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Thread: Mando and guitar string question

  1. #1
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Mando and guitar string question

    In general, with older, lighter-built instruments, owners will be given advice to use light gauged strings, for obvious reasons.

    I am wanting to used medium gauged strings on an older mando and an older guitar. I know, or have been told, that string tension and gauge do not necessarily correlate. I am wondering if there is a type of string (monel, for example) that would allow me to have a set of medium gauged strings on the instrument, while providing about the same tension as light strings. If such a string exists.

    I was guessing monel might fit the bill, but I am seeking more expert advice on the subject.

    Thanks for your replies.
    Chris Cravens

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  2. #2
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando and guitar string question

    Gauge always matches tension for similar materials. Bronze, nickel, monel, and flatwound have nearly identical tension for identical gauge. Silk and steel are lower tension in the wound strings, although not a large difference. "Flat-top" are milled roundwounds and a bit more dense, thus a little higher tension for similar gauge.

    Why not just use thinner (lighter gauge) strings? Consider, also, that you can buy single strings at your chosen gauges to customize your setup. Once you have sets you like, buy in bulk (dozens) to save money.
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    Default Re: Mando and guitar string question

    Unlike most mandolin's, older guitars were usually built for heavier gauge strings. Unless the guitar has structural issues. I wouldn't worry.

  4. #4
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando and guitar string question

    I appreciate the replies.

    Maybe I should re-word the question: what are the lightest tension, medium gauged strings on the market?

    What alloy (monel?) or configuration (slik and steel?)?

    Thanks!
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5 Mandolin
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Girouard A Mandola
    Leo Posch D-18

  5. #5
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando and guitar string question

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    I appreciate the replies.

    Maybe I should re-word the question: what are the lightest tension, medium gauged strings on the market?

    What alloy (monel?) or configuration (slik and steel?)?

    Thanks!
    Why do you need medium diameter? Lighter (thinner) strings will sit fine in the bridge and nut if properly cut.

    My good friend who repairs guitars and regularly has to reset necks on old guitars would disagree about heavy strings. I remember from long ago that pickers wanting louder guitars strung their old Martins with heavy gauge, and ended up with lifting bridges and tilted necks.

    At a given thickness silk and steel are lower tension on the wound strings. Of course classical guitar strings, being nylon and low density are very low tension. Maybe Aquila nylgut is what you want, but I don't understand the emphasis on gauge.

    BTW, you can go to sites like JustStrings.com and click on the "details" tab under a given set of strings and read the exact tension of individual strings.
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    Default Re: Mando and guitar string question

    GHS has a new string out that I have put on some old ladder braced guitars with great success. They are 'thin core' and come in several gauges. With a much thinner core they have less tension than their counterparts with a heavier core.
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  8. #7

    Default Re: Mando and guitar string question

    Round core strings are generally less tension for a given gauge.

    Newtone strings masterclass mediums have as much, or close to, the same tension as Daddario lights.
    Curt Mangan also makes round core strings.

    Word of caution, round cores have to be brought up to full pitch before you trim the ends.

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Mando and guitar string question

    You can actually put extra heavy strings on a mando or guitar BUT you have to tune everything a fret, two or even more DOWN to get a total tension that the instrument can handle. The tone can (sometimes) be cool.
    After tuning down you need to put on a capo to get the tuning back up to ‘standard’ -that’s if you want to play tunes at open position.

    -the slot sizes at the nut can also be an issue.

  11. #9
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando and guitar string question

    Thanks for all the replies!

    I now have some strings to experiment with.
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5 Mandolin
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Girouard A Mandola
    Leo Posch D-18

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