Carbon strings - bad intonation, horrible buzzing

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
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tormodg
Posts: 315
Joined: Sun May 11, 2014 11:13 am
Location: Oslo, Norway

Carbon strings - bad intonation, horrible buzzing

Post by tormodg » Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:31 pm

I decided to try out carbon strings on my Alhambra Linea Profesional. I bought a set of Galli Genius Carbonio GR95 NT and made the switch two weeks ago.

It's definitely not a success. The strings are very hard to tune correctly. My clip-on tuner shows that the strings rarely settle on a tone - a string will show as tuned, then instantly show a bit low. When I tune to pitch on an open string, it will fail miserably at higher frets (although even as low as third fret). Usually the notes will be too high in pitch. The strings also fall out of tune rapidly, so I need to tune between each song I play.

I also get a LOT of buzzing on all strings from the fifth fret and up. I find this very strange since these are normal tension strings, and I usually use Augustine Black LT (low tension) strings with absolutely no buzzing.

I love the mellow sound I get from the carbon strings, but the intonation and buzzing makes it impossible to keep them on. I decided to leave them on for two weeks to see if things would improve, but it seems to get even worse.

A luthier friend of mine said that some guitars may need different setups for carbon strings. I am not sure what that means.

I am switching back today, but I am curious to hear if anyone else here have had similar experiences or any advice to share.
2017 Yngvar Thomassen spruce
1994 Alhambra 6P (cedar, battered, broken and repaired)
+ various steel string and electric guitars

Sold: 2014 Alhambra Linea Profesional (spruce)

nokturnal
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2017 3:14 am

Re: Carbon strings - bad intonation, horrible buzzing

Post by nokturnal » Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:15 pm

Try change other brand of carbon strings? Your Luthier friend might be right. Different setup - the nut & saddle + trust rod need to be changed/setting/action/adjusted.

Laudiesdad69
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:16 pm

Re: Carbon strings - bad intonation, horrible buzzing

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Sat Apr 08, 2017 12:16 am

I have only used Savarez Corum/Alliance, as far as Carbons go. They seemed to take a week or two to settle in, but have been the longest lasting string I've used so far. The intonation seems to be fine. It took a week or two to get the brightness to settle down. I put them on the guitar Feb 7, and the d string is hardly worn. I think that there are better sounding treble strings, but these are bright/clear.
As far as needing to have your guitar set up, don't do it until you find a set of strings you like. The set up string heights at the bridge and the nut are going to be good for only one brand of strings/ one particular string set. Change after the nut and saddle have been filed, and your perfect set up is gone.
That being said, try a different brand/set of strings and see if the problem goes away, but don't make any judgements for a week or two. The Alliance/corum set in medium tension that I used would stay in tune after a couple of hours of constant re-tuning. Then they were fine. They seemed to be a little heavier tension than the D'Addario med tension pro arte that I used as a buzz at the 11th fret high E string disappeared-you could see that it was no longer fretting out off the 12th fret.

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tormodg
Posts: 315
Joined: Sun May 11, 2014 11:13 am
Location: Oslo, Norway

Re: Carbon strings - bad intonation, horrible buzzing

Post by tormodg » Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:36 am

Thanks Laudiesdad.

The reason I wanted to try carbon strings was that I am waiting for a new luthier built guitar to replace my Linea Profesional, and that luthier uses carbon strings on all his guitars. The guitar is due for delivery in June, so I guess I'll just wait until then.

I have changed strings many times over the years but never had such problems. I live and learn. :wink:
2017 Yngvar Thomassen spruce
1994 Alhambra 6P (cedar, battered, broken and repaired)
+ various steel string and electric guitars

Sold: 2014 Alhambra Linea Profesional (spruce)

kristianheim
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:58 pm

Re: Carbon strings - bad intonation, horrible buzzing

Post by kristianheim » Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:52 am

I use Savarez Corum/Alliance carbon strings on the guitar I built myself. They work fantastic for that guitar. And I chose these for a very specific reason, namely the placement of my bridge and the length from the nut to saddle. I had trouble getting right intonation with nylon strings.

I did some research on this a couple of years ago when I had difficulties with intonation and nylon strings and found information about this elsewhere on this forum. I don't remember all the details but here is the core of it as I remember it, and someone please correct me if I am wrong.

As you are probably aware the string length of classical guitar is normally 650mm. To accommodate for pressing down the string the length from nut to saddle block (actual string length) is made slightly longer. And here there are many opinions on this field so I won't go into detail or discussion about what is right. But for this purpose lets say it you make the length 652mm. Then intonation is adjusted for individual strings filing the saddle block. Now, carbon strings have significantly higher density than nylon and requires less adjustments from the 650mm length than nylon. And therefore as your luthier friend pointed out, the guitar needs to be setup differently.

So, to make a long story short. It is my experience that carbon strings require different intonation and setup than nylon.

I am guessing the luthier is building your new guitar with that in mind since he uses carbon on all his guitars, so I wouldn't be worried :)

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