View Full Version : Normal vs. Hard Tension Strings?

03-01-2004, 01:36 PM
Okay, dumb question from a player who's new to nylon strings. What's the difference between the tensions (other than the tension, wise guy!) I have a new Cordoba 50R that came strung with Galli strings, but I don't know what type, and would like to replace them. And, is preference for a certain tension string generally based on the experience of the player? Thanks.

M. Stephenson
03-02-2004, 04:46 AM
The higher tension strings will provide more resistence when playing. This can be good or bad depending on teh player. Personally, I like a tension sort of in between the two, which I get by using normal tension strings with carbon trebles.

The higher tension strings will place greater stress on your guitar, affecting the area around the bridge as well as the neck. It is possible that a guitar that was not constructed to withstand the higher tension can be damaged by the higher tension strings. This might not happen straight away, it may take many months for a bow to develop in the neck or for the top to become deformed around the bridge (the top can become raised behind the bridge and depressed in front of the bridge). This is not a problem in steel string or electric guitarts as they typically have an adjustable truss rod in the neck to compensate for string tension variations and they are also more strongly constructed.

Some guitars were made for higher tension strings and putting on lower tension strings often results in string buzzing and in a less than full tone (or so I have heard).

The safest thing to do is to find out what strings are recomended by the maker and to stick with strings in that tension range.

03-02-2004, 05:08 AM
the galli strings you have are most likely the normal tension (they come in 2 tensions--normal and high). one thing about the tension numbers used--if there is a standard methodology of measuring tension, it is not being used by the string makers. some measure on a 648 scale, others on a 664 scale. then there are those magic words--normal, high, low, etc. etc. if the string makers would do anything it should be to standardize tension measurements.

if you are new to nylon strings, you might want to stay away from strings that are high tension for the reason m.stephenson mention--the greater difficulty in fingering, etc. higher tension strings are harder to manipulate with your fretboard hand. as to the structural changes of a guitar using high tension strings--i think a luthier would know this better than i.

as to where you should go to get galli strings: the dealer i use is stringsbymail.

03-02-2004, 05:54 AM
OK. Now you guys have me all freaked out about string tensions. Can anyone tell me what my Ramirez 4E is rated at? Does Ramirez recommend high or medium tension strings? I have been using high because they make the guitar sound better. Am I hurting it?

03-02-2004, 08:04 AM
hey j.silva--you are probably NOT hurting your guitar using hard tension. maybe one of the luthiers can pipe in on this subject. it is usually the extra hard tension strings that can be problematic. here is a link that will give you a good overview of classical guitar strings.


03-02-2004, 10:53 AM
Unless the guitar is 100 years old or has had significant repairs, using high tension strings won't hurt it.

Considering how much tension strings alresdy place on a guitar, the difference between normal and high-tension is insignificant.

Don't be paranoid; use high-tension strings if you like them.


03-03-2004, 03:23 AM
hey dimitri--long time no post. have you received your aaron green flamenco yet? if so, how is working out for you?

M. Stephenson
03-03-2004, 04:44 AM
I did not mean to alarm anyone.

I think that most name brand guitars are strong enough for high tension strings, but I have had a few inexpensive hand made guitars that had noticeably weaker sound boards and I think that high tension strings would have caused them to deform or break. However, I think tht this is the exception rather than the rule.

I am starting to see some deforamtion in the top of my Aria AC-40, which I have had for about 25 years. I am also noticing a bit more relief in the neck which, curiously enough, is allowing me to lower the action. (Or perhaps it was lower originally and I am taking it back down to its original level)

Either way, I think that it is important to understand the potential effects so that one can keep an eye out for thier mainifestation.

03-03-2004, 06:54 AM
Hi Keith.
Aaron just finished french polishing it. He'll be installing the tap plates next week, and shipping it out very very soon.

I've also purchased a Marcelo Barbero (hijo) negra that i'm very happy with.


03-03-2004, 07:15 AM
excellent. there is nothing like the smell of a newly french polished guitar. have fun with it.