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String Tension


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The only real difference between the two is that the strings change sideways direction at the nut on the LP and the respective scale lengths of the two guitars. On the strat they go straight thru the nut looking at the fretboard from the top. In that sense, there is less force applied on the strings ie. only a break angle at the nut, the strings are longer in one plane, slide thru the nut slots easier and have more elasticity. The LP has forces applied on the strings in 2 directions, the usual break angle downwards (due to headstock angle) AND sideways stress from angling to the tuners. This effect stiffens the strings and works against the force needed to bend them.

Edited by Southpa
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It's clearly the scale length.

On Strats they use 25 1/2"

On Les Pauls they use 24 9/16" I believe.

The break angle over the saddles and at the headstock can also have an affect on the tension.

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I think you're crazy :D

No. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. With locking tuners you don't wrap strings, and there's always some give from the wraps around the pegs on normal tuners. Not a lot, but enough for your fingers to feel the difference (and to knock the guitar out of tune).

Suppose the Les Paul and Strat have different tuners--the Les Paul's tuners have a thicker shaft I'll bet. So automatically the way you wrap them is different. And then there's the way he wraps the strings and his buddy wraps the strings.

So I'm telling you, there's a definite difference in string tension between regular and locking tuners.

Of course, there are plenty of other differences--the Les Paul is angled, the Strat isn't. That has to have an influence too.

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It's most definitely not clearly the scale length. The LP is 3/4" shorter than the strat, so if it was strictly based on scale length the strat is higher tension.

Well the scale length of the two guitars is diffrent, this is obviously going to have a pretty big effect on the tension. I also mentioned that the break angle over the nut and the bridge can also have an effect on tension.

I guess I should have worded my previous post better without saying that it was "clearly" the scale length.

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To bring some clarity to the discussion...

The only string tension your fingers will feel is the tension between the bridge & the nut. Yes, on the LP the tension will increase slightly between the nut & tuners due to the slightly greater break angle, but between the nut & bridge the LP's tension will be lower than the Strat's because the scale length is shorter.

Use this string tension calculator and see for yourself (LP is 62.39 cm, Strat is 64.77 cm).

I really think its the frets; I installed jumbo fretwire on my last two guitars, and bending has never been easier.

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talking about scale length and stuff, got me thinking. if a longer scale length looses the tension, what effect does having a semi acoustic style tail peice, so the strings go beyond the bridge and down to the bottom of the guitar have?

your dramatically increasing the length of the strings, but does it not make any diffrence anyway, because anythign outside of the nut and bridge does affect it?

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IMO it's the trem. On the LP the strings are seperatly fixed to a solid bridge, therefore any increase in tension is almost all taken up by the string itself. On a strat the strings are fixed to a floating bridge. Increase the tension on a single string and some of that extra load will be balanced out. You will still need the same tension to hit a specific note but the strings will feel less tight as you have to move them further to achieve that extra load. Some of the load is lost via the springs and other strings. My bet is that it is of greater effect than an extra 1/2" of scale length.

For example, if you tuned the whole guitar up 1 whole tone you would expect the trem to lift somewhat, you would actualy need to have turned your tuners a bit further than if the trem had stayed solid. In respect to string bending that extra movement would be felt as less tension.

chris

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There are lots of parts to this puzzle. The traditional definition of tension is pretty straightforward, and is a function of string, pitch, and scale length. Longer scale=higher tension at the same pitch & the same strings. BUT... as mentioned above, other things enter into it when you're talking about the practical aspects of guitar playing - mostly that means bending.

The same strat will feel different if lock nuts are tightened down - that's because even though the tension is the same, there is more string length to stretch *without* the lock nut. It'll feel "looser". That's why non-locking reverse headstocks feel different - they're looser on bass strings, tighter on treble strings than "normal". Again, this is only while bending - the overall tension is the same.

With the jazzbox tailpiece, you gain a lot of extra string length to stretch, so bends are easier. Of course, with typical jazz strings, it still ain't that easy... ;-)

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