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Thread: Why you need to change your strings?

  1. #1
    Registered User Narayan Kersak's Avatar
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    Default Why you need to change your strings?

    https://youtu.be/MFitCkvRTvY

    I'm always on the fence about doing this. I start to like the mellow sound. But the volume does significantly increase. It distorted the sound a bit with the new strings from the volume increase, at least that was my perception.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    I don't like the sound of brand new strings. I like them about two weeks after changing them. I keep them until till the sound gets muddy and dull, which is sometimes hard to tell, but usually occurs sometime after about 15 weeks.
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    Registered User Narayan Kersak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    I agree. If only we could keep the volume with the mellowness! Well...Actually I do like the A and E strings new, but the G and the D, are better a bit older.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    From Narayan - " If only we could keep the volume with the mellowness.." That's exactly what i got when i put the very first set of DR MD11 strings on my Weber "Fern" - after 6 months !. the DR's lasted so long & sounded so good,i just left them on for months. 6 to 8 months in,& my Weber never sounded so good. The strings were well balanced bass to treble & all the volume was still there. I only removed them because the strings behind the bridge where my hand touches them, had turned an awful blackish colour. But they still sounded terrific,
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Im envious... I don't know how you guys can keep strings that long without the intonation going bad.

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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by jshane View Post
    Im envious... I don't know how you guys can keep strings that long without the intonation going bad.
    That's also when I change--the tone is more like I want on an older string, the slight dip in volume doesn't bother me but before they sound "dead" they won't tune, that's when I have to change.

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    It's a matter of chemistry and playing style. If I don't change my strings after 2 months, they either...
    #1 - go dull from contact corrosion in the wound strings, and I like them bright and crisp and new, or...
    #2 - break at the saddle slots while being played at top volume due to metal fatigue, and I hate to restring during a session.

    (Usually, #2 happens before #1, that's how I arrived at the 2 months schedule.)

    The man in the video may have a different body chemistry and/or play his instrument only every other day, softly.

    Restringing is much less of a hassle after you've done it, say, 100 times, and takes less time than thinking on how to avoid it. The cost of strings is not really what breaks the bank either.
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    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    If I get a month of playing out of a set, I feel lucky. My hands get very sweaty when playing, which corrodes the heck out of strings. I carry an old baby blanket in each of my cases, which rests on my lap during playing sessions so I can wipe down the neck and strings periodically AND dry my hands. People who get three months are blessed!
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    I agree with Ivan when referring to DR strings. As a longtime bass player it is DR Strings or nothing. They just last much longer than the rest.When I get through my present stash of mandolin strings I will be changing over on my Weber

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    The man in the video may have a different body chemistry and/or play his instrument only every other day, softly.
    I think that Narayan, the OP, is the man in the video.

    I have been using Monels or D'Addario NB strings lately and get that older string tone (lass brashness) at the outset after changing. I don't have problems with body chemistry but I prefer the tone overall and they do last quite awhile.

    As for intonation, I would think a longer scale OM would have less noticeable problems than a shorter scale mandolin.
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    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    I've needed to change my strings for several weeks, but I've not yet made the time until this morning.

    Whilst waiting for the repair guy (doesn't matter which one, they are always late), I changed my strings and gave the Gibson a good cleaning and once over.

    As always, I install the strings, stretch them a bit, tune again, then a final stretching. I know they're ok if I can practice for 15 minutes, put it back in the case, and it comes out sounding the same.

    Yes, new strings are always a bit bright to me, too many overtones or something. But either the strings change in a couple of days, or I get used to them.

    The only time I've ever regretted changing strings was the time I changed them the morning before playing an outdoor gig in the summer heat. The mandolin just would not settle down, and the fact that I was sweating buckets probably didn't help either. Live and learn.
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    I agree. If only we could keep the volume with the mellowness! Well...Actually I do like the A and E strings new, but the G and the D, are better a bit older.
    I wonder if you might like flatwound strings such as the EFW74's from D'Addario. They give you the new trebles you like with the mellowed D and G courses you're after right out of the package.
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Playing time would seem to me the biggest factor I'm lucky if I get 25hrs to 30hrs a month of playing time split between 2 mandos so strings last me a for months. I'm sure some guys here play a hell of lot more hrs a month than that so obviously the strings are gonna only last so many hrs. To the guys burning through a set a month about how many hrs of playing time is that ? The brands I've tried all seem to last for at least 150-200 hrs for me that's 6-9 months of string life.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    The exact sound I like, are J74s three weeks in. That is exactly what I like. Week three to week 10 I am in heaven.
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    Registered User gspiess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Studio drummers routinely have "selections" of different cymbals that vary in brightness depending on the genre of music. A lot of jazz players will use "pre-aged" sets that have a little more zinc in the alloy, as well as specific hammering patterns to take out the high end. I'm surprised that string manufacturers haven't offered an alloy that tones down the brightness right off the bat.
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Well ..... I like the sound of a fresh set of strings .... however ... some strings need a settle in period and that period can vary from player to player .... DR makes a quality product ... but ... it is too bright out of the package for my taste .... two weeks in they sound great to my ear .. D' Addario sound good out of the box but only last about two months for me .... again a quality product ... just not the best for me ... sooooo I search with each mandolin for the best combination of tone and longevity for that instrument ... manufacturer ,. gauge . material ... all have an impact ..... Have you tried a white bronze or monel material string? R/
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    Registered User Narayan Kersak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    ..... Have you tried a white bronze or monel material string? R/
    No... any recommendations?? In Mandola gauges?
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Mandola ... no don't think so ... R /
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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    I change strings when I can't keep the mandolin in tune for longer than a few strokes (provided I'm not sitting next to someone who never tunes, of course) or when they look like someone poured acid on them. I don't have a lot of problems with them sounding bright right away -- although i, too, prefer a mellower/darker sound when I'm playing. fwiw
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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    I'm a fan of frequent string changes on my mandolin, both for tone and to stay ahead of intonation issues. Usually about every 3-4 weeks.

    That said, I think the video might be more relevant to the different pitch and timbre of an OM, especially a carved archtop OM like that (mine is similar, but with F-holes).

    What you hear on an instrument like this is a combination of a "chime" sound from the upper string frequencies and a deeper "chorrnng" sound from the body resonance. It's not an innately bright-sounding instrument like a bouzouki or an OM built along bouzouki lines. Carved archtop OMs, especially the Big Gibson types, have a darker sound by nature. So I think they're helped more by keeping the strings fairly fresh for that "chime" on top of the body tone.

    YMMV, maybe some people prefer that darker/duller tone. But if you're playing with others in a band or session with an OM, it helps to have those upper frequencies to cut through the mix. I think one reason why bouzoukis are popular for accompaniment is that the brighter sound doesn't get lost as easily in a big session.

    It's almost the opposite of how some people approach the tone on mandolins, where you may not want a tone that's too bright or brittle. Some people get there by just leaving the strings a long time before changing. Personally, I like using slightly warmer-toned strings on my mandolin (GHS Silk and Bronze), and then I change them often enough to avoid intonation problems.

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    Registered User Narayan Kersak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    I'm a fan of frequent string changes on my mandolin, both for tone and to stay ahead of intonation issues. Usually about every 3-4 weeks.
    I'm starting to wonder if I'm tone deaf, or have some weird mandolins. I can't say I've ever noticed intonation issues on any of my instruments because of old strings except for this super janky tenor banjo I had for a year or so, I thought that was due to the stretchiness of the animal skin!
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    I have never been a fan of new strings, on any instrument. They always feel better on my fingers, but prefer the sound of used strings.

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    Funny, I've never changed all my strings on my viola all at once, but only one at a time if they break (rarely) or begin to unravel (much more usual). But my mandolas get them changed all at once. However, I tend to let them go at least 3 years before that happens. I use TI strings. I've never had one break or unravel, and they hardly show any signs of wear, until I take them off and can see a bit of indentation marks on the underside where all the frets were in contact with them from playing. No intonation issues have ever prompted me to change them, just the vague idea, prompted by the calendar year, that maybe it's time for new ones.

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  27. #24

    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    I guess my ear is dull because I hear no real difference.

    I have a strumstick that I've never changed the strings. I take that thing backpacking in the rain and the strings are starting to look sorta rusty and they still sound the same to me.

  28. #25

    Default Re: Why you need to change your strings?

    I restrung my banjo and my ES-175 (jazz guitar) this morning. The banjo especially sounds better.

    I know everybody else hates it, but I kind of enjoy restringing my instruments. The whole process, taking off the old ones, polishing the frets, oiling the board a few times a year... yep, I love new strings.
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