Does string tension matter in playing tremolo?

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SteveL123
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Does string tension matter in playing tremolo?

Post by SteveL123 » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:38 am

I am learning tremolo on high tension strings (D'addario EJ46FF carbon). Would lower tension strings make it easier or harder when playing tremolo?

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Does string tension matter in playing tremolo?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:13 am

String tension matters no matter what you're playing - however a high tension in itself doesn't necessarily make a particular technique more or less difficult (apart from the obvious relationship with fretting hand stamina) simply different.

I find tremolo to be easier on high tension strings as they afford me the opportunity of a slightly higher (i.e. away from the soundboard) wrist position. Also, if spending a significant period on an instrument fitted with them I will also allow my nails to grow a little longer and use more MCP activation.

Having said that - most of my guitars are fitted with medium tension and nail length is a minor factor - it's easy to adjust technique without attending to nails if a different instrument is to hand

It may be that your own hand position presents a flatter wrist and that you therefore may favour a softer string. Experiment.

Rasputin
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Re: Does string tension matter in playing tremolo?

Post by Rasputin » Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:47 am

Maybe you could find out by tuning down a bit to lessen the tension, or just playing more over the soundhole.

SteveL123
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Re: Does string tension matter in playing tremolo?

Post by SteveL123 » Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:53 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:47 am
Maybe you could find out by tuning down a bit to lessen the tension, or just playing more over the soundhole.
That's easy enough to try and I will try that. I am not having any problems with high tension strings on tremolo that I am aware of. I am improving for sure with speed, evenness and control of the right hand. I was just wondering if tremolo is better or easier with high tension or low tension strings.

jnbrown
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Re: Does string tension matter in playing tremolo?

Post by jnbrown » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:25 pm

I actually find tremolo easy to play with higher string tension. With lower tension I feel my fingers get bogged down in the strings and with higher tension they feel more snappy, I notice this more on the B string. I think EJ46 strings are not all that high tension relative to other brands.

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guitarrista
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Re: Does string tension matter in playing tremolo?

Post by guitarrista » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:13 pm

SteveL123 wrote:
Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:38 am
I am learning tremolo on high tension strings (D'addario EJ46FF carbon). Would lower tension strings make it easier or harder when playing tremolo?
It depends whether you adjust your playing position.

If you started from higher tension and somehow kept your right hand at exactly the same setup and angles for producing the sound, then lowering the tension would make tremolo seem more awkward at speed because now you need more string displacement to create the same force to overcome fingertip friction and release the string(*). However, I imagine people subconsciously adjust their hand setup and angles so it is hard to say - try both ways and see what seems the more natural setup for you.

(*) Now I am doubting it is as simple as that even in this idealized case - since the string itself would not move the way a higher tension string would and may slip away on a different trajectory during the stroke execution - which may not involve more displacement. But it will feel different in any case, which may register as 'awkward' or 'harder' to execute.
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