String Tension

While string gauge is simply the measurement of the string’s outside diameter, the tension of a string determines its relative volume to the other strings.


String tension is determined by the core-to-wrap ratio. What is a core-to-wrap ratio? Let's use a set of guitar strings as an example. On a guitar, the low E, A, D, and G strings consist of a core wire and a wrap wire. The core wire is usually a high-carbon steel wire and the wrap wire is second wire that is tightly wrapped around the core wire. The core-to-wrap ratio is basically the thickness of the core wire in relation to the thickness of the wrap wire.

Let's break this down...

A string's gauge is the outside diameter of the string. If a guitar's low E string has a gauge of 0.056, this means the outside diameter is 0.056 inches.

String gauge = (thickness of core wire) + (thickness of wrap wire X 2)

You can adjust the thickness of the core wire and the thickness of the wrap wire to achieve a different "core-to-wrap ratio" and this is what determines the tension of a string.

  • A thicker core wire and thinner wrap wire creates a higher tension string.
  • A thinner core wire and a thicker wrap wire creates a lower tension string.

Why does string tension matter?

  • A lower tension string gives your guitar better action and improves playability. Lower tension is also less stressful on the frets and neck of your guitar which is ideal for players with fairly expensive guitars.
  • A mid tension or high tension string can give your guitar a bit more volume and a slightly higher action.

We have found that most players prefer low tension strings because they're easy to play and they have a nice balanced sound.

About Our Strings

Woodtone Strings are engineered to put the exact tension on each individual string to create the appropriate downward pressure across all the strings on your instrument. Our strings deliver the optimal relative volume between strings while giving you the perfect balance of tone and playability.