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Thread: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

  1. #1
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    Default Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Has anyone tried any of the Tomastik strings on a Loar grade F5? I say Loar grade to encompass many of the modern high grade replicas. Iíve typically used DíAddario J74ís on my Derrington MM and DMM but recently bought a nice teens F4 at a local auction that came with a very old set of Tomastic medium strings. The sound and playability is amazing! The regular phosphor bronze or the new nickel plated strings usually only last about six weeks maximum so if the Tomastikís last longer Iím all for it. Also the flat windings are very easy on the fingers and I have big calluses.

    I understand that to install these on an F5 replica is not historically correct but am curious on otherís thoughts. Iím not interested in other string options, I know the Tomastik strings are at the top of the food price chain but if they sound good, play easily and are long lasting Iím okay with that.

    Sorry if this has been covered already. I searched the archives without finding a previous thread. Let me know if I just missed it.

    Again, letís please keep the discussion on Tomastik strings.

    Thanks,
    Mark
    Mark Lynch

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Hi Mark - 'Which' brand of strings will bring out the best in 'your' mandolin,will most likley be different than the ones that bring out the best in the mandolins of others - or maybe not - you need to try them in order to find out.

    'Thomastik' strings are deemed to be excellent -but !, they won't suit all mandolins. A friend of mine has a very fine Heiden "A" style onto which he fitted Thomastik strings when he first got it. The strings simply didn't suit it. They were far too light for it & the mandolin was very underpowered. He changed to J74's (now EJ74's) & it was very much better. Later on,he changed over to DR MD11's & again,that was a big improvement.

    All you can do is to experiment with strings & picks as well,they can have a big effect on the 'sound' of a mandolin. With the 'right' strings & the 'right' pick,you can find yourself in the posession of a mandolin you never thought you had - i know,i've done it,
    Ivan
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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    If you do try the Thomastik strings, keep in mind that they will sound very different when their newly installed, as opposed to when it been on for a while. They take a couple weeks to break in, but once they do they will maintain that same tone for a year or more, depending on how often you play. I used Thomastik for many years and usually had the same set installed for 1 to 1-1/2 years.
    However, as the previous poster mentioned, they are particular about what mandolins they work well on. Donít let the cost deter you either. The cost is not that great when you only change them every year or two.
    Also, donít worry about being period correct. Itís all about how it sounds today. If you like them then use them.

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Hello Mark,

    I highly recommend you give them a try and let them settle in, as Larry (Mandobassman) recommends. I have tried lots of strings over the years and they are all I use anymore. I even bought a mandolin specifically designed for them as my main player (Phoenix Neoclassical).

    On that F4, you might want to go with 154ST ('Stark' or Heavy) which are still pretty light. Mediums (154M or Mittle) are more like lights from other brands. They might not be heavy enough. Then again, until you try them, it is hard to know what will work best for you. By all means, though, I'd give them a try.

    Please let us know how they turn out for you.

    Best wishes,

    Bob
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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    I love the T-I Heavy set on my 1920 A3. I've had j74s on her too, but prefer the T-I's. I've put the Heavy set on my Muth, which is the more typical carved-top A5, red-spruce, maple mandolin. They didn't last as long on the Muth. For it, I'm now using the EXP74CM set.

    Thomastics (Heavy) stay on my Cohen, which is redwood and walnut - also carved top, f-hole (a-model).

    I don't understand the T-I mediums unless you are on a flat-top or classical box. Heck, even the Heavy set are lighter than "74s!"

    f-d
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    I am not at all a fan of T-I strings on most of my mandolins (Gibson, Flatiron and various vintage American and Italian bowlbacks) with the one exception of my 1920s Washburn Professional Style A. For some reason that this the best string for that mandolin. Years ago I tried them on my Gibson and took them off after settling in and playing for awhile. I prefer a brighter tone in general. I am trying put D'Addario Nickel Bronze on most of the ones I currently play. It IS a matter of taste and what sounds good to you.
    Jim

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    I put a set of TIs on my old Kentucky A-style (my first mandolin). They were very expensive and made my mandolin sound like it had been wrapped in plastic or had a blanket thrown over it. Not a fan.
    ...

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    And don't forget that for best intonation you'll have to change the saddle which is intonated for plain a's while TI's have wound a strings....
    Adrian

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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Thomastics are different, and it is a matter of suck it and see, because different mandolins will like Thomastics while others don't, but it is a fairly expensive suck it and see. My Lyon and Healy reproductions do like Thomastics, they seem to sound sweeter with them, while I don't like them on my other mandolins.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    And don't forget that for best intonation you'll have to change the saddle which is intonated for plain a's while TI's have wound a strings....
    Not necessarily true. I used them for years and never had to adjust anything. Remember that the TI A string has a thinner core and adding the winding makes it very close to the same diameter as a unwound A string. Not saying that he won't have to, it just depends on the mandolin.
    Larry Hunsberger

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  17. #11
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by peter.coombe View Post
    Thomastics are different, and it is a matter of suck it and see, because different mandolins will like Thomastics while others don't, but it is a fairly expensive suck it and see. My Lyon and Healy reproductions do like Thomastics, they seem to sound sweeter with them, while I don't like them on my other mandolins.
    You may also want to consider trying a less expensive alternative, which would be the D'Addario EFW-74 set. They are also flatwound, although they use a plain A string. They are very good as well and give you a very similar feel. They're a tad brighter than Thomastik but many people like that. I've been using them for quite a while now and like them a lot.
    Larry Hunsberger

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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Hello Mark,

    I highly recommend you give them a try and let them settle in, as Larry (Mandobassman) recommends. I have tried lots of strings over the years and they are all I use anymore. I even bought a mandolin specifically designed for them as my main player (Phoenix Neoclassical).

    On that F4, you might want to go with 154ST ('Stark' or Heavy) which are still pretty light. Mediums (154M or Mittle) are more like lights from other brands. They might not be heavy enough. Then again, until you try them, it is hard to know what will work best for you. By all means, though, I'd give them a try.

    Please let us know how they turn out for you.

    Best wishes,

    Bob
    Bob, I have to hear that Neoclassical sometime. It's one of the instruments that is very high on my wish list. Never had a chance to play one.
    Larry Hunsberger

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandobassman View Post
    Bob, I have to hear that Neoclassical sometime. It's one of the instruments that is very high on my wish list. Never had a chance to play one.
    Hi Larry. We've really got to find the time to get together. I'm coming to the end of harvest season and have a couple more fermentations to go, then things slow down a bit. Let's PM in a few weeks to see if we can find a time. Sunday afternoons are probably best for me, if that works for you.

    Best wishes,

    Bob
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Larry's spot on. It was exactly the same with the D'Addario FT74's i used to use. They had wound "A" strings,but using a smaller core,the wound strings were the same diameter as the plain strings .015". I've gone up & down in string gauges a few times trying things out, & i've never had to change anything but the strings.

    The heaviest TI strings are still fairly light,& for that reason,they won't suit all mandolins. Even my friend's lightweight Heiden "A" didn't respond to them - but try them out,it's the only way that you'll ever really find out,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    I hate to dispute anyone's actual experience. Some folks say that they make big changes in string gauge and didn't have any intonation changes. Maybe the intonation was sharp before and the new string makes it just right, or something like that. That would be reasonable. Changing from a plain .015 A to a wound A with a .008 core will change things. Witness the change of electric guitar saddles when plain G strings became popular. The old saddles sounded awful (to many people). I enjoyed the TI heavy gauge after I cut a new saddle that had roughly the same compensation on the A strings as on the Es. I ended up meandering over to DR and finally back to D'Addarrio.
    There are certainly other factors that affect intonation:nut height, bridge placement, saddle height, string age, fretting pressure from the left hand and probably more I don't know about.
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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocaster View Post
    There are certainly other factors that affect intonation:nut height, bridge placement, saddle height, string age, fretting pressure from the left hand and probably more I don't know about.
    But the number one is always thickness of the core. I don't use TI strings but had few mandolins with them for refret and setup and a's were always low at 12th fret and above. If you play to 7th or 9th fret intonation is still OK but above its not good for my ears.
    Adrian

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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    From mandocaster - "Maybe the intonation was sharp before....etc.". Maybe it wasn't !. I think that most of us know what a # or b note sounds like. Personally, i've used FT74's / J74's / J75's / DR MD11's & DR MD12's on my mandolins, & i've never had to change a single thing.
    Quote - " Changing from a plain .015 A to a wound A with a .008 core will change things ". If the overall diameter of the string is still the same ie. .015" is still the same, why should it ?. I'd agree that there would be a tonal difference,but re.the intonation - the way the mandolin strings note - why should it be different ?.

    Disputing other folk's experience is fine - as long as you're not implying that we're all ''hearing impaired'' or some such. As we know,all mandolins are different,& 'some' may indeed need a bridge mod. or 'whatever' - mine didn't,& apparently,neither did Larry Hunsberger's. After 50+ years of playing banjo,guitar & now mandolin - i reckon that i can pick up on incorrect intonation pretty well. If my mandolins had sounded 'off',i'd have done something,but they didn't,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Thomastic and D'Addario FT74 strings do require different compensation on the A string at the bridge. I use FT74 on all my mandolins except the Lyon and Healy reproductions where I use Thomastics, and I cut the compensation on the saddle myself for perfect intonation at the 12th fret. "Normal" compensation designed for a plain steel A string will make the 12th fret sound flat with the wound A strings of FT74 and Thomastics. The wound A's have a thinner core, and that is why you need to sharpen the compensation. The same saddle works fine for both FT74 and Thomastics, but if a customer wants to use a plain steel A string I supply a different saddle with "normal" compensation. For some the slightly flat A string does not bother them, others can't stand it. I am the latter.
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    I have a friend who uses Thomastiks on his Prucha, a good-quality F-5. I haven't heard the instrument with D'addario's, so I don't know if it natually sounds like an old Gibson, but it sounds amazing with the Thomastiks.
    When I build mandolins specifically for Thomastiks, I build them so they would be a bit brighter and so they will be as loud as possible, because I find the Thomastiks tend to tone down both volume and brightness. Here's #26 -- way too brash/harsh with D'addario's, but it was intended to be fitted with Thomastiks. The difference is pretty obvious.

    With Thomastiks:


    With D'addario J72's:
    martinjacobson.com - Jacobson mandolins

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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocaster View Post
    I hate to dispute anyone's actual experience. Some folks say that they make big changes in string gauge and didn't have any intonation changes. Maybe the intonation was sharp before and the new string makes it just right, or something like that. That would be reasonable. Changing from a plain .015 A to a wound A with a .008 core will change things. Witness the change of electric guitar saddles when plain G strings became popular. The old saddles sounded awful (to many people). I enjoyed the TI heavy gauge after I cut a new saddle that had roughly the same compensation on the A strings as on the Es. I ended up meandering over to DR and finally back to D'Addarrio.
    There are certainly other factors that affect intonation:nut height, bridge placement, saddle height, string age, fretting pressure from the left hand and probably more I don't know about.

    Thanks for everyone’s input! I’ve ordered a set of medium and a set of heavy Thomastiks for trial on my Derrington DMM.

    In Gibson’s Catalog “I” there is description of the bridge and it’s compensation, there is specific mention of the need for different compensation when using plain or wound A Strings. At the time the fixed bridge used insertable string saddles so the compensation could be adjusted by the user. This feature was obviously dropped from the newer bridges.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Mark Lynch

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    Registered User Stephen Cagle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    I DID NOT READ ALL THE POST ON THIS SUBJECT BECAUSE I'M AT WORK AND SO I JUGGLE WORK AND PLAY (ALL DAY)
    I HAVE A FRIEND OF MINE THAT HAS A FLATIRON, ONE OF THE EARLY ONE'S AND ITS A GREAT SOUNDING F5. IT'S LIKE AN 89' OR 90' MODEL. HE ONLY USES TOMASTIK'S ON IT AND IT SOUNDS AWESOME. TO USE THESE STRINGS IN A BLUEGRASS SETTING I HONESTLY BELIEVE YOU NEED TO AT THE VERY LEAST START WITH A HOSS OF A MANDOLIN. THEY SOUND GREAT AND FEEL GREAT BUT TO GET ANY VOLUME YOU REALLY NEED A REALLY GOOD QUALITY MANDOLIN. A MANDOLIN THAT CAN PRODUCE A GOOD AMOUNT OF VOLUME NO MATTER WHAT TYPE OF STRING. AT FESTIVALS HE CAN CHOP THE OL' FLATIRON AND YOU CAN HEAR IT A MILE AWAY.

  30. #22

    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Read it a mile away, too! LOL

    I used mittles TIs on my fern playing bluegrass for five years.

    The volume is almost that of phos bronze.

    Mic'd....no difference.

    Makes the instrument play like a fretless wonder.

    Otoh, imho, with an addy top, not enough energy.
    Starks, barely.

    Once your ears grow accustomed to the difference, i think they're great.

    Nothing plays as effortlessly.
    With mittels, btw, i dont recalll intonation adjustment being needed.

  31. #23
    Registered User mtucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tomastik Strings on a Loar F5 Grade Instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    When I build mandolins specifically for Thomastiks, I build them so they would be a bit brighter and so they will be as loud as possible, because I find the Thomastiks tend to tone down both volume and brightness.
    What Marty says. I think you end up with a more even and more refined tone perhaps, but the clear tradeoff is brightness (particularly the mids), volume, decay, ring and maybe sustain.

    Depending on your taste and choice of music, there's clearly a fit for them, but I think it's in a narrower range of styles.

    Believe they do last longer maybe by several months, but some of your thinking tends to get cluttered by the fact that when the strings begin to go south, it's way more subtle than say a set of J74 D'addario's and you tend to think they last way longer but I usually don't notice the change until my instrument is almost dead anyways, so who am I to judge...

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