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Thread: Tenor string tension

  1. #1
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    Default Tenor string tension

    Is the string tension on a tenor ukulele noticeably different than on a concert or is the difference negligible? Is it more noticeable the longer session you play?
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikelz777 View Post
    Is the string tension on a tenor ukulele noticeably different than on a concert or is the difference negligible? Is it more noticeable the longer session you play?
    It depends on the strings you use. There are some charts published here that show calculated tension for different kinds of strings by uke size. The differences are usually not big enough that they can actually be sensed in the hands or have an impact on playing experience. Other factors such as string thickness and elasticity, and uke set up are more important for that.

  3. #3
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    It is very noticeable to me. Enough that my slightly arthritic hands fatigue quickly on tenor and I consider the tenor size a mismatch for me. At a group meetup, I was able to play one song with a Blackbird Farallon tenor (and the owner played my Clara) and my hand was tired to the point of discomfort. Somewhere between concert and tenor I cross the line between pleasure and pain.

  4. #4
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    Worth strings come in light, medium, "tenor", and strong versions. The "tenor" and "strong" versions are noticeably higher tension, but they say you can still use the light tension version on a tenor ukulele if you prefer. http://worthc.to/english/about.html

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainbow21 View Post
    It is very noticeable to me. Enough that my slightly arthritic hands fatigue quickly on tenor and I consider the tenor size a mismatch for me. At a group meetup, I was able to play one song with a Blackbird Farallon tenor (and the owner played my Clara) and my hand was tired to the point of discomfort. Somewhere between concert and tenor I cross the line between pleasure and pain.
    It is possible that they have the same strings so then there may be a discernible difference. But if the concert is strung with strings designed for concert scale and the tenor with strings for tenor scale they should feel more similar

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
    It is possible that they have the same strings so then there may be a discernible difference. But if the concert is strung with strings designed for concert scale and the tenor with strings for tenor scale they should feel more similar
    The longer scale length requires a thicker string and, thus, a greater tension to achieve the same tuning (there can be some overlap - so you might use concert strings on a tenor, but then volume might decrease or some other concurrent effect will occur).

    From Brad Bordessa's website:

    All things being equal, a long scale has more tension than a short scale. Think of a soprano ukulele. It has a scale length of 13-14″ tuned to GCEA. A set of soprano strings are chosen for those tensions and measurements.

    But put those same strings on a 17″ tenor scale and try tuning it to GCEA and you
    Last edited by rainbow21; 06-05-2021 at 11:49 AM.

  7. #7
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    For the same strings, the concert tension is about 75% of the tenor tension.

    You can see the numbers here -> https://ed1.cc/Ukulele/StringTension/

    Also D'Addario will let you play with a set of their strings and change the length to see the different tensions here -> http://web.daddario.com/StringTensionPro/

  8. #8
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    As others have said, it depends on the string. I was talking with Ken Middleton about his "low tension" tenor set but he talked me out of it in favor of the standard set. I don't find the tension of the standard set to be objectionable at all, but it's good to know there are options. My usual option for tenor is to tune down a step which sounds good and reduces the tension
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, LW dGBEA
    Southern Cross concert GCEA
    Guitars:
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  9. #9
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    One of the reasons the question occurred to me is that when people mention the difference in playing a tenor compared to a concert or soprano they talk about the spacing between the frets which would be the most noticeable difference. I understand why the longer scale would have a bit more tension to arrive at the standard tuning but I wasn't sure if the feel and additional force required to fret would be noticeably different. I like light strings so that is what I would gravitate to. (My favorites are fluorocarbons - Martin, Oasis bright, Worth light)
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

    Ukes are a lot like potato chips. It's hard to stop with just one!

  10. #10
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    I find that a lot of it depends on the strings. Some of my tenors are my easiest to play. My custom uke that is strung with Worth Clears has a higher tension on the E and A than my ukes strung with Uke Logic or Living Water. My Rebel is low tension (Rebel strings). As I have arthritis, I'm very cognizant of the string tension.
    "So many ukes, so little money..."

    Kanile'a KSR-T premium koa tenor
    KoAloha KTM-00 tenor
    Rebel Double Cheese spruce/mahogany tenor, my BFF.
    aNueNue AMM3 mahogany tenor
    Romero Creations Tiny Tenor spalted mango
    Romero Creations SK koa soprano
    Pono ATC-PC acacia cutaway tenor
    Kala KA-ASFM-T-C flame maple tenor
    Pono MT-SP tenor
    Cocobolo 5 string tenor #28
    Cocobolo concert #467
    Pono ASD acacia soprano deluxe
    Pono MGS mango soprano
    Brad Donaldson cedar/rosewood custom tenor


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