Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    5

    Question softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    Hi Mandolin Cafe members,

    I just found an old thread that I posted ten years ago when I was looking to buy my first mandolin and remembered that I had an account here!

    I have a question: our musically-inclined 2-year old has expressed a desire to have his own mandolin for his birthday; he likes mine and wants one "like Daddy's." I found a cheap Rogue mandolin on Reverb that I bought but the strings need to be replaced and it got me thinking...

    Are there strings that are "softer" than regular bronze acoustic strings that one could use? Maybe GHS Silk and Steels? Is there anything analogous to nylon string guitar in the mandolin world that isn't a straight up ukulele?


    When he expressed the same interest in my guitar last year, I bought the cheapest nylon string guitar I could find. I figured any damage he could do to my real acoustic instrument was going to cost more to repair than having a beater family guitar around. But the nylon stings were also easier on his hands, and he gravitates towards that (and a ukulele) for that reason.

    To be clear, this is not yet for fretting or actually learning on, so volume/intonation/etc. isn't really a concern.

    Any advice is appreciated. Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,457

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    Get light gauge strings 10-34 or 36. You could also capo on the second fret so the scale is shorter, then tune to normal GDAE. A low action even with heavy strings makes for easy playing. Tho lighter string will require a higher action slightly as they vibrate more with the less tension.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    I would not recommend using high-tension steel strings on any instrument going to a two-year old child. Have you considered stringing it with nylon strings, instead, like the set available from D'Aquila? Much safer, and also easier to fret.

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to sblock For This Useful Post:

    B381JL277z 

  5. #4
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Ardnadam, Argyll, Scotland
    Posts
    1,411

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    My daughter recently gave me a cheap ukulele she had in her flat and was not playing. I have put a set of Aguila nylon/gut strings on it, made to be tuned GDAE, and it is great fun to play after I sorted the nut slots. Strings are softer than the cheap nylon filament ones it had previously.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

  6. The following members say thank you to John Kelly for this post:

    JL277z 

  7. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    Thanks, sblock! That's the kind of thing I wanted to learn about. I'm not familiar with D'Aquila but will check it out right now. I appreciate it.

  8. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    25,412

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    A two year old could “play” a cardboard box with a paper towel neck and rubber bands for strings. I would save the Rogue for when he can actually fret like at least 4 or 5. We got our girls a cheap uke at that age and one of them or their friends smashed it one afternoon. I glued it together but it didn’t last too long. Unless your kid is a precocious genius he won’t have the coordination really play and probably will not care as long as he can strum along with daddy.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes - Old Sheet Music for mandolin

    Playing lately:
    1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- Gibson TB-Junior -- National RM-1

  9. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,457

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    I wasn't recommending heavy strings, just saying you can get lower action and actually they do play easily. Light strings with a capo is what I recommended.

    When my kids were young I got them each a uke and tuned it to an open chord. They didn't have to fret, but just strum and it was a chord. I didn't want their ears to adjust to something out of tune, but they were too young to worry about finger placement. One finger across any fret, or part of, was a different chord, tho they mostly played it open. I stressed it was a real instrument like mine and not like their plastic guitars and they took care of it. I sold the two ukes years later to a friend for his children.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  10. The following members say thank you to pops1 for this post:

    JL277z 

  11. #8
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    2,812

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    I'd put nylon strings on it and tune to an open tuning so that it sounds good when strummed without fretting. This is a two year old who just needs to feel good about making music.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

  12. #9
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Boulder, CO & Chesterfield, MO
    Posts
    2,356

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    My son started mandolin and violin, at his request, at age 3. It is not too early to start. He's 9 now and rips it up on mandolin, electric mandolin, octave mandolin, cello & guitar.
    To start, I suggest ultra-light strings, and only string it 1 per course, so that you have 4 strings instead of 8. Much easier for small hands to fret.
    GHS A240 strings
    https://www.stringsandbeyond.com/ghsa2phbrmas1.html
    Plus, then you'll have a spare string for each.
    Make sure to setup the instrument with as low action as possible for clean play in 1st position.
    Likely, with a little practice, your young one will be able to make 2 finger G, C and D chords in no time. Amazing how many tunes you can play with those 3. I also suggest making sure that the mandolin is not kept as a toy, but is placed on a shelf that is reserved for it, and that you teach them to respect it as a valuable item.

    Soon enough you'll have a regular Jimi Hendrix on your hands.
    Last edited by colorado_al; Mar-07-2018 at 12:15am.

  13. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to colorado_al For This Useful Post:


  14. #10
    Registered User Denman John's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Denman Island, BC Canada
    Posts
    544

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    What colorado_al said!

    Having a designated place for the instrument and responsibility are key. We hang our instruments on the wall and each person has their own place to hang their instruments and are responsible for them. To my relief, they are starting to change their own strings now. I found everyone plays more when they are easily available rather than going to the cases to get them out. Play together and have fun.
    ... not all those who wander are lost ...

  15. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Denman John For This Useful Post:


  16. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: softer strings for mandolin for young child?

    Thanks! The open string strumming is exactly what we're going for. We are already the proud (?) owners of a beat up plastic ukulele and one cardboard box with rubber band strings.

    Found some good Aquila nylon strings for tuning to GDAE, so I think we can work with that and making 1-5-1-5 when they arrive.

    I will confess to feeling a little funny browsing Reverb for the little guy's birthday, but he is asking for a mandolin by name, so I'd rather be buying that than some cartoon character toy from Target.

    Thanks to everyone for your help. This is a great resource.

  17. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to kcswimjustin For This Useful Post:


Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •