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bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!

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Stu 05 Aug 03 - 08:54 AM
stevethesqueeze 05 Aug 03 - 09:06 AM
greg stephens 05 Aug 03 - 09:35 AM
Stu 05 Aug 03 - 10:04 AM
greg stephens 05 Aug 03 - 11:07 AM
Bert 05 Aug 03 - 11:20 AM
mooman 05 Aug 03 - 11:25 AM
mooman 05 Aug 03 - 11:26 AM
greg stephens 05 Aug 03 - 11:32 AM
mooman 05 Aug 03 - 11:45 AM
greg stephens 05 Aug 03 - 12:01 PM
Les from Hull 05 Aug 03 - 03:55 PM
Stu 06 Aug 03 - 04:59 AM
greg stephens 06 Aug 03 - 05:48 AM
Sorcha 06 Aug 03 - 09:21 AM
stevethesqueeze 06 Aug 03 - 10:48 AM
Stu 06 Aug 03 - 11:54 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 07 Aug 03 - 12:14 AM
Stu 08 Aug 03 - 04:22 AM
greg stephens 08 Aug 03 - 04:34 AM
greg stephens 08 Aug 03 - 04:36 AM
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Subject: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: Stu
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 08:54 AM

This is driving me crackers.

The A strings on my bouzouki keep detuning. I have no idea why, but one of them drifts out of tune, seemingly randomly. Sometimes they stay in tune for a tune or two then go, sometimes over a single tune. All the other strings generally stay in tune perfectly well, rarely needing adjustment.

I've restrung it several times, and it may be my imagination, but the problem has progressed as the summer has gone on (if that is heat or time I do not know).

What would cause just the A strings to detune? Seems bizarre to me, as this zouk has always been ultra reliable. Perhaps it's just my imagination? Any ideas?


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: stevethesqueeze
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 09:06 AM

As an occasional mandolin player I have had some small difficulties with this over the years. Generally its been because the string hasnt been wound on the stile of the machine head properly. There is an art to it and you can find it in any guitar or mandlin book. The other thing I have seen is when the other end of the string is held in by a push pin. this can move. what system for holding the strings is yours?

stevethesqueeze


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 09:35 AM

All the mandolines(and one twelve-string guitar) that I have ever played have caused me loads of staying-in-tune-problems. Whereas the guitars rarely do. Now, the facile explanation is: you just notice it more with unison/octave strings. Which makes sense, but I think there is more going on than this.
    My theory is it has something to do with resonance. Systems vibrating with the same(or very similar) frequencies can exchange energy. We all know about soldiers breaking step while crossing a bridge. This is to stop the marchers transmitting vibrational energy into the bridge, which can result in catastrophic failure. Can it possible be that energy transfer between adjacent strings tuned the same could give rise to some sort of temporary extreme movement, or increased tension, which de-tunes the string? Just a thought. it's one I've had before, but haven't the technical knowledge to figure out if it's possible.


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: Stu
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 10:04 AM

Thanks chaps!

stevethesqueeze - my zouk has the pin system. It's always a bugger to restring, as the pins launch themselves like tiny rockets until they've bedded in. I have checked them, but I'll have another look.

greg - Crikey - good theory, but why only with the A strings?

stigWeard


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 11:07 AM

Stigweard: dont know have you have your bazouki tuned. Like, where are the A strings located, and are they wound or unwound?


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: Bert
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 11:20 AM

Take a look at the tuning machine, is it worn? is it oily? If oily then try a little alcohol on it. If that doesn't work, try replacing it with one with a larger gear ratio.

Worm gears are not supposed to be able to be driven backwards but small gear ratio's can be, in practice, especially when the load is continuous.


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: mooman
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 11:25 AM

Dear Stigweard,

As it's only the A strings, I doubt if it is a heat or humidity problem.

There are probably several simple things to check straight away. The first is whether the string is properly wound on the tuning post as mentioned by Steve above. There is a proper way to do this so that the string grips which has been discussed and described on several pervious Mudcat threads.

The second could be to check the pin to ensure that it is a snug fit. The ball of the string is actually held by the edge of the bridgeplate under the pin and the function of the pin is just to ensure that it stays correctly in this position. The pin itself should not be the only thing holding the string down and the fact that the "launch themselves" suggests this is worth checking.

The third is to check the nut and the saddle to ensure that the string is not gripping there. This is quite a common problem, especially with wound strings, and is easily cured with some careful and minimal work with a needle file and/or lubricating with a little graphite from a pencil.

I have doubts as to whether the resonance idea described by Greg could be causing this...at least I've never seen that myself in many years of instrument repairing.

A fourth possibility is that you could be striking the A string fairly hard, especially the one towards the bass strings. If there is any chance for slippage, this is quite a likely one to slip, especially if it is a plain string, less so if wound. Also hard playing could cause some stretching.

Let us know how you get on...some further thoughts may occur in the meantime.

Peace,

moo


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: mooman
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 11:26 AM

Yes...I should have remembered checking the tuners and gears as well as mentioned by Bert above. This can also be a bit of a bugger and is the cause of some slippage on one of my mandolin slings.

moo


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 11:32 AM

Well, I'm none too wedded to my theory myself, except for my personal experience that it's more common in instruments with paired strings. It feels sort of vaguely believable because (a) resonance is bound to occur between two mechanically linked strings tuned to the same note and (b) the effect of resonace would be akin to a sudden increase in tension in the string, followed by a relaxation. And a quick tug on a string is exactly what will flatten it.


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: mooman
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 11:45 AM

Taking Greg's idea a bit further and thinking about it it's certainly true, particularly if the paired strings are the same gauge in unison, that there will be additional sympathetic vibration. Taking into account the fact that one of the pair will be taking the lion's share of the force transmitted by the pick, I suppose one string could be subjected to additional stress over the other and additional to that in a single course instrument. Any physicists on call!

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 12:01 PM

moo...i think what youre saying may be developing the theory nicely. Youre bound to hit one string harder than the other, and that wil obviously start off vibrating more vigorously. Energy will then start to transmit itself (via the body of the instrument) to the more weakly hit string by resonance, and then start coming back. Possibly in quite an alarmingly vigorous way(at a fairly invisible level).
   Just how alarming resonance can be: well, who hasnt seen the film of the Tacoma Narrows bridge breaking up. And how about the strange phenomenon of boats close to each other in a gently rocking but windless sea(it has to be windless, otherwise they can sail out of the problem). The pair of rocking boats end up parallel, and exchanging energy by the waves, which has the interesting effect of slowly drifting towards each other, and their rocking increases. This has resulted on occasion with the boats touching, and then breaking each other to pieces. Strange, but true. So why not bouzouki strings?


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: Les from Hull
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 03:55 PM

You've got me worried now. Should I apply a large EC Heath Warning to the front of my bouzouki?

Actually I don't have too much trouble with my bouzouki staying in tune (and it's octave strung). Perhaps I use as many up strokes and down strokes and that evens it out. Or perhaps I'm not that critical.


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: Stu
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 04:59 AM

Thanks to all for this help.

My zouk is strung GDAE, G and D are bronze wound and A and E are unwound steel (I think, not bronze).

I do play in a percussive style, and do strike the strings quite hard sometimes. I'll check the string winding threads and also all the other points raised by Bert and mooman.

later!

stigWeard


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 05:48 AM

The fact that your A-strings will be the ones under by far the highest tension (I would guess) could well be the reason why they are most affected. I'm guessing that, because on an ordinary steel guitar with a wound G string and unwound B and E, it's the B that has the highest tension(surprisingly, I thought, you might guess it would be the biggest E string).


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: Sorcha
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 09:21 AM

I'm probably waaay off base here as I know nothing about guitar/bouzouki type instruments, but does it have the grommets on the back of the peg head to hold the tuners tight? I have a soprano wall model zouk that will not stay in tune because the grommets need to be changed.


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: stevethesqueeze
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 10:48 AM

doing some primitive research whilst playing the mandolin I have worked out that the A string is the one that gets played the most. Given that the zouk is virtually the same but an octave lower I guess your A string gets treated the same. Added to the fact thats is an unwound, ie smooth, then I bet its not as well tied as it should be to the machne peg stile. Why not try a different way of tying the string on. Don't take this wrongly or disrepectfully but players don't always know how to tie a string properly, they've never learned.

By the way I am pretty sure that each course of strings on an instrument like this is at a different tension so it could be that one way of tying a string might work with a string of lesser tension and might not work with a higher tension.

stevethesqueeze


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: Stu
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 11:54 AM

I've tried searching for the threads on tying the strings but can't seem to find them (I may be doing something wrong), so can I ask the question how is the correct way to tie a string onto the peg?

My current method is: Place ball end in hole, insert peg, wind string three times around peg, thread string through hole under windings, pull tight with pliers, use peg winder to wind up to approx tension, tune to tuner.

How's that?


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 07 Aug 03 - 12:14 AM

Do you stretch your strings when you put new ones on? I always tune each new string to a full step above its standard pitch and then lower it back down. Needless to say, do it one string at a time and immediately lower it back down. Don't tune the whole set a full step sharp unless you want to buy a new bridge, neck or both.


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: Stu
Date: 08 Aug 03 - 04:22 AM

Well here's a thing. Whilst following the advice of the kind people above, I discovered that the two A strings were touching in the area directly next to the peg (a product of my bad string winding). A bit of careful adjustment and fiddling resulted in the separation of the strings, and a curing of the problem.

It'll need a little road testing, but it seems to have cured it.

Thanks for all the advice!

stigWeard


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 Aug 03 - 04:34 AM

Well, there goes my theory!(Still think there might be something to it, though)


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Subject: RE: bouzouki A strings detuning - arrggghh!
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 Aug 03 - 04:36 AM

On the subject of tuning double-stringed instruments. John Dowland once said he reckoned he'd spent a third of his life tuning his lute.


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