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Thread: Confused about tension of fluorocarbon strings...

  1. #1
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    Default Confused about tension of fluorocarbon strings...

    How comes that some brands (like, for example, Worth and Oasis) offer the same unique fluorocarbon string set for either soprano, concert or tenor ? How can a string work properly for a 13 inch scale and a 17 inch scale? I guess that such strings will have high tension on a soprano and low tension on a tenor. To add confusion: D'Addario, instead, offer a fluorocarbon set for soprano and concert, and a different fluorocarbon set for tenor. But...the strings diameter is exactly the same on both sets.
    Can someone help to me to understand? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    String tension is dictated by either diameter, larger is higher tension or the actual compound. If you put a tenor gauge string, like Oasis on a shorter scale concert the tension is less, on a shorter scale soprano the tension is less again. The longer the scale, say tenor compared to soprano the more the strings need to be stretched to get them up to pitch. So you stretch a string set more on a tenor which creates more tension. With the very same string set on a soprano the tension is lower
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  3. #3

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    How can a string work properly for a 13 inch scale and a 17 inch scale? I guess that such strings will have high tension on a soprano and low tension on a tenor.
    Same reason why guitars come in various scale lengths, yet all use the same strings that come in different tension ratings.

    Likewise for ukulele, you should be able to use the same strings for Soprano, Concert and Tenor.
    The resulting tension will be a bit different due to the scale length.

    With the same set of strings, the tension will be less on shorter scale and more on longer scale.
    Hence, the strings would be looser on a soprano and tighter on a tenor.

  4. #4
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    The trebles I use on my long scale Ramirez classical (664mm) are the same as the ones on my Kala Elite tenor (429mm)! Once I noticed the same basic string diameters were used on multiple instruments my life became a wee bit easier. Strings are strings and just as long as they're the right tension I use many of the same strings on my classical guitars, guitarleles and ukuleles.
    Last edited by gochugogi; 08-11-2020 at 07:51 AM.

  5. #5

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    Hi all!

    Take a look at the "Ultimate Florocarbon Comparison Chart" Posted by Anthroterra on 07-08-2020 for some recent string size data... It might illuminated the discussion a bit...

    Bill

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    The trebles I use on my long scale Ramirez classical (664mm) are the same as the ones on my Kala Elite tenor (429mm)! Once I noticed the same basic string diameters were used on multiple instruments my life became a wee bit easier. Strings are strings and just as long as they're the right tension I use many of the same strings on my classical guitars, guitarleles and ukuleles.
    I find it a highly convenient coincidence that the 4th-1st of classical guitar (DGBE) pretty much translates to the 4th-1st (GCEA) on soprano/concert/tenor ukuleles for low-G tuning. If you want high-G, just use the 1st string again (E) to tune up to (A) on ukulele.

    Most guitaleles appear to just use regular classical guitar strings to tune up ADGCEA too.

    Same logic applies to steel string electric guitars/ukuleles.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerardo1000 View Post
    How comes that some brands (like, for example, Worth and Oasis) offer the same unique fluorocarbon string set for either soprano, concert or tenor ? How can a string work properly for a 13 inch scale and a 17 inch scale? I guess that such strings will have high tension on a soprano and low tension on a tenor. To add confusion: D'Addario, instead, offer a fluorocarbon set for soprano and concert, and a different fluorocarbon set for tenor. But...the strings diameter is exactly the same on both sets.
    Can someone help to me to understand? Thanks.
    You have two questions. But first the the three line review I always give myself on this:

    Frequency is:
    inversely proportional to string length -> shorter string means higher pitch
    proportional to square root of string tension -> higher tension means higher pitch
    inversely proportional to square root of string density -> thinner string means higher pitch

    So if you want the same note with the same string with the same tension on a tenor and soprano, you will be shortening the length of the string by about 13/17ths on the soprano which means it will have a higher pitch. So you must LOWER THE TENSION ON THE SOPRANO TO GET THE SAME NOTE AS THE TENOR.

    Another way of looking at the above is to take a tenor G string and fret at the 5th fret which makes the length about the 13 inches, which is the length of a soprano, and gives the higher note (C) that will only become a G by decreasing the tension on the string.

    Regarding D'Addario, since they make their own strings, I would guess they can change the density while still keeping the diameter about the same. That's just a guess on my part.

    Finally, In the past, I've had some of the same thoughts as you, but with Tenor and Concert ukes using the same strings. However, I don't think about it much anymore because I noticed that Kamaka and LaBella use the same diameter string for their A and high G strings. I then realized that the G at the second fret (an A note) on a tenor is about a Concert length, and I can't tell much difference in the tension between the G string and the A string on the tenor when playing.

    I hope this helps and the last paragraph isn't too confusing.

  8. #8
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    That's why ukes are of different size have different construction. Soprano ukes have very light or no bracing at all while tenor ukes have more substantial bracing and sometimes even a rod in the neck to support potential higher tension. Higher tension is also one of the reasons why longer instruments are often louder and sound better.

    Martin pushed this further making their tenor strings thicker for even more tension.
    Last edited by merlin666; 08-11-2020 at 10:41 AM.

  9. #9
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    Regarding Martin strings, the low tension of their new polygut strings is remarkable, even though they are slightly thicker than their F/C strings. I wonder if they can still sound decent with such low tension. Here are the data for comparison:
    F/C A E C G Tension Model
    Soprano/Concert .0191 .0251 .0340 .0220 35.4 M600
    Tenor .0220 .0284 .0340 .0251 55.3 M620
    Polygut A E C G Tension Model
    Soprano .0220 .0275 .0310 .0228 26.4 M605
    Concert .0228 .0287 .0318 .0236 31.4 M610
    Tenor .0236 .0295 .0326 .0244 37.1 M625
    Last edited by merlin666; 08-11-2020 at 11:16 AM.

  10. #10
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    To complicate things even more, there can be a pretty substantial difference in the actual tension on a string versus the perceived "tension" a player thinks is there, when they fret a note.

    When you fret a string by pushing it down to the fretboard, you're stretching it a little bit along it's length. The "stretch" you feel is based on both the scale length and the distance you displace the string. Imagine you were to set up two instruments - a soprano and a tenor - with the same actual string tension (ignoring tuning for now), and the same action at the 12th. Then, you fret both at the 12th fret. The soprano, with it's shorter scale length, requires you to displace the string at a greater angle (relative to it's resting position) so the soprano would feel "tighter" because it takes more force to displace the string on the shorter scale length.

    Take this to an extreme - put the same string material on a double bass and (attempt to!) tune it to the same pitch. It would be under much higher tension, but because it was so long, it would "feel" floppy.

    Now, take those two instruments and tune them both correctly. Even though the tenor's strings are ultimately at a higher tension, the effect of scale length on the soprano masks that difference.

    Because of this sensation, most people don't perceive that - when tuned to the same note - the tenor actually has strings under higher tension.

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