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Thread: DR Mandolin String Issues

  1. #1
    Registered User Atlanta Mando Mike's Avatar
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    Default DR Mandolin String Issues

    I know this has been addressed on here. I've even been a part of those threads and at the time thought the issues weren't that widespread. I'm using DR Rare medium gauge mandolin strings and I've been having a lot of issues with the wound strings lately. I change strings a lot. Partially because of how much I gig but also, I've got acidic hands that tend to eat through strings. I'm having a significant amount of the wound strings have the issue where they won't tune up, at all. It seems like its been about a string per set lately. What I mean by that is one string out of the 4 wound strings in a pack seems to be bunk. Sometimes D strings and sometimes G strings. Has anyone else continued to have this issue or noticed it seems to be getting worse? I love the sound of these strings but it's getting ridiculous. I reached out to DR and they said they haven't been getting any comments about this and to send them one that went bad... like I've kept one. I'm not looking for free strings and I think I'm just going to have to change to another brand but figured I ask for other's experiences with this first.

  2. #2
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Not trying to be disrespectful, but are you using a winding technique that "locks the strings " in place? Perhaps you might want to change method...
    I use the lock back with low number of wraps, zero problems on many brands, but I don't use DR.
    Just throwing out an idea.
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    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Hi Mike,

    I started a thread about this very issue. The first set of DR I had was fine, sounded really good indeed. But the second set had a bogus D string that was all over the place, weird and irregular intonation and impossible to tune. Very frustrating and distracting while trying to play. I've never had this happen before. Short story--DR has replaced sets twice so far before I gave up on that brand. ( I used a total of 4 sets with one left. )

    Now I use the Mapes brand. You can't buy them in stores but need to order direct from the manufacturer and they are superb. I've used both the phosphor bronze and the brass sets. They are different and both are very fine. I've commented elsewhere in the Forum about both types. Also they use a proprietary 'Appalachian Moonshine' application that should reduce the wear by acid hands on the wound strings.


    https://www.mapesstrings.com



    Billy


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  4. #4
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    What would cause that? Wrong alloy, or inferior material? I'd think that their internal quality control would eliminate bad ingredients, wouldn't you? Are there any metallurgist in the crowd?
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
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  5. #5
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    I've been using DR MD11's for 3+ years now & i've not had a single string problem. The only problem i've ever had with a mandolin string,was a J74 'G' string,which turned out to be a 'rogue' string. As for a mandolin string not tuning up,i can't imagine how that would happen. Put tension on a string & it'll change it's 'note'. The more tension,the higher the note - unless the string is slipping on the tuner post ?. I have had that happen a few times = my fault,not faulty strings.

    I have 6 or so turns around the string posts on the A & E strings,because the plain wire string need the extra friction. On the G & D strings,i have about 3 turns around the string post,making sure that the string length goes under the previous turn.I also hold each string down in the nut slot while winding on,to make sure that i have the correct angle = the strings aren't digging in & cutting into the nut slots,or riding up out of them. I have no problems at all with strings not tuning up or any intonation problems.

    Maybe try another set of MD11's & take a bit of extra care in fitting them - at least that will elimnate any 'user' problem. If that fails,then a string brand change is maybe on the cards,
    Ivan
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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    I use them for my carved top mandolins and recently have had one D string that went wonky after a bit of use.
    The symptoms were similar to a poorly cut nut or saddle slot, so I re-dressed what looked like a perfect saddle slot under the magnifying glass.
    This appeared to work for a day or so, then the sudden detunig accompanied by a noise began again.
    This time I just swapped out the string set for another set of DR rare. That worked so I examined the set that came off.

    One of the D strings had a ridge beneath the windings that looked like a ripple snaking along the length of about four inches of string near where it intersected the bridge. The windings above the ripple were tight beside the next winding, apart from this ripple there was no uneveness in the surface windings. This ripple beneath the surface was only visible on the underside of the strings, so I couldn’t see it while trying to tune up & figure out what was happening.
    I suspect a layer below may have failed in some way, perhaps the core twisted in the outer windings, but how that could happen to only show on one side I still can’t figure out.
    Eoin



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  9. #7
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    As for a mandolin string not tuning up,i can't imagine how that would happen. Put tension on a string & it'll change it's 'note'. The more tension,the higher the note - unless the string is slipping on the tuner post ?. I have had that happen a few times = my fault,not faulty strings.
    It could also be the loop end starting to fail. I have had this happen on plain strings (not DR), where the factory loop starts to come undone. In some cases, the loop would start to close up and get smaller as tension was applied, and at some point it would stabilize and come up to pitch. In other cases, it just kept slipping and slipping until it was obvious that it was going to come apart, at which point I just removed the offending string.

    I've never had it happen with wound strings, but I suppose it could happen. Generally speaking, most companies put extra winding around that area where the core is wrapped back around itself, making it a pretty sturdy eye splice. But like any mechanized process, things can go wrong with it. And if it's hidden by outer wraps, it would be very difficult to diagnose. One would just never be able to bring one's string up to pitch.

    This is probably why the company wants the failing string back. They want to see what happened and correct it. If it's not obviously slipping at the tuner post, and not failing along its length, then it's got to be the loop splice.
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  10. #8
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    I'm not a string maker, but my thought is that the winding/wrapping on the string is slipping on the core. That could cause the symptom Mike describes. The tuner is twisting the winding but the core is not going along.

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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Yeah Dale I thought the same thing. A problem with the machine doing the winding or with the alloy allowing for a tensile strength "problem / variance / instability secondly ... but that is a reach. I have used DR strings and had no problems on both guitar and mandolin. They are a reputable manufacturer. If after checking your instrument and string winding technique you determine with surety that it is / was the string get in touch with DR and tell them ..... they want your business. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  13. #10
    Registered User Atlanta Mando Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    I think I wasn't being clear in describing the issue. I can get the string up to tension but the tuning is wrong down the fretboard. Farther down you go, the worse it is. In general, the string sounds wrong and the tuning is never exactly right, even open. When I run into one of these problem strings I'm unable to get the 2 strings perfectly in tune open, then it goes wonky the farther down you go. Below the 12th fret and we are a quarter tone off or more. Put on a new string where the problem was and it goes away.

    I appreciate the comments about not stringing correctly but that's not the case. I've been stringing instruments for 25 years and have never had this issue. I've never had this issue with other strings I've used in the last few years, D'Addarrio, GHS, ect... But have been having this issue with DR off and on for a bit.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Either way, seems few people are having the issue. I'm just going to move on. Thanks for the replies everyone.

  14. #11
    Registered User Atlanta Mando Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    And Billy Packard, I've ordered some Mapes to give those a try. Thanks for the tip.

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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    I experienced the exact same thing as Mando Mike with a set of DR strings. It was very strange. Maybe I did something wrong, but I had never experienced it before and have not since. I have used three sets of DR strings and only had the issue with one set (one of the D strings). After reading about people having similar problems on this forum I switched back to either D'addario or GHS.

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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Mike, I believe GHS makes a nickel acoustic mandolin string which should help with the acidity problem.

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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevo75 View Post
    Mike, I believe GHS makes a nickel acoustic mandolin string which should help with the acidity problem.
    Yes, GHS has come out with a new string. It is a pure nickel in two gauges. 10.5-39 and 11-41. If I remember they are N260 and N270
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  20. #15
    Registered User Atlanta Mando Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    How are the nickel stings compared to Phos Bronze? Tone, feel, etc...

  21. #16
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    I have never tried them.

  22. #17
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Atlanta Mando Mike View Post
    How are the nickel stings compared to Phos Bronze? Tone, feel, etc...
    Actually, very similar in feel and sound to my fingers and ears. I like them in general. Nothing very different to me. Maybe seem to last a little longer?? YMMV
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  23. #18
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Mike, check out my observations of both the phosphor bronze and brass on annotate thread.

    Billy

    ps I don't know how to link you or I would...
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  24. #19
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Mike - That was the problem that i had with the J74 'G' string. Open it was fine,but as soon as i fretted it at 'any' fret,it was wrong. It could just be a rogue string.

    From Mike - "..I've been stringing instruments for 25 years..". Point taken Mike,but i'd bet that like me,you've seen some lousy stringing in that 25 years, done by experienced musicians.

    Whatever you need to do to get the mandolin back to 100% is fine - that's the main objective,NOT the brand of string required to do it,
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  25. #20
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Thanks for posting this, Mike. I've been thinking of trying some of these, but may not unless we get wind of whatever this issue is getting addressed, unless I find some locally (no one I've found around here carries anything but D'Addairio, Martin, and Elixir in mandolin strings...
    Chuck

  26. #21
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    I had the exact same problem with DR strings that Mike described, I will not use them again. DR reps should be at the IBMA vendor hall this week, I am sure they would be interested in feedback.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  27. #22
    Registered User George R. Lane's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    Thanks for posting this, Mike. I've been thinking of trying some of these, but may not unless we get wind of whatever this issue is getting addressed, unless I find some locally (no one I've found around here carries anything but D'Addairio, Martin, and Elixir in mandolin strings...

    Chuck,
    Check out Mapes strings; https://www.mapesstrings.com/product/mandolin-strings/

    I used to put GHS A270's on my Yellowstone, but I find the Mapes PB strings to settle in quicker and a more even tone across all the strings. They are only $5.00 a set and you can custom build a set to your preferences.
    Last edited by George R. Lane; Sep-27-2017 at 9:42am.
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  28. #23
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Ivan, I'm glad you haven't had any defective strings from DR but I don't understand your unwillingness to accept that there are ongoing problems with the brand's wound strings.

    My issues had nothing to do with installing them but rather the fact they were defective. Not every time but certainly more often than should be and more than I'm willing to deal with. You'll remember I liked the first set very much but from then on it was hit or miss.

    Billy
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  29. #24
    Natural Born Tar Heel Perilous Deep's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Atlanta Mando Mike View Post
    How are the nickel stings compared to Phos Bronze? Tone, feel, etc...
    I believe the GHS Nickel strings, like the d'Addario Nickel Bronze, have plain steel strings for the A and E courses. As a fellow traveler on the corrosive skin chemistry wagon, I've found that those strings lose their feel pretty quickly.
    "Pick it solid, boys." -Claude Debussy

  30. #25
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: DR Mandolin String Issues

    From Billy - "..that there are ongoing problems with the brand's wound strings.". Billy - i agree that there might be some problems,but folks on here have posted similar problems with other makes of string. In over 3 years,i've not had one single bad string from DR,so why should i think that there's a problem other than an occassional one ?. I've had one bad string since playing mandolin 13 years ago - from D'Addario. It didn't prevent me from using them again until i found DR strings.

    In the 3 + years i've been using DR strings,i must have used close to 20 sets ( i swap strings every 4 months or so),& as i say,not a single bad string.

    I think that if any user of DR strings has a bad string,they should remove it,e-mail DR & send the string(s) to DR so that they can inspect it (them) to see what's going on.

    If i found a bad string in a set of DR's i'd accept it the same way that i accepted the dud D'Addario string. However,if it became a continual problem,i'd follow my own advice & send the string(s) back to DR,
    Ivan
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