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Thread: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

  1. #1

    Default Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    I wonder if I am a bit crazy, ok, we already know the answer to that... :-)

    I got an OM recently, and wanted to tame its harpsichordy (nasally) sound, so I put flatwounds on the G and D, and plain steel on the A. For the D and A courses that was exactly the sound I wanted, but for the G it was too much, killed it, became a gutless wonder.

    So I went back on the G, I just put PB rounds back on, and voila, closer to what I was looking for. The G is a little bright for now, should settle in over a few weeks. So I have 11-16-26-40 (PS, PS, Flat, Round). This setup is closest so far to the general sound I am hoping to achieve, and pretty far removed from it's OEM sound.

    On my MD604 the D string also stands out as noticeably more nasally than the rest of the courses, thinking of trying flatwounds there too.

    Another thing I noticed was that when I changed gauges of strings on the octave, the string balance changed. It went from very dominant D and A to a more balanced sound with the E slightly dominant now. Basically, reducing the gauge made that string less powerful relative to the rest.

    I have never futzed with strings like this before, this is kind of a new world for me. I seem to have awakened to string balance issues (both tone and volume), and am happy to find an easy way to fix them. One of my teachers does this too, she has a different brand of string on her E.

    People here have noted that different instruments seem to prefer different strings, and I recall posts where people mention that some instruments have different courses that dominate. I am thinking this is an easy fix for some of those issues.

    Hopefully it's clear I am having fun here. :-)
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, Airline e-mandola (4-string).
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20..

  2. #2
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    I am thinking of trying something similar on a 16.75" scale mandola although I have not yet exhausted the possibilities of round wounds sets. The problem is that I am looking for a warm tone and the round wound C and G strings are quite bright. The wound D string is OK and the plain steel A string is fine. But where would I find various flat wound strings to try on C and G? Electric guitar strings? Are they worth trying?
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog: honketyhank.com

  3. #3

    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    I bought the D'Addario Flatwound XL Chrome Singles (guitar strings) from their website, every wound gauge is there, $4-5 per string though, a bit steep.

    http://www.daddario.com/DADProductDe..._Wound_Singles

    Lots of other singles here:
    http://www.daddario.com/DADProductFa...68&familyid=15
    I notice a few there I want to try out, the PS ones are cheap, not bad at all. My OM A is a little weak because I thought the largest PS string was .016, but no, they have .017, and .018 for me to try for less than $1 each. Fantastic.

    And more singles here:
    http://www.daddario.com/DADProductFa...768&familyid=7

    I had no idea D'Addario had such a broad line of singles, this is new to me like I said.

    With a pair of needlenose pliers you can get the ball off easily. The trick is to insert one point of the pliers into the ball hole, and the other tip inside the oval shaped wire loop. Then grip hard and gently twist. The outside tip will spread the oval wire a bit and the ball comes out easy. It is super easy once you get the hang of it. The trick is only bend the wire as much as you need, you aren't trying to turn it into a circle or anything. And under normal string tension it won't bend back (maybe real slowly, helping the myth of stretching strings). And you don't want to bend it back, metal fatigue will weaken strings every time you bend them.

    For rounds I am lucky in that the round wound sizes I want are in a set already. But given what I just learned, I think custom sets are the way going forward for me, sets will just be a starting point from now on.
    Last edited by kurth83; Mar-16-2019 at 1:07am.
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, Airline e-mandola (4-string).
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20..

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  5. #4
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    For once, it seems I already am on the greener side of the fence here. If there is another instrument I am aiming at with my OM it's the harpsichord. Give me bright & brilliant, please, any day. If there are string types out there more bright than PB round please tell me where I can find them.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  6. The following members say thank you to Bertram Henze for this post:

    derbex 

  7. #5

    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    Martin Monels seem to fit that description, at least on my Mandolin. They've also been on six months which is amazing.

  8. #6
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    On my low-budget rumanian OM I use DR flatwounds in the gauges 44/34/22/13, available in Europe from https://shop.warwick.de/en/Strings/E...g,+.044,+wound
    I didn't like the jingle-jangle sound with roundwounds, but that's a matter of taste.
    Here's a sample of what it sounds like with fiddle and recorder in my band GoldMist (a name that should make Herr Henze grin): https://soundcloud.com/user884622625...etharvest-home
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

  9. #7
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    Guitar strings with windings of 80/20 Bronze or Bright Bronze alloys are the brightest I have found.
    These will necessitate bead removal for loop end tailpieces.

  10. #8
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    Guitar strings with windings of 80/20 Bronze or Bright Bronze alloys are the brightest I have found.
    These will necessitate bead removal for loop end tailpieces.
    Thanks, I'll check these out. Ball ends are what my tailpiece is cut out for anyway , and I use single guitar strings all the time.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  11. #9
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    I put flat wounds on my Ricky's primary strings. It helped as well as it was budget friendly!
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

  12. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    Quote Originally Posted by kurth83 View Post
    With a pair of needlenose pliers you can get the ball off easily. The trick is to insert one point of the pliers into the ball hole, and the other tip inside the oval shaped wire loop. Then grip hard and gently twist. The outside tip will spread the oval wire a bit and the ball comes out easy. It is super easy once you get the hang of it. The trick is only bend the wire as much as you need, you aren't trying to turn it into a circle or anything. And under normal string tension it won't bend back (maybe real slowly, helping the myth of stretching strings). And you don't want to bend it back, metal fatigue will weaken strings every time you bend them.
    IMHO Frank Ford’s method is safer and quicker. Details here: http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Musi...ops/loops.html
    Scroll down to the separator line. Essentially use a wire snipper and cut off the edges of the ball.
    Jim

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  13. #11
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    Guitar strings with windings of 80/20 Bronze or Bright Bronze alloys are the brightest I have found.
    These will necessitate bead removal for loop end tailpieces.
    Thanks, I'll check these out. Ball ends are what my tailpiece is cut out for anyway , and I use single guitar strings all the time.
    I've put on D'Addario 80/20 Bronze last night for a test. They're not settled in properly yet, but it looks like 80/20 ist not a better option for all of them - I found there's some bass lacking on the G course, OTOH the A course is brighter than PBs and thus makes a smoother transition to the plain E course. Testing will continue until the end of April. I think it is not unlikely that I may end up with a mixed set as well, PB on G and D, 80/20 on A, plain on E. I'll report back.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  14. #12
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mixing flats and rounds and odd size strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    I've put on D'Addario 80/20 Bronze last night for a test. They're not settled in properly yet, but it looks like 80/20 ist not a better option for all of them - I found there's some bass lacking on the G course, OTOH the A course is brighter than PBs and thus makes a smoother transition to the plain E course. Testing will continue until the end of April. I think it is not unlikely that I may end up with a mixed set as well, PB on G and D, 80/20 on A, plain on E. I'll report back.
    It turned out to be like I thought it would. Yesterday, I put on a mixed set of PB G and D, 80/20 A and plain E.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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