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Thread: mandolin strings on a mandola?

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    Default mandolin strings on a mandola?

    Sorry if this is asked and answered elsewhere. I've a set of exotic strings for standard 13-inch mandolin which I want to put on a 19-inch mandola. Yes, they are long enough. Should strings and axe survive if I simply tune down a 5th to CGDA?

  2. #2

    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    19” is a long scale for a Mandola. 16” and 17” are more common. Use a tension calculator to see if the mandolin strings at CGDA on a 19” scale would be roughly the same tension as the same gauge strings at GDAE on a 14” scale.
    Strangely enough Mandola strings work great on Octave Mandolins when tune$ to GDAE but I fancy the Mandolin strings will be a little sloppy on the Mandola but should work better if you tune the Mandola up a full step to DAEB. I have an 18” Scale Resonator Mandola using mandolin strings and tuned DAEB.
    Last edited by Dacraw54; Jul-07-2018 at 11:32pm.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    I used to use standard D'Addario J74 for my Gibson tenor lute (which is long scale mandola, 21''). I felt that tension is a bit too high for an old instrument though, so I've ordered a set of custom .0095# - .036 strings from Newtone Strings and I like them a lot.

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  6. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    I have mandolin strings -- light ones at that -- on my 1890's Washburn bowl-back mandola. Main reason is that it's been through the wars, multi-cracked and sunken top, though still playable. I figured that tuned CGDA they'd exert as little tension as possible and still be playable. The "feel" is loose and floppy, but the ol' gal still sounds pretty good.

    You'll find that light, low-tension strings -- they'll still be a bit floppy, even with the longer scale -- won't drive the instrument's top as well as the strings it's built for. I'd give it a try, see how it sounds, how you like the "feel."
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    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hypoxia View Post
    Sorry if this is asked and answered elsewhere. I've a set of exotic strings for standard 13-inch mandolin which I want to put on a 19-inch mandola. Yes, they are long enough. Should strings and axe survive if I simply tune down a 5th to CGDA?
    You could use an online string tension calculator to answer your question:

    http://www.bangzero.org/stringtension/

    You don't mention what the string gauges are or which instrument you have, but just going off the 13" vs 19" scale lengths and using a standard set of D'Addario J74s I get these results:

    len 13"

    E5 .011" PL == 20.4#
    E5 .011" PL == 20.4#
    A4 .015" PL == 16.9#
    A4 .015" PL == 16.9#
    D4 .026" PB == 20.6#
    D4 .026" PB == 20.6#
    G3 .040" PB == 22.19#
    G3 .040" PB == 22.19#
    total == 160.16#

    len 19"

    A4 .011" PL == 19.41#
    A4 .011" PL == 19.41#
    D4 .015" PL == 16.08#
    D4 .015" PL == 16.08#
    G3 .026" PB == 19.6#
    G3 .026" PB == 19.6#
    C3 .040" PB == 21.12#
    C3 .040" PB == 21.12#
    total == 152.4#

    So you see that simply tuning down a 5th on the 19" scale length results in slightly less tension overall.
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  10. #6

    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    Isn't a mandolin scale closer to 14"?

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    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    Yes, but he has mandolin strings for a 13 inch scale. Old bowlbacks used that scale, as did Martin and some other flat tops.

    You are all missing a big issue here. Mandolin strings have 2 solid courses and 2 wound courses. Mandolas are designed for 1 solid course and 3 wound. Since solid and wound intonate differently, the intonation will not be correct if you use mandolin strings on a mandola, assuming the bridge saddle compensation is correct.
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  13. #8

    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    Yes, but he has mandolin strings for a 13 inch scale. Old bowlbacks used that scale, as did Martin and some other flat tops.

    You are all missing a big issue here. Mandolin strings have 2 solid courses and 2 wound courses. Mandolas are designed for 1 solid course and 3 wound. Since solid and wound intonate differently, the intonation will not be correct if you use mandolin strings on a mandola, assuming the bridge saddle compensation is correct.
    See post #2. I regularly play my Resonator Mandola in BG Sessions, TI Mandolin Strings on an 18" Scale tuned DDAAEEBB. Intonation is fine.

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    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    I am not really too familiar with resonator instruments. What sort of compensation is built into your bridge? Have you actually done testing with a tuner to determine intonation?

    I do know that wound and solid strings intonate differently. That is one of the problems with the Trinity College octave mandolin. They put a bridge on there with regular mandolin compensation. The intonation cannot be made right. Even iF you get all the other strings right the A course remains way off. It has to be physically altered to be right. Some folks glue on something, like a piece of ebony or bone, to shorten it. It seems to me using a mandolin set on a mandola would have the same effect.
    Don

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    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    Many thanks to all the above. My ultra-cheap 19-inch Harmonia mandola will be a tenor guitar if I break any more strings. It came with two courses each, wound and plain. If my brain was working, I would look at string gage charts, but I got lazy and asked here. Thanks again!

  17. #11

    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    I am not really too familiar with resonator instruments. What sort of compensation is built into your bridge? Have you actually done testing with a tuner to determine intonation?

    I do know that wound and solid strings intonate differently. That is one of the problems with the Trinity College octave mandolin. They put a bridge on there with regular mandolin compensation. The intonation cannot be made right. Even iF you get all the other strings right the A course remains way off. It has to be physically altered to be right. Some folks glue on something, like a piece of ebony or bone, to shorten it. It seems to me using a mandolin set on a mandola would have the same effect.
    I understand your theory. I'm speaking from my experience. YMMV.

  18. #12

    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dacraw54 View Post
    See post #2. I regularly play my Resonator Mandola in BG Sessions, TI Mandolin Strings on an 18" Scale tuned DDAAEEBB. Intonation is fine.
    Don’t want to steal thread but I just cannot resist - any pictures/video/sound clips available? I was thinking about something like this but did not know if such a thing existed

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    Default Re: mandolin strings on a mandola?

    here
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