Ugly tone on D string

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
kirolak
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Ugly tone on D string

Post by kirolak » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:11 pm

Would anyone know why the D string sounds so brassy & ugly, both open & fretted, please?

I'm using D'Addario high tension fluorocarbon strings, & the others sing out beautifully, even the open g; but I dread having to play on the d string & do daft contortions to avoid it where possible :cry:

The previous batch of strings included a truly faulty d string which sounded like a knock on wood, but the retailer wouldn't exchange the strings, & they are expensive for me on my budget. With this batch the d sounds, but rather like an out of tune trumpet. :x

OldPotter
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Re: UGLY TONE ON D STRING

Post by OldPotter » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:37 pm

I'm just wondering if the guitar has a wolf tone, (a bit odd on the "d" string...) If you tune the "d" up or down a semitone does it still sound wrong?
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Alan Carruth
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Re: UGLY TONE ON D STRING

Post by Alan Carruth » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:54 pm

D strings seem especially subject to an arcane coupling between the transverse vibrations and a longitudinal pressure wave in the string. It's not something that the books cover. The pressure wave is the 'zip tone', which you can hear easily enough by just running your finger along the windings of the string. You'll note that the pitch will be pretty much the same no matter how fast you move your finger so long as you don't put much pressure on the string.

The 'zip' pitch is determined by the overall mass of the string, it's length, and the Young's modulus of the core. Since both the transverse pitch that you tune to and the zip pitch depend on the length the pressure wave frequency will track the played pitch as you fret the string. The zip pitch for most Classical strings tends to be somewhere around the 7th or 8th partial. If it agrees exactly with the partial pitch it can couple strongly with the normal string vibration, and may end up fighting with the string. For some reason this seems pretty common on classical D strings.

The pitch match has to be really exact to be a problem. Since there are small variations in the way strings are made, and, in particular, in how tight the windings are, you may find you have this problem with some strings and not others, even of the same brand and weight. You may be able to fix it with the string you've got by twisting it a bit to tighten the winding, which will increase the mass just a bit and lower the zip pitch.

As I say, this is pretty far out stuff. I ran into it some years ago when I was measuring string forces on the nut and saddle. At that time I did a little work on it, just to make sure it was there and get some idea of how it worked. I've gone back to get some better data, and it's turning out to be even more complicated than I thought.

hanredman
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by hanredman » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:33 pm

I have found using a different tension or brand of string sometimes helps reduce this ugly D string characteristic.
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Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:37 pm

kirolak wrote:Would anyone know why the D string sounds so brassy & ugly, both open & fretted, please?

I'm using D'Addario high tension fluorocarbon strings, & the others sing out beautifully, even the open g; but I dread having to play on the d string & do daft contortions to avoid it where possible :cry:

The previous batch of strings included a truly faulty d string which sounded like a knock on wood, but the retailer wouldn't exchange the strings, & they are expensive for me on my budget. With this batch the d sounds, but rather like an out of tune trumpet. :x
Wait - were you thinking that your problem could be due to the use of flourocarbon? Just to be on solid ground, D'Addario uses "Dynacore" basses (good 'ole nylon core) with their "carbon" set - flourocarbon trebles. So the 4th string (D) should be very similar to any other nylon core bass string with silver plated copper windings.

Also, it would be nice to know if this problem has always existed, or if it is a new phenomenon, and is this ONLY related to D'Addario strings?

Now, the D string in the Hannabach 815 set I use is notoriously wimpy and the windings are torn through rather quickly at the saddle and 2nd/3rd frets. They sound marvelous prior to winding damage. Once that degradation occurs, all manner of bad sounds start to emanate from the D. When I'm feeling a budgetary pinch, as you have commented, I'll live with the wonky D until all the strings as a set are all worn. Of course, if I have a performance coming up, I'll change them out.
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hanredman
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by hanredman » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:45 pm

I read somewhere that wearing a G string while playing the D string also helps.......:-))
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kirolak
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by kirolak » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:19 am

Wow, thanks so much for all the replies! I am almost glad to hear that this is a recognized problem, I was beginning to think I was crazy or that my guitar was at fault.

@ Old Potter, I don't think the guitar has a wolf tone, this has just happened with these 2 sets of strings; but on my previous guitar I found the same problem.

@ Alan Carruth, that is a very detailed & to arcane explanation, thank you!

@ Hanredman, there does not seem to be any option in this country, it's D'Addario or nothing :( I find I can't play medium tension strings, the higher tension seems easier - very counter-intuitive! Nice idea re wearing a g-string, haha, but I fear the guitar would crumple up & die in horror!

@ Andrew Pohlman, I have tried the nylon strings, but really don't like them at all; am using the D'Addario Pro Arte hard tension "carbon" EJ46FF strings. Maybe I should ask relatives in Europe to send me some other brands of strings to try. Meanwhile I will soldier on with these until pay day :)

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by rojarosguitar » Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:30 am

The technique in the advice of Alan did work for me in the past. Twist the string to tighten the windings a bit. You might need a magnifying glass to see which direction to twist. D-string is indeed particularly prone to problems of all kinds, wears faster than the other two basses and sounds bad quicker than the others. One good practice is to shift the string a bit so that the notches caused by fret wear move away from the frets. That way yo can use the d-string longer.
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Michael Lazar
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by Michael Lazar » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:44 pm

Three things to check.

1. Make sure the saddle surface is smooth with no notches and that it's high point is at the front.

2. Make sure the nut slot is smooth and angled down toward the head stock with the high point at the fret board side.

3. Make sure that none of the strings are touching wood on any part of the head stock. They should have a clear path from the nut to the tuner roller. You can usually control this by taking care in how the strings are wound on the rollers ie; winding inward toward the center or outward toward the edges.

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joachim33
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by joachim33 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:56 pm

I had issues with my D-string when fretting. Open was fine - so not sure we have the same issue. Since I reduced finger pressure (I pressed to hard) the situation seems improved.

kirolak
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by kirolak » Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:05 pm

joachim33 wrote:I had issues with my D-string when fretting. Open was fine - so not sure we have the same issue. Since I reduced finger pressure (I pressed to hard) the situation seems improved.
Not the same, I fear -mine trumpets hideously both open & fretted :?

Laudiesdad69
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Wed May 03, 2017 12:35 am

Kirolak, you could try Strings by Mail. SBM has some inexpensive German strings, henSe. Their 500 series strings are $6.99 a pack US. They sound warmer in the trebles. And the basses are stronger and darker a little. They are nylon. And you could buy single alliance Carbon strings for your G.
They also make full carbon sets. But again, not to expensive. You might order a few sets of different strings as you will have to pay shipping anyway.

hanredman
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by hanredman » Wed May 03, 2017 3:29 am

I have been using Hense strings for a long time, and for the money, I don't know of anything better. Of course, I do like their sound, so that helps.
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Trevor Gore
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Re: Ugly tone on D string

Post by Trevor Gore » Wed May 03, 2017 5:07 am

Alan Carruth wrote:
Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:54 pm
D strings seem especially subject to an arcane coupling between the transverse vibrations and a longitudinal pressure wave in the string. It's not something that the books cover.
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