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View Full Version : Effect of body heat on nylon strings



jbm
12-18-2013, 07:20 AM
I'm sure this is not an earth shattering discovery but just something I've noticed over the past few months. I would repeatedly:
1. Take uke(hf-1) out of case
2. Notice that the two inside strings are flat
3. Tune them up
4. Play for a while
5. Tune them back down because they went sharp

Then I wondered if it was being affected by holding it. So I recently tried taking the uke out of the case. It's sometimes a little cool from being on the floor. If any strings are flat I just hold the neck/fingerboard in my hands for a minute or so and the strings respond to the change in temperature and will be back pretty close to in tune.

I read on a classical guitar forum that this is the nature of nylon strings. I've never seen it discussed here and wondered if anyone has any similar experiences.

BTW, stock Kamaka strings.

tonet
12-19-2013, 10:00 AM
Nylon strings are sensitive to temperature changes. Right now I play my tenor with Ko'olau Golds and I have to warm them up one minute before I play. Doing this action I can play for a long time without retuning.

OldePhart
12-19-2013, 12:15 PM
Yep, I suppose technically all strings are temperature sensitive (almost all materials are, even the air through wind instruments, which is one reason you never see a professional floutist drinking an iced beverage during a rehearsal or performance, for example). But, nylon strings are more temperature sensitive than steel or fluorocarbon, by far, and different types of nylon differ quite a bit.

As tonet mentions, the Ko'Olau Gold are very temperature sensitive and this was purportedly the reason that Ko'Olau considered discontinuing the line a few years ago. I'm glad they didn't, because I was prepared to go on a hoarding binge; I've got a couple of ukes that the Ko'Olau Gold are just magical on. Alohi are far less temperature sensitive than the Gold strings, but they are a little sensitive.

At an open mic I'll warm up the strings, tune the uke, then run my hands quietly back and forth over the strings while I'm waiting my turn - especially if using the Ko'Olau Gold strings as on my mango tenor.

All of the fluorocarbon strings I use are so stable they don't change tuning noticeably with regular changes in temperature, though I've noticed them go very slightly sharp if I'm outside on a very cool evening.

John