Mind Riot's Guide to D'Addario String Tension

Discussion in 'The Sevenstring.org Workbench' started by Mind Riot, May 28, 2006.

  1. Mind Riot

    Mind Riot Devoted seven stringer

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    Sorry about the delay everybody, I got it worked out now.

    Mind Riot's Guide to String Tension

    Most guitarists use whatever strings are available to them, and are quite happy doing things that way. If you are one of those, this might not be of particular interest to you. But given that individual and custom strings are becoming more widely available through the internet many guitarists are seeking to experiment with different tensions and sizes of strings. In particular, seven string guitarists and other lower range players are interested in this as they've found that having the right tension on your strings becomes more important the lower you go and has more of an effect on how things play and sound. They've also noticed that the low B strings many makers package with their seven string sets, while looking good numerically as far as their guage, are wildy different tension wise than the rest of the set.

    Many, if not most, guitarists may not notice these things. And again, if you are one of those, more power to you, it's easier for you to get strings that please you than it is for some others. But for those who are interested in trying out different guages and tensions of strings or are just curious about such things, I hope some of this information will prove helpful or at least interesting.

    There seems to be two major methods of doing things when it comes to making what some would call a 'tension matched' set of strings. One is to make all the strings right around the same tension, the other is to have the string tension slightly increase as the strings get bigger. Personally, I kind of do both, in that I try to make my unwound strings around the same tension with each other for consistent feel and bending and then make my wound strings similar tension to each other as well, but higher tension than the unwound strings. (If I'm missing some other methods, forgive me.)

    A typical 10-46 set of strings, tuned to standard on a 25 1/2" scale, is already a pretty nicely balanced set as far as tension goes. (By the way, these measurements, as well as the entire list, are in pounds and are rounded to the nearest hundredth of a pound.) It is pretty consistent, with the exception of the low E string which has a full two pounds less tension than the A string. The set would be more balanced with a .049 low E string , which would give a more even 19.66 pounds of tension.

    E: .010: 16.2
    B: .013: 15.37
    G: .017: 16.56
    D: .026: 18.39
    A: .036: 19.52
    E: .046: 17.47

    But now, when we look at the typical string that manufacturors include in these kind of sets as a low B string, we can see how simply adding ten thousandths of an inch to each strings' thickness does not keep the tension consistent.

    B: .056: 14.78

    Almost three pounds less than the low E string which is in itself two pounds less than the A. The low B string has almost five pounds less tension than the A string. Many string manufacturors include this guage of string in their seven string sets. To get an even tension with the A string, we would need to go up to a .064 (19.24) or .066 (20.5). As you can see, as the pitches get lower the strings need to get bigger in larger steps to maintain even tension. Going up from .026 to .036 may keep the tension even from D to A, but to keep it even in E you need to go up thirteen thousands of an inch and to go from THAT to B you need to go up fifteen. As the pitches get lower, the size differences between the strings gets bigger to maintain equal tension.

    Now whether you're just looking for the perfect B string or are going with a total custom string set or anywhere in between, I hope that this list of tensions will prove helpful.

    For some nitty gritty facts, here's the formula I used for my calculations:

    F=Frequency

    L=Scale length

    UW=Unit weight


    Tension=(UW x (2 x L x F)2) / 386.4

    As I said, all tensions are measured in pounds and are rounded to the nearest hundredth of a pound. I got my information on the string unit weights from a .pdf that D'Addario publishes, I believe you can find it on thier website (although, for some reason they don't seem to make a .058 wound string, which I know other manufacturors do and some folks use, but hopefully you'll be able to tell well enough where to go from the info on the .056 and .059 guages).

    As we all know, the scale length of a guitar radically affects it's feel as well as the string tension, so for each pitch and string I'm providing string tensions for four of the more common scale lengths (at least for seven string players). The lengths are 24 3/4" (short scale, Gibson Les Paul length), 25 1/2" scale (Fender scale, probably the most common overall, for seven or six string), 26 1/2" (Schecter extended scale as found on their Blackjack and Hellraiser series of guitars as well as some of their other models), and 27" (extended scale as found on the Ibanez RG7421XL, 1077XL, and other models as well as some of ESP's sevens and the Soloway Swans).

    I was originally going to provide a more comprehensive list of tensions, for all pitches within a certain range of the string. For instance, for the .007 that's first, I was going to provide tensions on all four scales for every pitch from the C just above the B string to a high G, but after getting into that I realized how much data that was going to involve so I just stuck with fairly standard pitches. There is a very wide range of tastes when it comes to string tension, so most of the strings have tensions for more than one pitch in standard tuning. Tony Iommi used .008's, Stevie Ray Vaughan used .013's, so I tried to include tensions for a wide range. One man's B is another man's tight high E. Also, one of the most common practices for seven string players is to play in drop A, where they drop the low B string down one whole step to A while leaving the rest of the guitar in standard. This has a more pronounced effect on the tension of a low B string that it has when people do it with drop D on a six string, so when we get into the B string guages I include a tension for the string being tuned to A as well.

    The pitches listed are standard tuning, with the exception of the high G listed in the smallest guage strings and the low A. I simply listed the pitches that would seem feasible to use with a given guage, hoping that everyone reading this would know enough about strings to not assume that when I list an E pitch for a .0012 string, I'm talking about the open high E on a guitar and not the low E. I hope that this will not be confusing to anyone.

    I realize that there are all kinds of holes in a list like this, such as if you're going to be using open tunings (as I frequently do) or some other variation, but I hope that this basic list will at least give folks some idea of where to start. A special thanks is in order to WayneCustom7 for introducing me and others to these concepts.

    Hope you all find this helpful!


    .007
    24 3/4"
    G: 10.57
    E: 7.48
    25 1/2"
    G: 11.22
    E: 7.94
    26 1/2"
    G: 12.12
    E: 8.57
    27"
    G: 12.58
    E: 8.9

    .008
    24 3/4"
    G: 13.82
    E: 9.77
    25 1/2"
    G: 14.67
    E: 10.37
    26 1/2"
    G: 15.84
    E: 11.2
    27"
    G: 16.44
    E: 11.63

    .0085
    24 3/4"
    G: 15.6
    E: 11.03
    25 1/2"
    G: 16.56
    E: 11.71
    26 1/2"
    G: 17.88
    E: 12.65
    27"
    G: 18.57
    E: 13.13

    .009
    24 3/4"
    E: 12.36
    25 1/2"
    E: 13.12
    26 1/2"
    E: 14.17
    27"
    E: 14.71

    .0095
    24 3/4"
    E: 13.77
    25 1/2"
    E: 14.62
    26 1/2"
    E: 15.79
    27"
    E: 16.39

    .010
    24 3/4"
    E: 15.26
    25 1/2"
    E: 16.2
    26 1/2"
    E: 17.5
    27"
    E: 18.16

    .0105
    24 3/4"
    E: 16.83
    25 1/2"
    E: 17.86
    26 1/2"
    E: 19.29
    27"
    E: 20.02

    .011
    24 3/4"
    E: 18.47
    B: 10.36
    25 1/2"
    E: 19.6
    B: 11
    26 1/2"
    E: 21.17
    B: 11.88
    27"
    E: 21.98
    B: 12.33

    .0115
    24 3/4"
    E: 20.19
    B: 11.33
    25 1/2"
    E: 21.43
    B: 12.03
    26 1/2"
    E: 23.14
    B: 12.99
    27"
    E: 24.03
    B: 13.48

    .012
    24 3/4"
    E: 21.98
    B: 12.34
    25 1/2"
    E: 23.33
    B: 13.09
    26 1/2"
    E: 25.2
    B: 14.14
    27"
    E: 26.16
    B: 14.68

    .013
    24 3/4"
    E: 25.8
    B: 14.48
    25 1/2"
    E: 27.38
    B: 15.37
    26 1/2"
    E: 29.57
    B: 16.6
    27"
    E: 30.7
    B: 17.23

    .0135
    24 3/4"
    B: 15.61
    G: 9.83
    25 1/2"
    B: 16.57
    G: 10.44
    26 1/2"
    B: 17.9
    G: 11.27
    27"
    B: 18.58
    G: 11.7

    .014
    24 3/4"
    B: 16.79
    G: 10.58
    25 1/2"
    B: 17.82
    G: 11.23
    26 1/2"
    B: 19.25
    G: 12.13
    27"
    B: 19.98
    G: 12.58

    .015
    24 3/4"
    B: 19.27
    G: 12.14
    25 1/2"
    B: 20.46
    G: 12.89
    26 1/2"
    B: 22.09
    G: 13.92
    27"
    B: 22.94
    G: 14.45

    .016
    24 3/4"
    G: 13.81
    25 1/2"
    G: 14.66
    26 1/2"
    G: 15.84
    27"
    G: 16.44

    .017p
    24 3/4"
    G: 15.6
    25 1/2"
    G: 16.56
    26 1/2"
    G: 17.88
    27"
    G: 18.56

    .018p
    24 3/4"
    G: 17.48
    25 1/2"
    G: 18.56
    26 1/2"
    G: 20.04
    27"
    G: 20.8

    .019p
    24 3/4"
    G: 19.48
    25 1/2"
    G: 20.68
    26 1/2"
    G: 22.33
    27"
    G: 23.18

    .020p
    24 3/4"
    G: 21.59
    25 1/2"
    G: 22.91
    26 1/2"
    G: 24.75
    27"
    G: 25.69

    .022p
    24 3/4"
    G: 26.12
    D: 14.66
    25 1/2"
    G: 27.73
    D: 15.56
    26 1/2"
    G: 29.94
    D: 16.8
    27"
    G: 31.08
    D: 17.44

    .024p
    24 3/4"
    D: 17.44
    25 1/2"
    D: 18.52
    26 1/2"
    D: 20
    27"
    D: 20.76

    .026p
    24 3/4"
    D: 20.47
    25 1/2"
    D: 21.73
    26 1/2"
    D: 23.47
    27"
    D: 24.36

    .017w
    24 3/4"
    G: 13.46
    25 1/2"
    G: 14.28
    26 1/2"
    G: 15.43
    27"
    G: 16.01

    .018w
    24 3/4"
    G: 15.14
    25 1/2"
    G: 16.07
    26 1/2"
    G: 17.36
    27"
    G: 18.02

    .019w
    24 3/4"
    G: 16.92
    25 1/2"
    G: 17.96
    26 1/2"
    G: 19.4
    27"
    G: 20.14

    .020w
    24 3/4"
    G: 18.26
    D: 10.25
    25 1/2"
    G: 19.38
    D: 10.88
    26 1/2"
    G: 20.93
    D: 11.75
    27"
    G: 21.73
    D: 12.19

    .021w
    24 3/4"
    G: 20.2
    D: 11.34
    25 1/2"
    G: 21.45
    D: 12.03
    26 1/2"
    G: 23.16
    D: 13
    27"
    G: 24.04
    D: 13.49

    .022w
    24 3/4"
    D: 12.56
    25 1/2"
    D: 13.33
    26 1/2"
    D: 14.39
    27"
    D: 14.94

    .024w
    24 3/4"
    D: 14.84
    25 1/2"
    D: 15.76
    26 1/2"
    D: 17.02
    27"
    D: 17.66

    .026w
    24 3/4"
    D: 17.32
    A: 9.72
    25 1/2"
    D: 18.39
    A: 10.32
    26 1/2"
    D: 19.86
    A: 11.15
    27"
    D: 20.62
    A: 11.57

    .028
    24 3/4"
    D: 20.05
    A: 11.25
    25 1/2"
    D: 21.28
    A: 11.95
    26 1/2"
    D: 22.99
    A: 12.9
    27"
    D: 23.86
    A: 13.39

    .030
    24 3/4"
    D: 23.56
    A: 13.22
    25 1/2"
    D: 25.01
    A: 14.04
    26 1/2"
    D: 27.01
    A: 15.16
    27"
    D: 28.04
    A: 15.74

    .032
    24 3/4"
    D: 26.45
    A: 14.84
    25 1/2"
    D: 28.08
    A: 15.76
    26 1/2"
    D: 30.32
    A: 17.02
    27"
    D: 31.48
    A: 17.67

    .034
    24 3/4"
    A: 16.57
    E: 9.3
    25 1/2"
    A: 17.58
    E: 9.87
    26 1/2"
    A: 18.99
    E: 10.66
    27"
    A: 19.71
    E: 11.06

    .036
    24 3/4"
    A: 18.39
    E: 10.32
    25 1/2"
    A: 19.52
    E: 10.95
    26 1/2"
    A: 21.08
    E: 11.83
    27"
    A: 21.88
    E: 12.28

    .038
    24 3/4"
    A: 20.31
    E: 11.4
    25 1/2"
    A: 21.56
    E: 12.1
    26 1/2"
    A: 23.28
    E: 13.07
    27"
    A: 24.17
    E: 13.57

    .039
    24 3/4"
    A: 21.43
    E: 12.03
    25 1/2"
    A: 22.75
    E: 12.77
    26 1/2"
    A: 24.57
    E: 13.79
    27"
    A: 25.51
    E: 14.31

    .042
    24 3/4"
    A: 24.77
    E: 13.9
    25 1/2"
    A: 26.29
    E: 14.76
    26 1/2"
    A: 28.39
    E: 15.94
    27"
    A: 29.48
    E: 16.54

    .044
    24 3/4"
    A: 26.99
    E: 15.15
    25 1/2"
    A: 28.66
    E: 16.08
    26 1/2"
    A: 30.95
    E: 17.37
    27"
    A: 32.13
    E: 18.03

    .046
    24 3/4"
    E: 16.46
    25 1/2"
    E: 17.47
    26 1/2"
    E: 18.87
    27"
    E: 19.59

    .048
    24 3/4"
    E: 17.82
    25 1/2"
    E: 18.92
    26 1/2"
    E: 20.43
    27"
    E: 21.21

    .049
    24 3/4"
    E: 18.52
    25 1/2"
    E: 19.66
    26 1/2"
    E: 21.24
    27"
    E: 22.04

    .052
    24 3/4"
    E: 20.72
    B: 11.63
    A: 9.23
    25 1/2"
    E: 21.99
    B: 12.34
    A: 9.8
    26 1/2"
    E: 23.75
    B: 13.33
    A: 10.58
    27"
    E: 24.65
    B: 13.84
    A: 10.98

    .054
    24 3/4"
    E: 23.18
    B: 13.01
    A: 10.33
    25 1/2"
    E: 24.61
    B: 13.81
    A: 10.96
    26 1/2"
    E: 26.58
    B: 14.92
    A: 11.84
    27"
    E: 27.59
    B: 15.48
    A: 12.29

    .056
    24 3/4"
    E: 24.80
    B: 13.92
    A: 11.05
    25 1/2"
    E: 26.33
    B: 14.78
    A: 11.73
    26 1/2"
    E: 28.43
    B: 15.96
    A: 12.67
    27"
    E: 29.52
    B: 16.57
    A: 13.15

    .059
    24 3/4"
    B: 15.51
    A: 12.31
    25 1/2"
    B: 16.47
    A: 13.07
    26 1/2"
    B: 17.78
    A: 14.12
    27"
    B: 18.46
    A: 14.65

    .060
    24 3/4"
    B: 16.08
    A: 12.76
    25 1/2"
    B: 17.07
    A: 13.55
    26 1/2"
    B: 18.44
    A: 14.63
    27"
    B: 19.14
    A: 15.19

    .062
    24 3/4"
    B: 17.09
    A: 13.56
    25 1/2"
    B: 18.14
    A: 14.4
    26 1/2"
    B: 19.59
    A: 15.55
    27"
    B: 20.33
    A: 16.14

    .064
    24 3/4"
    B: 18.12
    A: 14.38
    25 1/2"
    B: 19.24
    A: 15.27
    26 1/2"
    B: 20.78
    A: 16.49
    27"
    B: 21.57
    A: 17.12

    .066
    24 3/4"
    B: 19.31
    A: 15.32
    25 1/2"
    B: 20.5
    A: 16.27
    26 1/2"
    B: 22.13
    A: 17.57
    27"
    B: 22.98
    A: 18.24

    .068
    24 3/4"
    B: 20.45
    A: 16.23
    25 1/2"
    B: 21.71
    A: 17.23
    26 1/2"
    B: 23.44
    A: 18.61
    27"
    B: 24.34
    A: 19.32

    .070
    24 3/4"
    B: 21.58
    A: 17.13
    25 1/2"
    B: 22.91
    A: 18.18
    26 1/2"
    B: 24.74
    A: 19.64
    27"
    B: 25.69
    A: 20.39

    .072
    24 3/4"
    B: 22.75
    A: 18.05
    25 1/2"
    B: 24.15
    A: 19.17
    26 1/2"
    B: 26.08
    A: 20.7
    27"
    B: 27.07
    A: 21.49

    .074
    24 3/4"
    B: 23.89
    A: 18.97
    25 1/2"
    B: 25.36
    A: 20.13
    26 1/2"
    B: 27.39
    A: 21.74
    27"
    B: 28.44
    A: 22.57

    .080
    24 3/4"
    B: 27.8
    A: 22.06
    25 1/2"
    B: 29.51
    A: 23.42
    26 1/2"
    B: 31.87
    A: 25.29
    27"
    B: 33.08
    A: 26.26
     
  2. hirah

    hirah SS Contributor

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    this is great information , but.....
    there is a difference between string tensions between different brands. a .01 from d'addario and ghs has a difference of almost 2 pounds.
    check out some of the differences between brands here.

    http://www.juststrings.com/electricguitar.html
     
  3. Mind Riot

    Mind Riot Devoted seven stringer

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    The tension specifications listed on juststrings.com don't have any background as to what scale length was used to take the measurements. Another thing to consider is that string making is not always as precise an affair as we would think it is; what's listed on the box and what the string actually is varies at times. In Dan Erlewine's book on guitar repair he mentions this after he measured some strings with a dial caliper and found some of them to be off by a few thousandths. But it's enough to provide some solid data to go on if this is your kind of thing.
     
  4. hirah

    hirah SS Contributor

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    the difference in tension vs scale length is not mentoined. but different manufacturers use different amounts and even different materials in their strings. so there would be a difference just in the materials used.
    as a side note, dial calipers have an error of +/- .002.this is not to say you can't measure to within .001. but you really need a micrometer for true measurements.
     
  5. Mind Riot

    Mind Riot Devoted seven stringer

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    I would be interested to see any proof you might have that there is a fundamental difference that would affect string tension between one manufacturors plain steel string and anothers plain steel string, or one's steel core nickel wrapped versus anothers, if the guages are the same.

    If we're talking about the difference between stainless steel strings and nickel wrapped, then yes there is a difference and I neglected to mention that in my first post. Stainless steel wrapped strings will have a bit more weight to them and thus need slightly more tension to cause the string to vibrate at the desired pitch than nickel. So a stainless steel wrapped string will have a pound or more of tension than an equivalent guage nickel wrapped string at the same pitch, all else being equal. My apologies for not mentioning that originally, it totally did not even occur to me. So my list applies only to plain steel unwound strings and nickel wrapped wound strings.
     
  6. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal

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    There are different geometries with wound strings. Steel strings can vary about 30% or more in density, and thus different brands with different weights will require different tensions. This has been discussed in depth before, but I can post some data from the AIP handbook about the density of steel if you want.

    The basic thing with steel is that it is a word that describes many very different metals, but most manufacturers use one of three kinds of steel.

    The great thing about D'Addario is that they print the data right on the package, or you can download their string guide from their webpage. Other manufacturers do not post such information. Perhaps one of us could take an .009"plain, an .024"wound, and a .046"wound, cut them to a standard length without the ball ends or the taper, and weight them carefully (say analytical balance). Try with different brands and report the findings. It'd be really cool to have the density data for all of the big companies like Ernie Ball, GHS, and DR.
     
  7. Mind Riot

    Mind Riot Devoted seven stringer

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    Wonderful. I guess I should have learned more about these things before I went to all that trouble.

    Mods, perhaps this thread should be deleted as it's usefulness is now seriously in question. Unless everybody on here uses D'Addario strings exclusively.

    Now I'm all depressed. :(
     
  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal

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    I pretty much use D'Addarios exclusively. :)

    Any idea where I can find those .007"s? I might need some if I run out of Garry Goodman's .005"s before they become available.

    I didn't even know they made an .026" plain. I had to set up a guitar once, where this girl used a .024" plain, and it ruined my wire snippers.

    Kudos for doing all of this work. I don't think it should be deleted, just augmented to include new data. :)
     
  9. Chris

    Chris metalguitarist.org

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    How about a title edit? :)
     
  10. ohio_eric

    ohio_eric SS Contributor

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    This is a good start and you deserve a lot of credit for the work you did. :yesway:

    Another issue with wound strings is the core. A thicker core means more tension. GHS for example says their strings have a thicker core than Ernie Ball strings. So the GHS strings have more tension. But without the unit weight of the strings in question its hard to say with any real certainty. Plus stainless steel wound strings have more tension then nickel plated steel.

    But until more manufacturers do what D'Addario did and publish a string tension guide it will be hard to tell. GHS, on their forum, has said it may publish a string tension chart which will be very nice if they do it. I hope they do. It will be especially useful in seeing how materials affect tension, because GHS makes a lot more types of strings than D'Addario.

    Again. you did a hell of a lot of good work Mind Riot.
     
  11. Mind Riot

    Mind Riot Devoted seven stringer

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    Works for me. And hey, there can't be THAT much difference in tension to where someone looking for a tighter low B would end up with something way off just because they went with GHS or DR. At least it will get them in the ball park. :)

    And thanks for the kindness, ohio eric.
     
  12. ohio_eric

    ohio_eric SS Contributor

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    No problem.

    You are right the D'Addario info should get you in the ball park.
     
  13. Drew

    Drew <font color="#C35617"><b>Fear the Polo!</b></font>

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    This is pretty damned cool. :metal:
     
  14. Benzesp

    Benzesp Banned

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    I used to use Dean Markley strings for my 6's be cause they had noicably tighter tension over D'Addario and Ernest Ball. I have yet to see 7 string Markley sets in my town.

    I've been using D'Addario 10-56 and have become quite used to them and had all of my 7's set up for use with this brand of strings. Last week I bought some new strings at GC and after I strung up My Carvin 727 I immediatley noticed something was weird. I looked at the box and D'Addario had changed the .56 to .59. I was like WTF? the .59 was way too big and barely fit through the sperzel tuner. It really didnt do anything for the string tension, everything played sharp because of the added mass of the string. Be aware D'Addario users, they switched it up! I go back to GC and all of the D'addario sets are 10-56. Its kinda funny because I asked specifically the guy for D'addario 10-56 and I got 10-59.

    I've been forced to use Ernie Ball which I dont care for.... What other string options are there. Does GHS make a 7 set? Better yet does Dean Markley?
     
  15. Ror3h

    Ror3h New Member

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    I'm really glad d'addario make the 10-59 sets now, saves me money and having to hunt around for a .59 :D
    Luckily its the same as i was using on my 7 before, set of 10s with a .59.
    I can understand how you would be annoyed if you didnt realise though, but for me .56 is far too low for B let alone Bb
     
  16. XEN

    XEN BEYOND 6UITAR & B4SS

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    Thanks for doing the legwork for us man!
     
  17. WayneCustom7

    WayneCustom7 Paolo

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    How come I am just seeing this now...WOW, you are the best Mind Riot, this is a lot of work...we should combine and sticky all of the threads related to OSG!
     
  18. zimbloth

    zimbloth Nick // Axe Palace

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    Yeah I've had this bookmarked for a long time. I just put a set of 9-12-16-24-32-44-59 on my ESP and it feels and sounds great, apart from the low B which doenst sound very good. Will probably put the 56 back on, but I love how the 9-44 part feels :yesway:
     
  19. WayneCustom7

    WayneCustom7 Paolo

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    It's wierd how, on these boards, where a group of individuals who are obviously into trying new things, hence the seventh string, were quite receptive to trying out the OSG theory. However when I tried posting on other borads, namely ones where the six string ruled supreme, the average answer was, 'if it aint broke then why fix it!'
     
  20. ohio_eric

    ohio_eric SS Contributor

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    I've been kicking around doing this, would anyone be interested in a list of tension using bass strings? I know a few people on here use them especially for gauges above .060". It wouldn't be too much work I'd just need to know the scale lengths, pitches and gauges that I should run.

    If you want it let me know and I can slap it together.
     

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