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string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:58 pm
by ricbleu
Yesterday I received my steel bodied triolian from Frank at Republic. My digital calipers seemed to indicate that it had 13 -56 strings, but there was some movement at different places on the string ie sometimes it showed 12.5 etc. I have put on some Martin PB lights (12s) and at the moment have it tuned at open D. I used these because I had them in my "acoustic strings" Tupperware container, not because I thought them best. I would be grateful if other members could give me advice on string gauges. On Bottleneck John's excellent video comparing resonators, he uses sometimes 15s and sometimes 11s. With these 12s she has a long sustain and a very bright tone and open D tuned gives good bending when using fingers and not slide. But as this is my first resonator, I haven't settled on what suits her best, so any advice would be most welcome. Thanks in advance. :D Peace.

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:35 am
by leftyguitarman
I used to use regular D'Adarrio 12's. They were too light for slide, IMO, so I moved up to 13's. Still too light for my tastes. I finally moved on to Martin Resonator Bluegrass sets, which are a 16-56 gauge. I feel these are very comfortable for slide, but so heavy that the cone suffers in the tonal department. Of course, I don't have a triolian, so it's a bit different for me. In Open D, which is what I usually use, they don't have much sustain and sort of leave the cone a little muffled, I feel. If I tune them down another half step, I find that they really open up quite a bit more. So I think maybe a set of 14's or 15's in Open D would suit me best, but I have about six packages of these Martins left, so I'll keep using them till I'm out.

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:12 am
by The Breeze
John Pearse 13's in open D or G. I generally go for the lightest I can get away with.

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:08 pm
by Freeman
leftyguitarman wrote:I used to use regular D'Adarrio 12's. They were too light for slide, IMO, so I moved up to 13's. Still too light for my tastes. I finally moved on to Martin Resonator Bluegrass sets, which are a 16-56 gauge. I feel these are very comfortable for slide, but so heavy that the cone suffers in the tonal department. Of course, I don't have a triolian, so it's a bit different for me. In Open D, which is what I usually use, they don't have much sustain and sort of leave the cone a little muffled, I feel. If I tune them down another half step, I find that they really open up quite a bit more. So I think maybe a set of 14's or 15's in Open D would suit me best, but I have about six packages of these Martins left, so I'll keep using them till I'm out.


So called "resonator" or bluegrass sets were usually intended for spiders tuned to high bass (or "dobro") G. A spider bridge is inherently stronger - the legs support lots of the down force and most have neck sticks which strengthens the neck joint. Personally I would question their use on a biscuit or tricone, if you are going to use them consider as low a break angle as you can get. Some time ago a friend borrowed my Duolian (with mediums on it) and tuned it up to A instead of G - that would have been roughly equivalent to running 15-60's. He crushed the cone - gave me a good excuse to put a hot rod in it....

I normally run pretty standard mediums (13-56) on all three reso's, tuned to standard open G or open D. I do like an unwound third, particularly on the spider which is only played lap style. Going to a 14 on the first string also isn't a bad idea, but I wouldn't go phatter on the others without thinking about it.

To put this all in perspective - in open D lights have 145 pounds of tension, mediums 170 and heavies (14's) 195. In standard tuning lights are about 165, mediums 185.

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:13 pm
by leftyguitarman
Thanks for that post, Freeman. I didn't know they were intended for spiders, but that makes sense. I pretty much keep it tuned to open C# and the tension really isn't that bad. But I'll be sure not to tune it up very high. I actually have it tuned, low to high, CGCGCC right now. I've been using it to learn a Gov't Mule song called "Like Flies." It's an, uh, interesting tuning.

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:59 am
by ricbleu
Freeman, if you use 13s tuned to open D, would 12s tuned to open E do any harm to my biscuit cone? Originally I had the 12s at open D but found the two steel strings too slack, so I tuned her up to E but I don't want to stress the cone. Other alternatives are 11s at open E or, like yours, 13s at open D. So what do you think of my current setup of 12s tuned to open E? Many thanks. :D Peace.

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:59 pm
by Freeman
leftyguitarman wrote:Thanks for that post, Freeman. I didn't know they were intended for spiders, but that makes sense. I pretty much keep it tuned to open C# and the tension really isn't that bad. But I'll be sure not to tune it up very high. I actually have it tuned, low to high, CGCGCC right now. I've been using it to learn a Gov't Mule song called "Like Flies." It's an, uh, interesting tuning.


I have one guitar that I keep in open C (CGCGCE, low to high) for a couple of Fahey and Kottke songs (I've actually tried it with a 12 string but its a huge hassle). Since the bottome three are tuned WAY down and the 2nd is tuned up from normal I have found that a set of lights on top and mediums on the bottom work fine on the old Yamie - however once strung that way it becomes pretty much a dedicated open C git.

(Btw - lefty, where in Washington do you live? I happen to be in Wenatchee where it is currently snowing sideways)


ricbleu wrote:Freeman, if you use 13s tuned to open D, would 12s tuned to open E do any harm to my biscuit cone? Originally I had the 12s at open D but found the two steel strings too slack, so I tuned her up to E but I don't want to stress the cone. Other alternatives are 11s at open E or, like yours, 13s at open D. So what do you think of my current setup of 12s tuned to open E? Many thanks. :D Peace.



I am not an expert on string guages and tensions and all that stuff, but I have fooled around with it a bit. A couple of rules of thumb - if you go up in gauge a standard set and down one semi tone you will maintain almost the same tension. IE, in standard tuning 12's at concert, 13's at D# and 14's at D all have very close to the same tension. I use this when I think about down tuning - try to maintain the tension that the guitar was designed for and everything will work the same. OK, so in your case you are going up TWO semi tones but only decreasing the guage by one - therefore your overall tension will be going up.

A quick way to check this is here (I keep this puppy book marked)

http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.y ... ng-Tension

The way I use this is whatever the manufacture recommends (lets say its an OM that ships with lights - the guitar was designed for roughly 165 pounds). Find the tuning I want and make sure that the I don't go much above or below that number - the guitar will sound good and won't break. For funky tunings (we wouldn't do that, eh) I keep this bookmarked also

http://www.daddario.com/DAstringtensionguide.Page

Go to the "down load all.." tab - now you can maintain the same tension on each string - if you were going to do a custom set for open C this is how I would figure it out. We had an interesting discussion the other day with someone who wanted to tune his Les Paul as a baritone - I sort of showed him that it wasn't going to work very well.

Last comment is about resonators. Again, I'm not an expert but I have done some setup and built one. I'm also an engineer and once did the calculations on the down force into the cone at various string break angle with different gauges. I don't have the number here but it was something like 10-15 or so pounds with mediums at open G - think about that, a 15 pound weight supported only by that thin spun aluminum cone. I once asked Scott Anslie how he gets by tuning his single cone to open A - he said "lights and low break angle"

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:09 pm
by leftyguitarman
Hey Freeman, I live at the other end of Highway 2 from you just near Everett. I'm very familiar with Wenatchee. Leavenworth was my second home town growing up since my grandparents lived there. My family has some property on the Columbia and we always stop in Wenatchee on the way there. It's currently snowing sideways here too. I've got about eight inches at my house which is crazy for this side of the mountains! Stay warm over there!

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:41 am
by ricbleu
Thanks for all the replies, guys. I play lap slide quite confidently but it's taking some new learning to know how to get the right sounds out of the reso played in standard position. I'm getting there though with the help of some excellent links given on this forum. :D Peace.

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:07 am
by A J Davies
I spent some time in Kiwiland, and played some slide down there too. Try Haagen bottlenecks for a cheap throwaway slide, or my worldwide personal fave bottleneck: Jameson (the neck from the 12 or 18 year bottles, not the cheap stuff - you'll notice the difference when you see 'em!)

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:38 pm
by leftyguitarman
A J Davies wrote:I spent some time in Kiwiland, and played some slide down there too. Try Haagen bottlenecks for a cheap throwaway slide, or my worldwide personal fave bottleneck: Jameson (the neck from the 12 or 18 year bottles, not the cheap stuff - you'll notice the difference when you see 'em!)


I've got a couple super cheap whiskey bottles laying around that I'm waiting to make slides out of. Does cheaper liquor equate to a poorer tone? :lol:

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:52 pm
by Django3
Hi Rick
Good on you myman, I personally prefer light gauge strings on my resos, reasons? less stress on the axe, easier to bend when "fretting"Ive seen too many bent necks, including one I bought on the internet, getting it " fixed next month, when my luthier comes back from Bonnie Scotland.
may you have long delightful sessions with your latest addition to your guitar harem young Rick
all the best
Jim[django]

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:59 pm
by kiwiblues
Good luck with your new guitar Rich, I think you're really going to enjoy playing slide.
I messed around with different strings for quite a while.
Used to use 12s with a 14 or 15 first string only to make it a bit more resistent for slide.
As my slide work got better I now use very little downward pressure.
At the moment I just use 13s on both my spider and biscuit guitars which I mostly use for slide.
For fingerstyle/slide combination I found 12's with a 13 top string the best combination.

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:46 pm
by A J Davies
leftyguitarman wrote:
A J Davies wrote:I spent some time in Kiwiland, and played some slide down there too. Try Haagen bottlenecks for a cheap throwaway slide, or my worldwide personal fave bottleneck: Jameson (the neck from the 12 or 18 year bottles, not the cheap stuff - you'll notice the difference when you see 'em!)


I've got a couple super cheap whiskey bottles laying around that I'm waiting to make slides out of. Does cheaper liquor equate to a poorer tone? :lol:


Lol naw, the Jemmy bottles have a slightly different shape

Re: string gauge triolian

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:24 pm
by ricbleu
Well that's good stuff from the down under brigade. I hope you guys are standing solid - the stress must be incredible. You don't know that each aftershock might be another big 'un until it's over.

I'm getting a much clearer picture now about strings. It appears that what I've got at the moment (12s & open E) would be much the same as 13s at open D. Definitely open D with the 12s left the strings too slack and the change to 12s made the cone chime and sustain perceptibly. I must say it's exciting learning to manage a new technique. Two nights ago I was ready to put her on TMe cos I seemed to be getting nowhere but after last night's session, I was like a kid at Christmas and had trouble getting to sleep in anticipation for getting back to practice today.

And thanks for the encouragement you ChCh boys. Trials there are aplenty but we press on. :D Peace.