String Tension Question

Bill Sheehan

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I'm a little hung up on this question, and I wonder if perhaps I'm "out-thinking" it:

Let's say I have a standard soprano-scale uke strung with Martin M-600 soprano/concert strings, and I tune it to "gCEA".

And let's further assume that I also have a LONGNECK soprano, also strung with Martin M-600's, and also tuned to "gCEA".

Is the longneck soprano going to have a "tighter" feel to it than the standard soprano? I'm thinking it would, but I'm not sure I completely understand the "physics" involved.
 

robinboyd

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Are you using soprano or concert strings on the longneck?

If they are the same strings (all other things being equal), I think you would need them to be tighter to play the same notes with a longer scale length.
 

kaimuki

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If the string length is the same :
Longneck has more tension ; tighter feel .
Think of hanging a hammock between two trees .
The hammock will be more taught hung between trees at 15 feet apart than than at 13 feet .
 
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rainbow21

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So let's start with a 15 inch scale longneck. To similate the 13 inch soprano, press on the second fret and note that instead of an A note, you are now playing a B. So to get this string to an A note on the second fret (simulating a soprano), you would need to loosen the tension of the string. So you are correct that the "same" M600 string, cut to the appropriate length, would have more tension on the longneck than the soprano.
 

UkingViking

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As stated, it is correct that it will have higher tension.
The eigenfrequency of the string depends on the mass, length and tension of the string.
More mass or length lowers the frequency.
More tension raises it.
You tune the string untill the eigenfrequency corresponds to the note it is supposed to bring. If two strings have the samme mass per length, given by the girth and the density of the material, and one has a longer scale - it will need higher tension to reach the same frequency.
 

Bill Sheehan

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Thanks to all for the thoughtful responses! To clarify, yes, in my hypothetical I was assuming that both the regular soprano and the longneck soprano would be sporting the same string set (Martin M-600's), and tuned to gCEA.

Here's why I was asking: I like to tune to gCEA on my soprano, but sometimes the strings feel a little too "loosey goosey" in that tuning. So, rather than cranking the strings up a half step (or a full step), I figured I could achieve the tighter "feel" I'm looking for by simply getting a longneck soprano, and maintaining the gCEA tuning on it (which is kinder to my vocal cords, and easier to work with when playing with other folks).
 

rainbow21

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Thanks to all for the thoughtful responses! To clarify, yes, in my hypothetical I was assuming that both the regular soprano and the longneck soprano would be sporting the same string set (Martin M-600's), and tuned to gCEA.

Here's why I was asking: I like to tune to gCEA on my soprano, but sometimes the strings feel a little too "loosey goosey" in that tuning. So, rather than cranking the strings up a half step (or a full step), I figured I could achieve the tighter "feel" I'm looking for by simply getting a longneck soprano, and maintaining the gCEA tuning on it (which is kinder to my vocal cords, and easier to work with when playing with other folks).
That is one option, being aware that the scale spacing is different and will lead to a sound between a soprano and a concert.

Another option is to try different strings. Some companies make higher tension strings specifically to address what you are experiencing. Someone else chime in, but I believe you can use tenor strings on a soprano to increase the tension, too.
 

rustydusty

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Maybe that explains why my baritone uke tuned gCEA doesn't sound as good as my sons concert tuned the same. I would have thought that the baritone with the longer scale and larger body would have a fuller sound with more sustain. Yesterday I was tuning his concert up to give him a lesson and was amazed at how sweet and clear it sounded. Normally I play a baritone tuned DGBE, but picked up the one tuned gCEA so we would both be playing the chords the same way. Both ukes are solid mahogany, but his sounded so much better, and was easier on the fingers...
 

Dohle

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Many have accurately pointed out that, yes, the string tension will be higher due to the longer scale length but that's not the whole story. The tension by itself doesn't dictate how the strings will feel. Since the length of the strings is also longer the string will feel floppier despite the higher tension. Now, I can't say whether the feel is tighter or floppier compared to the regular soprano, that often depends on the string type, gauges, etc. etc.

You can think of it in another way like this:
If you have a tenor uke with a tenor string set you will have a baseline string length, tension and feel (or tightness). If you now switch the strings to a concert set on the tenor uke you will get the same string length but less tension resulting in a floppier feel. Next, you put that same concert set on a concert uke and you get less tension but shorter string length which tightens the feel of the strings.

In short, string length also matters, not just tension.

If you prefer a tighter feel on the soprano you could try some high tension string sets. Worth has a set that's pretty commonly available. The one you'd be looking for is Worth CD for high tension clear fluorocarbons. Uke Logic makes a similar set, I believe.
 

Bill Sheehan

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Thanks for all of those additional responses! Lots to consider there! Thank you for all of the good insight!
 

taro

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As suggested, try a different set of strings! Unfortunately, tension data is not usually available outside of Aquila and D'Addario. But, fluorocarbons generally have close-enough density across strings that you can experiment by string diameter.

If my data is correct, the Martin M600 strings diameters in mms are: 0.483, 0.635, 0.864, 0.559 (from A to G).
The median for a bunch of fluorocarbon sets marketed for soprano: 0.521, 0.660, 0.762, 0.570 (from A to G).

So the Martins are on the lighter side, with the exception of the C string (which I think is shared by the M620 Tenor set). As a few concrete options, you might try:

- Martin M620 fluorocarbons for tenor
- Worth CD "Hard" clear fluorocarbons for soprano / concert
- Uke Logic Hard tension for all scales
 

Bill Sheehan

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As suggested, try a different set of strings! Unfortunately, tension data is not usually available outside of Aquila and D'Addario. But, fluorocarbons generally have close-enough density across strings that you can experiment by string diameter.

If my data is correct, the Martin M600 strings diameters in mms are: 0.483, 0.635, 0.864, 0.559 (from A to G).
The median for a bunch of fluorocarbon sets marketed for soprano: 0.521, 0.660, 0.762, 0.570 (from A to G).

So the Martins are on the lighter side, with the exception of the C string (which I think is shared by the M620 Tenor set). As a few concrete options, you might try:

- Martin M620 fluorocarbons for tenor
- Worth CD "Hard" clear fluorocarbons for soprano / concert
- Uke Logic Hard tension for all scales
Thanks, Taro! I've used the Fremont Blackline Hard Tensions several times in the past. I may order a set and re-visit them!