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I just received a new Baroque Guitar from Barber and Harris. It is string with what I calculate to be between 1 and 3.3 kgm tension (the 1 being on the two bourdons on A and d). Do members have any recommendation on the tensions they prefer? I will be stringing it in both aAd'dggbbe'e' with the option for aaddggbbe'e'. I plan to string with gut.

I have seen some sites that go as high as 5 kgm (which seems way to high for gut).

Also, the bourdons seem pretty low in tension - is this normal?

Anyway, I know this varies a lot on personal preference but would appreciate some input as Baroque Guitar is new to me (lots of lutes, theorbo, and classical guitar but first baroque guitar).


David Smith

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Are you sure just 1 kg?

In this low tension there is no vibration.

Tell me the diapason, pitch, material and diameter of the string, ad I can check if it is correct and send what I should use on my guitar.

Thank you for the reply. What I am looking for is the recommended tensions. I can do the calculations to turn that into the string size. Dan Larson has recommendations for strings for "light", "medium", and "heavy" gauge strings. 

The Light strings are 37 N on the e' down to 25/24 N on the A/a while the heavy are 44 N on the e' down to 27/28 N on A/a.

So, what is the range that you use for your strings? These values seem high to me compared to what I use on my lutes. Is that normal for Baroque Guitars?

I use kg, much easier than newton...

Here's what I use:

Baroque Guitar_Bob _5crs_sl64,5.bsc Beier String and Fret Calculator File
Name: Baroque Guitar Maker: Bob
String Chart Pitch: A = 415hz. Bridge tension: 30,26 kg.
String Note Length (cm.) Tension (kg.) Gut Diameter Alternative string Alternative Diameter / Catalogue number
1 e 64,5 3,54 0,451 Nylgut 0,46
2 B 64,5 3,37 0,588 Nylgut 0,599
3 G 64,5 3,42 0,746 Nylgut 0,76
4 D 64,5 3,19 0,961 Aquila D097 ( 3.25 kg.)
octave 4 d " 3,31 0,49 Nylgut 0,499
5 A' 64,5 3,06 1,257 Aquila D, DE128 ( 3.17 kg.)
octave 5 A " 3,58 0,68 Nylgut 0,693

Hi Diego,

I was under the impression that usually the octave strings should have a little bit lower tension than their fundamental string. I can see you string your instrument the opposite way. It would be interesting to hear what the effects and differencies of this two methods are.

Maybe it's just a matter of taste.   I use a lower tension on the octave strings and it works fine for me. Different guitars and different playing styles and repertoire might benefit from different kinds of setup.


Do a 'google' for 'Arto's string calculator' and put the listed dimensions/gauges into the calculator. Don't forget to select the relevant pitch (415, 440), string length, the correct octave and the string material - Nylgut is, for practical purposes, the same as pure Gut.

The calculator will give you the tensions at that string length (650 mm's). You can then alter the parameters to suit your particular string length, pitch and tension requirements. 

Hi Michael, Thank you but I already know how to calculate tension vs. length vs. density vs. diameter. I was looking for recommended tensions so that I can calculate the diameters.

Thank you Diego that is exactly what I was looking for. You seem to keep the tension between 3 and 3.5 kg. It is a bit narrower range than Dan Larson's values but close to his "light" set. I can see course 4/5 being closer to course 1 especially if doing campanella a lot.

The tensions are in the link that I posted. The string length, diameters and type of string material is given. From that information you can work out the tensions with the aid of the calculator. Pretty easy really.

Hi Michael,

Thanks. I did see that link. I will go ahead and reverse calculate the tensions.

I use light tensions at 415 so that at 440 the guitar is still playable (at higher tensions) with the same strings.


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