View Full Version : Mandolin Strings-

Jan-24-2004, 12:19am
I'm a member of a Mandolin Orchestra in Canada. We have a senior member saying that you can keep strings on a mandolin until they break ! I know better - but - I would like some feedback from forum members . How often should you change strings ? To say until they sound bad is not a good answer . Unfortunately most of our members don't know the difference !!!

John Flynn
Jan-24-2004, 12:54am
To say until they sound bad is not a good answer
Actually that is the best answer. What is the function of mando strings? To make sound. If they sound good, they are good. If they sound bad, they need to be changed.

How often that occurs depends on a lot of things: The type of string (coated vs. uncoated, bronze vs. steel, etc.), how much they are played, the chemistry of the individual player's sweat and hand oils, the humidity, etc. It also depends on the player's preference for the sound he wants. Some people like the sound of brand new strings, others like a more "broken in" sound and others like 'em nearly dead. People change strings anywhere from once a week to never. I would hazard a guess that an average is once every couple of months, but there is no science behind that at all, just a guess based on experience. You will hear some people tell you that certain strings will last through heavy playing for up to a year. IMHO, they, like that senior member of your orchestra, are not listening.

Steven Stone
Jan-24-2004, 10:59am
[To say until they sound bad is not a good answer]

I agree that is the PERFECT answer.

Some mandos need to have their strings changed freqently, while some need them changed rarely. Sometimes the string's harmonics will start to go bad, sometimes the strings will wear funny, sometimes they won't go in tume, sometimes they stop staying in tune.

I have one mando, my Wiens, that still has the set of strings that it arrived with in september. I play it alot and the strings and mando still sound great. I'm thinking of changing the strings just because I can......but there is no reason to change them yet http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jan-25-2004, 1:44am
The D string feels funny when the windings are all smashed down by contact with the frets. then they fall off.
Tension to reach pitch is greater over time, as it seems to me. and then *snap*
Oxygen + Iron + time = Rust

Jan-26-2004, 4:32am
To say that 'when they sound bad is not a good answer' meant that the majority of the orchestra could never tell when their strings sound bad. We have one member who first played the mandolin in 1926 when she was 7 years old. she still plays with us today.
most of our orchestra are seniors. they're a great group of people & we're going to start work on a cd shortly
i appreciate the imput from mandroid & all the others out there. my sincere thanks

Jan-26-2004, 6:57am
My old F-5 hasn't had a string change in a dog's age, it still sounds and plays great. Until that changes for me, no need to change strings.

Jan-27-2004, 1:22pm
Well, I am still on the original strings for the Rigel I bought last April, and I have played it a LOT.

I am having trouble keeping the A and E strings in tune though, so that is pushing me towards a string change. #

Anyone else have trouble with tuning when the strings get old? #Maybe I am just imagining things.


Jan-27-2004, 1:27pm

Yep, that's usually what I notice first too.


JD Cowles
Jan-27-2004, 3:47pm
honestly, i never notice how "bad" my old strings sound until i get up the gumption to change 'em http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

i have noticed that when my A and E strings refuse to stay in tune, it's about time for a change. i don't like the way new strings sound, and prefer the way they sound after a week or so of playing.


John in T-ride
Jan-30-2004, 11:28am
While I might be in the minority here, I will go ahead and say that if you play a while every day you should really change strings every 4-6 weeks or so.It seems that the coated strings will last significantly longer(D'adarrio EXP,Elixer,etc.)but cost about three times as much.On a nice mando the difference between old dead strings and new is significant and worth the effort for intonation and tone!Many professional players change strings very frequently,although they rarely have to actually have to do it themselves.If you start to notice old splashes of beer,chunks of skin and splotches of mustard and ham sandwich stuck to the winding, it might be time.