String gauges for cello tuning

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Rambazamba, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. Rambazamba


    Dec 14, 2012
    Hi everyone. I want to convert my 30" scale EB-3 in a 4-string mandocello tuned CGda (C would be same pitch as 3rd fret on the A string of a normal bass guitar).
    Now I looked up string gauges for bass vi and baritones and came up with the following gauges to try:
    C = .074
    G = .044
    d = .024
    a = .014
    What do you think? I'd like to have a solid tension on that thing.
  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The C and G look good, D is plausible, but A seems heavy in comparison to the others.

    Guitar strings should fit on an EB-3, even if just to test your theory. If I were doing this tuning I would start with the A and G strings you've currently got on the bass, move them to the new slots, then get a set of inexpensive guitar strings and experiment with those gauges to see what feels right for the D and A.

    Years ago I tuned a 28" Hofner Shorty in 5ths starting from G (3rd fret on the standard E), and I think I ended up using a plain .014 for the highest string. You may end up with something like a .008.
  3. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Why? They look fine to me, the .014p included. @Rambazamba: if anything, there's a steeper drop in tension between the lowest and second lowest, and between the middle strings, than between the topmost ones, but the .014 A3 should be about as tight as a .015 B3 on a guitar.
    .014p @ A3 @ 30" -> ~20lbs
    .024 @ D3 @ 30" -> ~22lbs
    .044 @ G2 @ 30" -> ~32lbs
    .074 @ C2 @ 30" -> ~40lbs

    Cf. gauges and tensions of the D'Addario EJ78 mandocello set (apples to pears - phosphor bronze and 25" scale - but a handy and semi-useful reference point):
    A 0.0220 30.710
    D 0.0340 32.420
    G 0.0480 28.290
    C 0.0740 27.810

    Also a plan worth exploring.
    Unless you're misremembering (from a distinct experiment involving the same instrument but a different 5th tuning), your .014p tuned to E3 (octave of guitar low E, ou octave down from guitar high E) at a 28" scale - for I'd say about 10lbs of tension - must have been a little looser than a .008 E on a strat, a little tighter than the same .008 E on a Les Paul. That's featherlight.
  4. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    There's a rough rule derived from physics:
    For 2 strings at equal tension and equal scale length, the ratio of gauges will be roughly equal to the ratio of frequencies.
    The frequency ratio of a fifth interval is very close to 3:2.
    The rule is innaccurate when going between wound and plain, the plain needs to be lower gauge than the rule suggests.

    I suggest starting with your favourite bass G (i assume .045) then using the rule:
    .045 x 3/2 = 67.5 choose .070 to be a little tighter.
    .045 x 2/3 = .030 choose .028 or .025 to be a little lighter.
    .025 x 2/3 = .017 but choose lighter to compensate for going from wound to plain, maybe .015 or .014.

    Tension falling gently from low to high is best to help avoid breaking the thinner higher strings and because thin strings 'feel' tighter, and for many other reasons.
    I tune in fifths a lot and use the sequence .070 .045 .028.
  5. Rambazamba


    Dec 14, 2012
    Well, thank you all. Looks like I was pretty close, even without a clue of physics ;-)
  6. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    If you're going to use D'Addario strings then it's best use their 'string tension pro' webpage to design a set.
    I have used the sequence .070 .045 .028w .016p for fifths, and also have used .025w and .014p a fifth apart.
    You can use a guitar plain steel string for the top string by removing a ball-end ferrule from an old bass string and threading it onto the guitar string.
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