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Scottish Academic Strikes Chord with New Guitar Technology

Chloe Henderson


new guitar string

Dr Jonathan Kemp of the University of St Andrews has designed an ultra-sensitive and balanced new guitar string with a scientific approach. 

A ‘revolutionary’ new guitar string developed at the University of St Andrews has struck a chord in the music world. The invention by Dr Jonathan Kemp, Head of Music Technology at the Music Centre – who also lectures in the School of Physics and Astronomy – allows electric guitar strings to be balanced in sensitivity and feel in a way that has “never been achieved before,” according to the University.

Among those who have shown an interest are: Guthrie Govan, David Torn, Paul Masvidal (from the band Cynic), and Pete Malandrone, guitar technician to Queen guitarist Brian May.

Guitarist Mark McGuigan of, who has more than 8 million views on YouTube, said: “The new strings are awesome fun and provide fantastic new creative opportunities for your whammy bar.”

Dr Kemp said: “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.

“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.”

The new strings mean that chord bends can be achieved that have not been possible before on standard guitars. All electric guitar players can apparently benefit, as the optimised sensitivity means that the D string is no longer more difficult to bend than its neighbours, and the low E string no longer goes ‘more sharp’ than the rest of the strings when played hard. Temperature related tuning problems are also reduced.

Dr Kemp added: “The new strings are as cheap to construct as existing designs and all in all this amounts to a breakthrough for electric guitar performance, and one that doesn’t require any expensive changes to players’ existing instruments.”

Chloe Henderson

Staff Writer - DIGIT

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