Frequency - The frequency or frequencies at which a
string tends to vibrate when it is hit, struck, plucked,
strummed or is somehow disturbed physically.
Timbre - The quality of sound given off by a
vibrating object such as a string.
- This is the friction cause by a bow being dragged
across a string. This friction makes the string vibrate
and give off a tone.
Forced Vibration -
occurs when a string begins to vibrate, thus forcing
another connected connected body (i.e. guitar's sound
board) into a vibrational motion.
String Resonance - A
phenomenon that occurs when sound wave energy of similar
frequency transfers to a string, and causes that string
to vibrate into motion.
String Harmonics -
Nodes created by standing waves within a string's
Fulcrum - A support
or point of support on which a string vibrates. This is
typically on the bridge saddle or nut region.
String Wave Formula
- This is an equation that can be used to predict the natural
frequencies produced by a known length of string. The
calculation requires a knowledge of the speed of a wave
in a string.
Speed = Wavelength *
= f * λ
Anti-Harmonic - A
point in between two harmonic nodes that has the
greatest amount of vibrational movement. Sometimes also
referred to as an anti-node.
Standing Wave Pattern
- A string's
pattern is created when the vibrational frequency of a
source causes reflected waves from one end of the string
to interfere with incident waves from the source in such
a manner that specific points along the string appear to
be standing still like nodes.
Breaking Frequency -
If you were to take a string and progressively stretch
it between two fixed nodes it would continue to increase
in frequency. At some point, and frequency, the string
would break. This is known as the breaking frequency.
Tinned Mandolin Wire -
This is the type of wire used to make steel instrument
strings. Mandolin wire is made from high carbon steel
bar stock that is extruded until the desired thickness
(gauge) is achieved. The steel bars are basically
extruded into wire strings. Once the string has been
extruded, it is electroplated with tin. The ten helps
prevent the string from corroding prematurely.
Wrapped String - In an
effort to give a string more mass, without increasing
it's stiffness, string makers began winding two strings
together. The winding pattern consisted of a straight
core wire with an outer string coiled (or wound) around
it. This outer winding enabled a string to reach lower
frequencies. Today, wrapped strings are the main part of
a guitar's string set.
Wound String - See
Overspun String - See
Core - The inner string
of a wrapped string.
Core-to-Wrap Ratio - The
relationship between the size of the core and the wrap
wire on a string.
Hex Core - This is a core
string that is hexagonal in shape with respect to it's
Round Core - This is a
core string that is round in shape with respect to it's
Plain String - These are
strings that have no outer wrap on winding. They are the
raw tin coated mandolin wire strings.
Gauge - The outside
diameter of a string often measured in the thousandths
of an inch.
Round Wound - A wrapped
string with a winding wire that is round in it's cross
section profile. This type of string is very bright and
clean in it's tone.
Flat Wound - A wrapped
string with a winding wire that is rectangular or square
in it's cross section profile. This type of string gets
a very softened tone.
Ribbon Wound - See Flat
Semi-Round Wound - A
wrapped string with a winding that has a semi-circle
shape in it's cross section profile. This type of string
exhibits a tone that is a mix between a round wound
string and a flat wound string. The result is a softer
and mellow sounding round wound string. The surface of
these strings is much smoother, and gives less finger
Ground Wound - This is
another term used for a semi-round wound string. It is a
bit more descriptive as it describes the winding being
ground to flatten the outside surface.
Ground Round - See
Ball - A small
cylindrical metal barrel found at the end of a metal
string. The barrel typically has a groove around it for
the string to seat and stay attached. Most bridges rely
on the ball as an anchor point for the string.
Ball End - Strings that
have a ball on the end. See Ball.
Silk Wrap - Some strings
will have an additional winding of silk around them at
the trim end. This is often referred as a silk wrap. The
purpose of this wrap is two fold. One is to help secure
the primary metal wrap in place until the string is
installed. The second is purely cosmetic.
Finger Squeak - This is a
noise caused when you rub the surface of a round wound
string. It is commonly heard as players are shifting
fret positions up and down the neck with wound strings.
It is caused by the friction generated between the
finger and the string wrapping. This friction is
sometime referred as "slip-stick friction".
String Winder - A small
time saving devise used to crank a tuning peg. The
string winder helps speed up string installation.
String Pickup - An
electromagnetic device or piezoelectric device used on
guitars and basses. Electric guitars use variable
reluctance sensing (VRS) to electromagnetically detect
string vibration. Acoustic guitars typically use
piezoelectric transducers to detect string vibration.
Cryogenic String - These
are strings that have been frozen to liquid nitrogen
temperatures and brought back to room temperature. The
cryogenic process is used to extend string life.
Coated Strings - Strings
that have a thin outer coating of polymer resin. The
bronze wound strings typically have this coating to
Cat Gut Strings - Strings
made from intestinal parts from livestock such as lamb
Organic Strings - A more
recent alternative name for Cat Gut strings.
Advanced String Intonation (ASI)
- Intonation variables that are not solely related
to nut and saddle positions.
Green Strings - Strings
that are made with the planet's environment in mind.
They often use recycled alloy, biodegradable packaging,
and conform to the "green movement" of society.
Bulk Strings - These are
strings that are packaged and sold in bundles without
individual packages or envelopes.
Big Boy - A term used in
reference to the thickest string on an instrument.
Chubby Wire - A heavy
gauge set of strings.
String Fart - A string
breaking while playing.
Castrated - See String
Lucky Wire - A string
that breaks while the instrument is not being played.
Ball Buster - A
bridge that requires the ball-end to be cut off for
String Vasectomy - See
Bent Skinny - A plain
wound string that has a bent kink in it.
String Dandruff -
Polymer particals left from a worn out
poly coated string.
Fret Robbers - Strings
that cause extensive fret wear.
Sore Neck - A guitar neck
that needs refreted due to excessive string wear over
Pubic Strings - Excess
string (more than one) that has not been cut off
of the headstock machines.
Pubic Hair - See Pubic
Puby - A string having
excess string that has not been cut off the headstock
Connecting Rod - A string
Jerk Sauce - String
lubricant. (submitted by "Mark Hughley
of the Broken Handle Band")
T-Boned - When a string breaks during a guitarist solo.
#@%&! - An expression
used by guitarists when they get T-Boned. See
Set of Skins - Coated
strings. (submitted by "Derek Wilson")
Zipper - Running the edge
of a pick down a wound string.
Barn Door - See
Old Smokies - An old set
Blown Gasket - A broken
string. (submitted by "John P.")
Pennies - A bronze string
Skinnies - Plain steel
Hot Metal - Ferrous
Fishin' Lines - Nylon
Silkies - Silk core
Anorexics - Super light
gauge strings. (submitted by anonymous
Loosie - An individually
packed string not part of a string set.
Bridge Cables: A very
heavy string gauge (submitted by anonymous
String Talk: Unwanted
resonance of the strings when moving or sliding to
another chord. (submitted by Griffin
Metal Dreads (as in
dreadlocks): A snarled mass of excess
string-ends at the headstock.
(submitted by Caevan O'Shite)
Needs a Haircut: Needing the excess strings
clipped at the headstock. (submitted
by Caevan O'Shite)
Trojans: Coated strings.
(submitted by Caevan O'Shite)
Packing Protection: Coated strings.
(submitted by Caevan O'Shite)
Flyin' with a Cape:
Coated strings. (submitted by Caevan
New-String Zing: When a new set of strings has
been stretched and just broken-in enough to stay in tune
and sound great. (submitted by Caevan
Bloom: When plucked, the
string produces a tone that drifts in and out of proper
pitch as the amplitude diminishes. A string defect
likely caused by amplitude-dependent standing waves. (submitted by
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