Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
glassynails
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Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by glassynails » Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:59 am

Hi.


Watching a lot of Segovia classic vids on utube lately and notice that Segovia had a Powerful thick LOUD sound and of course he had BIG powerful hands. Was just wondering if anyone knew if Segovia used really hard or high tension strings? I'm using normal tension j45's right now and am thinking of reverting to my old favorite high tensions as I like the thick bassy sound a little more.

Thanks :)
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jlamay

Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by jlamay » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:08 am

I'm thinking normal because I believe his guitars had a neck lenght of 664mm, not the 650mm that are currently the norm. I could certanly be wrong, but becuase the neck length was longer, normal tension strings would actually be higher tension. Just my guess.

MikFik

Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by MikFik » Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:30 am

I don't know about his bass strings but I have read that Segovia killed a guitar or two by taking old b strings and using them for the 1st string because he liked the string really tight. Makes me think he may have used the highest tension trebles he could get.
I use a 660 mm scale guitar myself and I have tried hard tension strings before and they work just fine, After all, there is only 10mm difference (about 3/8") between 650 and 660 mm and that's NOT all that much.

Brent Hutto

Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by Brent Hutto » Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:49 am

The builder of my 660mm 1976 M. Sakurai recommends Augustine Blue Regal strings, the highest tension strings in Augustine's line. I even E-mail master Sakurai and confirmed that recommendation was safe for a cedar-topped, long-scale instrument and he said absolutely yes.

I liked the Regal trebles but thought the tonal balance was superior and the bass-string sustain more easily managed with the Red rather than Blue basses but the guitar was perfectly playable and gave no indication of stress from the hard set all around. As someone said, it's just 10mm.

In the end I went with normal-tension Savarez Corum New Cristal, though.

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remmus
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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by remmus » Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:23 pm

MikFik wrote:I don't know about his bass strings but I have read that Segovia killed a guitar or two by taking old b strings and using them for the 1st string because he liked the string really tight. Makes me think he may have used the highest tension trebles he could get.
I use a 660 mm scale guitar myself and I have tried hard tension strings before and they work just fine, After all, there is only 10mm difference (about 3/8") between 650 and 660 mm and that's NOT all that much.
Do you know how it "killed" the guitars? I would think a B string would snap before it tuned up to pitch. But even if it didn't break, how did it mess up a guitar? Did the bridge rip off or something? I'm just curious. :D

And if he used a B string for string one, did he use a G string for string 2, a D for 3, an A for 4, an E for 5 and maybe a thicker string from a viola/cello or some other stringed instrument for 6? If so, I can see how it might destroy a guitar that wasn't built for it.
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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by Gil_Wade » Wed Apr 01, 2009 8:26 pm

Summer wrote: Do you know how it "killed" the guitars? I would think a B string would snap before it tuned up to pitch. But even if it didn't break, how did it mess up a guitar? Did the bridge rip off or something? I'm just curious.
My teacher has heard from several sources that Segovia used a B string for the first string. Richard Brune even wrote that one time when he returned a repaired guitar to Segovia, he saw a guitar in a corner strung up with B strings. My impression was that Segovia was pre-stretching the strings to see which would not break at the higher tension. Brune is under the impression that Segovia stopped using his Hauser guitar because it developed a weakness in the first string. Brune then postulates that maybe that weakness developed from using the B string for the first string. Jose Ramirez III in his book, Things About the Guitar, says that there was always a wolf-tone on the Hauser first string and Segovia got tired of dealing with it.
Summer wrote: And if he used a B string for string one, did he use a G string for string 2, a D for 3, an A for 4, an E for 5 and maybe a thicker string from a viola/cello or some other stringed instrument for 6?
No, he didn't...just the B string for the 1st string.

Segovia's goal was to make the guitar a recognized classical instrument worthy of being part of the orchestra. One of the biggest faults of the guitar (also one of its endearing strengths) is its quietness. So Segovia was looking for whatever he could do to increase the projection...as long as it didn't kill the tone. Also, during Segovia's early years he was not paid a set sum for his concerts. Basically he arranged a concert when he could, or influenced someone to arrange a concert, after which he paid off the hall rental and whatever else he owed, and what was left over was his. Obviously he wanted as many people as possible (to pay) to hear him. There are stories of Segovia playing for his meals during the first few years.

Segovia's lush, deep tones are from a combination of factors, two of which are: 1) The guitar he used...he always preferred one that had the deep, spanish tonal quality to it; 2) the technique that he developed to ensure the deep, mellow tones ... unfortunately Segovia was not much of a (technique) teacher and today few know how to teach that style. There was also a backlash in academia against Segovia's popularity that seems to have peaked during the 80's...and many have rejected out of hand anything to do with Segovia.
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jack_gvr

Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by jack_gvr » Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:13 pm

I recall reading (this is hearsay, sorry no footnote) that Segovia said that at some point his high E string "developed a sickness" and that that was the reason that he developed so many fingerings exploiting the upper part of the B string instead. This may be relevant to the comment about the Hauser, above.

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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by Gil_Wade » Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:48 pm

jack_gvr wrote:I recall reading (this is hearsay, sorry no footnote) that Segovia said that at some point his high E string "developed a sickness" and that that was the reason that he developed so many fingerings exploiting the upper part of the B string instead. This may be relevant to the comment about the Hauser, above.
Probably was.

Gil
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun May 12, 2013 10:39 am

This is a truly fascinating thread!
So many postulations and suppositions and assumptions (first, second and third hand)!

Segovia preferred the tonality of a melody played on his B string, so people assume he replaced his E string with a B string?
He has a guitar strung with B strings, so people assume they were all tuned to E?
If he had a guitar strung with B strings, isn't it likely they were of 6 different makes and all tuned to B so he could hear the difference in tone?

Tension is proportional to D.d^2.f^2.l^2, where D = density of string material, f=frequency, l=scale length, d=diameter.
So the increase in tension from 650mm to 664mm is about 4%
The increase in tension when you tune a B string to E is 16/9 or 78%.
Unfortunately I don't know the difference in string diameters between normal tension and high tension, so I can't do the calculation.

I suppose if Segovia had been using a guitar to pre-stretch B strings, he'd have needed 5 other guitars to pre-stretch the other 5 strings? But then he could have had all 6 guitars strung normally!
I personally don't believe in pre-stretching - I think the settling-in process when you put a new string on an instrument is all about taking up the slack in the knots at the bridge, but I admit that the only experiments I've done in elasticity have been with copper wire, and I have a slight suspicion that due to its molecular structure, nylon may not be genuinely (linearly?) elastic in the same way that copper is.
Last edited by Andrew Fryer on Sun May 12, 2013 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mick the Ramirez Man
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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by Mick the Ramirez Man » Sun May 12, 2013 1:09 pm

I cannot imagine tuning a B string up to E! When I played mandolin, I sometimes used a C#m tuning that tuned one of the A strings up to B, and that made me paranoid! But B to E? :shock:
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Michael.N.
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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by Michael.N. » Mon May 13, 2013 7:07 am

Tension of a Nylon B string is around 6 Kg's. Tune it up to 'E' and it shoots up to just under 11 Kg's. That's a huge increase. Let's take an extra light pro arte string as an example: I'll guess that it's close to 5.5 Kg. If we move to a pro arte extra hard tension string I doubt that it will increase by any more than 1 single miserly Kg. Yet people are saying that Segovia played with a E string at 11 Kg's?
Sounds like nonsense to me. Just like deciding that a Guitar on Youtube is LOUD. Turn the volume control down and guess what happens? The very same Guitar isn't loud. Yet more nonsense.
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Keith
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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by Keith » Sun May 19, 2013 11:02 am

why not send an e-mail to augustine strings. if anyone should know it would be them. segovia died about a quarter of a century ago, were there augustine strings other than the blue label?
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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by brian » Mon May 27, 2013 8:41 am

to throw some more coals on the segovia
first string problem reason, after the studio mic
fell on the hauser, it was sent to hauser II to repair
the cosmetic etc damage. if sanding was invoked,
it probably was, what might have screwed things up
further was the refinishing with nitro instead of the
original FP. it was around that time "they" say he stopped
using it because the first string had mysteriously died.
the sanding to the top to hide the mic damage and the
different finish sounds like a plausible explanation.
maybe he just wanted to start playing a Spanish made
instrument again? :wink:
if at first you don't succeed try again.
then quit.
there's no use being a damn fool about it.
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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by Dofpic » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:50 am

He used Augustine Regals. High tension bass and treble.
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Re: Did Segovia use High or hard tension strings

Post by Torrescaster » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:48 pm

Mick the Ramirez Man wrote:I cannot imagine tuning a B string up to E! When I played mandolin, I sometimes used a C#m tuning that tuned one of the A strings up to B, and that made me paranoid! But B to E? :shock:
I've never tried this with a classical guitar. . .but with electric guitar, different story.

Sometimes in my poor student days, I'd break a string than have to use whatever was available. High E was probably the most common one to break. More than once I've used a "B" string as a substitute for an "E" when I didn't have anything else.

Standard "light" electric guitar high E string is a 0.010" gauge. But there is a pretty big range of strings people use for that ranging from as thin as a 0.07" (which feels like a floppy hair. . .and is about as durable as one), all the way up to .013" or even .014" especially for acoustic guitar". Correspondingly, the range of B string gauges also varies pretty dramatically, going from as thin as a .010" for an extra-light, all the way to a .018" for a heavy acoustic guitar B string.

The point, though, is that there is a good bit of overlap here. A low or medium tension B string is effectively the exact same string as a medium or high tension high E string. Obviously the feel is different, and the tone is different (usually BETTER with thicker gauge strings for the high E), but there is nothing intrinsically "crazy" about doing this. Some jazz guys play every day with their "normal" high E string effectively the exact same string as metal guitarists normal every day B!

Back on classical strings, D'Addarios hard tension E string is a 0.029" and is tuned to 17.4 lbs tension. Its standard B is a 0.032" and is tuned to 12.04 lbs tension. Low tension B is 0.031" and tuned to 11 lbs tension. I wouldn't do it without a good reason (like no other string available), but I think you probably could "get away" with using a B as a high E if you had to. As compensation, it might be wise to tune the guitar down a half step to reduce wear and tear on the guitar and string.

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