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Experiments and global linear stability analysis are used to obtain the critical flow rate below which the highly stretched capillary jet, generated when a Newtonian liquid issues from a vertically oriented tube, is no longer steady. The theoretical description, based on the one-dimensional mass and momentum equations retaining the exact expression for the interfacial curvature, accurately predicts the onset of jet self-excited oscillations experimentally observed for wide ranges of liquid viscosity and nozzle diameter. Our analysis, which extends the work by Sauter & Buggisch (J. Fluid Mech. vol. 533, 2005, pp. 237-257), reveals the essential stabilizing role played by the axial curvature of the jet, the latter effect being especially relevant for injectors with a large diameter. Our findings allow us to conclude that, surprisingly, the size of the steady threads produced at a given distance from the exit can be reduced by increasing the nozzle diameter.