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String gauge - is there an instrument ?

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GUEST,Les B 09 Aug 01 - 03:48 PM
wysiwyg 09 Aug 01 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Les B 09 Aug 01 - 04:45 PM
Jenny the T 09 Aug 01 - 04:56 PM
Gareth 09 Aug 01 - 05:13 PM
GUEST,guest 09 Aug 01 - 07:43 PM
rangeroger 09 Aug 01 - 10:14 PM
JohnInKansas 10 Aug 01 - 01:26 AM
Bert 10 Aug 01 - 03:05 AM
JohnInKansas 10 Aug 01 - 03:26 AM
mooman 10 Aug 01 - 03:54 AM
Grab 10 Aug 01 - 07:57 AM
Whistle Stop 10 Aug 01 - 09:31 AM
richardw 10 Aug 01 - 10:21 AM
Rick Fielding 10 Aug 01 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,Les B 10 Aug 01 - 02:03 PM
JohnInKansas 10 Aug 01 - 02:26 PM
Banjo,London 22 Jan 04 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,Strollin' Johnny 23 Jan 04 - 12:07 PM
s&r 23 Jan 04 - 06:04 PM
GUEST,obnig hrobdog 23 Jan 04 - 06:17 PM
ddw 24 Jan 04 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 24 Jan 04 - 01:30 PM
Bill D 24 Jan 04 - 05:41 PM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Jan 04 - 05:59 PM
Banjo,London 24 Jan 04 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,KySteve 22 Jul 06 - 05:38 PM
dick greenhaus 22 Jul 06 - 10:11 PM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jul 06 - 08:27 PM
DADGBE 24 Jul 06 - 12:12 PM
Strollin' Johnny 24 Jul 06 - 02:35 PM
Louie Roy 24 Jul 06 - 05:59 PM
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Subject: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 03:48 PM

I just got a new resonator guitar which had a nice set of strings. The set-up tag that came with it indicated it could take either light or medium strings.

When it came time to change strings I couldn't decide which to put on, and I had no way to guage what was already there. (I ended up putting on light, and they don't have quite the same sound>)

Other than an extremely expensive micrometer, does anyone make a cheap but accurate string guage for determining unknown sized strings ?


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 04:03 PM

The repair fellow at our music shop has one; shouldn't most?

~S~


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 04:45 PM

WYSIWYG: Not sure. I've never seen or heard of one at my local shop. I'm wondering if there's one you could buy and keep in your instrument case.


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: Jenny the T
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 04:56 PM

Wouldn't an ordinary wire gauge work perfectly well? String sizes are generally expressed to three decimal places, and the wire gauge I have gives those values along with the AWG numbers.

I just generally use my micrometer if I'm not sure, though.

JtT


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: Gareth
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 05:13 PM

Trry a scre gauge vith either open notches or a V.

Most professional Hardwear (not computer) shops should have them. It may not give the name of the gauge but should give a fair indication for a like for like replacement.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 07:43 PM

You may not appriciate my nosing into this since I'm a lowly guest and should probably set on the back pew and keep my mouth shut--but:new strings,regardless of guage are going to sound different than old strings--generally speaking they may be brighter, and louder, and with regard to the old strings, you have probably become accustomed to them and their tone. Some wound strings ,even though they are the same guage, are made up of different metal alloys, which would make them sound different too. I think you were wise in choosing the lightest guage first. It also seems that this might be a one time issue for you because after you have replaced that first set, you are going to know what guage you have.You may have to go thru a set of medimum's first before you are pleased. If you are intent on a string guage,I have seen piano technicians with a "V" shaped string guage--you might try your local piano tuner.You didn't mention the manufacturer or your reso, but you might inquire to them as to the brand/guage of string they place on their instruments. I'll take my seat now...thanks


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: rangeroger
Date: 09 Aug 01 - 10:14 PM

You might try a dial caliper.You can get good metal ones that measure to .001 for around $30.00.

GUEST,guest, anyone with the kind of good information you just imparted to us is perfectly welcome at any time.

rr


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 01:26 AM

I haven't seen a good dial caliper with .001 resolution in my neighborhood for less than about $80, but I'm in the middle of a ha-tech industrial area where there is a ready market for such tools. It is likely that they are cheaper elsewhere. You can get cheaper ones, frequently plastic, that will resolve .01 easily. One that I picked up recently cost me $13 new.
The place to look in my area is at machinery salvage dealers and pawn shops. For a new caliper, try a hardware or lumber retailer.

Actually, a caliper good to .01 may be adequate for what is wanted here. Strings are made to the nearest .001 inch diameter, but usually you only need to know whether it's closer to, say, .012 or .018. If you've got a good eye, you can interpolate.

For a quick and dirty: if you can lay a short piece of the string down on a good flat surface, put the 1-inch mark of a 6 inch scale (ruler) on the string, push the "zero" end of the scale against the flat surface, and measure how high the other end is. The instant 6 to 1 multiplication will let you know fairly well what diameter you've got.

One of the more accurate methods is to put two pieces of the string between the jaws of an ordinary C-clamp, and use a feeler gage (like we used to use to adjust our valve clearance back when horses usually pulled us home). Pick a stack of feeler shims that fits the gap, and add them up. You can still get these feelers for $4 or so at most auto parts shops.
For accuracy, you look for a C-clamp with fairly large "faces" and clamp it loosely on a flat file. Pull the file through a few times to make the faces really flat, and then save that clamp for "precision stuff." You do need to use two wires, to keep the "swivel pad" square while you measure. (You can get "parallel jaw" clamps, but they're more expensive than we're interested in here?)
A wire gage can give you a fair approximation, and can usually be found for about $5 or less. The problem here is that only even "gage numbers" are given on most such gage wheels, and a lot of them cut off at #18(.0478) or #24(.0239), which is a little large for most strings. A few such gages can be found with thinner slots, but usually nothing smaller than #30(.012) or #32(.0097). A gage with #28(.0149) and #30(.0120) slots doesn't give much better resolution than what you can interpolate with the .01 $15 dial caliper.
For those who don't recognize it, the usual wire gage is a round metal "wheel," usually about 3-5 inches in diameter, and about 1/8 inch thick, with a bunch of slots around the edge. You find the slot that matches your wire, and read the size off the label on the wheel.
And for those who would quibble, the roughly 16 US (common) standard gages are different than the approximately 8 - that I know of - "Imperial" (common) standard gages, so your gage may have different numbers (inches) than mine.

The remaining problem is what to measure. "Light" and "Medium" mean different things to different string makers. The rule of thumb is that the "weight" of a string relates to the amount of tension needed to bring a standard length to pitch. Generally, measuring the core-wire diameter is appropriate, but the same core diameter may need significantly different tension if the "wrap" is different.

The end result is, your best bet is to put a known set of strings on, and if you like them, use the same kind next time. If you don't like them, then try something else. It's a learning process.

John


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: Bert
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 03:05 AM

Try antique stores, I picked up a perfect 6 inch vernier caliper for $28.


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 03:26 AM

Since my S.O. is a devoted antique fanatic (she says that's why she "collected" me) I tour the antique shops in my area regularly. Anything that works (or might work) here goes straight to the pawn shop for $60 to $80, and then resells for a little more.

I'll readily concede that the situation may be different in other places, and it's certainly worth looking. You might even luck onto that 1924 mint Martin for 50 bucks while you're there.

Our local market is so inflated that you can often buy new for less than you can get a junker. I haven't checked recently, but not too long ago our local Sears & Sawbuck sold a decent 0-1 micrometer for under $30. The problem was that they only had the $80 one "in stock."

John


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: mooman
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 03:54 AM

There is no really good alternative to a micrometer for serious work. I picked up a good quality, servicable one second hand secondhand a good few years back for the equivalent of about 15 dollars and it has proved invaluable since in repairing, refurbishing and setting up a variety of instruments.

Best regards,

mooman


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: Grab
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 07:57 AM

Les, I've installed medium Dean Markley Vintage Bronzes on mine ("MED" set) and it seems happy, although I may try out other medium-gauge sets to experiment. It's even happier detuned (all strings down 2 steps, drop-D, DADGAD, etc) when it gets a nice deep sound, and the thicker strings stop the string-slap from the lower tension.

I believe most guitar shops use lightish strings as a matter of course - 11's seem to be fairly standard.

Re guest's post, the new strings will certainly sound different - all new strings do. I've not noticed that steel strings have much of a "settling-in" time; I've had some nylon strings though which sounded way too jangly to start with but mellowed out nicely after a month or two. Not an issue here, just as an aside.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 09:31 AM

For the most part, "light" strings for acoustic guitar are considered to range from .012 (high E) to around .053 (low E). "Medium" acoustic guitar strings are generally .013 to around .056. This used to be more of a crap shoot, but most of the manufacturers seem to have reached a loose consensus on these terms at this point.

If you get into electric strings (nickel steel as opposed to so-called "bronze"), the light/medium designations tend to be more variable; the manufacturers haven't reached consensus on that yet. Generally electric players go for a high E ranging from .011 to .008, although jazz or slide players may opt for heavier strings than that.


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: richardw
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 10:21 AM

I picked up a new micrometer for about $50 (Can), which is about $30 US. It measures inside and outside and depth. I use it for replacing my autoharp (5) strings. VERY useful. The digital ones are a little more expensive. Try an industrial tool shop or parts store. Mine even came in a nice wooden box.

Richard Wright


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 01:35 PM

Boy, I missed a chance to get a great Micrometer for two bucks at a garage sale. Ran back to the car to get the two bucks from my toll change bag, and in one minute the damn thing was GONE! The buyer grinned at me like a Cheshire cat! I agree with Richard, they're great to have for the Autoharp.

Hey Guest. Thanks for the info. This is a MUSIC thread, why should we be perturbed in any way 'cause you dropped by to help? You might be PRINCE for all we know...who cares? Thanks again.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 02:03 PM

Wow ! What a wealth of info. Thanks, guest. Chime in anytime.

I'm well aware that new strings sound different, and that once I put on a new set of strings I theoretically should know what the guages are. It's just that with about 10 instruments sitting around, including autoharp, mando, banjo, several guitars, etc., one can lose track of what was placed on what, with what effect ! And yes, different manufacturers certainly do make the "same" guages (light, medium, heavy) in way different sizes !

I shall haunt the pawn shops for a decent used micrometer, and in the meantime look for a handy round,slotted wire guage.

I'm surprised some enterprising acoutrement supplier, like Dunlop or Shubb, etc. doesn't make such a handy dandy tool to suck the money out of all us gadgeteers.


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Subject: RE: Help: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 10 Aug 01 - 02:26 PM

Especially if you're using the trial and error method for finding the right stuff - and if you've got a lot of instruments around, it might be a good habit to keep the "sleeve," with the descripton of the strings you have ON a given instrument in the case, right there with the emergency replacement set.

Of course we all expect to put new ones on before we forget what we have now, but sometimes it just happens.

I've noticed more and more of my friends suffering from CRS syndrome - and have to keep reminding them to make notes as they get older.

My own problem, of course, is that I just know so much that it won't all fit - and some of it goes away to make room....

John


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Subject: RE: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: Banjo,London
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 08:45 PM

Instead of getting into micrometers and engineering instruments, maybe spend the money on a few different sets of strings, and the time playing music. Be brave,try for the heaviest gauge you and the guitar can handle. Make that aluminium resonator,resonate!
As a rule of thumb, I think you'll find nickle strings mellow,bronze bright ,and phosphers last longer.But then I'm only a tenor banjo player!
I hope you find the strings you're looking for and they're readily available at your local store.

Have fun!

Banjo


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Subject: RE: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 23 Jan 04 - 12:07 PM

Sorry if this sound trite or smart-arsed Les but when you find the gauge of strings you like - tear the front off the packet and keep it in the instrument's case. Or even write it down. Doesn't matter how many instruments you've got then, you won't have to rely on memory!

Now then, where did I leave my guitar case...............? :0)
Johnny


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Subject: RE: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: s&r
Date: 23 Jan 04 - 06:04 PM

the word's 'gauge'.

Stu (pedant) :)


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Subject: RE: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: GUEST,obnig hrobdog
Date: 23 Jan 04 - 06:17 PM

Any flea market should have a crap micrometer for about five quid.


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Subject: RE: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: ddw
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 12:47 PM

LesB,
I'm surprised nobody mentioned a pretty obvious way out of the problem that wouldn't cost you anything. If you like the strings you have on the guitar, take off the treble E string and take it to a music store. Open a packet of the gauge strings you think you have and compare the high E in it to the one from your guitar. You may not think you could tell the difference, but when you lay them side by side .001 inch will be fairly easy to see.

I don't know what kind of resonator guitar you have, but my National came with instructions to use lights or mediums (12s or 13s, I assume). You also didn't say whether you play it in some slack tuning or conventionally. If you're playing bottleneck style in slack (open D, G, E6, C or something like that, I would recommend the heaviest string you can put on it without putting too much strain on the neck. If you're playing in standard tuning or tuned up to open E or open A, go for lighter strings.

I have run into some slide players who mix their gauges with heavier strings in the treble, especially the high E. Light strings in the treble tend to "bark" more; heavier strings will give you a throatier sound.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 01:30 PM

I remember an interview ( in Frets ) years ago, wherein the great David Lindley said that he always took a measuring device with him when buying strings as the gauges stated on string packaging was often incorrect.


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Subject: RE: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 05:41 PM

I'M suprised no one notices when a thread is revived after 2˝ years! I suspect Les B has solved HIS problem by now...

Banjo, London...how did you find this, and why reply to it "as if" it were new?


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Subject: RE: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 05:59 PM

Hi Bill D,

Well, it has been said that the revival of old threads is prefereable to the creation of new threads on the same topic.

Probably because

1) was not an unnamed GUEST
2) was a nice polite person
3) was trying to be genuinely helpful

as to HOW anyone stumbles across old threads, that's worth a thread in itself. Probably, as a link or an associated thread from another thread.

And as to the original poster, this forum exists to help more than just that one person. When a thread with an interesting title pops up, many look at it, even if it is an old thread, and even if they have contributed before, and having a second look at what you said a few years before may be educational, as some of us may have changed our minds on some things...

Robin


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Subject: RE: String guage - is there an instrument ?
From: Banjo,London
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 06:52 PM

In reply to Bill D

My first ever attempt at joining in an internet forum was on 22 jan 04. I'm as suprised as anyone about how all this stuff works.

I think our friend Foolstroupe answers any issues you may be having with my contributions to the thread.

I hope this clears things up.

cheers!

banjo


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Subject: RE: String gauge - is there an instrument ?
From: GUEST,KySteve
Date: 22 Jul 06 - 05:38 PM

I have a Martin String Gauge. It's like a spark plug gap gauge except this piece has holes so that one can measure guitar string size. My piece is stamped martin. Email me stevecowherd@hotmail.com


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Subject: RE: String gauge - is there an instrument ?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 22 Jul 06 - 10:11 PM

http://www.nyblimp.com/superior/caliper.htm

has a 20 buck stainless steel 6" dial caliper. If you want to go through the minuscule hassle of learning to read a vernier caliper, you can prolly find one for under $10.


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Subject: RE: String gauge - is there an instrument ?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jul 06 - 08:27 PM

its a thought- what with all this micrometry - how do these people ever get time to play?

why would Martin and D'addario lie about their string gauges?

Alexander Gauge played Friar Tuck.


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Subject: RE: String gauge - is there an instrument ?
From: DADGBE
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 12:12 PM

While micrometers work well for this purpose, they take some training to learn how to use and also tend to be expensive. A dial caliper works just as well, is easier to read and is much cheaper to buy. I just checked the Harbor Freight web site and they have one for $19.99 brand new.


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Subject: RE: String gauge - is there an instrument ?
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 02:35 PM

Stop frettin' about unimportant stuff and just PLAY fer gawd's sake! :-)


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Subject: RE: String gauge - is there an instrument ?
From: Louie Roy
Date: 24 Jul 06 - 05:59 PM

I never heard them called a string gauge,but I have two wire gauges in my tool box.We used them in the filing room in the sawmills all the time for ordering the proper size of wire to acetylene weld band saws with


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