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We report finite element simulations of the effect of conductive sensing layers on the surface wave velocity of langasite substrates. The simulations include both the mechanical and electrical influences of the conducting sensing layer. We show that three-dimensional simulations are necessary because of the out-of-plane displacements of the commonly used (0, 138.5, 26.7) Euler angle. Measurements of the transducer input admittance in reflective delay-line devices yield a value for the electromechanical coupling coefficient that is in good agreement with the three-dimensional simulations on bare langasite substrate. The input admittance measurements also show evidence of excitation of an additional wave mode and excess loss resulting from the finger resistance. The results of these simulations and measurements will be useful in the design of surface acoustic wave gas sensors.