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Thread: I may be crazy but it sounds good

  1. #1

    Default I may be crazy but it sounds good

    I needed new strings for New Years Eve and discovered that I was out of my usual GHS A270's. I had the E and A strings left over from a set of LaBella 880H's and D and G strings from a set of D'Addario EJ 75's. This gave a set made up of .012, .017, .026 and .041 gages. As best that I know, this is heavier than any stock set. They don't seem to be hurting the mandolin ( Kentucky KM 956 ) and gave a marked increase in volume. Should I be concerned about harming my mandolin? Has anyone else tried a similar set-up? Based strictly on what I'm hearing, I am considering ordering a couple of sets from Mapes with the afore mentioned gages. Any thoughts as to whether this is a good idea or should I stick with something more conventional? Thanks, Kerry

  2. #2
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Redwood City, CA

    Default Re: I may be crazy but it sounds good

    The gauges for D'Addario J74's (in thousandths) are: 11.0, 15, 26, and 40
    The gauges for D'Addario J75's (in thousandths) are: 11.5, 16, 26, and 41
    You are now using these gauges: 12, 17, 26, and 41.

    You can check the tensions produced with the information found on the D'Addario website. Here's what I got:

    Going up from 11.5 to 12 thou will raise the tension on each E-string by about 2.3 lbs, from 25.4 lbs to 27.7 lbs.
    Going up from 16 to 17 thou will raise the tension on each A-string by about 2.8 lbs, from 21.9 lbs to 24.7 lbs.

    Overall, you're currently adding about (2 x 2.3) + (2 x 2.8) = 10.2 lbs -- a little over TEN POUNDS of additional tension beyond the values in the J75 set. The total set tension for D'Addario J75's is about 194 lbs. So, you've added to this an additional 5% in overall string tension by using even heavier gauges.

    Your mandolin, which is a recent A5-style model with a truss rod, should be able to handle this much extra tension, but I would certainly not recommend ever going much beyond that, or you may risk flattening the arch, stressing the neck joint, or doing some other kind of permanent damage.

    Actually, I would have expected a fairly small increase in volume with these slightly heavier gauges, but certainly NOT any "marked increase in volume," as you reported. Perhaps simply changing out for some newer strings was the real reason for the difference in volume you perceive? Or perhaps going to higher string tension is causing you to pick harder, leading to more volume? Or perhaps (but less likely) your bridge is not especially well-fit to the top, so the extra down-bearing force improved the contact, and therefore the sound transfer to the top?

  3. #3

    Default Re: I may be crazy but it sounds good

    Sblock, thanks for your reply. I didn't feel as though I was picking harder but that assumption is going entirely by FEEL. I'll buy the new strings theory as being the most likely reason, but I note that I change strings monthly because the intonation starts going off if I leave the strings on any longer. I did just look at a set of Siminoff heavy strings that are the same as I used with the exception of the "E's" being .0115 instead of .012. I'm going print out the tensions for several gage combinations and have one of the engineers at work calculate the downforce for me after I measure the break angle over the bridge. I also checked the neck relief and it only increased by .001". Kerry

  4. #4
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England

    Default Re: I may be crazy but it sounds good

    One point - ''Mapes'' strings,as good as they seem to be - won't have 'the same tone' as the strings that you used. Different string brands are 'different' (usually). DR MD12's are 12//16/28 & 41 gauges. DR's are a very strong sounding string,so if it's added volume you need,try a set of their MD11's to start with. They're the same gauges as EJ74's,but are far more 'punchy',
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