View Full Version : 22" scale string advise

09-25-2014, 06:55 AM
My present build is 22" scale length and will have 6 non-steel strings tied to a classic guitar style bridge.

Apart from the odd set of half size classical guitar strings (D'addario), I don't see anything that's obviously suitable.

Has anyone any suggestions?

Michael N.
09-25-2014, 09:02 AM
You can buy strings individually, although doing so tends to be more expensive. It does allow you to select the string tension and the pitch that you require.
If you google 'Artos string calculator' you can play around with the parameters. You've already decided on the string length. You need to decide on the string tension, pitch (usually 440 Hz), the individual note names and the particular octave that they fall in - that's important otherwise you will return some very odd results.

09-25-2014, 11:03 AM
It depends on what you are going to tune it to.

If it's E to e as in standard guitar tuning, then the low E and A are going to suffer from too little tension unless you go with a very high tension set. I've used the Saverez 500CJ Corum sets. Other clients who I've built these little guitars for like to experiment and have mixed up different strings as Michael is suggesting to find what works for them.

If you are going to move the tuning into something like A to a, then there will be quite a few suitable sets. Such as the short scale D'Addarios or alternately look for Requinto sets.

Michael N.
09-25-2014, 10:24 PM
22" is close to 560 mm's. That scale length sits more comfortably in Terz tuning ( in G). Indeed historical Terz Guitars (Gut strung) have string lengths at or close to 560 mm's.
If we were to tune it to standard Guitar tuning and accept 6 Kg string tension then the G string would work out at 1,25 mm's diameter (in Nylon). At 7 Kg string tension (modern Classical Guitar tension) the diameter would be 1.35 mm's. Both of these string diameters are rather chunky for an unwound, plain nylon string.

Drop to 5 Kg string tension and the diameter goes down to 1.2 mm's. Swap this string with a pure Gut string (higher density) and our G string, at 5 Kg, will drop to 1.0 mm. Go to a Carbon string (even higher density) and our 'G' is at a very low 0.85 mm diameter.
That shows the relationship between the pitch, string length, string density (the material), string tension and the resultant string diameter.

It's quite obvious that heavier strings (higher density) result in :
a. Higher tension
b. a thinner resulting diameter.
All the other parameters remaining constant.

And that is why the lower 3 strings on a Guitar are virtually always wound with metal. The metal effectively increases the strings density - and by a huge margin.
So let's take the example of the low 'E' on a nylon strung Classical Guitar, pitched at 440 Hz. The low 'E' lies in the C-B octave range, producing a frequency of some 82 Hz. 650 mm is 'standard' string length. Near 7 Kg's is 'standard' string tension for these guitars.
That produces a plain Nylon string of 2.75 mm's in diameter. That's more like rope! and would sound rather clunky and slow. We are stuck with the scale length, the pitch and the string tension we want to play at, The only way we can significantly reduce the diameter (in this example) is to increase the string density by introducing a metal wound string. As soon as we do this the string diameter changes from our hefty 2.75 mm's right down to 1.2 mm's. It no longer feels like rope.
That is also why Ukes rarely need wound strings: much higher pitch, much shorter string length and lower string tension all make the wound strings unecessary.

So the logical solution for the OP, and assuming standard Guitar tuning, is to drop to string tension of around 5 Kg's. The downside is that you lose a little volume. The advantage is that it's a little easier to play.
Either that or pitch the instrument higher.

09-26-2014, 01:55 AM
Thanks for the info-there's lots to digest and consider there. I've previously not thought at all about string tension/diameter. I've simply tried different strings on my guitar on recommendations and more recently progressed through Aquila/ D' Addario Pro Arte/ Worth Browns and Living Waters on the Tenor uke.

I need a starting point for my first small guitar-a set of commercial strings-and I can progress from there in considering whether they feel/sound OK. So I'll investigate the tuning options and the strings Allen suggests.

This first small guitar is for my brother in law who wants a replacement for the maple Spanish guitar I made for him in 1976. Since I made my first tenor uke in February/March this year, he's been asking about a small bodied guitar. My soundbox design is influenced by Allens instruments: this instrument is having 14 frets to the box, 8 mm string spacing at the nut and a reverse paddle head with individual Grover tuners.