Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What Tension Strings?

Like most players I often change string tension in order to see what effect it makes on the guitar or to find out if my mistakes are simply the fault of the strings. Sadly, it seems there are no significant differences that I can tell, especially with my playing…….Drat!

I sent for information from D'Addario (pronounced "Da Dairy O" they told me) and they sent along some useful information and it was as I feared. Low tension strings will come in at about 82 lbs total tension where Extra Hard Tension will pull away at about 89 lbs. Steel Strings come in at about 170-180 lbs (!) There was also information on each individual string but I had already exercised my anal retentive reserves for one subject to report in any more depth.

What does this mean? I guess I can give up on the notion that some tougher strings will energize my old beater, and I suppose I shouldn't fear that those Super Hard tension strings might eventually pull my bridge off or sink my top. As far as playability is concerned, there are players who certainly can tell the difference between tensions and are very specific about what their hands can perceive.

But in truth there is very little difference between string tensions and I think it takes a very evolved player to deduce the differences between normal and hard tension strings. My conclusion is therefore, that if someone asks you about string tension you should report "Of course there is quite a difference!" and then you will be thought of as an evolved player from then on.

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