In this issue, we will talk about guitar strings (strings).
At THE used music store, we have a wide variety of customers, from professional musicians to band members, and even customers who are just starting to play guitar. Recently, we have many young student customers, and we have been receiving an increasing number of questions about the rudiments of guitar playing, so we would like to feature some miscellaneous information that may be of use to you.
Needless to say, strings are the most important and indispensable part of a stringed instrument such as the guitar.
What criteria do you use to select strings? The basic structure of all stringed instruments is the same: strings vibrate to produce sound.
In the case of electric guitars (electric basses), string vibrations are picked up by pickups, converted into electrical signals, and sent out. The "vibration characteristics" of the body and neck also have a great influence on the sound, but the key is the string vibration of the strings themselves.
Currently, there are many different types of strings available from various manufacturers. There are two main types of strings: "plain strings," which consist of only a core wire, and "wound strings," which have a core wire wound with a wound wire. How do these two types of strings affect string vibration and tone?
Core wire material
The core wire of electric and acoustic guitar strings is made of steel. Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon (0.04 to 1.7%).
The higher the carbon content, the harder the steel. The core wire of the string is made from this steel, which is processed into a thin steel wire. Some steel wires, like piano wire, have a high carbon content and are extremely hard.
What is important is strength, durability, and flexibility with excellent vibration and playability, and basically the same piano wire is used for the core wire of guitar strings.
Guitar strings that are too hard have problems with string vibration and playability, while strings that are too soft have unstable pitch and do not provide enough string vibration. If they are too soft, the pitch will be unstable and the strings will not vibrate sufficiently. Piano wire is graded according to its carbon content, which affects hardness, tone, and sustain, and the material of the core wire is a very important element of the string construction.
Shape of the core wire
There are two types of this core wire: round core wire and angled deformed core wire. Today, hexagonal core wire, called "hexagonal core," is the most common type of core wire.
When replacing the strings yourself, take a good look at the cut cross section! You may be able to understand the shape of the core wire and the mechanism by which the winding wire is wound.
Of course, "plain strings" use a round core wire. Theoretically, a round wire is better for even string vibration when stretched straight, so why do "wound strings" use a hexagonal core wire?
The reason is that the hexagonal core wire can be wound more tightly. Generally, if the core wire is round, the winding tends to loosen easily and is often not wound evenly. With a hexagonal core, however, the winding wire engages at each vertex and is tightened well.
Then, what about triangular or square core wires? Some people may think, "What about triangular or square core wires?
Theoretically, the more rounded the wire is, the better the vibration of the string. Then what about octagons and hexagons?
This is practically more difficult to process, and hexagonal core wire is now commonly used. However, not all hexagonal core wire is good, and the material grade of piano wire mentioned above is also an important factor. Some manufacturers also use a special "oval" core wire to produce high quality strings.
Material of winding wire
Most electric guitars (electric basses) have either nickel or stainless steel windings. Other types of strings include bronze and phosphor bronze strings for acoustic guitars.
The material of the electric strings must be a material that reacts to the magnetic force of the pickup. Even if the windings are not made of a magnetic material, if the core wire is made of a magnetic material, the pickup will respond magnetically. (An example of this would be black nylon strings for basses.)
Now, "nickel" is a nickel alloy, which is magnetic. Nickel is overwhelmingly used in high-quality strings because it is a soft metal that is easy to work with and rust-resistant. The purity of nickel varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
On the other hand, "stainless steel" is an alloy of steel and chrome, and is a metal familiar to us in our daily lives because of its rust-resistant properties. It has excellent strength and durability as a string material, and its magnetic response is good, so it is used for popular and inexpensive strings.
Breaking "stainless steel" down further,
13 chrome stainless steel
Contains 13% chrome
18 Chrome Stainless Steel
Contains 18% chrome
18.8 chrome stainless steel
Contains 18% chrome and 8% nickel
It can be divided in this way. The characteristics of the strings vary depending on which type of stainless steel is used.
In some cases, stainless steel may match the characteristics of the pickup better than high quality nickel, and it is not possible to say which is better than the other.
However, like the core wire, the material of the winding is also a very important factor for guitar strings.
For acoustic guitars, most windings are made of copper alloys such as brass, which is also used for saxophones and other wind instruments and is required to have "sound".
In the case of acoustic guitar, the "sound" or resonance of the strings themselves is more important than the compatibility with pickups. In the case of an electric acoustic guitar, the "sound" of the string itself is more important than the magnetic material of the string, since the string vibration is directly picked up by a piezo type pickup, etc.
Copper has high heat conductivity and has been used as the most "ringing" material for a long time.
The term "copper alloy" can be further subdivided into,
An alloy of 60% copper and 40% zinc
Alloy of 80% copper and 20% zinc
80% copper 20% tin alloy
Alloy of 98% copper and 2% phosphorus
Phosphor bronze is the most popular material for acoustic guitar strings. This alloy is a reddish yellow material, also called "gold strings" because of its gold-like shine, moderate flexibility, and very rich high frequency overtones,
It is the best material for raw sounding acoustic guitars.
Shape of winding
Round wound strings
Round wound strings are the most common type of string, and are used in most electric guitars (electric bass) and acoustic guitars. The sound quality is sharp, with rich overtones and a clear, bright tone.
Flat wound strings
The surface is smooth and slippery. They are smooth to the touch and easy to finger, so touch noise is not a problem.
The tone quality is round and sweet, with a cut high frequency range. The low frequency range is thick, but the attack is sweet, and the sustain is somewhat lacking. It is suitable for jazz-type guitars.
Half Round Strings
Half-round strings are wound in a semicircle shape, and the tone quality is between round and flat. They are known for being originally developed by D'Addario.
Half & Half Strings
Half of the body side is a round wound string and half of the neck side is a semicircular wound string (called "ground", which is between round and flat).
Ball ends are necessary to secure the strings to the tailpiece and are made mostly of brass.
Since this ball end is in direct contact with the tailpiece, it plays an important role in transmitting the string vibration to the body along with the bridge. For this reason, brass, which has excellent "ringing" properties, is used as the material. Some colored ball ends are made of brass plated with nickel or chrome. The shape, size, and thickness vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but why do most ball ends have holes in them?
In fact, the holes are necessary in the manufacturing process because they must be fixed to the machine during the winding process.
Special ball ends (bread ends, Floyd Rose ends, loop ends, etc.) also exist, and there are even double ball ends with ball ends on both ends of the string.
Piano wire material
As you can see, the piano wire used as the core wire of a guitar is steel wire. This piano wire has a high carbon content and is very hard. As mentioned earlier, piano wire is graded according to its carbon content, and the grade "SWRS82A" is usually used for guitar strings.
It's a science lesson again, lol.
The carbon content is standard for piano wire material. We hope you understand that without the right amount of impurities, guitar strings cannot be used for their flexibility, string vibration, and tone quality as well as strength.
Currently, guitar strings are usually made up of "plain strings" for strings 1, 2, and 3, and "wound strings" for strings 4, 5, and 6.
However, until around the 1960s, the third string on electric guitars was a "wound" string. Around the 1970s, when choking playing became common, the third string also became the current plain string. Due to the demands of the hard rock scene at that time, extra light gauges from 009 to 042 became the standard, and guitar strings have also evolved with the evolution of instruments, designs, and innovative parts. The difference in gauge directly affects string vibration. The width of the nut groove should be adjusted to match the gauge used. If the nut groove and the gauge do not match, the strings will be chattering and tuning will be unstable.
The human senses are also surprisingly sharp and sensitive, and it is said that a difference of 0.001" (0.0254mm) can be felt! Why don't you trust your own fingertip senses and choose the right material, type, and manufacturer for your playing?
Aim to be a "player who knows the difference"!
Tension is a term that refers to the "tension of the strings," but it has three meanings. Tension refers to the "tension of the strings," but it has three meanings: the strength with which the strings are stretched, the strength with which the strings are held down by the nut or bridge, and the hardness of the strings as felt by the player's fingertips.
Needless to say, these three "tensions" are interrelated.
Also, the total tension applied to the guitar is the light gauge
The tension on a bass guitar is about 70 to 80 kg. The thicker the gauge of the string, the stronger the tension, but the tension varies depending on the material and construction of the core wire and winding.
How to String
Some of you may have had to bring your guitars in for repair because they sounded jumpy or were out of tune easily.
No matter how good the strings are, the way they are strung can make a big difference in the sound. In fact, it is not uncommon to find that the problem lies in the way the strings are strung.
Basically, once the strings are put through the bridge, they should be wound straight onto the pegs without twisting. Twisted strings have a negative effect on the string vibration, and they are more prone to tuning errors and breakage, which shortens the life of the instrument. If there are too many windings, the strings will be out of tune easily, and if there are too few, the strings will not have enough tension. Some strings, such as Floyd Rose strings, have a slightly special tensioning method, which we hope you will find useful.
We recommend the use of a string winder to speed up and accurately change strings.
The strings' greatest natural enemies are moisture and salt. The strings are exposed to this moisture and salt through sweat and humidity during daily practice and before live performances. Be sure to wipe the strings with a good absorbent cloth.
Also, when the guitar is not played for a long period of time, the strings will gradually deteriorate if they are always under tension. It is recommended to loosen the tuning a little, including reducing the load on the neck.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is time to replace the strings.
Tuning has become difficult to match.
The strings are fully stretched and the tuning does not go out of tune, but the sound has become rounded.
The surface of the string is rusted.
Strings that have reached the end of their useful life have lost the firmness of the core wire, and the tension is weakened. The overtones will deteriorate, the high notes will sound sweeter, and the attack will be lost. Be sure to change the strings regularly to keep your guitar in the best condition.
Electric Guitar Strings
The following is a partial list of typical electric guitar strings among the many types of strings (strings) available.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope that this feature article has given you a chance to enjoy your beloved guitars without a break. I have focused on the strings that have been stretched on your beloved guitars for a long time.
We hope you will find it helpful in choosing strings, which are an important factor in determining the tone of your guitar as well as the material of the guitar itself. It is a good idea to experiment with different makers, gauges, and materials, and using the same strings as your favorite guitarist is a good way to get closer to your ideal sound.
As guitars evolve, new types of strings may be created in the future!
I am sure this may seem like an obvious answer to many guitarists, but I would be very happy if there is even one thing in this article that makes you think, "Wow! I would also like to continue to feature contents that can be of help to those who are just starting to play the guitar. I was a rock vocalist who is still learning about guitar. m(_)m
See you next time!♪
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