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Thread: Best type of string for my mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User Stephen Cagle's Avatar
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    Default Best type of string for my mandolin

    Well this will most likely prompt a lot of comments. It's regarding what string will sound best on my mandolin. With all the choices is that even possible? Over the years I've used D'addario, GHS, Gibson (sam bush) and a few others. There are so many choices today and I feel pretty confident one would "best fit" my mandolin. Just a little info first:
    I have a really wonderful Rat. Ive owned and played many Rat's over the years and this one is certainly the best I've ever played.
    Construction: Engelmann topped. Maple back and sides. Pretty darn woody right outta the case when built (August 2013).
    Currently strung up with GHS silk/ steels which I like. These strings will bring out the woody tone very nicely but I'm looking for more volume. (I think the woody toned strings and engelmann top dampens the volume some naturally) Is there a string that helps produce a woody tone but also have nice volume to them? I'm open to try any string and currently looking over the strings and beyond website.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    I use D'Addarios - they go to eleven.

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    Nobody can tell you what will sound best to you on your mandolin! You will likely get recommendations from others reflecting their favorite strings.

    I'd recommend purchasing several different string sets from an online supplier, or from your local brick store, if they have a selection of different brands and types of mandolin strings. Strings are pretty cheap. Try to make a recording with a new set on right after installed and about 2 weeks later, so that you will have an objective comparison in the future. Unless you get tone Nirvana immediately, change strings with a different brand, a different alloy, coating, or a different gauge and repeat. Try to duplicate your recording set up, whether it's just your iPhone or a more sophisticated system. After a few string set changes, you'll probably have a good idea of the string gauge and alloy you prefer, then you can audition other brand strings that are similar. If a string set really gets your juices flowing, just stick with it!

    Best of luck!

  5. #4

    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    Strings are like everything else in life, a compromise. You just need to fing which compromise works.
    Silverangel A
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    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    I've found monels (like the now defunct Sam Bush set) to have a more fundamental, less brash tone than PB strings, but without a significant volume loss. YMMV. I mainly use D'Addairio EJ 74 or 75s depending on what I can find locally, but have monels (I think Martins) on one of my guitars presently and will probably try D'Addairio's version on mandolin as well at some point. Might be the compromise between good volume and the more "woody" tone of which you speak. Also, I feel like I've gotten better volume out of EJ 75s on an old, overbuilt Kentucky I used to have, and also on my Silverangel Econo (which was not at all overbuilt, but Ken builds with this string gauge in mind--or at least he was when mine was built).
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    I prefer GHS A270's on my F and A5 but Mangan Monels on my ovals.
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  8. #7
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    John Soper offered good advice above..... Yeah it depends on your playing style , taste in tone and instrument. Metal , gauge, coating and brand are the decisions you have you make. An online store like Just Strings will give you more of a variety to choose from than your local store, usually. Online vendors will likely offer a better price but watch out for shipping charges. There are large manufacturers like D'Addario and smaller makers like Curt Magnan. I have strings from both. D'Addario EJ74 is a well manufactured string from large company the Curt Magnan phosphor bronze .11-.40 strings is also a personal favorite. And there are MANY other well made strings for companies both listed and unmentioned above. Take your time ,spend some money and remember …. you get to do this string search next time you buy another mandolin. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    My Northfield has an Engelmann top, and some types of strings make it sound more compressed and less projecting.
    I have found that the Straight Up Strings medium set works really well for me.
    They are very even across the courses, and have great volume.
    They last longer than many on my mandolin.

    I have tried lots of different brands and sets

    I have used straight D'addario 74s, and they were pretty good.
    I would use them again without worrying.

    I have used EXP74s, and didn't like them on this mandolin.
    On the bass strings they seem to add a slight plastic thunk to the tone.
    They work well on other mandolins I have though.

    Monels on my mandolin sounded very cool, but not what I want my tone to be.
    They were more "cold steel" in the way it sounded. Less warmth, but decent fundamental tone.
    I only left them on for a couple of days.
    I should have tried them for a bluegrass jam, just to see if it changed the way it cuts through the mix.

    I tried Elixir nano coated strings, but I kinda hated them.
    They just felt weird, got a sort of microscopic fur after a while, and they had the slight plastic thunk in the tone.

    I tried several others too, but cant remember what they were.
    Of the Straight Up Strings, I tried both mediums and heavies.
    I like the mediums better for this mandolin.
    My mandolin is a resonant one, and the heavies damped the resonance too much for my liking.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

  10. #9
    Registered User Stephen Cagle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    Thanks everyone for your response I really appreciate it. I had actually forgot about Straight up strings so they are a must to try. I was going to buy some when they first come out and honestly forgot about them. Also gonna try the D'Addario monel 11-40 and kinda interested in the D'Addario Nickel bronze 11-40.

    Thanks again. I do appreciate it!

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    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    I have also used a lot of different strings. GHS silk and bronze for quite a while. Now using GHS pure nickel and like them a lot.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  12. #11
    Registered User Aaron Bohnen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best type of string for my mandolin

    There's a lot to be said for the new d'addario XT sets. They sound like EJ74s but last longer and are claimed to stay in tune better. I put the XTM1140 set on my dad's mandolin and they seem pretty impressive so far. I can't speak for others but all the reviews I've seen have been good. Based on his experience they're next in line on my F5.

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by Aaron Bohnen; Jan-03-2020 at 1:20pm.

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