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Thread: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User MoreThanQuinn's Avatar
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    Default Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Hey Cafers,

    Just a quick question. I have a Poe Scout pancake style mandolin. When I bought it from Andy, it came with Thomastik strings on it. It's about time to replace them, and I would really like to get Thomastiks again, but I'm just curious about the right gauge for a pancake style mando?

    Is it correct to assume that the medium set would work well?
    Does anyone here have experience putting these on a pancake? I really wouldn't want to damage the mandolin.
    I saw an old thread where someone said they put the medium set up a Flatiron 1N with good success, but still I thought it was worth double checking.

    I shot Andy (Poe) to email asking him, but I haven't yet heard back.

    Thanks!
    2018 Poe Scout #76

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    I have used Thomastik Mittles (mediums) on my Crystal Forest A/N Flat-top (pancake) with good results. They sound good and play really well. The Crystal Forest and the Poe Scout are probably pretty similar. Thomastik mediums are actually on the light side, compared to most brands, so I think you'll be safe with those.

    That said, Thomastiks are not my favorite strings on that particular instrument. They are high on my list of favorites, though, and are my absolute favorites on some other mandolins.
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    Registered User MoreThanQuinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Thanks for the information, Bob. I really appreciate it. Hopefully some others will affirm it as well. I'll probably order the strings tomorrow.

    And you're right, our instruments are probably quite similar. I was looking at Crystal Forest Flat-tops around the same time I contacted Andy, however there wasn't going to be one available for quite a while at the time, so thankfully I didn't have to pick between the two.
    I love the look of all the Crystal Forests I've seen!

    Also, I'd be curious to hear what your favorite strings on it are. I don't have much experience with different strings, but I'm always open to trying new things out.
    2018 Poe Scout #76

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    Registered User LongBlackVeil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    I would think a flat top like that would probably sound better with heavy (stark) and be able to handle them quite easily.

    I used heavies on my gibson A jr and those were my favorite for that mandolin. TI heavys are quite a bit lighter than j74 mediums.

    I wouldnt use anything less than heavy TI strings unless i was dealing with an old fragile bowlback or something. but i dont have any experience with flat top mandolins.
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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Andy would know about the details.

    I buy mine at Elderly Instruments and they now have more details about Tension and Gauge. And they now mark the strings H, M and L for heavy, medium and light. Yippee! Thank you Elderly Instruments!

    Mediums from their web page are as follows:

    • Plain steel and flatwound chrome on a steel core except the E-strings, which are tin-plated silver steel
    • 27 3/4" long, 20 1/8 between silked ends
    • Head-end silk covers about 7 1/4" of wire
    • Distance from the loop to the end of wound wire is about 21.5"
    • Medium gauge (Two each: 010, 015w, 021w, 033w)
    • 127.2 lbs. tension
    • 34cm scale length



    I have some Thomastik 154 W strings on my Collings mandolin. The individual strings have their own number which makes it a bit confusing. G = #153, D = #152, A = #151, e = #150 But the set is #154 W. *Gauges are 30 .20 .14 .09 * now slightly different for some reason...

    Weich means light in German. Elderly Instruments webpage says for Light gauge, 009 013w 019w 028w, 116.8 lbs tension.


    I have not used Stark (strong or heavy in German). Stark strings may be thicker and they may not fit the nut or saddle. And the strings have silk wrap on the ends and sometimes 'get in the way' on some instruments. So ask Andy about these details. (Or the Elderly staff..)

    https://www.elderly.com/catalogsearc...homastik+154+w
    Last edited by DougC; Dec-01-2018 at 5:01pm.
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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Just to be clear, these flat-tops are generally designed for lighter strings. J74 strings are a bit too heavy for them. I'd be reluctant to go with Thomastik Heavies. Mediums push the top just fine. They shouldn't be compared to arch tops. They are a different animal.

    I'll let you know what my favorites are later this evening when I am able to look at the package. (I can't recall and am not with the strings or instrument just now).
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Registered User bstanish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    While I don't use the Thomastiks on my Sawchyn BeaverTail, I am using Optima Flatwound Medium Tension (.011 - .031) with a wound "A" so it should be pretty similar to the Thomastiks. I've had no issues with these mediums and they sound and play pretty much as you would expect. I would think that the Thomastik Mittels should be fine for you.




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    Registered User LongBlackVeil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Just to be clear, these flat-tops are generally designed for lighter strings. J74 strings are a bit too heavy for them. I'd be reluctant to go with Thomastik Heavies. Mediums push the top just fine. They shouldn't be compared to arch tops. They are a different animal.

    I'll let you know what my favorites are later this evening when I am able to look at the package. (I can't recall and am not with the strings or instrument just now).
    ok. i might have spoken out of turn.
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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    To Long Black Veil, No, my friend, please don't think I was calling you out with that comment. Not at all! One beauty of the Cafe is that we can each share what we think and the reader ultimately decides what is best for her/him. In this case, the Luthier may come on and have the ultimate say, but we are each trying to help the OP and that's beautiful. This is a great community, better than any I have known in the real world.

    To Bstanish, You've identified a Flat Wound that I haven't tried. Thanks for that. I will for sure try them. Once again, though, in looking at their gauges, their medium tensions are pretty light. From my perspective, that is a good thing. Others may disagree but I like lighter strings not just for playability but also for subtlety or nuance in sound (YMMV).

    Now, back to our OP, MoreThanQuinn: I have now had a look into my case and my favorite strings for this instrument (the Crystal Forest A/N Flat top) are D'Addario 80/20 Bronze EJ62 (Light). These are 0.010, 0.014, 0.024, 0.034 gauges. They sound really good to me. In fact, I took this instrument to D.C. last week to play with friends (rather than my usual Phoenix Neoclassical) and couldn't believe how good it sounded. I love this little flat top especially for how different it is from my Phoenix. I doubt I will ever part with it and think I will always experiment with different strings on it. These, however, are my current favorites.

    Best wishes,

    Bob
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    I have now had a look into my case and my favorite strings for this instrument (the Crystal Forest A/N Flat top) are D'Addario 80/20 Bronze EJ62 (Light). These are 0.010, 0.014, 0.024, 0.034 gauges. They sound really good to me.
    Those gauges are the same that Andy recommends for his Scouts. Elixirs and Martins come in the same sizes, and I have substituted Thomastik-Infeld Mittels for them on a Gypsy flattop that I sold subsequently.
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    A250 from GHS is also in that same gauge, with one more lighter gauge.
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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Those gauges are the same that Andy recommends for his Scouts. Elixirs and Martins come in the same sizes, and I have substituted Thomastik-Infeld Mittels for them on a Gypsy flattop that I sold subsequently.
    At one time, the Martins were my go-to strings on this one. I like the EJ62 better. I haven't tried the Elixirs. Actually, I have never tried the Elixirs on any of my mandolins. Perhaps I should.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Registered User MoreThanQuinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Hey all, thanks a lot for the replies. Super interesting to hear all the different recommendations!

    I just got word back from Andy: "I’m not 100% positive but I think that I used the heavy 154H Thomastic strings. But its possible that it was the 154M. The heavy Thomastik strings are fine on your Scout. They are about equivalent of most light round-wound strings tension wise."

    @Bob, I am really interested in EJ62's you mentioned. What type of music do you play? I'm still in the early intermediate stages, but play kind of a hodgepodge - fiddle tunes, classical, backup for a vocalist. Would be curious to hear how you think the EJ62's might fit some of those styles.
    Also, what is the lifetime of the strings? How long until you switch them out, usually?
    One huge plus of the Thomastiks is that they last about half a year. That's hard to beat!

    In any case, I'll probably go with a set of the Thomastik Medium's and a set of the EJ62's. Just have to decide which to throw on first!
    2018 Poe Scout #76

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Hello More Than Quinn,

    I play a rather eclectic mix, basically anything but Bluegrass (Renaissance, classical, Irish/Scottish, Southern Italian, OT, etc). The Flat-top works well in all these genres. I play more melody line than backup chording. Based on this experience, I think the E62 strings would work well on your instrument with your mix. Truth is, though, only you can decide what you like. These strings on your Poe might work well for you, or you might hate them. Only you can decide, and your's is the only opinion that matters.

    My main player is my Phoenix Neoclassical which is designed for Thomastik Mittles. I also play my Crystal Forest A/N quite a bit. Whenever I get in a slump or just feel like it, I switch from one to the other. My OM/Mandola and my piccolo mandolin are also in the mix. The contrast in timbre between my Phoenix and my Flat-top pretty wide, though, and I find that really stimulating when my playing gets a little tired.

    I get a very long life out of Thomastiks on either instrument, typically about 9 months or a bit longer. The EJ62 on my Crystal Forest last more like 1.5 to 2 months, but that's really the outside duration. They probably should be changed at 1 to 1.5 months. But they are so inexpensive that changing more often is not an issue. Besides, unlike some players, I actually like changing my strings. I find it kind of relaxing.

    If I were you, I'd be inclined to try the EJ62 strings first, just because they don't last as long as the Thomastiks. In this way, you will have your answer as to which you prefer sooner. If you like the EJ62's, good for you; they are cheap. If you prefer the Thomastiks, good for you; they last a long time. It is a win either way. Please let us know what you decide.

    Best wishes,

    Bob
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Default Re: Thomastik Strings on a Pancake Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MoreThanQuinn View Post
    Hey Cafers,

    Just a quick question. I have a Poe Scout pancake style mandolin. When I bought it from Andy, it came with Thomastik strings on it. It's about time to replace them, and I would really like to get Thomastiks again, but I'm just curious about the right gauge for a pancake style mando?

    Is it correct to assume that the medium set would work well?
    Does anyone here have experience putting these on a pancake? I really wouldn't want to damage the mandolin.
    I saw an old thread where someone said they put the medium set up a Flatiron 1N with good success, but still I thought it was worth double checking.

    I shot Andy (Poe) to email asking him, but I haven't yet heard back.

    Thanks!
    I am also a Poe Scout owner (#63 ,2015) one of the first ones when Andy starting full time again. He put on Medium Thomastic Flat Wounds at that time and I just loved the sound... warm, clear especially sparkly as the high end opened up. This was the perfect sound for my Celtic playing. I have used these strings since because I also love the feel of Flat wounds on my fingers.
    I have, however, 2 issues with these strings;

    1. Thomastics are costly ($70 Can). Yes, they last a long time but I had a run of having to replace 2 A strings within a few months ( I always have an extra set on hand for such emergencies but suddenly had NO extra A's. It took a while getting replacements)

    2. They are NOT particularly loud. This is fine playing by yourself or if you have an instrument with a pickup as I do. But if you plan to play with other instruments or in a session, your Poe will get lost unless you really dig in. And that, loses the wonderful quality sound inherent in the Poe Scout.

    I have since tried D'Addario EFW74s and they have proven to be a good alternative.

    These are a fraction of the cost but have much more presence. Similiar feel to the Thomastics ( I do LOVE my flatwounds !) but lacking the warm tone quality of the Thomastics.
    .

    Syd R Ontario, CANADA
    Poe #63 "The Celtic"
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