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Unread 06-27-2011, 11:31 AM   #1
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The A4 and beyond thread

I feel we loose too much valuable info on discussions, experiences and experiments with tuning to A4, and have therefore made this threads.

I suggest a Moderator stickies this. Do move it to the Luthierie section, if deemed more suited

I'm hoping this will enable all, and very importantly, some cool future-seing manufaturers to more easily refer what we know and need.

As first thing, I'm adding links to a few previous threads, containing interesting info as already discussed.
I'll poke my saved threads for more and add those a Bit later.


Previous threads, as reference material:

String Review: Octave4Plus .006 High A (up to 30" scale) on Agile Intrepid
Besides A4+ info, also contains many general discussons about tuning to A4.

Tuning UP? D'addario .007 .008 .0085 experiences
Has info on practical experiments tuning high.

Ways to multiscale
Besides discussing future directions for multiscales, post #38 and on a few posts, has info on interesting alloys for hight-tuned strings.

'Strings gauges and inharmonicity' question
This is special to how strings do or do not intonate correctly with gauges, but likewise has interesting reads on related technology.

Full fifths tuning - technology finally catching up to ideas
Also has info on tuning high.

Adding a high A instead of the low F sharp
Seems someone got lucky tuning even beyond b5!


Prerequisites for high tunings:
Do not attempt to tune high without observing these basic prerequisites.
Posting getting a whatever string up to A4 on non-specified hardware, lasting two days, wil not add any usefull info at all.
I do understand the below may seem like asking a lot, but if we are to successfully pressurize manufacturers to deliver out-of-the-box-no-big-deal A4 strings, detailed info will be needed.

When tuning up, please observe the prerequisites stated below, and tell us:
. which instrument
. which bridge
. which type of nut
. which tuners/stringlocks
. which string brand model
. both the scale and, very importantly, the total string length from ball to early wraps on tuner peg
. which special treatments you may have done to instrument and/or string - like how on earth you handled the through-body problem
. which procedures was taken, i.e. how the string was mounted, tuned up fast or slowly with how long pauses per semitone et al..
. how long the string lasted - and where it broke, including you own assessment on why you think it broke just there..
. how nicely the string was treated, or how severe it was abused, like bendiing 1 stop, whammified et al..

These are some basic prerequisites I've partly poked from various discussions, partly from own experiments:
. make sure all frets are neatly dressed and polished
. make sure bridge saddes are inspected with a magnifier, and trimmed/polished to perfection
. same for the nut
. make sure there are no sharp edges on the tuner peg slot/hole

If you have successfully tuned high, lasting what feels like a nice time, this will likely warrent a nifty discussion, so please make a cool separate thread, so we can include this as yet another neat reference up in the Previous threads.. section
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Unread 06-27-2011, 02:12 PM   #2
prototyping...
 
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Great idea vansinn

All of those threads are very valuable to me and I intend to design for high A tuning on my upcoming builds.
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Unread 06-27-2011, 02:20 PM   #3
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Awesome thread idea. About time!
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Unread 06-28-2011, 03:32 AM   #4
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Here's an example of how not to, and to more informingly, post results.

Not so usefull:
I tuned an old 25" Dan Armstrong up to A4, using an off the shelf Rotosound 008 (what my shop had).
It lasted a week. I came home from work, and it had snapped. I managed to bend it -1 seminote.

More usefull:
I tuned an old 25" Dan Armstrong up to A4, using an off the shelf Rotosound 008 (what my shop had).
It lasted a week. I came home from work, and it had snapped. I managed to bend it -1 seminote.

As said, it's a 25" scale instrument. Back in my young'n'dum days, I stupidly had it modded with a Mighty Mite ToM-like bridge with brass saddles, with grooves filed decently nice, and a ditto classic tailpiece.
Tuners are classic bulky Shallers. Nut is bone.
Frets are a fairly small, of very hard allow (seemingly containing copper). They've lasted ages and are still neat not requiring a polish job.

Distance from ball end to saddle on the high string is 52mm (just over two inches).
Distance from nut to tuner on high string is about 58mm, counting in the early wrap around the tuner peg.
This means a total wire length of close to 30".

The string snapped seemingly at a ramdom spot. I pulled the broken string with a tool to see if it had broken right over a fret, but this wasn't so..

Had the tuner been placed quite close to the nut, and likewise the tailpiece placed closer to the bridge (which we normally don't do), the total string/wire length could've been reduced to maybe 27" or so..
I have the feeling that this might have allowed less total tension over the full string/wire length, and as such it might have fared decently better. Speculations, of course..

Also, while I have no objections towards the Rotosound used, it wasn't really shiny looking. I have the feeling that a string made from a better type of steel might likewise have fared better.
Who knows how long it would've lasted... I'll give it a try with the La Bella HRS strings Mtech suggested in another thread
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Unread 06-28-2011, 04:19 AM   #5
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I did a test at 27" a while back. Details are in that thread. RG2228 with a fixed Edge III-8, so no ball end in a clamp over an extremely smooth saddle over an extremely smooth nut. It wrapped itself around the tuner as I tuned up, can't remember how many wraps. First D'Addario 0.007 snapped, then the second one tuned up fine to A. Didn't dare bend past a quarter-tone. Played it constantly for at least two hours, then I was stupid and forgot to undo the locking nut while I tuned it up...

It snapped at the tuner, of course. Still, not a bad result for roughly $1.20~ for stock strings. The hardware was pretty much perfect with no weak points except the tuner, so apart from the lack of bendability, I imagine a straight-through Steinberger tuner would have left no weak points except the integrity of the string itself. Anyway, those are my results for future reference about a cheap test. I then used a D'Addario 0.008 for G and it was fine for a half-step bend for around two weeks until I got bored and tuned it down.
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Unread 06-28-2011, 08:36 AM   #6
prototyping...
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vansinn View Post
Had the tuner been placed quite close to the nut, and likewise the tailpiece placed closer to the bridge (which we normally don't do), the total string/wire length could've been reduced to maybe 27" or so..
I have the feeling that this might have allowed less total tension over the full string/wire length, and as such it might have fared decently better. Speculations, of course..
The tension on any string is determined by the scale length only, additional length past the nut or bridge saddles should have no effect on the tension needed to reach any given pitch.
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Unread 06-28-2011, 10:35 AM   #7
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^ hmnn.. I believe it was agreed in one of the referred threads that the total wire length does play in when it comes to string breaking. For reaching pitch it's the scale only, of course.
I may likely be in error; will check the treads tonite.
It's important the opening post doesn't state incorrect facts.
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Unread 06-28-2011, 05:44 PM   #8
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I'm happy to see this thread and will be checking it often.

Having a 9 string 30" scale banjo, it's not easy to find strings for my guitar, much less a 30" scale .007 that I can use as an A4.

I recieved an email just today from O4P saying that indeed they have discontinued their 30" A4. I was hoping to try a EBEADGBEA tuning.

What are other options for someone (to lazy to search on his own) to git a A4 at 30"?

Thanks in advance.

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Unread 06-28-2011, 05:47 PM   #9
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I came here expecting something to do with sizes of sheets of paper

useful info
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Unread 06-28-2011, 06:16 PM   #10
prototyping...
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishnuggets View Post
What are other options for someone (to lazy to search on his own) to git a A4 at 30"?
There are none, at least as far as the collective knowledge-base here has ever posted about.
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Unread 06-28-2011, 09:59 PM   #11
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. Instrument: Ibanez AX7221
. Bridge: Factory hipshot style
. Nut: Factory Ibanez
. Tuners: Factory Ibanez
. Strings: D'addario .008 plain steel
. Scale: 24.75"
. Special Treatments: Frets polished, saddles are all smooth, no real "special" treatments here
. Procedure: Slap it on and tune it up. Don't pussyfoot around with it, shit'll be fine
. String Life: To be determined.. I have had this on for close to 5 weeks and even taken it off to repaint headstock and reinstalled with no issues
. String Treatment: It's a fixed bridge so I have no idea if it will hold up to a trem. I bend regularly but only 1/2 step and maybe a bit beyond. No abuse other than attempting super hard/fast picking to see if it'll break (it hasn't)

I have 2 more .008 strings to test as they break so I can find true life of them but so far this scale seems perfect for high A. I know many people want to know about longer scales, but I believe this is a good starting point for you guys to see an easy way to get to A and what works for sure. If you have a 24.75" scale, try an 8 from d'addario, make sure your frets/saddles are clean, and you'll be high note jammin without the string breaking headache.
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Unread 06-29-2011, 01:04 AM   #12
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Nothing to add about A4 yet (other than my 10 string, which I will comment on when it's back from a pickup swap). But I do want to say I'm FULLY in support of this forum, and I would LOVE to see further research/development in this area. And if there's anywhere in the world for this sort of thing to develop, I can't think of a more likely epicenter than this forum.
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Unread 06-29-2011, 01:09 AM   #13
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+1- Thanks for making this thread. I definitely want to try this sometime in the near future with my 10.
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Unread 06-30-2011, 06:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Durero View Post
There are none, at least as far as the collective knowledge-base here has ever posted about.


I received an email from juststrings answering my question of overall length of their .007 string. They claim it's 42" in lenght. At $.49 it's seems worth buying a few to experiment with. I'll hook that up tomorrow.

I'm hoping to get a EBEADGBEA tuning happening.

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Unread 06-30-2011, 06:32 PM   #15
prototyping...
 
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Worth a try. Let us know the results
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Unread 06-30-2011, 07:29 PM   #16
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Unread 06-30-2011, 10:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollowway View Post
Nothing to add about A4 yet (other than my 10 string, which I will comment on when it's back from a pickup swap). But I do want to say I'm FULLY in support of this forum, and I would LOVE to see further research/development in this area. And if there's anywhere in the world for this sort of thing to develop, I can't think of a more likely epicenter than this forum.
What are you swapping with?
Were the Villex no good? I'm thinking about looking around for a custom pickup for the 10 and they're on my list.
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Unread 07-01-2011, 05:48 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Garry Goodman View Post
And this is exactly one of the reasons I opened this thread - attracting the producers!

So far we are seeing manufacturer interest from Octave4plus and La Bella, via Mtech. Where are the others ?
Innovation is driven by customer needs and competition; without the latter, the result is stagnation..
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Unread 07-01-2011, 06:21 PM   #19
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And this is exactly one of the reasons I opened this thread - attracting the producers!

So far we are seeing manufacturer interest from Octave4plus and La Bella, via Mtech. Where are the others ?
Innovation is driven by customer needs and competition; without the latter, the result is stagnation..

What exactly are the customer's needs in this case?
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Unread 07-02-2011, 05:43 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vansinn
Innovation is driven by customer needs and competition; without the latter, the result is stagnation..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garry Goodman View Post
What exactly are the customer's needs in this case?
I can of course only answer on my own viewpoints and needs

I'd like to see affordable strings (dunno, say.. max a dollar..) which can be tuned right up to A4 at scales from 25" to say.. 27" without special requirements other that the obvious, i.e. the whole string path must be as straight and smooth as possible (as stated in the OP).
Such strings should be bendable at least one semitone, preferably two.
They should be durable enough to not require a backup instrument. Changing uptuned strings a little more often than ordinary strings should be acceptable by players. though.
Such strings would also be useful for those working with up-tunings in fifth.
Plus of course be useful on other types of stringed instruments. I believe some banjo players tune high too, likely others as well..

Of course I realize some/many will want to be able to work with longer scales; however, I believe being able to cover the most commonly used scale ranges in production guitars would be a good start.

I have no idea as to how such a string would handle the sometimes rather sharp bend in through-body arrangements.

Taking it further, I'm working on being able to flip the top three strings, i.e. B,E,A(4) up one semitone, to have a full fourth tuning, mostly for shredding.
Again, I'd want to be able to bend 1-2 semitones, i.e. the string should be able to handle at least B4.

In the more extreme, I'd like being able to flip the top string between G4 and Bb4, while stiil being able to bend 1-2 semitones.
The reason being that on the upper 4 strings, I'd like to be able to flip between major forth tuning, ending on G4, over 'standard' tuning, ending on A4, and full fourth tuning, ending on Bb4.
Adding the need for bendings, I see this as quite a requirement on the strings ability to handle at least two full stops of pitch change
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Unread 07-02-2011, 09:36 PM   #21
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Good to see you back here, Garry.

I'm slightly confused.

At 25.5", I've taken D'Addario .007s up to A4 on a cheap Samick. They typically snap in unusual places after a couple days. Garry's strings last much longer than stock D'Addarios, but they do feel a little different.

One comment for everyone here to contemplate - Are you familiar with pedal steel guitar? These instruments have a scale length of typically 25-26", and the highest string is tuned G#4, with a pedal that takes it up to A4. This is the same scale length as the guitars we speak of, with a string tuned a half step lower with a semitone bend available. This is in standard E9 tuning, so it's nothing special for country players to deal with. Why does it seem like brain surgery to try to replicate this tension in rock music?

Some of the older classical players, by the way, had seven string classical guitars with a high a.

I have my Oni strung with a 23 5/8" high A4 for years now, and I've had no more string breakage problems with the high string than I've had with any other string. I've never had much trouble tuning my crappy Samick or my $79 Dean with a G#4 at 25.5" with plain old D'Addarios.

I just can't believe that it's this much trouble for the members here.

Maybe it's the bridge, or other hardware - or maybe it's the more aggressive playing style.

I would urge you all to keep experimenting if you want to tune up. I know some members here had a rough time with the O4+ strings, but I'm pretty sure there was some extenuating circumstance, because I've never had mechanical issues with mine. I'm pretty sure if I can take a poorly made Samick seven string and tune up to A4 with an ordinary .007, a little sandpaper, a toothbrush, and a couple hours patience, that you guys should be able to figure this one out.

Incidentally, have any of you tried the RPS strings made to withstand higher tensions?
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Unread 07-03-2011, 12:13 AM   #22
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I've still had the same O4P high A at 27" on my 10 since I got it. My style of playing rarely sees a lot of bending, but it should still speak for the string itself.
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Unread 07-03-2011, 12:46 AM   #23
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Quote:
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I've still had the same O4P high A at 27" on my 10 since I got it. My style of playing rarely sees a lot of bending, but it should still speak for the string itself.
Thanks for posting this! Please PM me.

You represent the feelings of about 450 Octave4Plus customers, some of which are iconic guitarists.
Octave4Plus were the first dedicated A4 and B4 strings.

They are always being improved.

Visit the Octave4Plus Facebook page to see how the A4 strings and B4 strings tune to pitch in under 1 minute on a Strat copy and under 2 minutes on the Oakland Axe Factory 10-string.

The new .0055 can bend pitch up a minor 3rd. Video coming soon.
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Unread 07-03-2011, 12:52 AM   #24
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I've had extensive experience with O4P strings and they've far outperformed anything else I've tried. They've reached A4 on my 28.625" scale 9-string but have usually broken after a month or two.

Since I've tuned down to G#4 on the same guitar I'm still using the first O4P string I've tried and it's been on there for well over a year now(!)

The O4P strings seem to last significantly longer before corroding as well



Edit: Garry I didn't see your post before posting mine. I should say for the record that my statement above is about the performance of strings which Garry sent me about two years ago or thereabouts. Glad to hear they're still being improved Garry
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Unread 07-03-2011, 01:18 AM   #25
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Quote:
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What are you swapping with?
Were the Villex no good? I'm thinking about looking around for a custom pickup for the 10 and they're on my list.
No, I was happy with the Villex pups, but I asked for them to be reverse P style (so the active pole pieces on the bass strings would be against the bridge, and the active pole pieces on the treble strings toward the next) and he accidentally made it the reverse of that (standard P style). So he's making new ones. It was a bit of a production because he epoxies them in custom shells so Tom had to make new pup shells from scratch. But I plan on getting his pups in a future 9 from Tom. They're very clear (due to not being too hot).
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