String tension - function of string gauge or brand?

besley

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So I've been wondering about "Soft" vs. "Hard" string sets. From what I can tell it seems as if the "Soft" sets are just thinner gauge material. Which brings me to the question - as long as I stick with one type of string, say fluorocarbon (my favorite), is the tension and feel going to be just a function of string gauge, or will the brand of fluorocarbon also make a difference?

My present strings are Living Waters Tenor Low G at 0.0224/0.0260/0.0291/0.0358 gauges. Would one expect Worth Clear Tenor Low G (CT-LG) strings at the exact same gauges (0.0224/0.0260/0.0291/0.0358) to feel the same?
 
I don't have the tech to measure it, but my fingers tell me that some strings are denser and higher tension than other strings of the same diameter.
 
So I've been wondering about "Soft" vs. "Hard" string sets. From what I can tell it seems as if the "Soft" sets are just thinner gauge material. Which brings me to the question - as long as I stick with one type of string, say fluorocarbon (my favorite), is the tension and feel going to be just a function of string gauge, or will the brand of fluorocarbon also make a difference?

My present strings are Living Waters Tenor Low G at 0.0224/0.0260/0.0291/0.0358 gauges. Would one expect Worth Clear Tenor Low G (CT-LG) strings at the exact same gauges (0.0224/0.0260/0.0291/0.0358) to feel the same?
What you "feel" is subjective. So while strings of the same material have same density and resulting same tension, they can have additives to change their stiffness and other physical characteristics which one may be able to feel. With nylon and nylgut strings these characteristics are by design for their purpose as strings. Fluorocarbon strings on the other hand were designed for other purposes, so those who sell them as strings had to go through some trial and error to find the industrial products (such as various types of fishing line) that they could sell as strings.
 
So I've been wondering about "Soft" vs. "Hard" string sets. From what I can tell it seems as if the "Soft" sets are just thinner gauge material.
Yes

Which brings me to the question - as long as I stick with one type of string, say fluorocarbon (my favorite), is the tension and feel going to be just a function of string gauge,
Yes

or will the brand of fluorocarbon also make a difference?
Very little (for the same gauge and density)

My present strings are Living Waters Tenor Low G at 0.0224/0.0260/0.0291/0.0358 gauges. Would one expect Worth Clear Tenor Low G (CT-LG) strings at the exact same gauges (0.0224/0.0260/0.0291/0.0358) to feel the same?
Yes

(But SeaGuar says some of their fluorocarbon leader products have different coatings)


Reasons:

The annual amount of fluorocarbon (pvdf) used in ukulele and guitar strings is a tiny fraction of the volume used in monofilament fishing line and leader.

Given the small amounts needed and the high machinery investment cost, it is sensible for music string makers to select from the wide range of strings available from suppliers of fluorocarbon fishing leader. Which means that ukulele string makers use the same ingredients.

BTW, fishing line and leader brands get their fluorocarbon monofilament from a handful of factories: Kureha/SeaGuar in Japan, Hi-Seas in Portugal, and a couple in China.

Monofilament line is itself a very small part of the fluorocarbon market which means that monofilament factories get raw pvdf pellets from the same chemical factories.




Examples:




 
Well not exactly. As already noted there are differences between brands.

And despite the Ken Smith video with Seaguar, diameter may be the primary driver of tension, but it is not the only driver. Chemical composition also plays a part.

When it comes to Seaguar fluorocarbon leader, they offer different grades, or levels, from Pink to Gold. Most people who use Seaguar leader as strings stay with Pink or Blue, with a few going to Premier for the .022 size. I happen to use Premier in other sizes as well; and Gold in .020 and .022.

What is interesting about Gold is that in some gauges it is the same diameter as the Pink/Blue and Premier, but it's tension, breaking strength, is higher. And just for the sake of it, I have measured the diameter with digital calipers. On a side note, only Premier is tournament compliant, so it has to break at or below the rating.

A .020 Pink/Blue is rated at 30LB and .020 Gold is rated at 40LB. Likewise .022 Premier is rated at 40LB and .022 Gold is rated at 50LB. In my experience using all 4 grades of Seaguar, Gold definitely has the most tension.

And not to pick on Worth, but they sell a standard CM .0205/.0260/.0291/.0224. They also sell a CD, which is a harder string, in .0205/.0260/.0291/.0224. How can that be?

It is interesting to note that Blue label is .020/.026/.029 with Premier .022. Gold label, with a higher tension rating, is .020/.026/.029/.022.

John
 
What you "feel" is subjective. So while strings of the same material have same density and resulting same tension, they can have additives to change their stiffness and other physical characteristics which one may be able to feel. With nylon and nylgut strings these characteristics are by design for their purpose as strings. Fluorocarbon strings on the other hand were designed for other purposes, so those who sell them as strings had to go through some trial and error to find the industrial products (such as various types of fishing line) that they could sell as strings.
I’m pretty much with you there but would add that nylon strings are also fishing line / line adapted from another use, and if I understand correctly then various types of nylon are used. Nylon has a relatively low density and to compensate for that the strings used on a Uke tend to be thicker than comparable ones in different material; thicker is a part of being stiffer - check your yard brush and you’ll likely find stiff bristles made of nylon ‘string’.
 
It is interesting to note that Blue label is .020/.026/.029 with Premier .022. Gold label, with a higher tension rating, is .020/.026/.029/.022.

John
You are confusing tension and tensile strength. Tension is the force that is pulling on a string, whereas tensile strength is the maximum stress that a material can handle before it breaks. It is possible that strings of same diameter and tension but of different tensile strength may feel different to a player.
 
I’m pretty much with you there but would add that nylon strings are also fishing line / line adapted from another use, and if I understand correctly then various types of nylon are used. Nylon has a relatively low density and to compensate for that the strings used on a Uke tend to be thicker than comparable ones in different material; thicker is a part of being stiffer - check your yard brush and you’ll likely find stiff bristles made of nylon ‘string’.
Well sure there are fishing lines made of nylon. But many string manufactures produce their own nylon strings that are formulated to be strings and not fishing line, unlike the carbon strings as @casualmusic explained above in detail.
 
You are confusing tension and tensile strength. Tension is the force that is pulling on a string, whereas tensile strength is the maximum stress that a material can handle before it breaks. It is possible that strings of same diameter and tension but of different tensile strength may feel different to a player.
I’m not so sure. With both nylon and fluorocarbon strings there is an amount of stretch that occurs under the tension of tuning.

My understanding is fluorocarbon has low elasticity and will deform at a lower percentage of its breaking strength rating than nylon.

Whether a higher tensile strength for the same diameter results in less stretch, I can’t say.

I do know that I have swapped a particular individual string multiple times within a few days of each, with different levels of Seaguar. There were differences using the same diameter.

The only way to really know is to get the chemical and physical reports, and someone with the knowledge to interpreter to a ukulele application.

John
 
Well sure there are fishing lines made of nylon. But many string manufactures produce their own nylon strings that are formulated to be strings and not fishing line, unlike the carbon strings as @casualmusic explained above in detail.
Fair point, D’addario and Aquila extrude their own nylon strings but the rest are open to question - I think that Mimmo gave a definitive answer on that some years back. When the first nylon strings were used (on Guitars) they can only have been commercial line intended for other purposes.
 
I do know that I have swapped a particular individual string multiple times within a few days of each, with different levels of Seaguar. There were differences using the same diameter.


John

If companies like Seaguar offer monofilament lines with similar diameters but different tensile strengths, I would think that must be my answer, that similar fluorocarbon strings CAN feel quite different. Seaguar says their lines are 100% fluorocarbon, so they are presumably not achieving differences by compounding with other materials. As an industrial polymer chemist I would guess that Seaguar accomplishes this by using fluorocarbon resins that differ in molecular weight and branching, but I haven't done a patent search yet to see if any of this is disclosed. Sure is fascinating.
 
If companies like Seaguar offer monofilament lines with similar diameters but different tensile strengths, I would think that must be my answer, that similar fluorocarbon strings CAN feel quite different. Seaguar says their lines are 100% fluorocarbon, so they are presumably not achieving differences by compounding with other materials. As an industrial polymer chemist I would guess that Seaguar accomplishes this by using fluorocarbon resins that differ in molecular weight and branching, but I haven't done a patent search yet to see if any of this is disclosed. Sure is fascinating.
I would agree with you that Seaguar uses various formulas, including a DSF (Double Structure Formula) for improved abrasion resistance on their Blue, Premier, and Gold offerings. I view the phrase 100% fluorocarbon as being similar to describing metal as 100% steel. I honestly doubt every fluorocarbon string/line uses the exact same chemical composition. From what I have read, the original patent goes back to the 60's.

I am under the impression that Seaguar, or the parent company Kureha (supplier of Savarez fluorocarbon strings), produces the strings for Worth.

As I stated above, Worth offers a CD, Hard strings that have the exact diameters as their CM Standard soprano/concert strings. There are threads here on UU, with posts that describe the differences between CM and CD. I understand that feel is pretty subjective and a lot of it is not necessarily related to string tension. But I also know that after a sufficient time, even years, playing a particular instrument, it becomes easier to describe tension differences over string compliance.

And, this is really only about Seaguar fluorocarbon fishing leader. It is true that increasing the diameter of the same string will give you higher tension. Sometimes even .001" is enough to make or break the tone. My first inclination of a packaged high tension set is that the strings are thicker. Worth CH Heavy tenor use larger diameter strings on the E, C, and G stings compared to the standard CT. Although I would like to know if the .0224 "A" string is the same string for both.

Finally, with any of my Seaguar posts, I don't recommend investing hundreds of dollars in spools of fishing leader to sit around, and in some cases only get used once. I've done it, not so much because I have more than a couple ukuleles, but because I really don't have the patience to order different packaged sets to try, and then place orders again and wait for others.

John
 
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