Posted on

Letter: Violin String Tension

Letter: Violin String Tension

by Ernest Nussbaum

Originally published in American Lutherie #9, 1987


Dear Tim:

I’d like to point out that the article “Fiddle Facts” contains at least two non-facts.

1) The author says that raising the pitch of a violin’s “A” string to 442 (presumably from 440) is an increase of 0.05%. Wrong: it’s 0.5%.

2) More serious: He says that string tension is thereby increased by 10%. He should have said 1%. (Raising the frequency increases tension according to the square of the raise, i.e., (442/440)2 which is 1.009 or about 1.01 — therefore 1% higher.

Maybe it’s bad for old violins to replace gut strings with steel. On ’cellos it seems to do no harm in most cases.