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Thread: Round core mandolin strings?

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    perpetual beginner... jmagill's Avatar
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    Default Round core mandolin strings?

    Anybody know of a brand that makes round core mandolin strings?

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Ti
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Newtone (they’ll make whatever you want)

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    Registered User Joey Anchors's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Pyramid (flatwounds)
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    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Curt Mangan

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    perpetual beginner... jmagill's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Thanks everyone.

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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    I’m confused. Are we talking about flatwound strings?

    Most wound strings use a round core. Hex core is the exception, usually advertised.

    There are several makers of flatwound strings, with Thomastik being the fancy ones. Perhaps roundwound is the goal?
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    Registered User seankeegan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Newtone, as mentioned above. Just gotta remember to get them up to tension and in pitch before trimming! But fantastic strings.

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    The TI I switched to certainly are flatwound.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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  11. #10

    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    The Thomastik (TI) mandolin strings (light, medium or heavy) are considered the best you can get. I’ve never had a problem with any of them, and have found that they stand behind what they produce, as long as you tell them.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bradford View Post
    The Thomastik (TI) mandolin strings (light, medium or heavy) are considered the best you can get. I’ve never had a problem with any of them, and have found that they stand behind what they produce, as long as you tell them.
    They're certainly the most expensive. I wouldn't consider them the best value, but they definitely have their place (which is at least 100 yards away from a bluegrass jam).

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  14. #12

    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    I bought a set of Fisoma 3050D Supersolo strings after an other forum user recommended them to me (crisscross), very pleased with them. I never tried Thomastik's but these are almost 2 times cheaper. Disclaimer: I'm using them on a modern bowlback, I can't vouch for their quality on other types of mandolins.

    https://lordofthestrings.com/en/mand...stainless.html

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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    I was going to post a similar question as the OP but then saw this thread having already begun. So my question is, I'm wondering if any mfr. makes either monel or nickel wound strings around a round rather than hex core? Righly or wrongly my impression is that most mando strings are wound on a hex core.

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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Newtone will do nickel plated steel. https://newtonestrings.com/shop/mandolin-strings/

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    Registered User Craig the Mad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    This thread seems incredibly confused. The OP asked about "round-core" strings but most of the responses talk about flatwound strings. Isn't the shape of the core separate from the type of winding used? That is, you could have either round or flat windings with either a round or hexagonal core?

    We even have one commenter saying that "Most wound strings use a round core. Hex core is the exception, usually advertised," while another says, "my impression is that most mando strings are wound on a hex core." Who's right here? D'Addario is surely one of the top string makers, possibly the top string maker, and according to their web site, "All D'Addario mandolin strings are wound on a hexagonally shaped, high carbon steel core." I don't know what core shape other manufacturers use.

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  19. #16
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    There is round core and hex core the TI I mentioned are round core.
    And the wound strings are wrapped with flat wire, so flat wound on a round core. TI has some guitar string with round core and flat or round wound but the core is round. I do not believe they make round wound string for mandolin, that is round wire wrapped around a round core but the do make flat wound. D’Addario makes a lot
    Of strings but I wouldn’t call them the best, it is far to subjective to give them that title. I would nominate TI for that and again far to subjective. Both have very good quality and Customer Support.

    To muddy things up a bit more there is also a half round wound. I don’t know who makes those.
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig the Mad View Post
    This thread seems incredibly confused. The OP asked about "round-core" strings but most of the responses talk about flatwound strings. Isn't the shape of the core separate from the type of winding used? That is, you could have either round or flat windings with either a round or hexagonal core?

    We even have one commenter saying that "Most wound strings use a round core. Hex core is the exception, usually advertised," while another says, "my impression is that most mando strings are wound on a hex core." Who's right here? D'Addario is surely one of the top string makers, possibly the top string maker, and according to their web site, "All D'Addario mandolin strings are wound on a hexagonally shaped, high carbon steel core." I don't know what core shape other manufacturers use.
    I think you’ll find that most strings are wound onto a hex. core. To a large extent, this is for the advantage of the manufacturers as a hexagonal core tends to grip the windings and stop them from unwinding. Once they’re on the instrument, the turns around the tuning peg hold things in place which is why people like Newtone, who also make round cored strings, recommend fitting them before trimming them.

    There is claimed to be a difference in sound between round and hex. cored strings but, personally, I’ve never heard it.

    As for one brand of string sounding better than another, I think that all you can reasonably say is that different brands of string sound .............. different!

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Hex core has definitely been the norm since some time in the '70s, if I remember correctly. Today, round core is the exception.About three years ago I composed a set from DR round core singles. The sound was okay, but hardly a big improvement to my ears. Unfortunately, the d-strings were thinner than the 0.026“ announced on the package; felt way too soft. Apart from that, prior to putting the strings on I clipped off the ends - resulting into one of the strings sounding really dead. Obviously the winding came loose on that string.

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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Round cores make a lot of sense for use with flat windings, to keep the overall string profile round. Furthermore, flat windings tend to wind much tighter up against the core, with less tendency to slip. Round windings, on the other hand, tend to be looser and can slip, and these can benefit from being 'locked' onto a hex core. So: use round core for flat windings; use hex core for round windings. But why would the OP want a string with a round core, unless he also wants flat windings, I wonder? Maybe he or someone else can explain?

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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    The idea of the round core is a more flexible string, thus looser feel.

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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hendrik Ahrend View Post
    The idea of the round core is a more flexible string, thus looser feel.
    I think this idea is just a bit mistaken (sorry). See the diagram below. To have the same mass-per-unit-length, and therefore to have the same tension when brought up to pitch, a hex core needs to be slightly smaller in its shortest transverse dimension than a round core of (nearly) the same mass, due to the gaps under the winding. Also, the winding distance around a hex core is slightly more than around a round core, so a hex core will tend to be slightly smaller to accommodate the extra winding required while keeping the same overall mass. This is not a big effect.

    Given the geometry, the bending stiffness of a wound string comes almost entirely from the stiffness of its core: the winding contributes very little to this. The upshot of all this is that a hex core string becomes easier to bend around a radius (this is NOT the same as 'bending' a note!), and not harder to bend, than a round wound string of the same mass-per-unit-length, because the hex core is just a tad smaller across. But it turns out that these considerations about "bending stiffness" are irrelevant to your quest! Read on.

    The "flexibility" that you experience in a string while playing it has only a minor contribution from the bending stiffness of the string itself! I realize this may seem counter-intuitive to you, but the string flexibility comes almost entirely from the string tension -- not the bending stiffness! -- because it is the tension which sets how much force you require to displace the string sideways by a given amount (that is, perpendicular to its length), while fretting. The bending stiffness of a string hardly enters into this at all! Just lower the resting string tension, and you increase the flexibility.

    So if you seek a "looser feel" while playing, then what you really want is a string at lower tension, and not some string with a reduced bending stiffness. And the way to get a lower tension for a given pitch (E, A, D or G) is to have less mass-per-unit-length. In terms of the physics, the frequency of a string of a fixed length depends on the square root of the ratio of the tension to the mass-per-unit-length. To lower the string tension, you must lower the mass-per-unit-length in the same proportion.

    In summary, there is no advantage at all of a round core over a hex core in terms of flexibility while playing (fretting effort). If you seek more string flexibility -- softer fretting, and easier bending of notes, too -- you simply need to go to some lighter gauge strings. These will have less mass, and also less tension, over the fixed mandolin scale length (~14"). You will not be helped by changing the core cross-section.

    I hope the physics is more clear, and that this has been helpful.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  26. #22
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Very cool read thanks.

    One other note. A friend tried the flats and noticed the ends unraveling easier. I thought he meant the silk-wrapped ends but as it turns out he didn't use a locking wrap at the tuner. so when he loosened them they were unraveling. I always use a locking wrap and rarely get more than one turn on the post. I prefer no more than one turn. I always put a dab of super glue on the cut end when I am done. I don't know how much it helps the actual wound strings hut it does keep the silk in place if any is left on.

    I can also say I never liked flat wound strings but someone talked me into trying them on my Gretsch Broadway Jade Penguin. That one little slip now has the TI flats on two guitars and one Mandolin and the TI bebops on two other guitars. No offense to the Big D string dealer but the flats I had of theirs were duds, flat terrible sound like the worst mud switch you could ever think of. Sorry got off-topic. My point is to give them a try, whichever ones you want, then try a different brand it is a great way to dial in a tone you like although it takes some time and can cost a bit. Took me years to get to the strings I like because I will put two sets on until they lose their luster then move on to the next ones. Until I got to these.
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Just to partially illustrate the differences take a look at the description for TI Plectrum Guitar Strings. There are 3 variations in string assembly. I haven't seen a mention of the core shape but the rest of it is something to the effect the plain strings are brass coated steel. The WOUND strings are as follows: A,D.G are polished bronze flat wound. And the bass E string is polished bronze round wound. So IMHO the core is wound(wrapped) with flat bronze wire or round bronze wire AROUND the core. Sblock your illustration helps a whole lot. Also take a look at Straight Up strings website and somewhere on that site Roger talks about string cores, windings, and the variations in gauges of each component.

  28. #24
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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    I think this idea is just a bit mistaken (sorry). Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks for setting me straight on this. If I remember correctly, the claim came from the DR (string maker) website a few years ago. Today they are just mentioning a flexible quality of their "Sunbeam" (round core) strings.

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    Default Re: Round core mandolin strings?

    It's probably worth making one more comment about "flexible" strings, and possibly misleading claims or misconceptions. As we have seen earlier, the fretting effort required (as well as the effort needed to 'bend' the note), arises almost entirely from the tension that the string is under, and not from the bending flexibility of the string. This seems counter-intuitive to some, but it's true. It is the string tension that determines the force required to displace the string laterally (to pick or fret it). To get more "flexible" strings, in the sense of less fretting effort, you need to select a lighter gauge string, that is, a string with with lower mass-per-unit-length. Getting strings with a lower bending stiffness (i.e., less rigid strings) won't change the fretting effort. So, one might ask, what good ARE strings that happen to be more intrinsically flexible, that is, strings with lower bending stiffness? Well, it turns out that when you pluck a sting, you excite not only the fundamental note, but a whole (complex!) series of overtones, or harmonics. The many harmonics of this series get reinforced, but to different degrees, by the coupled vibrations of the mandolin body and its air cavity, and the result is the tone we hear produced by the mandolin. The tone of a given mandolin note is always a mixture of the fundamental itself and different sound levels of all the various harmonics. If you look at the diagram below, you can see that the fundamental doesn't require much bending of the string: it has the longest possible wavelength. But each successive, higher harmonic has a shorter wavelength. To propagate, the higher harmonics require the string to bend over an increasingly short distances (that is, over an ever-tighter radius of curvature). This is where the bending stiffness comes in! A string with a higher bending stiffness will require more energy to be sharply bent. As a result, it will tend to suppress some of the higher harmonics. It will have a 'darker' tone. Conversely, a string with lower bending stiffness will favor more of the higher harmonics. It will have a 'brighter' tone. So, the bending stiffness of a string has nothing to do with the fretting effort, but everything to do with the tone produced. Which, of course, is always a matter of personal taste. Differences in bending stiffness, and also longitudinal and lateral weight distribution (due to string winding; string gauge; string composition), all contribute to the different tones we get from different string sets. The diagram below shows how the higher frequency modes -- high harmonics -- induce sharper bends in the string. You'll need to click on it to see it full-size.

    Click image for larger version. 

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