String gauge calculator

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String gauge calculator

Post by shufflebeat »

I've been exploring some online string gauge calculators and this one seems to be the most suitable for my needs. It's aimed at uke players but the scale length is adjustable and there's a choice of string material.

https://ukulele.de/RISAdata/StringGauge.html

I realise there's an element of sorcery in reliable calculating to taste but this seems to chime with my own experience with guitar and mandola.

I'd be very interested to hear how suggested results line up with the expectations of others and would also like to hear of any similar calculators that have proved valuable.

Not expecting miracles but ball park figures are helpful.

I've also looked at:

https://www.evertune.com/resources/stri ... ulator.php

And

https://stringtensioncalculator.com/

...but found them less useful for several reasons.
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by Wonks »

What are you ultimately trying to achieve?

Different manufacturers’ wound strings have different core and winding diameters and steel formulations which will all affect the tension at pitch. They won’t be wildly different, but if you want to match string tensions as closely as possible, then you really need to use manufacturers’ figures.
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by shufflebeat »

Wonks wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 7:27 pm What are you ultimately trying to achieve?

An important question. I'm trying to develop a mental benchmark for judging what's appropriate in a given situation and for comparing types and brands, ultimately not the numbers but I need to have some appreciation of the numbers in order to develop some understanding. At.the minute I'm reinventing the wheel every time I put strings on the mandola which has a scale of 22" and there's not much guidance on that.


Different manufacturers’ wound strings have different core and winding diameters and steel formulations which will all affect the tension at pitch. They won’t be wildly different, but if you want to match string tensions as closely as possible, then you really need to use manufacturers’ figures.

I've struggled to find anything apart from" our strings are.best because...", any direction you can point me in would be appreciated.
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by Wonks »

D’Addario certainly have figures for all their strings, so I’d start with those.
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by Funkyflash5 »

Rotosound have recently started making theirs available
https://www.rotosound.com/tension-comparison-chart/
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by Wonks »

shufflebeat wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 6:30 pm I'd be very interested to hear how suggested results line up with the expectations of others and would also like to hear of any similar calculators that have proved valuable.

As I don't know of any standard stringed instrument with string tension measurement gauges built-in, I'm still not quite sure how you'd expect to use the information.

Thinner strings require less tension than thicker strings for a given pitch, but how the string feels under the fingers is also a function of the action and fret height, and how far you have to press the string down to fret a note. A set of 0.011"s on a guitar with a really low action can feel a lot easier to fret than a set of 0.009"s on a guitar with a high action. String bending from a fretted position will be easier with the thinner strings, but you aren't normally going to bend notes on a mandola.
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by Wonks »

Or is it that the 22" scale puts it in the 'octave mandolin' area rather than the 'mandola' area for US-made strings (which will typically be for a 17" scale instrument)?

And what tuning do you use?

D'Addario strings for an Octave Mandolin

https://www.daddario.com/products/guita ... ium-12-46/

(Use the 'learn more' side bar to get the string tension).
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by BigRedX »

The problem with all string gauge calculators is that they only take tension, tuning and scale-length into consideration and then give you a gauge based on whatever manufacturer's calculator you are using.

Unfortunately they can't take into account compliance which is equally important as the other factors, but is impossible to calculate, because it changes due to both string and instrument construction. This is why you can only use the calculators to get close to the correct gauges for the make and type of string they are designed for. After that you will have to do some trial and error with strings actually fitted to the instrument in question unit you get the right feel and sound. Also you will need to do this for every separate instrument, because IME even quite small differences in construction can lead to noticeable changes in the compliance of identical strings.
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by shufflebeat »

Wonks wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 9:54 am Or is it that the 22" scale puts it in the 'octave mandolin' area rather than the 'mandola' area for US-made strings (which will typically be for a 17" scale instrument)?

And what tuning do you use?

The tuning is C3:G3:C4:F4.

I've just put a set of mandolin strings on which are lighter than that octave mandolin set and they're too heavy for that tuning/scale so I reckon the O/M set would fold the instrument in half.

The tuning is determined by what role I want the instrument to play in the overall sound plus where the wood starts to sing naturally. My problem has been maintaining some consistency as shops tend to have different (cheapo?) makes in the "singles" box.
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by shufflebeat »

BigRedX wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:03 am This is why you can only use the calculators to get close to the correct gauges for the make and type of string they are designed for.

That's really what I'm after, some experience based opinion on how close I can get with which calc/brand combination.


After that you will have to do some trial and error with strings actually fitted to the instrument in question unit you get the right feel and sound.

I've been doing (always) trial and (often) error for 25yrs now, just trying to put some logic on the process.

All great help ta chaps.
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by Wonks »

I'd suggest a set of 10, 13, 17 and 26w, which should give you a pretty much equal 12lbs tension per string. Not too much, but still enough snap for plectrum picking. That's pretty much the top 4 strings from an electric set of 10s.

I've got a 22" scale tenor guitar with a 0.010" E4. The 2nd fret is roughly at 20", and dropping that string down a tone the tension still feels OK and not too floppy.

However, with my selection you may find it hard to find wound 3rds.

If you didn't need loop ended strings, it would be fairly easy to make up a set from guitar strings.
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Re: String gauge calculator

Post by BigRedX »

Wonks wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 1:32 pmIf you didn't need loop ended strings, it would be fairly easy to make up a set from guitar strings.

I've always made loop-ended strings by twisting the end of the string to release the "ball".
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