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WATCH: Scientist creates new guitar strings to improve your whammy bar technique

Laura  Barnes
WATCH: Scientist creates new guitar strings to improve your whammy bar technique

A scientist from the University of St Andrews has created a brand new set of strings with optimised sensitivity, meaning the D string is just as easy to bend as other strings, and the low E string has reduced sharpness when played hard.

Invented by Dr Jonathan Kemp, Head of Music Technology at the Music Centre, who also lectures in the School of Physics and Astronomy, the new strings are more balanced in sensitivity and feel in a way that has “never been achieved before for an instrument with standard hardware”.

The invention means guitarists can benefit from a much more controlled performance when using their whammy bar, as all strings bend evenly. Players can now easily bend chords with standard tremolo units.

“While string sets have been available before with balanced tensions, those strings have featured different sensitivities, with all strings bending through different pitch intervals when the player performs identical movements,” explained Dr Kemp.
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“The laws of physics prevent equalised feel between different plain steel strings. With the new strings the properties are controlled to ensure that four of the strings (the plain G and the overwound D, A and low E strings) on a standard electric guitar bend through the same pitch intervals for identical player control changes, whether that be through conventional pitch bends (dragging the strings through a certain distance along a fret to increase tension) or through use of a tremolo/vibrato arm.

“The clearest demonstration of this is through listening to chords played on these strings during tremolo arm use.”

Although still in the prototype stages, the strings have already gained interest from a number of musicians, including Guthrie Govan, David Torn, Paul Masvidal (from the band Cynic), and Pete Malandrone – guitar technician to Queen’s Brian May.

Guitarist Mark McGuigan of said: “The new strings are awesome fun and provide fantastic new creative opportunities for your whammy bar.”

Check out McGuigan’s demonstration of the new strings in the video below:

Tags: guitar strings , Video , Guitar Techniques , whammy bar , University of St Andrews , Jonathan Kemp

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