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Thread: Octave Mandolin strings

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    Default Octave Mandolin strings

    I have a Trinity College Octave mandolin; the tone is a little buzzy and metallic, and a local instrument repair man suggested heavier strings. The strings I have are 12 - 46, and I have not found anything heavier, although my repair guy says he can rig something with guitar strings. Any suggestions, any source of heavier strings, maybe .014 and up?
    Thanks,
    Doc

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    I put the EJ-72 mandola strings (14-49) on my Eastman arch-top. It has a <21" scale. It came with 12-46 strings. I like the difference!

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Thanks for the tip fatt-dad. I too have an Eastman octave mandolin that I just love. I replaced the G pair with .053 guitar strings and like Wow, so much more punch. Regarding the use of guitar strings, I found that with a pair of regular pliers plus needle nose pliers I can remove the ball end from the string and have a nice loop end which fits nicely over the hook in the tail piece. I will try the EJ-72 (D'Addario) mandola strings you suggest while keeping the .053's on the G course.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    I too put 14-49 mandola strings on my 20” scale OM. I like it!
    Last edited by Sothoth; Oct-18-2017 at 7:12pm. Reason: Wrote wrong string gauge

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Of course! I play mandolin and mandocello, so I never thought of the dola. Thanks, that should be better.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Great idea; I didn't think of the dola! Thanks, I will try that.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    I use ordinary guitar strings with the ball-end broken out, gauges something like 14-23w-42w-52w. This is heavier on the bass side than the mandola set mentioned, but (I think) gives a bit more punch.

    Something TC owners should realize is that TC uses the same bridge saddle compensation design (if not the same bridge, period) on all their instruments, ie one appropriate for 2 wound/2 plain string courses. This works fine for mandolin and the long-scale bouzouki. However, the OM (and mandola) saddles are not correctly compensated for having the more usual wound 2nd course. (TC is clueless about this). So you will have to tolerate some intonation discrepancies when you use a wound 2nd course.
    Jeff Rohrbough
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    I use Newtone on my OM. Newtone will make up sets in whatever gauges and with whichever ends you want.

    Fortunately, they are just down the road from me in the UK. Their strings are marketed in the US but I don't know what the implications are for having custom sets shipped to individuals the US.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Tried an experiment string wise, I had a set of mandolin EJ73's which are light gauge. They are 10-14-24-38. I discarded the 10's and used the 14 for the E pair, the 24 for the A pair and the 38 for the D pair. I use 53 guitar strings with the ball removed for the G pair. I was afraid the mandolin strings would not be long enough for my Eastman OM but they have enough length, no problem. The whole thing sounds really good. Strumming chords is like a total transformation from the EJ80's that came on this OM. It can equal a guitar for strumming chords and playing rythm. I may exaggerate a little but not too much.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    JustStrings.com carries the widest range of octave mandolin strings on the internet.

    http://search.juststrings.com/search...ndolin&x=0&y=0

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    Tried an experiment string wise, I had a set of mandolin EJ73's which are light gauge. They are 10-14-24-38. I discarded the 10's and used the 14 for the E pair, the 24 for the A pair and the 38 for the D pair. I use 53 guitar strings with the ball removed for the G pair. I was afraid the mandolin strings would not be long enough for my Eastman OM but they have enough length, no problem. The whole thing sounds really good. Strumming chords is like a total transformation from the EJ80's that came on this OM. It can equal a guitar for strumming chords and playing rythm. I may exaggerate a little but not too much.
    That sounds good too; the .014 gauge is also mandola-size, but I don't know if there is more to strings than just "gauge." Are guitar, octave, mandola, etc. strings all the same construction? Of course length and ball vs. loop varies, but does not seem to be a problem. Appreciate the advice, working with my Fretworks, Portland OR guy Mike, passing this on. I am off to Milwaukee CMSA in a couple days with my Gibson K2 cello--maybe see you there?

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Thanks; a lot of those strings start at .012, which is what I have; Too loose, light, buzzy; I know the TC is an entry -lavel, no comparison with my Stiver mando or Gibson K2 cello, but heavier strings will make a difference. You going to CMSA Milwaukee?

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Doc James I must honestly report on my experiment with 14,24, 38 and 53. After practicing with them for about three days now I am totally worn out, even have sore muscles under my left arm. The construction of the strings I used is basically the same as other D'Addario mandolin and OM strings but the gauges are too heavy, sound great but not enjoyable to play. My left hand can't take it any more. I am going to change strings to the EJ80's (12,22,32,46). I adjusted my bridge height, intonation and truss rod tension to accommodate the heavier strings but now I plan on resetting it all to suit the EJ80's. Can't make the CMSA but wish I could, also wish I had a K2.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    Doc James I must honestly report on my experiment with 14,24, 38 and 53. After practicing with them for about three days now I am totally worn out, even have sore muscles under my left arm. The construction of the strings I used is basically the same as other D'Addario mandolin and OM strings but the gauges are too heavy, sound great but not enjoyable to play. My left hand can't take it any more. I am going to change strings to the EJ80's (12,22,32,46). I adjusted my bridge height, intonation and truss rod tension to accommodate the heavier strings but now I plan on resetting it all to suit the EJ80's. Can't make the CMSA but wish I could, also wish I had a K2.
    I am trying 12 22 34 48 (ball end guitar strings ordered individually) on my 21.5" scale Pono (flat top gbom). I like them so far. It came with 12 22 32 46 but the G and D were floppy and buzzy and this heavier bottom seems to work ok and sounds better.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Astro View Post
    I am trying 12 22 34 48 (ball end guitar strings ordered individually) on my 21.5" scale Pono (flat top gbom). I like them so far. It came with 12 22 32 46 but the G and D were floppy and buzzy and this heavier bottom seems to work ok and sounds better.
    You're on the right trail there. The 34:D and 48:G should be just right. I wish such a set was available over the counter at my local GC. Buying individual guitar strings and removing the ball is more expensive and difficult than I want to deal with every time I change strings. I am going to investigate if one of the on-line string vendors can make up custom sets for a reasonable price.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    That's tough; I have some minor joint problems that act up once in a while so I might have the same trouble (in Milwaukee now so I won't know till I get home next week). But I am hoping since I play mandocello I can handle the heavier strings. We'll see...

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Thanks Mandolin Café for the lead on ( juststrings.com.) It's nice to know that big brother is always watching.

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    I use Newtone on my OM. Newtone will make up sets in whatever gauges and with whichever ends you want.

    Fortunately, they are just down the road from me in the UK. Their strings are marketed in the US but I don't know what the implications are for having custom sets shipped to individuals the US.
    Coincidentally the postman has just delivered me a package for my Octave Mandola. Will walk the dog then do a string change

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Coincidentally the postman has just delivered me a package for my Octave Mandola. Will walk the dog then do a string change
    Just curious because instrument terms are used in various ways and in GB it may differ from the USA. When you say Octave Mandola, are you referring to GDAE tuning (mandolin) or mandola tuning (CGDA)? I know conventions may differ. In the states OM is octave mandolin.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    Just curious because instrument terms are used in various ways and in GB it may differ from the USA. When you say Octave Mandola, are you referring to GDAE tuning (mandolin) or mandola tuning (CGDA)? I know conventions may differ. In the states OM is octave mandolin.
    Hudmister, this side of the pond an octave mandola is GDAE, one octave below the mandolin, CGDA we would call a tenor mandola.

    Two countries divided by a common language

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Up north I/we call an instrument tuned an octave below a mandolin an "octave mandolin". An instrument an octave below a mandola would be known as a "mandocello". Even different parts of the UK use different terms - e.g. Those from the southern regions go UP to London whereas us northerners go DOWN.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Thanks for the English to American translation OneChordTrick. A mandolin becomes an octave mandola when tuned one octave down (if you live south of London). Somehow that makes sense to me, I suppose it's because my genetic roots are from the Cornwall region of England. A yank must beware when ordering strings from the UK.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    As it seems I can’t agree with my fellow natives on the correct terminology I think we’ll have to accept that there are lots of terms for the same instrument.

    I’m fairly new to this and when I asked for an octave mandolin in a shop (which shares its name with a popular ale) I was rather pompously told “that’s an American term, in England we say octave mandola”.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    I buy the bulk sleeves or a dozen individual Phosphor Bronze (and un-wound single strings) from Musician's Friend for my octave; cheap and free shipping!

    My octave has a tailpiece that uses ball ends, but it's easy to remove the balls by nipping the ball at several points with a pair of diagonal cutters, turning the ball end so the cutters are oriented where the string ends come together. That way there's no chance of cutting the string.

    The bulk strings are sold by the dozen, and this allows me to change strings more often, as they end up costing only a couple bucks for new strings.

    After using these for a few years I can't say I've noticed any difference in tone or durability with higher-priced specialty string sets.
    rudy44

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    As it seems I can’t agree with my fellow natives on the correct terminology I think we’ll have to accept that there are lots of terms for the same instrument.

    I’m fairly new to this and when I asked for an octave mandolin in a shop (which shares its name with a popular ale) I was rather pompously told “that’s an American term, in England we say octave mandola”.
    In case you're not aware, you can thank Trevor for this - http://www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk/...n-family-.html

    Quite how Hobgoblin arrive at the term "Octave Mandola" for an instrument tuned an octave below a Mandolin, I don't know. Where does the "Mandola" bit come from?

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