New!
Custom Gauging for your harp guitar or similar instrument

Sub-bass String Chart
for Harp Guitar Music sets of
Nylon-core Sub-Bass Strings

Scale length* and tension guide for Sullivan-Elliott style harp guitars and similar instruments prepared by Gregg Miner
*For sub-bass strings, I use "scale length" to mean vibrating string length.  This is measured from the bridge's saddle contact point to the contact point at the bass head (saddle, nut post, side of tuner post, whatever the case may be). All measurements in inches.

Harp Guitar Music sub-bass string sets are specifically put together by harp guitarist/engineer Gregg Miner for balanced, even tension across all open bass strings to provide optimum tone and feel while retaining a comfortable safety margin for both modern and vintage instruments in either "extra light," "light" or "medium" tensions per this general rule for nylon-core strings:

  • "Light" tension = a nominal value of 151.5 lbs per string (recommended by harp guitar builder Mike Doolin)
  • "Medium" tension = a nominal value of 16.51.5 lbs per string (recommended by harp guitar builder Benoit Meulle-Stef)
  • "Heavy" tension = a nominal value of 181.5 lbs per string (when combining with steel strings on the neck)

Note that even the heaviest nylon-core strings exert far less tension than the lightest steel-core strings.

CAUTION: I have calculated all Harp Guitar Music nylon-core string sets based solely on the measurements of John Doan's original 20-string Sullivan-Elliott harp guitar (plans available here).  Modern "copies" or variants may or may not fall in line with these measurements.  Compare your instrument's string lengths against the Chart at right (all measurements in inches)If your instrument is much more than 5% different in scale for any sub-bass string, or if you use many different tunings, I might suggest you explore custom gauging below.  Harp Guitar Music is not responsible for any instrument damage incurred by stringing.  Please consult a guitar expert if you are unsure about your instrument.

Sullivan-Elliott 20-string concert harp guitar
(courtesy John Doan)

7 28.5
8 29
9 29.625
10 30.188
11 30.688
12 31.188

New!
Custom Gauging for your harp guitar or similar instrument
Steel or Nylon string
calculated by Gregg Miner

If you think you'd benefit from custom gauges per the above, I can calculate that for you for the exclusive DR brand sub-bass strings available on this site (if you're using other brands, let me know).  What I need from you (via separate email):
  • Type of instrument (maker, brand, year, etc)
  • Scale length of each sub-bass string*
  • Ball end or Tie (nylon-string instruments)
  • The nominal pitch you keep each string
  • The other pitches you tune each string to
  • What brand/gauges you're currently using and your comments on each (too heavy, light, etc.)
  • Your neck set (gauges) and tuning

*For sub-bass strings, I use "scale length" to mean vibrating string length.  This is measured from the bridge's saddle contact point to the contact point at the bass head (saddle, nut post, side of tuner post, whatever the case may be). All measurements in inches.

$19.95 (per instrument, as many iterations as you need)

 

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