View Full Version : mandolino strings
would anyone have the technical information required for me to order a set of strings for a five course mandolino, tuned: b-b, e'-e', a'-a', d"-d", g"-g"?
i'm unsure about how to use a string calculator and would like to draw on someone else's expertise.
thank you - bill
I got a set of strings from my Lombard mandolin from Daniel Larson's Gamut Strings (http://www.gamutstrings.com/). Tell him what you are looking for and scale length etc and he wil put together a custom set. I assume that you are putting a set on your charango?
Dan used to have the mandolino set listed with gauges and tensions but I don't see it on his revised site. However, he is well versed with the instrument and can certainly guide you to whatever you need.
I think you said you dealt with Aquila (http://www.aquilausa.com/) already for Nylgut. I checked with them also but it was almost as expensive as the gut so I went with Larson's set.
Dan used to have the mandolino set listed with gauges and tensions but I don't see it on his revised site.
Actually, it is still there, but it requires a bit of wading through frames. Go to the Gamut site, click "The String Store" button, click "Mandolin strings" near the bottom, then click "Mandolino strings" at the bottom of the subsequent list. From there you can select what Dan recommends as light, medium, or heavy gauge for any course. Voila!
glad you're still talking to me after i disgraced myself over the tuning question...
yes, the strings are for my charango and no, i'd much prefer to use aquilla here in italy. not only because mimmo is such a nice man but also because i don't want my purchases from the united states to disappear into customs down in rome and never...ever...be seen again. this happened to some turtle neck shirts i ordered from ll bean, two x-mas packages from my sweet mum up in vermont and two sets of charango strings that i bought from someone in florida on e-bay. after a telephone call from some customs official asking what the strings were for and how much they cost, that was the last i heard of them.
"just strings" is a good company to order from but they insist on using the most expensive postage available. the last set of d'daddario oud strings i bought from them cost $35.00 in postage! some savings!
i'd feel bad about pumping some supplier of strings for information and buying them from someone else. thanks for the information, though. is there no one on site who owns a mandolino and still has the string package with all the technical information on it? mimmo is on the case but he's very busy. i've asked him to give me something that would do in the meantime but he refuses to do so. i believe it's called "professionalism."
i may just have to put what little "elan vital" i have left at risk and force myself how to figure out how one of those string calculators works...
i grow weak...
Why not just pull the recommended gauges from the Gamut Strings (http://www.gamutstrings.com/) web site and apply them to Nylgut? Nylgut is allegedly of the same density as gut and equivalent tension given constant diameter. If I recall correctly, the string calculator I've used (that of Oliver Wadsworth (http://www.wadsworth-lutes.co.uk/)) recommends Nylgut at slightly higher diameters than gut, but we're talking a difference of only 0.01 or 0.02 mm or so.
eugene - your first and my message crossed. i plan to do exactly as you say. a presto - bill
I did just that for my mandolino. I got a quote from AquilaUSA (which took forever) for the Nylgut but a set would have cost about $30 and Daniel's were on sale, were only slightly more and are real gut.
i've never even considered playing with gut as i understand it's very temperamental - susceptible to slight changes of temperature and moisture, etc. etc.. have you ever tried silk or was that never used in the mandolin family?
Silver-wound silk was used as the low g of the early Neapolitan mandolin. #I imagine it could also be used as basses for the mandolino. #Frankly, I find it almost as temperamental as gut. #Absolutely, gut is very responsive to environmental change, especially humidity, but it is very stable once it comes to equilibrium with the world around it. #It also sounds mighty good on early instruments. #The biggest reason I usually use nylon (i.e. fishing line) or Nylgut for e" on my early Neapolitan is that I tend to fray gut very quickly in playing with a synthetic quill.
PS: Maybe just lucky, but I have never had any slow-response issues with Aquila USA (unless Curtis is on tour or vacation...it is a one-man shop), probably because I tend to deal with him by phone. #I admit, I haven't ordered anything from there for over a year or so.
Eugene also doesn't admit the other reason he uses fishing line -- his line of work, scales and all.
In addition to Dan Larson, I can also highly recommend Olaf (Chris) Hendriksen of Boston Catlines (617) 776-8688 for appropriate mandolino strings. You will have to give Chris the string-length of your instrument and your favored reference pitch (A-415, A-440, etc.). Chris really knows his stuff and in my experience his sets can really bring out the best in an instrument. Chris will often make sets up from his own gut (I think), as well as Savarez, and Pyramid strings.
As for gut vs. nylon, I have to come down strongly on the side of gut for both sound and feel. My gut-strung mandolinos are indeed very stable and I wouldn't necessarily reject gut based on its reputaion. It also seems that gut has a certain "stiffness" that works better than nylon at moving the bridge (and creating a bigger sound). Nylon was somewhat less well known in the 18th century... :-)
Of course, gut strings aren't cheap... but in my view there is no real substitute if you're after the original sound of an early instrument (excepting the odd wire-wrapped silk string, as Eugene mentions).
I did a quick search for Boston Catlines it looks like Mr. Hendrickson can be reached by email: email@example.com
As for gut vs. nylon, I have to come down strongly on the side of gut for both sound and feel. #My gut-strung mandolinos are indeed very stable and I wouldn't necessarily reject gut based on its reputaion.
I agree...in general. However, your home climate tends towards much greater stability than mine, Eric. Still, I also favor the sound and feel of gut, and I certainly don't mind a simple retuning when the humidity changes. Such tuning will remain remarkably stable...until the next change in humdity, of course.
>> I agree...in general. However, your home climate tends
>> towards much greater stability than mine, Eric.
I have suffered though some incredibly unpleasant soggy Summer days in Ohio... so I understand some of what you speak. In actuality, we aren't exactly stable here in the N.M. desert. Winter R.H. is very low... typically 10% or less... Summer humidity can spike into the 90% range in my little agricultural valley. It is ultimately these fluxuations that are hard on instruments and strings. All of the stretching and shrinking of spruce tops can play havoc with mandolino (and lute) bridges that must hold in opposition to the table grain... I've had more than my share of self-removing bridges...
the idea of gut strings gets more and more appealing but i can't see using them outdoors - especially (as in my case) when you compete with anywhere from 10 to 15 or so voices and TOO MANY DRUMS!
i've heard gut strings on the oud; very satisfying, especially on the bass strings. adds a slightly muted, slapping sound to the melody . anyone have any mandolino w/ gut, sound clips on offer?
If you like the original sound, go for gut-strings on your Mandolino, Milanese- Cremonese mandolin (or whatever originally gut-strung ((plucked)) instrument) and take the tuning as it is and comes (which isnīt such a problem, really).
The gut-string sound is simply beautiful and not to compare with nylon on the instruments most of us think here at this topic.
anyone have any mandolino w/ gut, sound clips on offer?
You can hear a short sample from Arrigoni's sonata in e minor at the site of Ensemble Baschenis (http://www.baschenis.com/). You might even consider contacting Giorgio Ferraris, that group's director. I've found him to be a rather cordial, potentially helpful guy.
Another option for mandolino samples:
Go to Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com), search for B00005JSKB (the ASIN for Tragicomedia's Capritio), and check out the first three samples on the resultant page. You will hear Paul O'Dette playing Scarlatti's K. 89 sonata on gut-strung mandolino; granted, he is playing it with a nylon guitar pick...but it's a start!
i'm not having any luck with these sound samples but not to worry - i'm sold on the gut strings anyway. i'm about to be inundated with strings over the next few weeks but come next x-mas ...i'll put my order into santa and see if she delivers.
Try clicking here (http://www.baschenis.com/music/track05.mp3) for Ensemble Baschenis playing Arrigoni (assuming you have some breed of media player in your computer).
eugene - that (arrigoni - ensemble baschenis) was great, thanks!