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Thread: warmer strings?

  1. #1

    Default warmer strings?

    Been shredding on my new mando, having a blast, working out solos and chord voicings for a bunch of my favorites.

    Been noticing, though, that while the low strings have a balanced sound, the high strings are a little shrill. Not a terrible sound, but it would nice to dial it back a little.

    Does anyone make relatively warmer-sounding strings?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: warmer strings?

    What are you using now?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Mandolin strings come in different varieties. 80/20 bronze, some say sounds brighter, phosphor bronze mellower. But this only affects the wound strings. In most cases, all mandolin sets have basically the same A and E strings, solid steel. So it doesn't solve your problem. The same goes for monel sets. The only exception I can think of is Thomastik flat wound strings. They have a wound A course rather than solid. Of course they are 50 dollars a set, but they last a long time, or so I've heard.

    Going to a heavier gauge sometimes is ads to a rounder, more pleasing tone, but would require tweaking the set up.
    Don

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  5. #4
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    I think that's the nature of the mandolin, at least to some extent, especially on the E course. Some mandolins seem to have better E strings than others though. I have found that pick choice can make a big difference (more so than strings, although I haven't tried the Tomastiks). I like the Pro Plec and the Wegen 140 for a warmer, darker tone.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: warmer strings?

    I have read on here countless times that plain steel strings are all the same and nearly all come from the same manufacturer regardless of what brand they are packaged with. That would leave you to experiment with gauges or flatwound strings where you could get a wound A string.

    I restrung my brother's guitar for him with Daddario EXP stings and noticed in their advertising that the plain stings (and the cores of the wound strings) were made from a proprietary "New York High Carbon Steel". I thought the sound was more balanced moving from the wound strings to the temperamental B string.

    I generally use Daddario EJ74 or EJ75 and last year I tried the new nickel bronze from Daddario. The NB sets also come with these special plain steel NY high carbon. I think I can notice a difference and would be interested if anyone else has noticed anything. They seem to not quite have the harshness for me.

    I don't know what or if there is a difference and I just put a new set of EJ 75's on my Northfield. I do have a set of the heavy NB to try next. If you want to experiment: http://www.stringsandbeyond.com/dnyhicastsit.html
    Last edited by Milky2390; Jun-01-2017 at 10:20pm.

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  9. #6
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    The DiAdario EFT 74 has a wound a string, phos/bronze and it sounds great on my mandos, very complex compared to the regular plain steel a.
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  11. #7
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    I just switched to the Curt Mangan Bluegrass set (from J74's) and am very pleased with them, less shrill and more warmth.
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  13. #8
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    A lot depends on how 'your' mandolin reacts to any particular set of strings. GHS A270's sound superb on my Ellis,but the .016" 'A' strings didn't suit my Weber at all. I tried a set of Black Diamond strings on my Weber "Fern" after a Cafe member remarked how good they sounded on his Weber "Fern" - i think that they were on it for a 1/2 hour at the most - they were a tonal disaster on mine.

    All we can do (as most of us do) is to try different sets of strings brands / gauges & use a selection of different picks to see which combo. works best on our individual mandolins,
    Ivan
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  15. #9

    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Thanks! Looks like I have a bunch of things to try. The fun never stops!

  16. #10
    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Hi Charlie,

    I use Thomastic Mittles and they give me the warm sound I am after. As for picks, I find the Snark Teddy's Neotortoise 1.07mm to be too warm with the Thomastics, so they might work for you. For me, the Snark Sigmond Freud's celluloids 0.88mm (where did they come up with these names?!) are just right. These are my good, cheap, go-to picks right now. Send me a PM and I'll send you one each of these to try. They might mellow your current strings just enough.

    Best wishes,

    Bob
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  18. #11
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Ivan is right Charlie ...... you will have to "listen" around. Each player has a tone they are looking to hear and a touch they are looking to feel on their instrument from a given set of strings. As all ears and mandolins are different and players have different expectations a thorough search of brands and gauges is in order. You might try a slightly heavier gauge on the E and A strings to dampen the shrill with a bit more mass....... try a set with a .115 E string. Enjoy the search... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  20. #12
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    I find that the Dunlop Primetone 1.3 mm Rounded picks give me a mellower tone than other picks I've tried. Nicely balanced though. Good picks.
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
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  22. #13
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    When I used thinner picks the A, E string tended to sound more shrill. Also, as my instruments and playing have improved, the shrill sound is not longer a problem. So what caused the problem? Not sure, but maybe a combination of all. I have been using a thin guitar pick to play tremolo for our faith band at church and the A and E sound thinner, but not the shrill I can remember from the past. My guess is most of the culprit was my poor playing. I am not assuming that is your case, just sharing my experience.
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  24. #14
    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    GHS Silk & Bronze
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  26. #15
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Pick material makes a big difference too. For me, the Wegan picks seem to be very bright but the Dawg picks are the darkest mandolin pick I have tried... The Primetone are in the middle...
    YMMV
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  28. #16
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by guidoStow View Post
    Pick material makes a big difference too. For me, the Wegan picks seem to be very bright but the Dawg picks are the darkest mandolin pick I have tried... The Primetone are in the middle...YMMV
    The bevel, or lack thereof, makes a big difference as well, as the degree of one brightens the sound while its absence renders a much darker tone in my experience.
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  30. #17

    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by red7flag View Post
    When I used thinner picks the A, E string tended to sound more shrill. Also, as my instruments and playing have improved, the shrill sound is not longer a problem. So what caused the problem? Not sure, but maybe a combination of all. I have been using a thin guitar pick to play tremolo for our faith band at church and the A and E sound thinner, but not the shrill I can remember from the past. My guess is most of the culprit was my poor playing. I am not assuming that is your case, just sharing my experience.
    Actually, it could easily me. I still don't have the hang of it. Getting better, but still not good.

    So this is good news. It means the more I play it, the better it'll sound.

  31. #18

    Default Re: warmer strings?

    I tried EXP77 80/20 bronze strings from D'Addario for the first time but the jury is still out.

    It's that time of the year again when I open Marilynn Mair's "The Complete Mandolinist" and try to get past the first chapter - again. She says:

    1. "A pointed pick will ultimately give you a much broader range of tone color as you develop your right-hand technique to create sounds from bright to dark."

    2. "Your goal is to have a pick that is heavy enough to move your strings with enough force to set the body of your instrument in motion (because the body of your instrument gives the note its tone color) while retaining enough flexibility so the pick can give slightly on contact with the string to soften impact."

    ... Which indicates the pick may have more to do with tone (warmth) than the strings.

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  33. #19

    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Eastman md515 - ghs silk & Bronze
    Eastman md815v - ghs silk & stainless steel

    Nice soft woody tone without any noticeable loss of volume.

    Payton

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  35. #20

    Default Re: warmer strings?

    for warmer strings a hair dryer or electric blanket will work if used carefully. A space heater would be too much.

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  37. #21
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Milky2390 View Post

    I restrung my brother's guitar for him with Daddario EXP stings and noticed in their advertising that the plain stings (and the cores of the wound strings) were made from a proprietary "New York High Carbon Steel". I thought the sound was more balanced moving from the wound strings to the temperamental B string.

    I generally use Daddario EJ74 or EJ75 and last year I tried the new nickel bronze from Daddario. The NB sets also come with these special plain steel NY high carbon. I think I can notice a difference and would be interested if anyone else has noticed anything. They seem to not quite have the harshness for me.
    Interesting you should say that. I had a similar experience with the new nickle-bronze from D'Addario on my guitar. The plain steel B string sounded much less harsh than most of my usual sets. What you've just said may be the reason why.
    Chris Cravens

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  39. #22

    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    for warmer strings a hair dryer or electric blanket will work if used carefully. A space heater would be too much.
    Or it might be the excuse I've been looking for for moving to Texas.

  40. #23
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    for warmer strings a hair dryer or electric blanket will work if used carefully. A space heater would be too much.
    Or , play faster with lots of double stop slides
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  42. #24
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    Default Re: warmer strings?

    Years ago when I was starting out, my instructor pointed out to me I was fretting the A or E strings at an angle and not pressing down evenly on these double courses, thus stretching one string of the pair more than the other. So when the A or E courses were played open they sounded in tune and not shrill, but when fretted they were slightly out of tune with each other and sounded shrill. Left hand technique, along with string selection and pick choice adds to the possible variables. This is not to suggest that this is your problem (you may be a very accomplished player) but just to present another reason strings sound shrill.

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  44. #25

    Default Re: warmer strings?

    All good! Some good news: Bob (above) sent me a couple of Snark picks, and they're making a big difference. I'll be trying new strings soon.

    Thanks, everyone!

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