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Thread: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

  1. #1

    Default Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    I have read a few threads here about Thomastik-Infeld strings. A friend of mine recommended them to me. He plays a flat-top Irish mandolin and it's very loud. He let me try the strings and they are really different. I kind of liked them. If I see him again I will ask him what weight of strings he has, but his mandolin is much different than mine. I have an f-style The Loar (the Chinese knock-off).

    They have Hard, Medium and Soft weights (that's what they call them). But the ones listed as Hard are almost the same weight as some Elixer light strings that I recently put on. The G string is .34 just like my light Elixer strings. All the strings are the same weight except the E string. So what is the deal with the weights of these? Why are they not really all that heavy?

    I'd like to give them a try but the weights seem to mean something different than usual. Any info about this?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    They're designed with European and Italian style mandolins in mind, not Gibson-style mandolins. So their Hard (or Stark), as you noticed, are just starting to get into the realm of what we'd consider "normal" weight mandolin strings, while the rest are quite a bit less tension than the round-wound strings we're used to.
    When I build my Concerto model instruments on a Gibson pattern to work with Thomastik Mittel strings, I build the top lighter, the bridge taller to make use of the limited mass and tension available, and I also voice them to be more aggressive in tone (since a lot of that gets toned down by the mellower Thomastik strings).
    The result is different than either European or American style mandolins, but really cool and useful in its own way!


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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    sb-

    I'd be hesitant to put thomastiks on a pac rim f style mandolin. They may not be a good fit, might not be able to drive the top.

    First, I am a Thomastik user, I have them on my mandolin. If they made a set for octave mandolin, I'd use them there. I loved them on my Collings A style with F holes, my Collings A oval, and now my Girouard. I liked them on my Collings A so much that I decided to try them on the Weber F. had them on for a day. Took them off and they became my backup set for my Collings A style. The collings and the weber are no longer with me.

    Like Marty said, it is probably the stark/hard gauge strings he had on. What did you like about the strings? How did the Elixir lights feel/sound on your mandolin? That will give you an idea of what the Thomastiks might do. If you like the feel of the flatwound strings, and the more mellow sound, you could get the D'addario chrome steel flatwound singles and build your own set with the gauges you like. This is what I did with my octave mandolin. And apparently the D'addario EFW74 are simply a custom set picked from the guitar chrome steel strings. Plus, its is a whole lot cheaper than the Thomastik strings.
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    Registered User dulcillini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    I have used the Thomastik Hard, and they are great. They have a wound "A" string as I remember and it is a very nice sound, indeed. They are a bit high priced, but when you think about it in terms of how long they last, not so high. D'Addario makes a flat wound that is pretty good, and a lot less cost, but the Thomastiks are better. JMHO. One little piece of advice, if you have someone put them (Thomastik) on, remind them that the "A" string is wound, and shoud be tightened slowly. IT is usually the first string to break or go wonky. Right now, I am using the new D'Addario XT strings, so far, so good. The "E" string sounds a bit harsh, but I am giving it some time to settle in. They seem like nice strings. I play Celtic, old time, and classical. I tend to have less stress on my strings and they last longer anyway. If you are going to do heavy bluegrass, I would probably stay with J-74 or similar.
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    I used TI Mittels on my Eastman arch topped oval (814) I have used the Mittels on my cant topped Spira (more or less a flat top). I like the D'Addario Flatwpund strings almost as much (no wound A strings). The wound A strings didn't warrant the additional cost. YMMV. I like the warmer sound(not as bright) of the Flatwound Strings compared to what may be considered the standard Phosphor Bronze EJ74s. I found the mittles sufficient to drive the top for me. Most folks wouldn't consider these for bluegrass but, that's not what I play.

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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    I tried the stark set on my Ratliff, which is a very loud and responsive F5. The strings were very comfortable to play, they reduced overall volume a little bit. The tone was on the dark side, more fundamental than standard string sets. I didn't stick with them for too long, as they didn't have the cut needed for playing in my band and at jams...
    I'll put them on my Weber next time, as that mandolin seldom has to complete in public.

    It hope TI makes an "American mando " set at some point. It felt as though the fuel filter was clogged when you hit the gas
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Leonard View Post
    sb-

    I'd be hesitant to put thomastiks on a pac rim f style mandolin. They may not be a good fit, might not be able to drive the top.

    First, I am a Thomastik user, I have them on my mandolin. If they made a set for octave mandolin, I'd use them there. I loved them on my Collings A style with F holes, my Collings A oval, and now my Girouard. I liked them on my Collings A so much that I decided to try them on the Weber F. had them on for a day. Took them off and they became my backup set for my Collings A style. The collings and the weber are no longer with me.

    Like Marty said, it is probably the stark/hard gauge strings he had on. What did you like about the strings? How did the Elixir lights feel/sound on your mandolin? That will give you an idea of what the Thomastiks might do. If you like the feel of the flatwound strings, and the more mellow sound, you could get the D'addario chrome steel flatwound singles and build your own set with the gauges you like. This is what I did with my octave mandolin. And apparently the D'addario EFW74 are simply a custom set picked from the guitar chrome steel strings. Plus, its is a whole lot cheaper than the Thomastik strings.
    The Elixers that I just put on are marked "Light" and they were .010, .014, .024, .034. The .010 broke almost immediately so I replaced those with .011. The G and D strings seem louder than whatever kinds I've had before. Louder but also kind of brassy-sounding. Of the other kinds of strings I have lying around that I've used I have D'Addario EJ74 and John Pearse. People have always complained I play too quietly using either of those two kinds, and the first time I played with these light Elixers I was immediately receiving a ton of compliments. As if nobody has ever heard me play before. I guess they really are as bright and loud as I think they are.

    I play old-time music mostly, but I've been going to the Irish session with my f-style mandolin. I know it doesn't match, but I'm an American and I nobody there cares it doesn't have the correct appearance.

    I think what I liked about the TI strings was that the G and D strings are as smooth as the other strings. There isn't that buzzy, brassy quality to them. There isn't that guitar string squeaky noise. My friend also said that they last for years and years. I know that most people around here say 7 months. I usually keep my strings, whatever kind they are, on for years and years. To have strings that are actually meant to be on for years and years (or even months and months) seems like a plus.

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Leonard View Post
    First, I am a Thomastik user, I have them on my mandolin. If they made a set for octave mandolin, I'd use them there.
    They do make them for octave mandolin, only they're called the Mandola set (174). (For a mandola, you'd want the Alto Mandolin set - 164 -, but they run short, so you'd have to measure your instrument or count on getting a different tailpiece to accommodate them.)

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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    My experience of Thomastics has been somewhat mixed. You need to suck it and see. On some mandolins they work beautifully, but on other mandolins they suck. On my Lyon and Healy reproduction mandolins they work beautifully, and they worked wonderfully well on a Maple pankcake mandolin I recently finished, but on my other mandolins when I tried them they have been an expensive mistake. Lasted less than half an hour. I can't see any pattern to it, you need to try and see how they sound yourself. I have also tried Elixir's and D'Addario flattops and didn't like them. My go to string has always been D'Addario EFT74's ever since they were first released, and I do like the wound A string. Thomastics can sound sweeter on some mandolins, but on others they sound dull and lifeless. Just my experience, others might see it differently.
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    Quote Originally Posted by bratsche View Post
    They do make them for octave mandolin, only they're called the Mandola set (174). (For a mandola, you'd want the Alto Mandolin set - 164 -, but they run short, so you'd have to measure your instrument or count on getting a different tailpiece to accommodate them.)
    How short? Would they accommodate a 21.5” scale (depending on tailpiece)?
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    How short? Would they accommodate a 21.5” scale (depending on tailpiece)?
    Hi. I just bought the Mittel’s for a 20” scale length octave mandolin and the G string fit with only 2-3mm before the black fabric overlapped the nut. It couldn’t have fit a longer scale length (based on my tailpiece)

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    How short? Would they accommodate a 21.5” scale (depending on tailpiece)?
    Quote Originally Posted by Algreen View Post
    Hi. I just bought the Mittel’s for a 20” scale length octave mandolin and the G string fit with only 2-3mm before the black fabric overlapped the nut. It couldn’t have fit a longer scale length (based on my tailpiece)
    I'm glad you got your answer. I have no experience with the 174s, other than to try them on mandolas, as I don't have an octave mandolin of any scale right now... I was referring to the 164s being short - if you have a 17" scale mandola, in most cases you definitely need a tailpiece with the hooks on the forward end in order to fit these strings.

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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    I was going to ask Peter Coombe this question in person, but thought it might be useful to ask here....Hi Peter, do the TI's sound as good on your classical flat top mandolins as they have proven to be on the L&H carved tops?
    When I finally get my Coombe 2nd Gen Flat top it will be to use in the Sydney Mandolin Orchestra, ALL those guys are using flatwounds and I don't want to stand out unnecessarily !
    Last edited by Dean Gray; Dec-17-2019 at 4:23am.

  17. #14
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    They are flat-wound strings. Regular strings have a diameter that includes gap from the wire being round rather than flat. I think for an f-hole, arch-top, I'd start with the 154ST (what was formerly called the Starks). For a flat-top (i.e., like on my Flatiron 1N), I've used the mittles, which are the next lighter from the 154ST.

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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    Dean, I have not tried Thomastics on any of the classical flat top mandolins so I can't really answer your question. I did change to Thomastics on the Maple Pancake mandolin you played and it made a big difference, much for the better. I suspect the same would apply to a Maple classical flattop, don't know about the others.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    I only use them on my 20s Lyon & Healy mandolin. I have played a Phoenix Neo-Classical (sadly no longer made) that, like Marty Jacobson's mandolins he mentions above, are specifically voiced for Thomastik strings. I think that Gilchrist also makes a classical styoe that may also be made for those strings.
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    Default Re: Thomastik-Infeld string weights

    I have a 20" Weber (haven't played in ages) that I have the Thomastik on....I just removed a bit of the thread so that what was left was above the nut. I wouldn't want to try it on anything much bigger.

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