View Full Version : Do Light Gauge Strings Make a Difference

Feb-20-2004, 10:41am
I'm sure this is an idiot question, but I did search first!

I just received a gigantic package of light gauge strings as a gift. I've always (ie., 3 months) used medium gauge. What difference will this make? Will it hurt my mandolin (are certain mandolins only supposed to have certain string weights)?


Feb-20-2004, 10:48am
The lighter gauge strings will probably give you easier playability and maybe more sustain. You may or may not get improved tone, but the downside in my experience has been a decrease in volume.

Feb-20-2004, 11:23am
real real light strings, .09 to .3-something

are for the old classical type or neapolitan (most commonly known as) mandolins.

the .10 to whatever gauge sets, I dont know anything about.

Feb-20-2004, 12:47pm
Thanks. I think that's good. Given the quality of my playing, I think my peers will appreciate the lower volume http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Feb-20-2004, 1:15pm
Yours is not at dumb question at all, furashgf.

The real issue is having the right gauge strings for the particular instrument you are playing. As jeff writes, light-gauge strings are an absolute must for most vintage Neapolitans— new ones, too, although there has been a definite tendency amongst modern luthiers to brace their tops so that they can bear the weight of medium-gauge strings.

So, what instrument are you playing? Also, please bear in mind that many light-gauge strings (as they are made expressly for Neapolitans, with their characteristically short, 13-in. scale) may not work as well on a longer-scale instrument (vis a vis intonation, evenness of tone, etc.)

Many, many possibilities...

Feb-20-2004, 11:57pm
I have a gold tone gm-70. It came with medium gauge strings (i think).

Feb-21-2004, 3:28am
What are the string guages?

Feb-21-2004, 12:28pm
John Pearse - Phosphor Bronze .01, .012, .024w, .036w

Martin Jonas
Feb-22-2004, 8:49am
That's actually slightly heavier gauge than, say, D'Addario lights. I would, in fact, be surprised if your Gold Tone came with medium strings originally, unless you got yours from Folk Of The Woods. Most factory-made mandolins are shipped with light gauge strings in order to give the impression of greater playability at the shop. FOTW (according to their web site) switch them for GHS mediums before shipping the GM-70 out.

I wouldn't expect any difficulties with those strings. They certainly won't harm the mandolin, although you may find that your intonation is slightly out if the setup was optimised for mediums. I'd suggest you put them on and if you don't like them, you can switch back and no harm done.


Feb-22-2004, 8:56am
It won't hurt to try a set and see. Some mandos sound good with light strings and some sound good with heavyer (or monel steel/or silk and steel/or coated strings....)

You might have to adjust the truss rod and if the string slots in the nut are large you might develop a buzz due to the excess space in the slot but it only takes 15 minutes to find out.

Good luck.