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View Full Version : String Tension - Tenor vs. Soprano



FrankNoCal
05-29-2008, 09:04 AM
I've got two ukes, one tenor and one soprano. I mostly play the tenor but try to play the soprano every couple of days, cause well, she was my first and I don't want her to get jealous. Anyways, when switching to the soprano I notice that the strings feel a little looser than the strings on the tenor. When strumming, my fingers get a little tangled up in the strings. Especially at the A string. Sound is fine and I've checked it on a tuner and it's in tune. Both have the strings they came with - Tenor has GHS and not sure what brand the soprano's are but they're all black. Probably GHS also. So is this something that is normal or what? Are strings ona tenor always tighter? And I'm not gonna post any pics of my nut!!! LOL! Sorry had to throw that in there.

brokenwing
05-29-2008, 06:47 PM
I think the shorter the scale, the less tension there is. since a tenor has a much longer scale than a soprano the string tension is higher. It sounds like a soprano would be easier to play (except for the narrower frets) but you probably got used to the tenor.

jhob
05-30-2008, 11:34 PM
I have found that the action can make a big difference to your fingers getting caught on the strings. My mahalo soprano had pretty high action and I always struggled playing on that, with my fingers getting caught while strimming, when coming from my applause soprano. I then performed a bit of light surgery on it a couple of weeks ago and sanded the saddle down to lower the height at that end and also deepened the grooves in the nut with a needle file to bring the string action down at that end. The result was a uke that was far more playable than previously, I don't find that my strings get caught at all now and the uke now intonates really well too - it was pretty ropey before. Fretting is also much easier and chord changes quicker with the new lower action.

So it could well be that your problem on the soprano is more to do with action than string tension. It's really pretty simple to make these simple modifications to your uke, this was the first time I had done it to mine and it went fine, just do a little bit at a time and keep checking the action and you'll be fine. I modified my mahalo tenor in the same way earlier this week and its playability vastly improved.

Give us a shout if you want any more advice on this.

ichadwick
05-31-2008, 01:54 AM
I think the shorter the scale, the less tension there is. since a tenor has a much longer scale than a soprano the string tension is higher. It sounds like a soprano would be easier to play (except for the narrower frets) but you probably got used to the tenor.

Strings on a tenor tend to be thicker, too, in order to be able to withstand the additional stress. That can be harder on your fingers than the thinner, looser strings on a soprano.