Same gauge flat or round = same tension?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Frenchy-Lefty, Dec 3, 2012.


  1. Frenchy-Lefty

    Frenchy-Lefty

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Question for the experts:
    If I use the same gauge strings, let's say 105-45, will my strings have the same tension on the neck whether I use rounds or flats?
    I am asking because I want to use flats just for a recording but I don't want to play with my truss-rod since the set up is perfect now.
  2. aus_bass

    aus_bass

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    The tension of flats vary considerably (as do rounds). You'll need the tension figures from the manufacturer of your chosen strings, and do a comparison.
  3. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Location:
    New York, NY
    It doesn't take an expert to answer that one... :meh:

    The answer is "no". It doesn't work like that.

    If you change any of the parameters of the string(s) when you change sets (i.e. gauge size, string type, make or model, etc.), then don't expect the tensions to necessarily be the same, or even close, to the tensions of the previous set. All bets are off.

    MM
  4. Frenchy-Lefty

    Frenchy-Lefty

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Well, I am not talking about perceived tension (by the way I have been playing for 25yrs including several yrs spent in recording studios so it's not my first set of strings). It seems to me that in order to achieve the same note frequency with the same string length and using exactly the same gauge string you would need the same physical tension but I could be wrong.
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  6. Frenchy-Lefty

    Frenchy-Lefty

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Got the answer on D'Addario's site. Besides the diameter, the mass and the alloy are to take into consideration so indeed it's NO
  7. jmceachern36

    jmceachern36 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2005
    Location:
    Cambridge MA
    Hey Lefty. The GHS Precision flats 105-45 will be at least pretty close in tension to the same gauge rounds. Also, if you are just putting them on for a recording they'll sound great right away.
  8. MarkusBass

    MarkusBass Markus Orange loves you. Supporting Member

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    California Coast
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    Graphic Designer: Lakland, Hanson Guitars, and Wilkins Guitars
    +1!
  9. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Location:
    Central Illinois, USA
    Mass is the factor, not diameter. And mass varies depending on how the strings are made- alloy, core wire size, wrap wire size, and number wraps. That's why different stainless round wounds with the same diameter can have notably different tension.

    Because flats are so very different in construction compared to rounds, there's no way to predict if a particular set of flats will be close enough to your rounds as not to require a truss rod adjustment.

    My experience is that GHS Precision Flats 45 - 105 are very similar in tension to DR Hi-Beams in the same gauge. However, truss rod adjustment is so simple, having to tweak it on occasion shouldn't be a reason to not go for the sound you need.

    John
  10. Harold_Z

    Harold_Z

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    Northern New Jersey
    My two cents- I've been playing since the mid 1960s, Used to use strictly flats (La Bellas and Fenders) because pretty much that's all there was. Now for the most part I use the heaviest set of Boomers (Rounds). In the interim I've used D'addarios, Markleys, Half wounds (ugh), etc. I've ALWAYS found the tension to be higher with flats than rounds.
  11. capcom

    capcom

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Let's say we have 2 different but same gauged 0.110 34 inch scale strings tuned to standart note E:

    String 1: Large core diameter, thin wrap = Higher Tension
    String 2: Small core diameter, fat wrap = Loose Tension

    Therefore it is also possible to create maximum tension string for a given note and scale by not using any wrapping on it at all and only adjusting the core wire radius. In that case for an unwrapped 34 inch E note string might be like I don't know for example .040 gauge, yet it could be the highest tensioned "E" string on the world ever created. Since wrappings are not responsible for tension or their contribution to tension is I believe insignificant.
    And of course it is also possible to use thinnest core and fattest wrapping for a string to create the "loosiest" 34 inch scale 0.110 gauge "E" string also.
    These were extreme examples.

    As stated before, given a type of metal or alloy, tension for a given gauge and scale is adjusted by core radius and wrap size mainly. The pitch is affected by 3 parameters:
    - TOTAL mass of the string between given length. Not just core mass but "Core + Wrap" mass
    - Length of string.
    - Tension of string. Which is almost means the tension of core.
  12. ljazz

    ljazz

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2002
    Location:
    Cookeville, TN
    I think we're mixing tension with stiffness. Flat wraps will have more resistance moving horizontally from center axis than round wraps will. So, even if you have the exact same tension at pitch, a flat should feel stiffer when played.

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