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Thread: don't shoot me....another string question

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    Registered User mee's Avatar
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    Default don't shoot me....another string question

    I'm really trying to give this Michael Kelly Dragonfly a fair chance. It keeps in tune, has clear notes, beautiful mandolin but of course sounds not even close to my F9 that I tend to compare everything to because that is the sound I love. But the Dragonfly was a gift and I am hoping to get a good enough sound that I will want to use it out.

    So my question is, what strings would be recommended for this? I use EJ74's on my F9, but not sure if that would work as well on the Dragonfly. It presently has a new set of the d'addario-exp74cm coated strings that was given to me with the mandolin but I'm not sure I'm liking them. I was wondering about Monel strings and thought I had read a thread about them for this mandolin but I'm not finding it now.
    Of course I do not expect to match the sound with the F9 but just want the best bluegrass sound for the Dragonfly. Thanks y'all are the best for this kind of info

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    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    You could try EX75s on it and see if you get a little more volume, but don't expect a huge increase. Or try a different brand, maybe GHS?

    The reality is your MK is just not ever going to sound as good as your F9. I owned a MK several years ago. I sold it because I couldn't get any volume out of it. I bought an F9. Problem solved.

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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ostrander View Post
    You could try EX75s on it and see if you get a little more volume, but don't expect a huge increase. Or try a different brand, maybe GHS?

    The reality is your MK is just not ever going to sound as good as your F9. I owned a MK several years ago. I sold it because I couldn't get any volume out of it. I bought an F9. Problem solved.
    Thanks, I don't need volume on this one and I know it will never sound as good as the F9 but as I stated originally I am just trying to get the best possible sound out of it. It has a sweet tone, just wondered of it could be better and possibly deeper? Maybe impossible but no harm asking. If not, maybe a good starter for one of my grandchildren because it is easy to play for sure.

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Just a thought - have you tried different picks to get a different sound? They can have quite an effect on your sound.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    I think you just have to buy different strings and try them, there have been sets I love and others I have taken off immediately. I keep a list and over time have found ones I like and ones I need to change more often, etc.

    So much of this is subjective...strings, pick, how much coffee you had this morning...just keep trying different things until you land on something you like...then over time that will probably change and you’ll be back to square one...that’s what keeps this fun.

    I recently sprung for a set of the spendy Thomastik stings and I’ll just say...WOW...!...I love them so far. They are supposed to last a long time so we’ll see.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    Just a thought - have you tried different picks to get a different sound? They can have quite an effect on your sound.
    Yes I am always trying different picks, definitely makes a difference, thank you

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Watch it, here comes Mr. Snarky: what brand of lipstick will make my pig look more like a supermodel?

    Probably the MK is over-built and over-finished. The company's effort went into its (admittedly attractive) appearance. Beefing up the bass courses may deepen the sound a bit, but, as they say, "it is what it is."

    Here's a thought -- maybe install a pickup, use it as your amplified model?
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Watch it, here comes Mr. Snarky: what brand of lipstick will make my pig look more like a supermodel?

    Probably the MK is over-built and over-finished. The company's effort went into its (admittedly attractive) appearance. Beefing up the bass courses may deepen the sound a bit, but, as they say, "it is what it is."

    Here's a thought -- maybe install a pickup, use it as your amplified model?
    Ok, I get this. But if I asked what is the best strings recommended for my Gibson F9, would I have to get answers like this? I just want to know the best for the MK, just as I did my F9 when I first got it. I love my F9 now with the EJ74's that someone with an F9 recommended. Now maybe another MK owner can recommend strings for the Dragonfly to make it the best it can be. So be nice.

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  13. #9

    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Try a set of GHS silk and steel or silk and bronze strings. That is what I settled on for my MK. But it really is a mandolin for camping, etc. My mandolin also had a poor bridge to top fit and needed a fret leveling. It plays great now, but doesn't have the resonance of a good mandolin. It is in the ballpark of the lower end imports. I play mine quite a lot because I leave it out on my desk.

    It is what it is and it is my travel mandolin and sounds like a million bucks in a campsite or the beach, or out on a picnic.
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Try a set of GHS silk and steel or silk and bronze strings. That is what I settled on for my MK. But it really is a mandolin for camping, etc. My mandolin also had a poor bridge to top fit and needed a fret leveling. It plays great now, but doesn't have the resonance of a good mandolin. It is in the ballpark of the lower end imports. I play mine quite a lot because I leave it out on my desk.

    It is what it is and it is my travel mandolin and sounds like a million bucks in a campsite or the beach, or out on a picnic.
    Thank you for your string recommendation, this is the info I am looking for.

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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Mee. Every mandolin from a Loar to a rougue had a particular string it likes. Every time you change strings, and some as has been stated you will want to change right away, try a different string bronze, SS, mono stieel, nickel etc. Try different gauges don't listen to what someone said sounded treeible on theirs it may be the very one for yours. When you find THE ONE you will know.

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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Not all mandolins will sound the same using a certain brand of strings, I have been trying to find the "Holy Grail" set of strings for years and find that I have to use a different brand on each mandolin that I own BUT I have found that GHS A-270`s are as close as I ever hope to get, I don`t own a MK but if it does has a thick finish on the top then that will take away from the sound..A LOT.. I know you are asking about strings but there are other factors that may well be affecting the sound of that mandolin and having a good set up is the first thing that should be done...I am a lot like you, I keep trying to make each mandolin that I own sound better but I can tell you it is a losing battle if you want a MK to sound as good as an F-9 but I wish you luck...

    Willie

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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Quote Originally Posted by mee View Post
    ...beautiful mandolin but of course sounds not even close to my F9 that I tend to compare everything to because that is the sound I love....I do not expect to match the sound with the F9...
    Wouldn't have responded as I did, except that you were comparing the Dragonfly to your F-9, a comparison that will always make the Michael Kelly seem inferior. The real question was, as you state it, how to make the MK sound the best that it can. Valid question -- leaving the Gibson out of it.

    Heavier bass strings and monel instead of bronze wrappings might add some "beef" to your sound. Final outcome, I would still say, is to accept "it is what it is," and find a role for it in your music.
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Thank you all for your response. My mistake was to mention the F9 at all in this thread. I don't expect the MK to compare, I only want it at its best. And the tone isn't terrible now, it is actually better than the Eastman 505 I had. But I think it can be better. And I intend to use it camping so I don't need volume. I believe the set up is good because it sounds clear. But I may have a local luthier go over it.

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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    If you use a silk and steel string, don't judge them until you play them for a few days. I thought they were horrible at first, then they settled in.
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    My first mandolin was a MK 'Legacy'. It was nicely made & apart from the horrific tailpiece (soon replaced) was fine. I used to use J74 strings on it & it sounded good,if a little 'thin' toned,but it played well & the notes intonated perfectly. I often wish that i'd kept it to try out strings 'n things on it to see just how good i could get it to sound. The finish on my MK wasn't in the least 'thick' looking,if anything,it looked as if it was a tad lacking in that respect. By comparison,the dark finish on my Weber "Fern" looks very thick,which i believe they are anything but !.

    I'd experiment with different string / pick combos. & maybe fit a good bridge to it. Other than that,there's not much else you can do !,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Maybe try something radical like changing the bridge for a solid one with a bone saddle, or putting extra light strings on. The silk and steel is worth a try too. I had them on my National and they sounded great.

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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    It’s a tough question. My Epiphone 40L loves sam bush monels. My Epiphone 50 mm doesn’t love them. I suspect that two exact same mandolins would have the same issues with strings. Try a few brands. See what you like.
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    My early 2000s Kentucky 675-S is overbuilt, as I suspect your MK is, to minimize warranty issues. A new, well fitted ebony bridge from Stew Mac and EJ 75s made a huge difference in tone and volume on that one. I assume the heavier strings drive the top better, as they helped even before the inexpensive bridge change. That said, the original rosewood bridge was a disaster, so changing yours may not help if it’s fitted/adjusted well.
    Chuck

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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    As the OP said, he asked about strings.

    I second the GHS Silk & Bronze recommendation. I used them for several years on mandolins that wouldn't quite match up with what I wanted to hear. They last longer (for me) than the Silk & Steel.
    Phil

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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    David - I've found out via my own experiences with strings over a 13 year period - there isn't one brand / gauge that suits all !. Even if i owned a Gilchrist,i'd be trying several brands / gauges to find one that suited my ears. Everybody's hearing & tonal requirements in a mandolin are different,so the only course of action is to try a few + different brands / shape / thickness of picks,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    Each instrument, style and player will have a specific tone and playability that can be zeroed, us old folks say dialed, in with a specific alloy, gauge, core material and maker of string. Hence the search. There are few "BAD" strings out there and most of those are either counterfeit or cheaply made. There are several brands , gauges core material and metal alloys that I don't use because I don't like their tone or playability. Many players here on the Cage recommend strings I refuse to use because I didn't keep them on my instrument for more than a couple of days. And yes each time you get another mandolin the process may start over...…. Lastly there are those folks that have a skin ph that just eats strings. For those I recommend a polymer coated string..... Enjoy the search … R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  37. #23

    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    I'm just gonna say it; I have always felt that chasing a decent sound with strings, bridges, etc was a fools errand. I have string preferences like everyone, but I play banjo, mando, and guitar (Deering, Flatiron, Mossman, many less nice ones on the way there) and I have NEVER, EVER, had a string change take a mediocre instrument and make it a keeper. I have had slight improvements, and I mean REALLY slight. but never enough improvement to change my impression of an instrument . Conversely, The Mossman guitar I have now I bought with strings I would NEVER use (silk and steel I think) but I could tell that the sound was in there. It sounded great even with these awful strings. If it fails to inspire, it is not the strings, IMHO.

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    Default Re: don't shoot me....another string question

    I think vince f has it right. It seems to me that some folks here on the MC spend an awful lot of time and energy searching for the optimal string, the optimal pick, the optimal bridge, or the optimal tailpiece, etc. But in the grand scheme of things, all these accessory items exert comparatively small influences on the tone of the mandolin. I happen to agree with vince f that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and that these sorts of changes, while satisfying the ears many players, seldom -- if ever! -- can turn a mediocre mandolin into a quality instrument. The most straightforward way to get great tone is to buy a mandolin that has great tone from the start! You may be able to exert further changes from there, tweaking strings, picks, and so on, but it's the "baseline tone" that counts the most. In my experience, either a mandolin "has it" -- or it doesn't.

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