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View Full Version : What is 'monofilament'? (re: strings)



Booli
10-09-2014, 08:45 AM
Hi there!

I have searched quite a bit elsewhere online as well as here on UU in the forums, and I can not find a simple answer, thus my question here.

I see and have had experience with strings made from the following materials:

1. Nylon, BioNylon, etc (i.e. Dupont derived)
2. Fluorocarbon (or PVDF as some describe them)
3. Nylgut, SuperNylgut, ThunderGut and REDS by Aquila

But WHAT exactly is 'mono-filament'?

Is it a fancy name for 'nylon', or is this in fact a different material or some kind of blend (polymer) of certain other materials.

As of now, and because I can not find a musically useful explanation (yes even Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monofilament_fishing_line) fails me)....

It seems that maybe this is some kind of marketing double-speak for both ukulele strings as well as with the various manufacturers of fishing line (Stren, Seaguar, etc).

Is/was there something called 'multi-filament' or braided ukulele strings? I mean, strictly speaking, are not ALL single-sourced materials for string MONO-filament?

Please, fellow UU brethren, enlighten me before I write off this 'mono-filament' thing as hogwash/doubletalk.

Thanks,

Booli

Tudorp
10-09-2014, 08:51 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monofilament_fishing_line


It is just a term used for a type of string, line or? Same concept as Monofilament fishing line. "Mono" meaning "single fiber". means nothing more.

river_driver
10-09-2014, 08:52 AM
Single-strand. As opposed to wound.

E and A strings, and high-G strings, are typically monofilament. C strings in soprano sets are usually mono, but in tenor sets are wound.

UkerDanno
10-09-2014, 08:56 AM
it's fishing line...I think these days, it's mostly fluorocarbon. You can use it for strings, if you get the right gauge. In the "old days" fishing line was a kind of braided string type of stuff. When the single strand nylon or fluorocarbon stuff came out, they called it monofilament.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monofilament_fishing_line

Booli
10-09-2014, 09:20 AM
Same concept as Monofilament fishing line. "Mono" meaning "single fiber". means nothing more.


it's fishing line...I think these days, it's mostly fluorocarbon. You can use it for strings, if you get the right gauge. In the "old days" fishing line was a kind of braided string type of stuff. When the single strand nylon or fluorocarbon stuff came out, they called it monofilament.

Ok, Thanks for the replies.

Yes mono is single as opposed to multi-(strand, element, etc).

I used fishing line to illustrate the point here due to the similarity with uke strings, as well as many conversation threads here on UU where folks are talking about the same companies making it for both purposes, or sourcing similar materials, and then adapting the chemical composition for greater linear density or uniformity of diameter, etc. based on the intended use-case, and how sometimes 'fishing line' works out good enough as 'uke strings', eve though they are packaged and sold as 'fishing line'.

However, if you look at ANY of the pages of Seaguar (http://www.seaguar.com/) or Stren (http://stren.com/category/products/) or Vicious Salt (http://www.vicious-fishing.com/products/vicious-salt/fishing-line.html) fishing line, for example, they list fluorocarbon, monofilament and other materials all/each as discrete products, and not as 'mono-filament fluorocarbon' or 'mono-filament PVDF' and the term monofilament is ALSO used on sites like stringsbymail.com and juststrings.com in the descriptions of MANY strings that do not also in fact say 'nylon' or 'fluorocarbon', so I am trying to figure out if there is some third kind of material that is in fact completely different or is this just a lazy marketing department.

I mean after all, rayon thread might be mono-filament, but I do not think it would work for a uke string. :)

so does this all mean that if it is single-strand, and not multi-strand, that it's ALL mono-filament? or is there some kind of mojo-material here that is in fact NOT nylon, fluorocarbon, or PVDF?

Jon Moody
10-09-2014, 09:34 AM
so does this all mean that if it is single-strand, and not multi-strand, that it's ALL mono-filament? or is there some kind of mojo-material here that is in fact NOT nylon, fluorocarbon, or PVDF?

Basically. It's a byproduct of marketing at this point, and something for a company to use to claim their string is somehow different or special from everyone else, although it sounds from your links as if they're making monofiliment somehow a "middle road" product between stranded and fluorocarbon.

Example: DR Strings state on their Legends Flatwound strings that they are "Polished" flatwound strings. What they fail to mention is that EVERY set of flatwound strings from any company is polished (to ensure the flat ribbon wire lays perfectly flat and no burrs or raised edges are left to cut into fingers. We all do it; DR just puts it on the package.

Tudorp
10-09-2014, 09:39 AM
I am not sure, but I don't think the term has anything to do with the material, it only refers to it being a single fiber or strand vs multible.

IamNoMan
10-09-2014, 10:05 AM
A Mono-filament is an extruded material of any sort. This includes silk, (which is used for strings in the orient. Silk is very stretchy though).

Fiber is generally of short length and normally animal, or vegetable material, (asbestos is fibrous too). In most cases the fiber is too short to be of use as strings and needs to be spun. Horsehair is a notable exception but of too small in diameter for single strings.

I'm not sure if gut is considered a mono-filament but it can be used for instrument strings. It has a very short service life in general. I would consider using it for a vintage banjo or banjolele with a skin head but not much else. Gut is also stretchy and frequently is slack tuned, (below concert pitch).

pritch
10-09-2014, 10:44 AM
I found a comparison between fluorocarbon and nylon monofilament on the 'net somewhere, I was looking for a musical reference but could only find a fishing example.

From memory: Flouro is stiffer, more resistant to abrasion, more waterproof, (who knew mono absorbed water?), and retains knot strength better when wet. Fluoro refracts light differently which can make it virtually invisible under water. If the fishing method requires casting mono is better because of the greater flexibility, but the invisibility factor of fluoro makes for superior terminal tackle.

I'd still like to read a musical comparison though.

DownUpDave
10-09-2014, 11:18 AM
I found a comparison between fluorocarbon and nylon monofilament on the 'net somewhere, I was looking for a musical reference but could only find a fishing example.

From memory: Flouro is stiffer, more resistant to abrasion, more waterproof, (who knew mono absorbed water?), and retains knot strength better when wet. Fluoro refracts light differently which can make it virtually invisible under water. If the fishing method requires casting mono is better because of the greater flexibility, but the invisibility factor of fluoro makes for superior terminal tackle.

I'd still like to read a musical comparison though.


Ding Ding Ding winner. At one time I was a very avid fisherman and monofilament is a different compound than florocarbon. Basicaaly it is softer and stretches more. This is purely from a fishing point of view, no idea how it's properties would transfer over to musical strings vs florocarbon or nylon but it IS a different compound material.

Booli
10-11-2014, 07:01 AM
Basically. It's a byproduct of marketing at this point, and something for a company to use to claim their string is somehow different or special from everyone else, although it sounds from your links as if they're making monofiliment somehow a "middle road" product between stranded and fluorocarbon.

Example: DR Strings state on their Legends Flatwound strings that they are "Polished" flatwound strings. What they fail to mention is that EVERY set of flatwound strings from any company is polished (to ensure the flat ribbon wire lays perfectly flat and no burrs or raised edges are left to cut into fingers. We all do it; DR just puts it on the package.

Thanks for the honest reply and the clarification. :)


Ding Ding Ding winner. At one time I was a very avid fisherman and monofilament is a different compound than florocarbon. Basicaaly it is softer and stretches more. This is purely from a fishing point of view, no idea how it's properties would transfer over to musical strings vs florocarbon or nylon but it IS a different compound material.

Thanks for your reply.

Despite all the good-will in the replies to this thread, I am still confused.

It seems like I need a chemistry degree to understand how these materials differ in order to read and understand the documents online from numerous sources that explain the composition of these compound (and/or polymer) materials and the extrusion process.

I do not feel that this question has been fully resolved yet. :(

IamNoMan
10-11-2014, 07:21 AM
Mono-filament is a manufactured process. The objective of the process is to obtain uniform strength for the finished product. This is true regardless of the material used. For instrument strings you want a uniform thickness. Some materials will be stretchier or stiffer in this regard. THis will effect the sound qualities somewhat but is beyond my knowledge to describe. In other applications for mono-filament it is desirable to taper the diameter of the product. You still want to optimize the strength but in this case you are trying to minimize the weight. A mono-filament material is always stronger than a cable or spun fiber weight for weight.

Spider webs exhibit the tapered diameter use of mono-filaments very well. In the ideal case a mono-filament will be one molecule thick.

CeeJay
10-11-2014, 07:45 AM
Monofilament fishing line (shortened to just monofilament) is fishing line made from a single fiber of plastic. Most fishing lines are now monofilament because monofilament fibers are cheap to produce and are produced in a range of diameters which have different tensile strengths (called "tests" after the process of tensile testing). Monofilament line is also manufactured in different colors, such as clear, white, green, blue, red, and fluorescent.

Monofilament is made by melting and mixing polymers and then extruding the mixture through tiny holes, forming strands of line, which is then spun into spools of various thicknesses. The extrusion process controls not only the thickness of the line but its test as well.

That is a straight lift from wikipedia. I therefore imagine that ukelele
strings are manufactured using this same process....in fact I doubt very much that there is any significant...if any difference between fishing line and that which we twang on a regular basis......just sales blurb......I am so cynical.:rolleyes:

In fact I just googled Fluorocarbon ....and guess what ...it hits fishing line ...which it says is a type of "monofilament with polyvinylidene fluoride added....this makes it more or less invisible underwater......a dubious asset on a ukelele I grant you but fun in the shower on one of them plaggy ukes (plastic ukes).....I am beginning to get the very real impression that what it says on the packet is possibly a complete wheelbarrow load of tosh ....

I for one will be buying four different thicknesses of fishing line on reels and put a dowel through them and cut off the required length next time i require a new string .......:o especially if it works out cheaper....

SteveZ
10-11-2014, 08:09 AM
....I for one will be buying four different thicknesses of fishing line on reels and put a dowel through them and cut off the required length next time i require a new string .......:o especially if it works out cheaper....

Have been doing this for a while. There are charts out there to relate line diameters to tones. When I get the bug to tune GDAE on a uke, 20-Pound test nylon fishing line gives a very strong and half-decent E5. Also, 50-pound test gives a decent A4. Having it by the spool makes it easy to cut spares on the short-term, especially at roughly US$5 per 100-yard spool.

IamNoMan
10-11-2014, 08:42 AM
Monofilament fishing line (shortened to just monofilament) ...
That is a straight lift from wikipedia. I therefore imagine that ukelele
strings are manufactured using this same process....in fact I doubt very much that there is any significant...if any difference between fishing line and that which we twang on a regular basis...

Actually guv'ner there is a difference. Fishing line is sold on the basis of "Test Weight" 10#, 20#, etc. Depending on the material a given manufacturer uses the gauge of the string may be different. The most obvious example that comes to mind is fishing line for "fly fishing". This line is designed to float on water.

When you get fishing line for your uke strings be sure to note the gauge associated with any test weight of line. I believe music strings, fishing line and knitting needles are all designated in AWG. (American Wire Gage).

CeeJay
10-11-2014, 12:48 PM
Actually guv'ner there is a difference. Fishing line is sold on the basis of "Test Weight" 10#, 20#, etc. Depending on the material a given manufacturer uses the gauge of the string may be different. The most obvious example that comes to mind is fishing line for "fly fishing". This line is designed to float on water.

When you get fishing line for your uke strings be sure to note the gauge associated with any test weight of line. I believe music strings, fishing line and knitting needles are all designated in AWG. (American Wire Gage).

Well maybe so ...but is it a "significant " difference and can I still twang it tunefully ? that 's all I want to do...

IamNoMan
10-11-2014, 12:58 PM
I expect there is a noticeable difference in the tonal quality your ears and mine probably wouldn't differentiate. Some folks would. Its more like changing your banjo strings from light gage to medium gage. As long as your instrument is in tune they will be tuneful enough but they might go out of tune at different rates.

CeeJay
10-11-2014, 02:02 PM
I expect there is a noticeable difference in the tonal quality your ears and mine probably wouldn't differentiate. Some folks would. Its more like changing your banjo strings from light gage to medium gage. As long as your instrument is in tune they will be tuneful enough but they might go out of tune at different rates.
What ? The D string charges more to stay in tune than the B string ? Outrageous , they should all charge the same rate......This may be getting silly now...sorry Booli.....:p

timmit65
10-12-2014, 02:37 PM
Great thread! I've learned a lot.

Tootler
10-12-2014, 10:10 PM
Mono filament simply means a single strand. Most fibres are made of multiple strands twisted together. The method of manufacture described in CeeJay's post above is how all synthetic fibres are manufactured. I once worked in the lab of a nylon manufacturer and that was how it was made. The nylon was melted the passed through a multi hole spinaret. After the fibres had solidified, they were twisted together. With monofilament (which we didn't make) the spinaret will have a single hole.