Minimum string tension for "tuning stability"

Discussion in 'Sevenstring Guitars' started by focusbob, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. focusbob

    focusbob SS.org Regular

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    The title might have been a little misleading but I didn't know how else to put it: I'm trying to find the best gauge string for the lowest, 7th string tuned to drop A (25.5" scale). I'd also like the string to be usable in B standard and I happen to prefer the sound and feel of less thick strings, so I'm looking for the minimum usable gauge for drop A. Obviously this is largely subjective.

    My particular question though is, how much string tension is needed to maintain tuning stability. Any thoughts are appreciated, but what I'm particularly referring to by "tuning stability" (probably incorrectly so) is the ability of the string to stay in tune when struck with medium force. If a string is too low tension, I've found that when I strike the string it wobbles in and out of tune; objectively speaking, the dial jumps around on a tuner (whereas for other strings it does not).

    I've tried .062 (14.4 lbs of tension), no good. Most recently, I've tried .064 (15.3 lbs of tension), which is better, but still jumping around the tuner a fair bit when struck. Incidentally, I must not have been paying attention with the .062, but .064 appears to be the minimum gauge I can use for drop A on this guitar in terms of being able to achieve proper intonation. Obviously, I'm about to give .066 (16.3 lbs of tension) and .068 (17.2 lbs of tension, which matches the tension on the 6th string, .046 gauge, tuned to E) a shot next. May even go to .070, but I feel like then I'm getting into a territory where it won't be very usable for B standard (too much tension).

    Anyway, overly long post, sorry, but the basic question: are there guidelines regarding how many pounds of tension are required for an open note to not wobble in and out of tune when struck with medium intensity?

    Thanks!
     
  2. potatohead

    potatohead SS.org Regular

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    I use a 60 in B and a 68 in A. You can't do both tunings with one string without a compromise. I guess 64 or 66 would be best in that case.
     
  3. focusbob

    focusbob SS.org Regular

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    Thanks, my best guess is that I'll settle on .066. I'm primarily using it for A, so I'm more inclined to optimize for A and have something usable in B. But I agree, it does not seem to be possible to do both well with the same string.

    What scale length are you using with .060 for B and .068 for A?
     
  4. potatohead

    potatohead SS.org Regular

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    25.5", two different guitars
     
  5. focusbob

    focusbob SS.org Regular

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    Thanks. Did you try lower gauge strings for A that you could tell me about? Did you try .064 and .066 before settling on .068? How would you compare them in terms of staying in tune, tension, feel, whatever else?
     
  6. Bloodbath Salt

    Bloodbath Salt Title-less

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    You could also try slightly raising the height of your bridge.
     
  7. potatohead

    potatohead SS.org Regular

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    Never tried anything else, I just know what tension I like and get the string gauge that works for that. I don't like changing around too much because I'm a bit of a stickler for setup and adjusting and readjusting and having the nut slotted for different gauges etc etc bugs me :lol:
     
  8. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    18lbs imo. Whenever I am putting a string set together, I shoot for 20lb on the wound strings. I will settle for a gauge that gives less than 21 or more than 19.
     
  9. fps

    fps Kit

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    Do you have an easy way of working out these tensions?
     
  10. potatohead

    potatohead SS.org Regular

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    Bangzero string tension calculator is the easiest way.

    FWIW I like 13-14 pounds on the highest two strings, 14-15 on the g, 17-19 on the wounds (low end of that for the bottom string). For example here is my standard B tuning setup;

    len 25.5"
    E .009" PL == 13.13#
    B, .012" PL == 13.11#
    G, .016" pl == 14.68#
    D, .026" nw == 18.41#
    A,, .036" nw == 19.54#
    E,, .046" nw == 17.48#
    B,,, .060" nw == 17.09#
    total == 113.43#

    For drop A I just change the 60 for a 68.

    Or, my drop C guitar;

    len 25.5"
    D .0105" PL == 14.19#
    A, .014" PL == 14.16#
    F, .018" Pl == 14.74#
    C, .030" nw == 19.87#
    G,, .040" nw == 19.01#
    C,, .058" nw == 17.87#
    total == 99.84#

    The calculator is an awesome tool.
     
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  11. focusbob

    focusbob SS.org Regular

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    Not to say it's better than the option already offered, but I use:
    http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/at...n-fretted-too-alexs-tension-calculator-v2.zip
    to calculate tensions.

    Incidentally, the standard d'addario 7 string set uses a .059 for the low B, which provides 16.4 lbs of tension. So, I would say .066 is probably going to be what I settle on for A (which would provide 16.3 lbs of tension). I know that's a little loose but I think it will be usable. But I'm also going to try a .068, which as mentioned would be balanced with the low E 6th string at .046 gauge. All at 25.5" scale.
     
  12. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    I've just played this game. Got a new 25.5 7 for drop A. Got built with a .70 . went own in order .68, .66, .64 back to .68 and now back to .70 it came with

    .64 was completley unusable . lasted about 10 minutes. just flopped and farted about .66 was semi usable but too loose . .68 was pretty good and could use it again. the .70 just feels a tiny bit better tension wise . pretty damn close to the .46 E . I play pretty firmly so the extra stifness is needed

    I think allot of it comes down to the design of the guitar as well. its seems some 25.5 7's can do the .62 thing
     
  13. focusbob

    focusbob SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for sharing your experience, mongey. I'm basically about to go through the same process. I realized this is not something I can determine through research alone, so I am just going to buy a bunch of different gauges and try them out. I started off with a .066 (was playing more B than A at the time) and didn't like it because I felt it was too thick; it felt like too big of a jump in size from the low E string. So, I tried .064 and .062 and ended up with .062 for a while. Now I've been playing mostly A, and when I strike an open note on .062 it sounds like garbage. On .064 it sounds better but still wobbly. I think it's going to be .066 or .068 for me, though I'm going to pick up a .070 just in case.

    I can get over the overly-thick feel of the string, my main issue is that I want to be able to use the guitar for B as well as A (though primarily A). So, for that reason, I'm looking for the lowest acceptable gauge. All I know so far is that it's definitely not .062 and it is probably not .064...
     
  14. fps

    fps Kit

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    Guys if I have a 25.5" 7 string half a step down with the 6th string in drop and sometimes the bottom string in drop....

    So at its most extreme (low to high) Ab Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb currently I am using 10-46 plus 56 for the low string. Honestly? It holds tuning well, I don't have a lot of problems, I've recorded in that tuning and it sounds good. But I want to use some thicker strings on the low end only. What kind of truss rod adjustment would I be looking to make if I went to 10-52 with 62 for the lowest string? And will that be good across the board tension? My guitar is neck-through, I do NOT want to screw it up....
     
  15. potatohead

    potatohead SS.org Regular

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    Unless your guitar is made of paper mâché you will not have issues using light top, heavy bottom sets. It's all I use personally.

    You will have to adjust the rod clockwise a bit, you won't know how much until a day or two after the new strings are on. It won't be more than 1/2 turn probably.
     
  16. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    Yeah when I was trying different gauges for low A I had to make some minor truss rod adjustments and had never done it and had a brand new custom built guitar to work on. The builder told me just take it slow and dont do anything stupid you can't hurt anything

    Once you do it once and pop your cherry you realize it's not that big of a deal to adjust. Just take it slow and let the wood settle in between small turns
     
  17. forshagesan

    forshagesan SS.org Regular

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    I found that the brand makes a difference. I found Ernie Balls to be scattered sounding in the upper .60's while GHS boomers in those gauges were much more stable
     
  18. focusbob

    focusbob SS.org Regular

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    I too have found differences across brands. Not as much in terms of low-end-wobble, but in terms of tone: in my case, ernie balls sounded rounder and less defined as d'addario, which were more well-defined and crisp. The d'addarios also felt like they had some added tension at the same gauge (e.g., .066 d'addario felt stiffer than .066 ernie ball). I'll have to give other brands a go though, maybe they will work even better than the d'addarios for me.
     
  19. fps

    fps Kit

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    If I just go to the D'addario 10-59s instead do you think that would require an adjustment? Or is it just wait and see, and it's not gonna mess up the guitar so don't worry?
     
  20. focusbob

    focusbob SS.org Regular

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    You most likely won't mess anything up. Any change in string gauges is going to require adjustments, bigger changes will require bigger adjustments. But (almost) nothing is permanent or damaging. So, take it slow and you'll be fine.
     

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