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String gauge question

23 Oct 19 - 05:04 AM (#4014965)
Subject: String gauge question
From: Jack Campin

Somebody out there must have a string gauge calculator. I've never used one.

I have two cümbüşes - 12-string fretless banjos. One is the standard Turkish size and stays in the standard Turkish tuning. The other is a bit smaller (probably made for schools around 1950, recently refurbed by a first-rate banjo maker who put a natural skin on it) and I want to put it a tone down to play at Arabic pitch level. But it feels like I need heavier strings to get adequate pitch stability and stronger tone. What should I use? Can somebody calculate the gauges for me?

Scale length 46cm.

Pitches I want: lowest pair G below middle C (same as violin G). Above that, paired and going up in fourths: AA DD GG cc ff.

Currently I have it in an alternate tuning with CC instead of AA - not as playable but a lot more stable.

They need to be loop end, not sure who can do that.

23 Oct 19 - 05:21 AM (#4014969)
Subject: RE: String gauge question
From: Stanron

There are a few of these on line now. Here is the one I have used for some time. Scroll down a bit to use it.

As for loop mends, you can usually remove the 'ball' or 'toggle' to leave a usable loop.

23 Oct 19 - 05:22 AM (#4014970)
Subject: RE: String gauge question
From: Stanron

Too much 'm'.

23 Oct 19 - 09:29 AM (#4015004)
Subject: RE: String gauge question
From: Jack Campin

Thanks. What I get from that:

G - .050 wound
A - .040 wound
D - .030 wound
G - .020 wound
C - .014 plain
F - .010 plain

Which all seems plausible.

24 Oct 19 - 06:16 AM (#4015160)
Subject: RE: String gauge question
From: GUEST,Jerry

I reckon that your scale length might be a problem though, so I guess that you might need to be a shade lighter, especially on the higher strings. I would check out extra light mandolin string gauges, with some extra customs for the As and Cs. And surely the G ought to be about .042, if it’s only a tone lower than the neighbouring A?

25 Oct 19 - 04:20 AM (#4015277)
Subject: RE: String gauge question
From: Nick

Try which includes cub us as an option if you haven’t already found it or the answer.

25 Oct 19 - 04:47 AM (#4015278)
Subject: RE: String gauge question
From: Big Al Whittle

when I had a long neck banjo - I used to use rotosound loop strings. They had a wide choice.

25 Oct 19 - 05:10 AM (#4015281)
Subject: RE: String gauge question
From: Jack Campin

This cümbüş is nonstandard in two ways - it's a small size that never caught on, and I'm using it at a lower than usual pitch. Nice for a calculator site to include them, but I can't expect a packaged solution.

Anyway, I've got a d'Addario set meeting the above spec and I'll put them on shortly.

25 Oct 19 - 07:03 AM (#4015298)
Subject: RE: String gauge question
From: Nick

It did have a custom setting where you could choose your neck length (standard is 540mm it suggested)

There is a formula at Tensions if your maths is good - which I'm guessing it might be.

As some asides...

I made a string gauge calculator that worked as I wanted it to as a friend was a big "open C put piano strings on" and wondered why he took it back to the menders.

Most instruments don't say what the overall force should be. A friend has a very expensive, very old Martin guitar which no longer gets played outside of the house (which he once lent me for a few days when I was visiting - no greater love etc etc) which has a VERY specific instruction NOT to put strings over a certain weight on.

But as far as I can see stringed instrument manufacturers recommend a weight of string but not really giving the range where damage may occur. I did check a few sites and don't think they state it really.

The first guitar I had was a £10 Tatra classical and I think they said 'do not put steel strings on this or...' but that is about it

I have a friend I play with who is happy with adjusting truss rods etc who has given me a little more confidence to experiment. But also to see the difference that different sets of strings make to the action and playability of the guitar

Mind you, I don't think whistle manufacturers tell you what is the hardest you can blow.

25 Oct 19 - 07:07 AM (#4015299)
Subject: RE: String gauge question
From: Nick

And here was another very good resource too for non standard things.

But still doesn't address the 'What is the most force I can safely put on this instrument?' because of course they are all different and how does one know?