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Thread: Tension?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Oahu Isle, Hawaii
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    159

    Default Tension?

    I have several ukes. My only "problem uke" is a Cordoba 32T tenor, one of the so-called "Pepe Romero" models. Solid spruce top, solid indian rosewood S&B. Phd strings. 0.8 mm at the nut, 2.5mm at 12. Tuned C. It sings loudly & beautifully but is quite painful to play for any length of time. Possible reasons(??):

    1-The strings bite when chording -- especially barre chords. (Even though my chording finger tips & my strumming finger are so heavily callused you can strike a match on them.)
    2-The fretboard is almost 1/4" wider than any of my other tenors. (I wonder why they did that.)

    I have loaned this uke out to several different folks over the past year or so, & they all hated it. I offered 2 of them the uke free for nothing, but they passed on the offer.

    My only idea so far is to change to low tension strings &/or switch to Bflat tuning. Questions......

    1-Do low tension tenor strings exist? If so...... which brand is low tension?

    2-Might bflat tuning help assuage the pain?

    Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    927

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bellgamin View Post
    I have several ukes. My only "problem uke" is a Cordoba 32T tenor, one of the so-called "Pepe Romero" models. Solid spruce top, solid indian rosewood S&B. Phd strings. 0.8 mm at the nut, 2.5mm at 12. Tuned C. It sings loudly & beautifully but is quite painful to play for any length of time. Possible reasons(??):

    1-The strings bite when chording -- especially barre chords. (Even though my chording finger tips & my strumming finger are so heavily callused you can strike a match on them.)
    2-The fretboard is almost 1/4" wider than any of my other tenors. (I wonder why they did that.)

    I have loaned this uke out to several different folks over the past year or so, & they all hated it. I offered 2 of them the uke free for nothing, but they passed on the offer.

    My only idea so far is to change to low tension strings &/or switch to Bflat tuning. Questions......

    1-Do low tension tenor strings exist? If so...... which brand is low tension?

    2-Might bflat tuning help assuage the pain?

    Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Can you lower the action? In my experience, tenors have higher tension than other sizes, but what you are describing sounds a bit extreme...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Treacletown
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    Default

    Have you tried nylon strings (such as aquilla)? I find that fluerocarbon strings feel thinner and more high in tension.

  4. #4
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    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    Default

    Sounds like it may be the distance between strings, as you say it is a wider neck, & the fact that no one likes playing it.
    If that is the case, I'd suggest getting a new nut, with the normal spacing.

    My solution to the higher tension of normal tenor strings is to use concert scale strings, flourocarbon, (in my case Living Water), I have these on all my tenor scaled ukes.
    Keith M --> likes a long neck - & being different.....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Default

    My guess: either the action is too high (particularly at the nut—the nut slots may need filing lower—or the frets are shallow. I have one uke with noticeably shallow frets, and in consequence I have to work harder to play it cleanly, even though the action is set properly. I don't see the advantage of using such thin, low fret wire. Despite how fine the uke is in all other respects, this one liability keeps me from playing it often.

    I prefer wider nuts. I'm now loath to buy a uke without one.

    To reduce tension, some people use concert string sets on their tenors. You can also get tenor sets with lighter strings; I know Worth and Southcoast make such sets; Living Water may as well.

    I don't advise down-tuning unless you actually want a lower tuning. I keep several tenors in Bb (both linear and reentrant) mainly because I like that tuning for some keys—and it's handy for when my vocal range temporarily drops. I also appreciate the lower tension, but that's not my main reason for down-tuning to Bb.
    Last edited by ubulele; 08-01-2017 at 11:31 PM.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2010
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    Perth
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    Default

    I would tune down to Bb just to see how it feels with lower tension. If that makes a useful difference then spend some time looking for strings with a lower tension. If it does not make a useful difference, then new strings may not fix the problems and you might need to look at something else like the action and getting a new nut with string spacing that is suited to your hands. I have had a guitar nut adjusted for spacing and it made a lot of difference.

  7. #7
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    Are concert strings long enough for a tenor?

  8. #8
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    Aug 2014
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    Default

    Most sets, yes, or those folks couldn't do it. It's only a scale difference of two inches. How much do you normally have to clip off of the strings? Probably more than that.
    Last edited by ubulele; 08-03-2017 at 08:13 AM.

  9. #9
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    You might try South Coast for lower tension strings. they offer several tensions, or detune to dGBE and make it a Bari-Tenor. Fremont has a set for that. I've been playing bari-tenor, with just regular tenor strings actually, for a while and I really like it, but my voice is pretty low.

    I just yesterday detuned a spruce topped concert to Bb which seems to work out pretty well and lowered the tension a good bit. I'm not sure I want to keep it that way as it makes playing with others weird. I was looking to lower the brittle sound of the spruce top and it seemed to help.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Um, to play easily with others, you could just capo your Bb uke at the 2nd fret. The string tension won't change.

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