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Tension: nickel vs. steel

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Mook, Jan 3, 2012.


  1. Mook

    Mook

    Jun 19, 2002
    so.....we all know about the tension comparison on round core vs. hex, but I've never seen a thread about tension on similar cores, but with different wrap: nickel wrap vs. steel wrap.

    I know with guitar strings, steel wrap tends to have a tighter tension (at least in my experience), so what about bass strings?

    Would a similar core string have more tension with steel vs. nickel wraps?

    discuss?

    Mook
     
  2. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    D'Addario Nickel .105 = 40.3
    D'Addario Stainless Steel .105 = 37.3


    D'Addario Nickel .065 = 51.3
    D'Addario Stainless Steel .065 = 47.3


    Roughly 8% lower for Stainless when it comes to D'Addario at least...
     
  3. Mook

    Mook

    Jun 19, 2002


    Hmmmmn........good point. And, maybe I had that reversed....

    Actually, if I remember correctly, I tried a set of FULL nickel (wrap and core) at one point, on a guitar, and the tension waz off the chart!


    oK....SO, i guess the answer is steel has lower tension.....


    Mook
     
  4. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    Nickel should be too soft of a metal for a core, hence why most strings have steel cores.

    There are strings with Pure Nickel outer windings but they still have a steel core. Some strings have coated cores like Ernie Ball Slinky which are coated in Tin.

    Many factors can come into the perceived tension / flexibility of a string, number of wraps around the core, size of each wrap, angles of each wrap, etc etc...

    So really when it comes down to it, comparing brand "A" with brand "B" can only be assumed unless they actually publish their tensions. Most companies are not doing that these days.
     
  5. String tension is controlled by several things: The type and shape of metal in the core, winding pressure and perhaps the winding materials, but these also determine string stiffness. The string gauge and especially the string length (distance between tuning post and tailstock) will greatly change the overall tension required to bring it to pitch. Theoretically, as long as the vibrational length (distance between nut and bridge) is kept the same, a 6' long string but would have to be stretched much tighter to reach the same pitch. I used to own a Gibson EB2-D back in the 60's and although it was a beautiful instrument and easy to play, the sound was not as clear and there was very little "punch" because of the short scale. I later learned that it wasn't actually the fingerboard scale length but the overall string tension length that made the strings feel and sound "sloppy". Luthiers might pay attention to this and modify string attachment designs to allow for more (or adjustable) tension.
     
  6. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    That difference in scientific tension may be down to a different winding formula, different core or a denser materials. D'Ad's 'nickels' are actually nickelplated steel wrap wire, the layer of nickel is extremely thin so i don't think it's the weight of the nickel itself raising the mass of the wrap wire by a large amount.

    The only way to know for sure is to have 2 strings knowing that everything is identical except the nickelplating.

    Many people use the word 'nickel' as short for 'nickelplated steel', pure nickel wrap is not used so much.

    As for 'tension' as in the perceived feel to the player, that's a different thing from scientific tension which is when you see it stated as a number in pounds.
     
  7. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    So i found the quote from the much missed knuckle_head (tech at Circle K Strings):
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f16/nickel-steel-roundwound-strings-535054/#post7290033
    A micron is one thousandth of a millimetre.
    I guess any difference in scientific or perceived tension is then extremely small (all else being equal).
     
  8. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    Its similar to "Gold Plated" items. You can get gold so super super thin, yet it will cover the surface of an item so much that the fill material is not seen, and since the layer is so thin, it is pliable with the surface. ie, surface gets a dent, the gold dents with it.

    Those gold plated coins they sell on late night tv have maybe $2 worth of gold in them, yet they sell for $50...
     
  9. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    Just discovered, to my surprise, that nickel is banned from jewellery in the EU due to allergy issues!
     
  10. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    Hrm interesting! Ill have to ask my jeweler buddies about that here.

    I know they have cracked down on the amount of metals in jewelry here but its more cadmium you hear about in the news here...
     
  11. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    Apparently ...

    "European Standard: In January 2000, the European Union imposed a nickel ban on all jewelry sold there. The European nickel free standard states that items labeled “nickel free” may contain no more than 0.05% nickel (no more than 1 part in 2000 that is nickel.)
    United Kingdom Standard: It is a bit more stringent, items may not contain more than 0.01% nickel."

    Nickelplated strings would certainly have less than 0.05% nickel by mass, but the surface is 100% nickel :confused:

    "Approximately 12-15% of the population is sensitive to nickel. This percentage has been slowly on the rise like as result of the popularity of body piercing.
    Piecing and wearing earrings containing nickel in pierced ears may also sensitize a person to nickel. No one is born with sensitivity to nickel it is developed and once an allergy to nickel has been acquired, it is usually lifelong."
     

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