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Do SIT (stay-in-tune) brand strings really stay-in-tune better than other brands of strings? I have bought them on occasion and did not really notice any length of time in-tune difference from the Ernie Balls that I usually use. There are guys that I know that swear they really stay in tune longer, but that could be:

1) Person bias

2) A side-effect of being a local company (Akron, Ohio)

3) A real difference on different (lower quality?) guitars

I usually play a good quality Stratocaster that stays in tune quite well anyways, so maybe this is not the best guitar to judge these strings by.

The company does state that they add a special "stay-in-tune" process to the manufacturing, but that could be:

1) total BS

2) a chemical treatment?

3) a special grind operation?

4) something else?

Does anybody know? Have any hunches?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

1) Total BS.

Your question is more about physics and engnieering than music but I'll answer anyway..

As far as I can tell they have no patents and make no effort to give any explanation as to what the "stay in tune" process entails which strongly suggests it does not exist at all.

A chemical treatment could be used to reduce friction, Though, this would not be unique to SIT and is a poor, band aid solution to the problem, you wouldn't cover your car in oil and hope the parts that need lubrication get it would you? No, you apply the correct lubrication where it is needed.

Only ground wound strings are ground, all other strings are extruded. Generally, extrusions have a better surface finish (therefore lower friction coefficient) than ground surfaces so any grinding is a step in the wrong direction.

Either way, it doesn't matter, the string itself is almost never the cause of tuning instability. I have heard of dud strings though they are very rare, I've never had one in >300 sets of strings. 99% of the time it is caused by one of these:

  • binding at a poorly cut nut
  • Too greater break angle
  • Binding at a string tree
  • Poorly wrapped string post
  • Low quality machine heads

I wont bother mentioning the other 1% but none of them are the string itself.

If you are interested in a detailed analysis of the physics of keeping at string in tune you should try physics.stackexchange, though you need to do your own research first, here are some places to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elasticity_(physics)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friction (both static and kinetic friction are involved)

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I would expect that some string materials could have different coefficients of elasticity than others, and that a string with a lower coefficient of elasticity would stay in tune better than one with a higher coefficient. –  supercat May 27 at 20:59
    
@supercat In a perfect world variation in Young's Modulus ('E') may have an effect, but here in the real world where friction is the main cause of instability I would bet it has no effect. If you can explain a viable mechanism by which E will affect stability I'm interested. (please don't bring up nylon string instability, there are so many other material property differences between steel stings it's not conclusive) –  Fergus May 27 at 22:52
    
Excessive friction at the nut will certainly cause problems, and I'm not sure that a lower E would help with those, but many instruments also have problems with things like dimensional stability under changing temperature and humidity conditions. I would expect that cutting E in half would reduce by half the amount by which an instrument is put out of tune by a 0.01" change in length. –  supercat May 27 at 23:01
    
Tuning changes due to temp. changes is a function of the thermal expansion coefficient, Tuning changes due to humidity changes is a function of the coefficient of hygroscopic expansion. Neither of theses are related to Young's Modulus. –  Fergus May 27 at 23:18
    
If the two ends of the guitar are moved apart by e.g. 0.1", I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that with typical strings at typical tension levels, the increase in tension [which is a function of Young's modulus] will raise the pitch significantly more than the change in length will reduce it. If Young's modulus were lower, then the change in tension resulting from the change in length would be reduced. –  supercat May 28 at 21:03
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