less volume. I have not had to make any RH
adjustments and my sound/tone is about the same. I still prefer the
Alliance high tension carbon trebles. I have a set of Hannabach
carbon trebles that are rated medium/high tension. These just might be
the perfect tension, right between normal & high, between treble
volume, sound texture, and sustain.

As far as the normal tension basses - a definite no. There is a big
loss of volume, sustain and attack. So I will go back to the D'Addario
high tension basses the next string change.

Did you get a chance to read the Niedt article on free stroke?

Ed S.

Baabin
2007-01-07 18:23:45 UTC
Permalink
Mack,

You forgot to add what kind of a week it had been for the individual playing
it... LOL I think the only real answer to your question would involve your
recording the strings in question and listening for yourself. What you think
in this area is every bit as relevant as the " Most Expert" answer others
might provide. If you are happy with the resultant sound the world be
damned... Dang, attitude check for me huh?

Play in Peace,

Smitty

"Mack" <***@indiana.edu> wrote in message news:***@v33g2000cwv.googlegroups.com...
I'm, beginning to sense that musicians, as a group, are not ones to
settle for yes or no answers. That is meant as a compliment.

BUT--- if you will, consider two seperate B strings, made by the same
manufacturer, made of the same material, played on the same guitar,
temperature and humidity the same, venue the same, etc., tuned
correctly--- would the high tension version play a "brighter" sound
than the medium tension version?

If a few of you will try to muster a yes or no answer, I'll try my best
to go back to doing technical exercises today and not pester you about
this anymore.

The ability to share via the internet is invaluable and timely. I
guess I could just wait until my lesson next Friday and ask my teacher
this question. But being the passionate seasoned teacher that he is, I
know it would provoke a very interesting, but long, explanation. I'm
still hoping for "yes" or "no" :)
Post by virtual
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
There is no rule and no rule of thumb.
It is like saying: which is the best set of golf clubs?
It all depends on the player. It all depends on the guitar. It all
depends on the interaction between the player and the guitar. Sometimes,
it might even depends on what kind of music you are playing.
Get yourself ready for a period of trial and error ;)
Have fun
--
Resources to play the guitar for fun and relaxation
http://www.virtualguitarcenter.com
Che'
2007-01-07 17:53:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.<
I would start with http://www.labella.com/index.asp Labella has some bright-
colorful strings. Many strings are what we might call netural sounding. In
one case with a flamenco guitar I found the Labella trebles were great for
that specific guitar.

Get used to it.... there are very few things in black and white with the
guitar. We are long passed the Information Age and you will find on the
Information Super-Highway, called the internet, in the end of all
things..... It just depends.

Get used to it. Any determined person can play the guitar, the process is
simple. But for those who really want to get it right, or have a certain
signature sound in their mind, the guitar can become an obsession. Remember,
passion trumps obsession. If you are having intrusive thoughts
concerning a brighter sound. Go to a Gentleman's Club. That should take
your mind off that subject for a while.

Some folks say I am wrong.... I say... It just depends.

Che' de Guy
Mack
2007-01-07 18:36:17 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for the input. I'm sure I'm just getting ahead of myself with
the string questions. I'm going to just play what I have on my guitar
at the moment for a while and then go back to the Savarez Alliance
540Js that my teacher recommended in the first place and that I have
used for almost 2 1/2 years. The truth is I'm ok with the feel of high
tension and I prefer smooth trebles versus rectified nylon. The
Alliance works (except maybe a low tension string would help my barre a
bit, but then my action is set pretty low and there is the potential
for buzz).

What I really need to focus on is better playing, better sight reading,
music theory, and to learn some new pieces and forget about strings.
So that is what I'm going to do. One of these days selecting my own
strings may make a real difference, but I don't think I'm there yet.
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
Tom F.
2007-01-12 12:36:41 UTC
Permalink
Hi list. Coming back to this list to post after a very long hiatus.

Just to chime in...

Mack, what you have to realize is that there are too many variables to
give a yes/no answer.

Some guitars will respond well to the higher tension and give you more
volume and maybe even brighter tone (though that is more subjective).
The vibration of other guitars may be constrained by the extra tension
and actually give less sound.

Also, how you play and what you expect can't be separated out from this
process.

I tend to think of D'Addario ProArte as a fairly neutral string. With a
new or unknown guitar, I'll start with them and get a feeling for the
feel and tone of the instrument. With that (necessarily subjective)
knowledge I will begin to formulate a "plan of attack" on choosing the
proper strings that will make ME satisfied I'm getting the best tone I
can on this particular guitar.

Finally, what I like has changed over the years as well. I now tend to
favor a brighter sound than I used to and I also tend to favor Savarez
when I can. I used to go for Luthier, LaBella and Thomastik-Infeld much
more than I do now. But it would be an overstatement to say, "I don't
use them anymore."

I used to sometimes consider heavy tension strings for a guitar, but
now I almost never do. I prefer to raise the action a bit instead.
Gives the tone more "pop."

Also, don't hesitate to ask you teacher and any other guitarist you may
know. Different ears may sense things you miss and everyone brings
their own set of experiences into the mix.

Tom
tooly
2007-01-15 20:32:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tom F.
Hi list. Coming back to this list to post after a very long hiatus.
Just to chime in...
Mack, what you have to realize is that there are too many variables to
give a yes/no answer.
Some guitars will respond well to the higher tension and give you more
volume and maybe even brighter tone (though that is more subjective).
The vibration of other guitars may be constrained by the extra tension
and actually give less sound.
Also, how you play and what you expect can't be separated out from this
process.
I tend to think of D'Addario ProArte as a fairly neutral string. With a
new or unknown guitar, I'll start with them and get a feeling for the
feel and tone of the instrument. With that (necessarily subjective)
knowledge I will begin to formulate a "plan of attack" on choosing the
proper strings that will make ME satisfied I'm getting the best tone I
can on this particular guitar.
Finally, what I like has changed over the years as well. I now tend to
favor a brighter sound than I used to and I also tend to favor Savarez
when I can. I used to go for Luthier, LaBella and Thomastik-Infeld much
more than I do now. But it would be an overstatement to say, "I don't
use them anymore."
I used to sometimes consider heavy tension strings for a guitar, but
now I almost never do. I prefer to raise the action a bit instead.
Gives the tone more "pop."
Also, don't hesitate to ask you teacher and any other guitarist you may
know. Different ears may sense things you miss and everyone brings
their own set of experiences into the mix.
Tom
Having once used high tension strings for a period of time, will it harm
your neck to go back to normal?
Tom F.
2007-01-16 22:30:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by tooly
Having once used high tension strings for a period of time, will it harm
your neck to go back to normal?
It really shouldn't. I guess anything's possible, but I never heard of
high tension strings doing that.

Especially if it is for a short period, I wouldn't worry.

Of course, necks go out all the time and who knows why in each case?
But I myself never got the feeling that high tension strings had
anything to do with it. A luthier should be able to explain this in
better detail.

Tom
ted haskell
2007-01-17 18:58:42 UTC
Permalink
To expand on what Tom wrote, my experience has been that higher tension
strings tend to darken (mellow) the sound, and shorten the sustain.
Medium tension strings tend to brighten the sound and lengthen the
sustain. I think that Tom's description of the vibration being
"constrained" by the extra tension is what causes much of this
difference. I've been happiest with medium tension strings after
experimenting, because all other things being equal, I like the sustain
and broader color palette. Over the years I've never had a guitar that
responded differently (Moench, Ramirez, Rompre, White), but I suppose
there are exceptions. I would assume the exception would be heavily
braced tops where the braces take up more of the extra compression
leaving the top to vibrate more freely but I should leave it to a
builder to address that further.
Post by Tom F.
Hi list. Coming back to this list to post after a very long hiatus.
Just to chime in...
Mack, what you have to realize is that there are too many variables to
give a yes/no answer.
Some guitars will respond well to the higher tension and give you more
volume and maybe even brighter tone (though that is more subjective).
The vibration of other guitars may be constrained by the extra tension
and actually give less sound.
Also, how you play and what you expect can't be separated out from this
process.
I tend to think of D'Addario ProArte as a fairly neutral string. With a
new or unknown guitar, I'll start with them and get a feeling for the
feel and tone of the instrument. With that (necessarily subjective)
knowledge I will begin to formulate a "plan of attack" on choosing the
proper strings that will make ME satisfied I'm getting the best tone I
can on this particular guitar.
Finally, what I like has changed over the years as well. I now tend to
favor a brighter sound than I used to and I also tend to favor Savarez
when I can. I used to go for Luthier, LaBella and Thomastik-Infeld much
more than I do now. But it would be an overstatement to say, "I don't
use them anymore."
I used to sometimes consider heavy tension strings for a guitar, but
now I almost never do. I prefer to raise the action a bit instead.
Gives the tone more "pop."
Also, don't hesitate to ask you teacher and any other guitarist you may
know. Different ears may sense things you miss and everyone brings
their own set of experiences into the mix.
Tom
alcarruth
2007-01-17 20:49:32 UTC
Permalink
ted haskell wrote:
" To expand on what Tom wrote, my experience has been that higher
tension
strings tend to darken (mellow) the sound, and shorten the sustain."

Right. There's a physical reason for this, that takes a little
explaining: the relative 'impedance' of the string and top.

Impedance refers to how difficult it is to get something moving at a
particular frequency. With conductive strings, either solid metal or
the lower, wound strings on a classical, it's possible to rig up an
electromagnetic driver. You put an alternating current through the
string, which passes between the poles of a magnet, and it vibrates at
whatever the frequency of the current is. This is a fun experiment, but
I'll warn you that you can cook a D string pretty quickly from the
resistance in the windings, and it never will sound the same afterward!
If you're driving at some frequency other than the pitch the string is
tuned to, or a harmonic of that, you don't get much motion for a given
current, but at resonance, the amplitude is greater. Mechanical
impedance is defined as the ratio of (velocity/force) at a given
frequency: velocity is related to the amplitude, and force is
proportional to current in this setup. Thus, off resonance, the
impedance is high because it takes a lot of force to achieve a given
amplitude.

You can do something similar for the top of the guitar at the bridge,
of course. As with the string the impedance is lowest at the
frequencies of any resonances that involve motion at the bridge
location, and higher at other frequencies. Unlike the string, though,
the complex structure of the top causes the resonances to be at all
sorts of unrelated pitches. The 'dips' in the impedance curve can be
measured, but they're hard to predict on a guitar top, unlike those of
a string.

The things that determine the impedance of an object are its mass,
stiffness or tension, and the amount of 'loss' in it. Higher tension
strings are heavier then low tension ones, and are also tighter, so
they have higher impedance. The top of the guitar, of course, weighs a
lot more than the strings do, and it's pretty stiff, too, so, in
general, the impedance is higher. However, it's not a simple matter of
addition. Remember that the impedance of something has to be specified
at a particular frequency. That's because the 'stiffness' and 'mass'
terms actually can cancel each other out at specific frequenceis,
leaving the total impedance equal to the 'loss' associated with
friction and things like sound radiation. This is why thicker strings
of a given material need to be at higher tension to have the same
pitch: you've got to get the larger mass term to cancel out with a
larger tension one.

One thing that knowing the impedance can tell you is how easy it is for
the energy of vibration to travel from one object to another. When the
impedances match, the energy transfer is complete, when they don't,
some energy is reflected at the boundary. This is why you have to match
the impedance of loudspeakers with that of the amplifier; the
efficiency suffers if you don't. But it's not just the efficiency: the
frequnecy response can change as well. That's because the impedance
varies with frequency. As a general thing, impedance is higher at high
frequencies, but that's a really general generality.

The upshot of all of this is that it's harder for a thin string to get
it's energy across the 'impedance barrier' of the bridge to drive the
top than it is for a thicker string. However, the thin string tends to
do relatively better at higher frequencies than at low ones. Thus,
higher tension strings tend to have a little more output at all
frequencies than lighter ones, but, in particular, they give more bass
response. They also tend to lose their energy faster to the top, so the
sustain is less.

It has been suggested that a top that is 'impedance matched' exactly to
the strings would give the most volume. This is probably true, as far
as it goes. However, it's the mismatch in impedance at the bridge that
'tells' the string how long it is, and thus, together with the tension,
what pitch to make. One outcome of too close an impedance match between
a string and a bridge is the 'wolf' note found on many 'cellos. The
same sort of thing can happen on guitars, although it's usually not as
pronounced or disasterous. The closest impedance match between strings
and the top is generally found on the banjo, and that's a big part of
the reason for that characteristic banjo tone.

Finally, none of this is to ignore the notion of 'choking' of the top
by heavier strings. That's a little harder to think about physically,
but is not an unlikely thing.

Alan Carruth / Luthier
mambocombo
2007-01-12 15:46:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mack
I've searched the group history and see that tension has been discussed
repeatedly and I have read almost everything that has been said. But
I'm still stuck on one thing. With about everthing else being equal,
will high tension strings produce a "brighter" sound than medium
tension strings or low tension strings? From what I have read, tension
primarily affects feel and not quality of sound.
I'm obsessing on this. Someone help me out-- please.
With everything else being equal, low tension strings will sound more
twangy and have more high overtones than high tension strings.
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