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Banjo Strings

 

 

Six sets for $30     Free shipping inside of the US

 

 

More to a String than Metal Wire

 

Before we put our name on a product, there must be something special about it or we will

not risk our reputation on it. The players deserve the best and it is our goal to find it and

supply it when we can. Our constant search for better leaves no rock unturned. In car

racing, it is the last half second in 500 miles, where the big money is. Seconds become

minutes and results can be laps ahead of the competition.

We believe that Curt Mangan Strings gives that extra edge as they believe in the same

ethics. We are foremost proud that they are made in the U.S.A. which is where Yates

Banjos is also located.

 

It is common that the packages of strings are labeled as Stainless Steel which signifies the

wrapping on the 4th string only. Often buyers assume that all of the strings are stainless

and they donít buy. If this were true, I couldnít agree more. Stainless Steel is an alloy

that is very high in nickel which is known not to conduct much of anything very well,

such as heat, electricity and yes, vibrations and sound. It is good to prevent rust in normal

applications.

 

With that said, stainless windings are quite different in nature. Letís first explore strings

and their uses in general; when a string is pulled to a particular tension to reach a certain

pitch, the string or wire must change in thickness to overcome air losses. As a string

moves through air, it slows down until is stops. This is good as the musician can use that

to get one note out of the way before the next note starts. If a string is too thin, the tension

is reduced and its ability to cut through the wind and rattle the box, as we say, does not

stand up to the demand. The lower the tension, the bigger the string must be.

 

Often in order to achieve the correct tension and wind resistance, a smaller string is used

for the tension, but is then wrapped to give weight or mass to the lightly moving wire.

Stainless steel is a heavy metal so we can get more movement and maintain the smallest

diameter. The core wire and all of the other wires in these sets are known as plain steel;

this does not mean soft. This is easy to test; stainless steel does not stick to a magnet

where steel does.

 

These plain steel strings are made of a special alloy of high tinsel steel. They are formed

by a process call Wire Drawing. A wire starts as a rod that is pulled through rollers and

stretched to form the desired diameter. In materials, there is tensile strength which

measures its breaking point. This point is the yield of the wire. Before that, a material

goes through elongation in the plastic stage. Once all of the elongation has occurred, it

will not stretch any more without risk of breaking. At this point, elongation basically is

un-noticed and the wire becomes stable for holding tune. Wire drawing is done cold so no

annealing is done.

 

Once the wire is pulled to size and elongation is controlled, the wire then receives a very

thin coating of tin (Sn) to deter the onset of rust. This is then called Swedish Wire. There

is a balance between the protective coating and changing the tonal qualities; however, a

string will rust in time. As strings age and accumulate playing time on the instrument,

the pores become full of dirt and oil and flat spots occur from the frets. This is when they

need to be replaced.

 

A Quick Word About Intonation

 

As implied above, strings are matched for tension due to desired pitch, so to get a banjo

to play correctly, there are many things put in place to help the musician spend more time

playing than tuning. With all of the pitch requirements, intonation becomes evident and

problematic. A sting can loose its ability to hold its pitch from the beginning as the banjo

itself was developed. It can be in tune on one end and not in the middle or the other end.

These are where air loses and material absorption show up.

 

The best advice is to learn the instrument and its eccentricities and understand where it

needs help. Example: Electronic tuners are often not accurate enough to really offer you a

true tuning. The G chord might look perfect with all strings open while the lowest G

chord position near the pot will be off. Try tuning that chord near the pot and then see if

all of the strings played open will be acceptable. You will then cross reference the quirks

of your banjo, and in effect, learn the instrument to minimize the efforts in maintaining

tuning. You and your band members will be much happier.

 

Warren Yates