Guides to Fretless Zither String Gauges


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guides to fretless zither string gauges

The gauges presented in these tables apply to all fretless zithers with the melody strings in the key of C, which includes most of them.

One exception is the violin-uke, which is in G. Because these are both very common and very playable, I have included the melody string information for them. Their accompaniment strings are just as long as those of C instruments, so the gauges from the tables are correct for those.

The melody strings of the violin-uke are double-strung, i.e., one continuous wire serves as two melody strings (two alternate melody strings, that is...strings #1 and #3 are one wire, #2 and #4 are one wire, and so on. They only use 4 gauges of wire for all the melody strings. Here are the gauges:

violin-uke melody string gauges

strings 1/3 and 2/4: .022"

strings 5/7 and 6/8: .020"

strings 9/11 and 10/12: .018"

strings 13/15 and 14/16: .016"

The gauges in the tables also apply to the long strings of regent zithers, but the short strings are gauge-specific. Again, I will post these gauges as soon as possible.

Some of the Germania family may have special string requirements (besides ball-type ends), due to the number of strings in the chords of some of them. I would think the gauges in the tables would work for both the chord and melody strings of these, but given the range some of their chords span, they may have chord strings that fall outside the ranges given in the tables. At the first opportunity to do so, I will investigate tunings of these and post the results.

Sharon Kahn has done an admirable job not only of putting the micrometer to the wire but also in presenting the results of her research on zither string gauges. Several instruments' gauge information are represented, including the regent zither No. 3, here.

The gauge information categories, which are also linked from the buttons above, are as follows:

melody strings

bass strings

chord strings, by string

chord strings, by chord