How do I reduce string tension?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by Rivers, Dec 18, 2020.

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  1. Stratofonic

    Stratofonic Strat-Talk Member

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    Do what I did: Get sick and tired of the same old-same old (Strats and Pauls) and get a Fender Jaguar. When you think on it you may just admit it is time for a change. That 24" scale is a dream.
     
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  2. dbluesmi

    dbluesmi Strat-Talk Member

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    Couple things I have experienced:
    1) Went from Ernie Ball to Elixr Polyweb (coated) and noticed much less tension on same guitar, same setup, same advertised gauge strings. Not sure if a brand thing or if coating had an effect. It went from stiff feeling to almost too loose now... weird. Maybe old strings have less pliability?
    2) Higher action allows finger to catch under string during bends/easier bending resulting in perceived less tension.

    Had a Ernie Ball MM Cutlass guitar that always felt too slack (shorter scale, smaller neck size) ..tried heavier gauge (10's to 11's) and it didn't change the tension (just felt bad).
    Tried everything else under the sun on multiple guitars to reduce tension (including fewer springs) but nothing other than #1 & #2 above made any difference. Without tuning down of course.

    Some guitars are just gonna fit what you like and some won't. Setup, scale length, fret slipperiness (stainless or highly polished bends easier) + geometry of how your hand fits neck (how your particular anatomy) how fingers can get purchase on strings (lower action harder to bend) is what makes for a particular perception of tension.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
  3. ZekeZ

    ZekeZ New Member!

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    An LP has a shorter neck and does have a softer feel when playing but why not save a couple of grand and go with the 9's instead?
     
  4. Yinzer

    Yinzer Strat-Talk Member

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    The confusion comes from the fact that tension and rate-of-change of tension are not the same thing. When people talk about lowering tension, they actually are thinking about lowering the amount of force needed to change the tension.

    As many have pointed out, changing the tension is impossible without changing pitch, so changing springs, break angles, action, etc. Won't change tension if you are in tune. But changing some of those things will make a string easier to bend by making it easier to change its tension.

    Imagine two strings of the same thickness and material, with the same tension on them, but one is 30" and one is 2" long. They will be different pitches because of length, but the tension will be the same. Now imagine trying to bend each one. One is easy to bend and one is almost impossible.
     
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  5. Wayne Adams

    Wayne Adams Strat-Talk Member

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    +1 on all of these. Also, buy a set of each brand strings to experiment with, as I find some brands are "harder" than others, and a set of 9s of one brand will be noticeably easier to bend than the same gauge in another set.

    Also, I'm a fan of 8s, although I use different gauges on different guitars. My Warmoth Tele is set up with .008-.048.
     
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  6. bruce9432

    bruce9432 Strat-Talk Member

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    It's a function of cross section density, length and tension. Your only hope is to go to another part of the universe where actual mass is different or seal off your room and introduce a 80% helium atmosphere to see if you can get the tone higher with a different medium. Other than that, 440 is still and will always be 440.
     
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  7. mike58

    mike58 Strat-Talk Member

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    Please I’m not being rude but for goodness sake just put a set of 9.5-44s and you are sorted. It’s not rocket science , why we need 5 pages of discussion on this is beyond me. Also a lefty headstock will give you easier to bend plain strings.
     
  8. zedax

    zedax New Member!

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    I find that adrenalin, the older I get, organ transplants, tweaking laws of physics and Kryptonite make a big difference.
     
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  9. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Try a different brand of strings. The SIT strings always seemed to feel softer that other brands but you would just have to try for yourself.
    Also a lot of my customers like the 9.5 set which is in between 009’s & 010’s.
     
  10. Doc538

    Doc538 Strat-Talk Member

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    Actually it would reduce the tension if you reduced the number or the tension of the springs but it also would affect the action of the trem. It seems that maybe your former guitar had worn out trem springs that you got use to
     
  11. mone

    mone Strat-Talk Member Gold Supporting Member

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    EB Primos, 9.5 best of both planets!
     
  12. Nightprowler

    Nightprowler Strat-Talker

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    I tune all my strats down a half step and I use 9s . I really don't believe the hype about using 10s , 11s etc and tone . When I do use a set of 10s I really like the D'addario NYXL strings . Usually I just use D'addario or Earnie Ball 9 sets . I deck my bridges entirely . They are locked in place . I just use a digitech whammy the same way Jennifer Batten uses hers . Set to go up a half step for microtonal bending .

    P.S. make sure you've got enough angle on your string tree(s) because that's sometimes a culprit that makes strats harder to play and bend on .
     
  13. jdyanine

    jdyanine Strat-Talk Member

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    Can't understand why so many people recommend lowering the tension of the tremolo springs or floating the trem... maybe the strings will move easily that way, but you'll have to increase the force of your fingers to achieve the same note when bending.

    For lowering the tension:
    - conversion neck (too much trouble)
    - lighter string gauge
    - Alternate tuning

    For softer playing:
    - standard to low action (not too high, not too low)
    - low action at the nut
    - bridge radius matched to the fretboard radius at the last fret
    - polished frets
    - softer fretboard (remove any friction)
    - decked tremolo (easier to bend, harder to whammy)
    - compound or flatter radius (over 12" above the 14th fret) for very low action... but when it's too low it isn't easy to bend, because there's not enough space for your fingertips beneath the strings
     
  14. Jeigh

    Jeigh Strat-Talk Member

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    A floating bridge is often more slinky than a fixed bridge.
    In my experience it has... sort of... If I'm not mistaken he's going for a more slinky feel, & I found that finding the lowest position for both the nut (that took a few tries) & bridge posts, gave me that feel. Technically the tension is the same, but the feel is very different. This also involved tweaking the truss-rod which is likely an important part of the equation. I'm not sure how exactly I got it, but I've got great action, & that slinky thing, that makes me feel like more of a rock star haha.
     
  15. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Keep in mind that Billy has a tendency to make things up and embellish, same as EVH.
    Some of this may be intentional to throw people off trying to copy them, and some may be the product of inaccurate memories.

    It is unlikely that conversation took place as presented.
    King used 10-54's. On a Gibson scale length, that would compare to 9's on a Fender.
    "The Rev's" 7's on a Gibson scale would be insanely floppy with a total tension of only 60lbs, but even on a Fender scale it's only 65lbs.

    The problem with going that light is the increased string excursion can require higher action to prevent buzz, which counters some of the benefit of lighter strings.
     
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  16. Jeigh

    Jeigh Strat-Talk Member

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    In my experience, a floating tremolo is always more slinky than a fixed bridge. Even if the fixed bridge is a Jaguar. I think he's looking for "slinky" which feels like there is less tension, but I don't think technically that's the way it works. My first & only Strat is a Player Strat that I got in September. That neck felt like it had too much tension too, but the action was also too high. I got the slinky feel from basically sanding down the nut to the lowest possible working position which took a few tries, then adjusting the truss-rod & bridge posts to the minimum string clearance needed for bending. Now it's a dream to play. I used a Tusq nut too, & despite playing heavily on the trem sometimes, I've got no tuning stability issues, so I did something right.
     
  17. Jeigh

    Jeigh Strat-Talk Member

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    There has been so much made about this conversation that it shouldn't be referenced anymore, without video of Gibbons & exactly what he said, which I don't believe exists.

    What I do know is that there's a lot of machismo centered around string gauge & how bigger is better, which is total BS that plays right along w/centuries old, false adages about bigger being better. We all know that's a lie unless you're talking about a man's D*ck. That story about SRV probably has him playing 14's at this point, despite the story of him playing 13's being fiction.

    There is a fairly well known music professor on Youtube named Rick Beato (This is Jeigh from the future; I realized I should just find it & paste if for you, so enjoy, Rick's great) You’re Probably Using The WRONG Guitar Strings - YouTube
    he's done a really good shootout of string sizes, & 9's were the most sonically present, with the most harmonic overtones; 8's sounded a little thinner, but not any better or worse than 10's. I think any serious guitarist owes it to themselves to find the right gauge for themselves, without letting any outside nonsense cloud their judgement. I actually kinda regret too many years of playing with thicker strings. I came from acoustic, & I played fingerstlye on electric before it was all the rage, so I really believed I needed heavier gauged strings... but the truth is, I just needed more skill. I play 9's now, & noodle around with all kinds of two-handed neo-classical trickery. I'm faster & cleaner than I've ever been & my fingers never hurt despite 3-step bends with my pointer. GL All.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
  18. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    I believe Billy said it.
    And I believe that maybe King said it.
    But King may have said it to SRV or someone else who plays heavy strings in the presence of Billy, and not specifically to Billy, unless maybe Billy was experimenting with 12s.

    But I absolutely believe that Billy said it... probably a few weeks before his 7's were released by Dunlop ;)
     
  19. TheGreenHornet

    TheGreenHornet BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

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    Change your trem set up to "fixed" position. Floating takes more effort. Use round core wrapped strings. That right there will ease it up a a bit.
     
  20. SAguitar

    SAguitar Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    A friend of mine told me to practice squeezing tennis balls. When you get to where you can pop them, then you won't have a problem with string tension.
     
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