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Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

After 15 years of great discussions, the Sweetwater Forums are now closed and preserved as a "read-only" resource. For discussions about current gear, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, inSync, and our Knowledge Base.

loosening string tension?


Hello again,
I just recently read an article about Jim Hall (jazz guitarist) and he spoke about how he loosened his string tension to achieve a more expressive style much like a saxophone. Of course, the article didn't go into much detail about this, so it left me wondering. How is loosening the string tension possible without changing the entire tuning of the instrument? Thanks for your help.
August 20, 2001 @05:11am

The are only two ways I can think of to reduce string tension without altering the tuning.
1) Use lighter gauge strings
2) Go to a floating style tremolo system, such as a Floyd Rose. The strings really aren't looser with one of these, but because of the floating nature you can get a little extra give when bending strings. Of course the rest of the strings go out of tune while you are bending a note so you have to be careful.
August 21, 2001 @01:55pm
David Klausner

Another way to loosen string tension is to tune down a half step. I don't know if that's what Jim Hall does (it might actually be convenient for playing with horns) but folks like Hendrix and later Stevie Ray used to use very heavy gauge strings for tone, and would typically tune down to E flat to loosen the tension so they could still bend strings easily.
August 28, 2001 @10:38pm
Shawn Parr

I believe that this is actually the function of the Gibson Tune-o-matic Bridge. You can raise it's hight to loosen the feel of the strings slightly, but it leaves the scale at the same length and the guitar in the same tuning.
August 29, 2001 @03:10am

Jim Hall did use a Gibson ES125, so I suppose the tune o matic bridge is possible, I just recently read somewhere that does some crazy stuff (compared to the trad jazz norm) with his guitar. However, it said throughout all the stuff he does (effects etc.) he's always used very light strings... which is sort of odd for a strictly jazz player, but I guess thats how he did it. Thanks for the responses.
September 4, 2001 @05:51pm