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Thread: New to the OM

  1. #1
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    Default New to the OM

    Hi All, my first post on this particular board.

    I've been playing mandolin for around 40 years; guitar for longer, and I'm just awaiting delivery of my first OM. I suppose I should have asked this question before I ordered it but would like your opinion on the string options available. It has a 20.25" scale length and is built to take ball end strings.

    Ball ends for an OM seem relatively rare on this side of the pond - maybe the same on the US side? Newtone are based about 20 miles down the road from me so they are one possible option but most of the usual suspects; e.g. d'Addario, seem to limit their OM strings to loop end.

    I know that its possible to remove balls from strings but has anyone tried inserting them?

    The simplest option would be to use guitar singles but they're not easily available in the UK and quite expensive - what do other players do?

  2. #2
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    Living in the US, I purchase bulk single strings by the dozen from JustStrings.com, but the international shipping charge is $40.00 for any size order. (nfi)

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    Default Re: New to the OM

    I seem to remember someone here with an Ovation mandolin (which takes ball ends) slipped a small metal rod through the loops of strings and the string tension held it snug against the bridge.

    If your builder is in your country, perhaps you could use him (or her) as a source for ball end strings.
    Steve

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    Default Re: New to the OM

    Hi All,
    Steve, I have a German mandolin that takes ball end strings on a trapeze tailpiece. When I played it in the 60's & 70's, I did as you suggest w/ a small rod through the loops of standard strings. Ball end strings weren't easily available. Worked well till one broke, then it was easier to change ALL the strings, than replace the broken one. Also, had to re-set the bridge on every string change. Don't play it anymore.
    Lee

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    Default Re: New to the OM

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    Living in the US, I purchase bulk single strings by the dozen from JustStrings.com, but the international shipping charge is $40.00 for any size order. (nfi)
    Looks like 12 sets from Just Strings would cost me $26 + $40 postage. This price would avoid me having to pay tax when they arrive in the UK and the cost per set would still be half that of the d'Addario loop end OM sets!

    Maybe worth considering - thanks.

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    Default Re: New to the OM

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve L View Post
    I seem to remember someone here with an Ovation mandolin (which takes ball ends) slipped a small metal rod through the loops of strings and the string tension held it snug against the bridge.

    If your builder is in your country, perhaps you could use him (or her) as a source for ball end strings.
    I'd thought of using something other than a ball but, just like a grommet, the rod is likely to get lost if a string breaks and the end falls through the hole in the tailpiece (it may be possible to get away with it with a pin bridge).

    The OM was built in the US and, once it arrives, I intend to contact the builder for advice. Just thought I'd come to the experts first!

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    Default Re: New to the OM

    Hi,

    A couple of months ago I put the balls from old guitar strings into the end of looped stings and fixed them slightly with a pincer.
    The strings are still in position on the instrument and everything works fine. At least under certain conditions this appears to be an option.

  8. #8
    Registered User otterly2k's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    I'm sure it can be done, but I'm really wondering if it's worth it, since ball end strings (even singles) are so much more readily available than loops in the first place. I don't think you'd stand to save much, if any, money.

    Also, at 20.25" scale, I'm thinking the OM sets that are available are likely to be too light anyway. They are usually about right for 22-23" scales. You might want go with gauges that are a little heftier. So play with different gauges until you find the ones that are right for your technique and your instrument, then get ball end guitar singles (in bulk if you'd like) and don't fuss with the insertion of balls into loop ends. Better to spend the time playing than dithering with string ends, IMHO
    Karen Escovitz
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    Mandolin Botherer Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    I had an OM with about the same scale length and with ball ended strings like yours Ray. As Karen says, and in my experience also with that scale length, you'll need slightly heavier gauges than with a longer scale OM and these may not be available as a ready-made set. I used to use D'Addario singles bought in the appropriate gauges (if my memory serves they were about .012, .024w, .036w, .048w) from online suppliers like Strings Direct in the UK.
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    I recently picked up a tenor guitar and wanted to string it for GDAE. I had a set of loop end D'addario octave strings that I used 1/2 of for my tenor banjo. Long story short, I slipped a long nail under the bridge where it has been holding them quite nicely.

  11. #11
    Marbhna Luimni Eddie Sheehy's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    Just find out the gauges and buy guitar strings that match...

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    There is no difference in a string made for an OM vs a string made for a guitar, other than most standard OM sets are loop end vs ball. Other than the string termination, they are exactly the same (from a given manufacturer). So a phosphor bronze .040" d'addario made for a guitar is the same string when made for an OM. You are very fortunate to get a tailpiece that accepts ball end strings. You can walk into any music store and buy guitar strings in the proper gages for your OM. Both my 20.5" Jessen OM and my Eastman mandocello take ball ends. I have them strung now in octave courses. Ask the builder what size strings he recommends.

    Here are the guitar string sizes I use on my OM:
    Uppercase following means normal pitch, lower case is octave higher.
    G .048, g .024, D .039, d .020, A .024, a .012, both E's .014.

    Here are the guitar string sizes I use on the 'cello:
    C .066, c .032, G .046, g .020, D .032, d.014, both A's .020.

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    Default Re: New to the OM

    Thanks for the advice everyone. The fist task will be to work out what gauge strings it comes with and whether these are to my liking.

    Having browsed around the web, it looks like d'Addario are one of only companies who actually produce a specific set for OM and these are 12/22/23/46 - which, as people have said, are probably a little light for a short scale instrument. The others are Eagle Music in the UK who have an off the peg set at 12/24/36/48 which they claim to be produced by Newtone. (I have NFI in any of these)

    Richard will appreciate that strings in the UK can be around twice the price of those in the US so its worthwhile shopping around rather than simply buying what may be available. The off the peg loop end d'Addarios start at just under 8 ($12.80) a set with the Eagle/Newtones at 9.25 ($14.80). Making up a custom set of singles starts at around 11 ($17.60) goes up to 23+ ($36.80+) for something like Nanowebs.

    Even with the $40 postage, Jacob's original suggestion seems quite attractive! I assume the strings are half decent?

    Cheers
    Ray

  14. #14
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    I have used bulk strings from JustStrings.com for nine or ten years and have no complaints.
    They have been consistently of the same high quality as that of strings with a brand name.

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    ...but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Sheehy View Post
    Just find out the gauges and buy guitar strings that match...
    To Eddie's words you listen. I have D'Addario guitar singles on my OM 21" (56,39,26,15 - but that's at the heavy end of the spectrum).
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  16. #16
    Different Text eadg145's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    It's probably worth taking a look at strings from emando.com here. You can get either loop or ball end, and international shipping looks to be just +$3.50. I've used their strings on my Mandobird VIII.

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    Default Re: New to the OM

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    I have used bulk strings from JustStrings.com for nine or ten years and have no complaints.
    They have been consistently of the same high quality as that of strings with a brand name.
    +1

  18. #18
    Marbhna Luimni Eddie Sheehy's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    For a 21" scale instrument you might consider the guitar equivalents of a J72 or J76 D'addarion Mandola set...

  19. #19
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to the OM

    I had an Allen tailpiece installed on my OM. It takes loop and ball end strings interchagably. It gives me more options. Many times I've had a mix of each kind on my instrument. It really helped when I was going through some experimentation with stringing the bass courses in octaves.

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