Delete/rename/move/clarify the "Open" column of "String Data"

• May 30, 2021 - 20:53
Reported version
S5 - Suggestion

For so many years (there is a lot of threads about this), this "Open" column has only brought confusion and misunderstanding (among guitarists) and is the source of many unexpected results (red squares, for example).
And for lute players, with instruments with extra bass, outside the fingerboard, it is a feature I would say futile or even useless. In case, by mistake, he would put a 1 on let's say string 13 (in this case, the program automatizes the display of a 0), anyway, he could not play it! And so it would quickly realize its mistake or oversight.
In short, it is really an excess of precaution, that backfires on the guitarists, who are not aware of the real intention of this feature.
For my part, I will vote for the pure and simple deletion of this column "Open". There are other features to improve, while this one only brings its share of trouble.

remove Open.jpg


Rather than removing this, it should get better explained, better named. Maybe even just as a tooltip ( shown when hovering over it) "Drone strings" or "Additional unfretted strings" or some such.
OTHO I don't really get why people check that box if not understanding what it is about. "If you don't know what this is, keep your hands off, leave it at the default"

" I don't really get why people check that box if not understanding what it is about"

People? My reply: Simply, once again, because the terms "Open" string, "Open" tuning, "Open" chord are really-really very common in "contemporary" guitar:

So this term "Open" is a real trap, and guitarists fall into it with both feet! Especially since it has a maximum visibility (right next to the string pitch change), for a null usefulness (in my opinion) for lute players, and a major risk of not understanding what is going on for guitarists when they check these boxes. One only has to look at the implausibility of the way it is used according to the testimonies (and comments) on the forums

And who would be bothered, if this column disappeared? Nobody in my opinion. Unless someone (among the lute players) shows that he finds this function useful?
I don't see any particular inconvenience in trying tooltips. But do you really think that guitarists would have this idea? In my opinion, no.
Again, because its visibility is really maximum, on the same level as the pitch change.
This term "Open" is so obvious and common for them that this kind of verification would be more random than anything else.
And that few (I think) know how instruments like lutes with extra basses work, and therefore can't think for a second that this is a really specific function (for lutes/theorbo players) when it is nothing more than a safeguard to avoid a possible input error (which will be quickly identified by the user since it is physically impossible to fret a string where there is no fingerboard!)

Maybe it could be a hidden column which has a button to unhide it. I did use it once for Open-G guitar tuning since I thought it was required but it appeared to be broken as adding fret numbers to a TAB didn't change the pitch. Now I know why: it's not broken but is for very particular stringed instruments.

In reply to by yonah_ag

"I did use it once for Open-G guitar tuning since I thought it was required but it appeared to be broken as adding fret numbers to a TAB didn't change the pitch. Now I know why: it's not broken but is for very particular stringed instruments."
One more testimony (if it was still necessary to add!) of the complete incomprehension of this feature.
And well, lutes/archlutes/theorbo are not very particular stringed instruments!

In reply to by geetar

It has been a mystery to me for several years but now that I understand its purpose I would say that the whole option is just too specialist to be needed on the default tuning view and needs to be moved to an "advanced" view. Changing its name won't bring any clarity to regular guitar players.

Maybe there is a collective term for lutes etc. that could be used as a button label to view this open strings section.

As said, if you don't know what it is, just keep your hands off. It is not on by default for any guitar, and if the only thing you want to do is to change a string's tuning, do just than and nothing else, really simple.
And if you change that setting and don't get the desired results, think what you changed last and revert that change. Also quite simple.
Or read the handbook (which does explains this, quite a novel idea to many, but also very helpful at times ;-)

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

It sneaks in under the guise of being obvious and therefore invites a hands on approach. It doesn't need a workaround, (since it's not broken), it just needs less prominence in the user interface.

I do usually read the handbook, (this is an obvious approach to my old-fashioned way of thinking so in this respect I am not amongst the many that you refer to), but since I had already concluded that it was a broken option then I simply ignored it.

As a guitaris you indeed can ignore it. Whether you ignore it because you think it to be broken, of for other reasons really doesn't matter ;-)
The String tuning dialog is already not too obvious to fine, and a more advanced tool, hiding a part of that dialog even more ain't gonna help more than it'd harm.

No, it isn't. It has a purpose, for those additional lute strings. Making those non-open would give the wrong impression you could use and non-0 fingering for them

Maybe add a tooltip explaining what it is for?

I’m not a string instrumentist, but I don’t get it at all from e.g. the commit message…

Does it makes sense for all lute/oud/theorbo strings to have this option? Don't the first strings operate just like a guitar, i.e. frets are played?

I understand that. My question was whether this can apply to all lute etc. strings or whether it starts at a certain string number. You answered a question which I did not ask. I asked about the first strings not the open strings.

Thank you to all your interventions. The problem is that they are made by "people", players or musicians who do not practice (or even dont' know these instruments)... I would have liked, I would really like to hear the testimony and the participation of those interested in this feature. It was designed for them, wasn't it? Do they practice it or not?
The only two testimonies I could read so far are mine (!, I said I never use it) and @wolgan:
I would really like to hear more testimonials of the players involved so we can make the best decision.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

That is true and a quite common thing with lute instruments.
There are even some guitars that could profit from this option (as the Wiener Schrammerl guitar, that has some open/free/not gripped (ungegriffen) strings). Open is the correct terminology for lute instruments.

  1. I think it would be not at all senseful to delete this option, as it is essential to know, which strings can be gripped and which not!
  2. As open has another meaning in guitar terminology (open tunings), it probably could be better to use the word diapason or bourdon, that is used for strings that don't pass the fretboard and therefore cannot be gripped.
  3. It would probably be possible to restrict this feature for some lutes only, but I think it is a much better thing to have it as flexible as it is now. And if the guitar world doesn't need this feature, it could be a possible solution to block it for these instruments - but I'm not sure if that really is needed and if it is worth the time and energy to program it.

"That’d also freak out everyone else, it means tuning fork in french."

I agree completely. Diapason means various things in French! E.g. tuning fork, indeed, and master tuning (440.Hz eg) and strings length (eg, 59cm for a lute, and 65cm for a guitar)... Let's not add confusion to the present confusion!

"What’s wrong with unfretted? Generic enough for everyone to understand yet technically correct enough. Plus a tooltip."

Agree too. "Unfretted" sounds pretty good for me? And a tooltip could be useful here indeed.

In reply to by cadiz1

If the term works, it would be no problem for me, but it sounds a little bit like fretless to me, which means another thing ... And btw - the strings aren't unfretted; I have never seen any fretted string ;-).

Is there no equivalent to the German word ungegriffen? Ungripped or something like that, as this is, what open means in this context. I looked it up in the book "Die Laute in Europa - The lute in Europe", that gives a really good overview on the various and uncountable types of lute instruments.
There it is said: the strings cannot be fingered. Would unfingered/free be an alternative, or free basses?
But I'm sure, there are some instruments that use free strings not only in the bass register - the Angelique is such a harplike instrument.
Or another idea : How about reverting the whole thing and per default set strings to playing strings (jouer in French)?

I initiially proposed "unfretted", but you're right, it is not about the string but about the fretboard, so doesn't match here.
The word "free" seems too generic and too open to interpretation, but I like "unfingered". Also implies to keep your fingers off if you don't know what it is ;-)

GuitarPro has been around for decades -- this is what they do. Dorico does something similar (currently working on adding capos). No need to think about this - just copy it.

Nah, no copyright issue here, not when just taking the same naming for things. But see above, it doesn't make sense here anyway.
And it does not apply to lutes only, just mainly.
But yes, an additional tooltip would be nice.

I won't, but that's what you proposed, as Guitar Pro does that.
Or did you mean that "Open G"? It again has "Open" which is what started this discussion...

A search on the internet ( using the terms "unstopped" "string" and "Guitar" revealed that Unstopped is commonly used to describe the harp strings on a harp guitar. As these are akin to the diapasons on a lute, this is surely a term worth considering.

“Unfingered” sounds like “do not play, it just resonates with” to me though… “unstopped” is slightly less ambiguous-potential, I believe.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Just use "Lute" instead of "Open" with a tooltip to explain it and to show that it also applies to other instruments. Example instruments could be listed in the tooltip. And, as you pointed out earlier, users could check the handbook for clarification.

This would invite lute (etc.) players to realise it's something for them and guitarists would know to steer clear.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Hence "etc." and "tooltip" and "handbook". A tooltip is exactly that: a tip to give the user an idea what a tool is for. Alternatively you could have a huge, red animated arrow which directed the user to the appropriate section of the handbook whilst playing a suitable trumpet fanfare.

As for, "only some strings", then why does the dialogue already offer it on all strings?


A drone. A pipe or string producing a constant pitch. It is analogous to the English "burden", used to describe the lowest drone on the hurdy-gurdy and the low-pitched, free vibrating strings of the larger lutes such as the theorbo and bowed instruments such as the lira da braccio; also the lowest partial ("hum note") of tower bells.

Drone imho doesn't fitfor this case, as it is used in a more musical sense: long ringing bass notes. The bass strings of a lute also play melodies, like with harps. Bourdon would be quite good also for most lute instruments, but this term also means a bass string. But there are also lute instruments, like the Angelique, that not only have the bass strings as open strings.
So I would vote for unfingered, unstopped or open ...

BTW; this text and the corresponding entry in string data is usefull only for strings that are getting plucked (but unfingered, so at exactly the pitch of that string), so not for bourdons or drones, which only resonate but are never played directly, and as such don't show in tablature nor a normal staff.

Severity S2 - Critical S5 - Suggestion

How can a wrong naming lead to a crash? How could fix that naming fix that crash?
In short: this'd be a diffrent issue

Fix version