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Compensation question (Read 1223 times)
Road_Toad
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Eh brah, da buggah flat!

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Kalyfoonya
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Compensation question
Aug 22nd, 2005 at 8:50pm
 
With all the different options out there for ukulele strings, are people running into intonation issues if they switch from one type of string to another? With Nylgut, Fluorocarbon, Tynex, soft nylon etc... I would think that the varying elasticity would create issues necessitating the use of a single supplier’s strings or the instrument may need to have the saddle compensation ‘set-up’ again if string types are switched.

Has anyone out there done any compensation comparisons between string suppliers, or am I just over thinking this and differences are negligible?

Owen
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rich celley
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Re: Compensation question
Reply #1 - Aug 23rd, 2005 at 7:46pm
 
Road_Toad, interesting question and one I'm currently thinking about myself. Not so much string make/model differences , though that would be an interesting and helpful study, but setting compensation on a fixed saddle instrument in general. Having thought and researched a bit through acoustic and electric guitars I'm gonna go out on an opinion limb and say you are probably right in thinking that you might be over thinking it. Intonation doesn't seem to have ever been much of a factor of discussion or concern until electric guitars began to be mass produced in the fifties and people started monkeying with them the way one does. I think it is more an electric issue because the note is being converted to a signal that no matter what processing you do is going to lose a good bit of it's harmonic richness. What I think this does is simply make it more obvious to the human ear when the intonation is wrong. So you get adjustable individual saddles of various types. Okay, moving toward the uke now (whew). It is less of a factor with acoustic guitars because the harmonic richnesss actually masks some of the intonation problem at least in fairly well made instruments. There is enough harmonic overlap and interplay between strings to essentially solve a lot of the problem. Remember too, none of this was much of anything of a problem before the advent of accurate electronic tuners that could actually prove there was funky intonating. The things that I think save the uke from a lot of this problem to start with is first, the scale length is relatively short. A tenor scale is only 2/3 the length of a standardish guitar scale so the amount of distortion from pushing down on the string and from having frets is lessened. Second, the frets are relatively low and narrow which also minimizes the string length changes up and down the neck. True, there must by any sensible engineering thought be a difference between the effects on different gauges of strings. A .024 and a .026 will intonate differently. They have to. Probably there is some difference between various materials as well. I believe there is enough harmonic richness in a decently made uke to cover most of the effects, assuming the fretwork is proper, the saddle and nut are made correctly, the bridge/saddle are located correctly, and whatever WAG measurement you want to choose to compensate with has been applied (whew again). I think you get more nuance from individual players playing, that is, how hard do you strum/pluck/pick, how much do you unintentionally bend as you play, how hard do you press down, how quickly,do you go from contact to fretboard (attack?). Perhaps it is the same things that create style which also create most of the nightmare of intonation compensation. Thanks for letting me think out loud, or at least in print. If you search for precision engineering efforts check out this guy's device for measuring a precise per/string distance with any type of string you choose to use .
http://www.ukuleles.com/Technology/compensate.html
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Road_Toad
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Eh brah, da buggah flat!

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Kalyfoonya
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Re: Compensation question
Reply #2 - Aug 24th, 2005 at 7:54pm
 
Thanks Rich,

It only occured to me when noticing tha the aquila nylgut strings seemed to have higher tension than nylon martin strings as well as some types of fishing line have less stretch than others. I'm guessing it is probably negligible (<1mm on a tenor scale) and appreciate your thoughts.

At some point, I'll put together a jig to measure compensation/intonation for the different scales I use and compare some of the string types and post a follow-up here.

Owen
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rich celley
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Re: Compensation question
Reply #3 - Aug 27th, 2005 at 5:12pm
 
I will look forward to that research info form your efforts. My personal gonzo rating of strings on my concert uke is (from winmpiest to stiffest feeling) GHS, Martin, Nylgut, and D'addario. I have no idea what the actual tension of any of them is. The GHS and Martin are in fact a smaller gauge set than the others by maybe .01 diameter and do feel looser to me. Not sure what part of that might be materials of course. I actually have some Nylgut tenor gauge on a concert size fluke and that heavier gauge and higher tension feels really good to me both strumming and picking. As always I guess it comes down to what feels right in to the fingers and the soul.
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