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Apr 19, 2021 - 10:30:48 AM
5 posts since 2/26/2021

Hey folks,

I bought a really nice Rickard fretless off the classifieds here, it's a 25.5" scale. It came with steel strings on it, so I tuned up the nut and bridge with nut files, put on a skin head, and I've been snapping Aquila reds over and over and over...

I think I've read every thread on the topic here - I've polished the Rickard no-knot tailpiece, I've tried bowlines, figure eights, perfection knots, I've adjusted the head tension, I've tried different bridges, I've increased tension slowly over several days, I've tried pre-stretching the strings, and I just can't get above a G tuning without breaking the first or fifth strings. They don't ever break in the same place - sometimes at either end, sometimes in the middle. The last time it drew blood! I also tried to drop an octave but the strings were just hanging limp.

I will say, it sounds and plays awesome in the key of G. I really like the Aquila reds. I'm trying to play some round-peak though, and all my favorite tunes are in A and D. What I would give for a capo!!

Any advice? I feel like I've tried everything.

Thanks

PS: If anyone needs some spare 2nd to 4th strings...

Edited by - CodyBradford on 04/19/2021 10:41:43

Apr 19, 2021 - 10:49:14 AM

49 posts since 6/5/2006

I had the same problem but others can advise you on alternate strings.
If there's room on the head you can shorten the scale by moving the bridge closer to the neck but you probably don't want to go past the center of the head. Post a photo.
I have a capo that works with fretless banjos. It's called the Perfect Pitch by Ferguson. There's a little plate that slides under the strings. It wasn't intended for fretless banjos but it works. I might sell mine.

Apr 19, 2021 - 11:20:47 AM

49 posts since 6/5/2006

here's the capo


Apr 19, 2021 - 11:26:34 AM

49 posts since 6/5/2006

Apr 19, 2021 - 11:43:48 AM

373 posts since 4/11/2019

CodyBradford

I use this little formula from the Aquila website. Run the numbers to see where you end up:

The Breaking Index expresses the highest frequency that a string with a vibrating length of 1 meter can reach before it breaks, regardless of its diameter (as demonstrated by the string formula). For gut and Nylgut, the average value of 260 Hz/mt is to be considered valid (in other words, it means that, at the vibrating length of 1.0 metres, a gut – or Nylgut – string will statistically break at the frequency of 260 Hz: more or less a ‘C’).

It can be deduced, therefore, that the product between the pitch frequency of the first string and the vibrating length of the instrument (more properly called ‘Working Index’) must always remain below a safety margin, otherwise the string will immediately break (if you exceed the value of 260) or will break within a short period of time, if the index is between 240 and 260. No problem is to be found below 230. This is valid for plucked instruments; for bowed instruments the safety value is 220 Hz·mt, intended as the maximum value.



What is its practical use?

This formula is useful in order to verify whether or not a given vibrating length is excessive for the required intonation for the first string. Therefore, it is precious for luthiers.

Example: can I tune a Lute with a vibrating string length of 62 cm in A (at the standard pitch of a=440 Hz)?

Answer:
62 cm = .62 m
.62 mt x 440 (Hz) = 272.8 Hz·mt
The answer is no, I can’t.

So what should the appropriate vibrating length be?
A safe index should not exceed the value of 240.

Therefore: 240/440 Hz = .545 mt.
So the appropriate string length (at A-440) should not exceed 54 cm.



Rule of thumb for plucked instruments:

Working Index within 230: green light(the first string works in safety conditions)
Working Index between 240 and 250: yellow light (statistically the treble could break within a few hours/days, especially in high humidity conditions).
Working Index over 260: red light (the treble will break immediately, or within few minutes).
Rule of thumb for bowed instruments:

Working Index within 200: green light(the first string works in safety conditions)
Working Index between 210 and 220: yellow light (statistically the treble could break within a few hours/days, especially in high humidity conditions).
Working Index over 240: red light (the treble will break immediately, or within few minutes).
For Doublebass and Violone: the Working Index should not exceed 190.



Due to the low degree of standardization, this verification is particularly important in medieval instruments – also on medieval harps – or even in the exact copies of museum instruments, first of all lutes (it is not at all certain that the vibrating length of the original instrument – that was specifically optimized for the pitch required by the client of that time – is also suitable for our modern pitch, that is generally higher!)

Apr 19, 2021 - 3:27:58 PM

CodyBradford

Canada

5 posts since 2/26/2021

Wow, thanks Knows Picker . This is terrific info for this and other applications!

Apr 19, 2021 - 4:31:23 PM

CodyBradford

Canada

5 posts since 2/26/2021

quote:
Originally posted by restreet

I had the same problem but others can advise you on alternate strings.
If there's room on the head you can shorten the scale by moving the bridge closer to the neck but you probably don't want to go past the center of the head. Post a photo.
I have a capo that works with fretless banjos. It's called the Perfect Pitch by Ferguson. There's a little plate that slides under the strings. It wasn't intended for fretless banjos but it works. I might sell mine.


Thanks for the tip - I had already slid the bridge forward but still had room. I slid my bridge to the middle of the head and tuned it up. I can get the 5th string to A, but it's tight! Y'know how there's a point where you're turning the peg and but pitch just stops going up as you turn, and then it breaks - it's right there! I'll let it hang out and see if it's relaxed tomorrow - if it doesn't pop. 

Apr 21, 2021 - 6:50:30 PM

49 posts since 6/5/2006

Why not a capo and 5th string spike?

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