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Thread: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not starks?

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not starks?

    I am curious about this. The gauges are extremely close. Does a slight increase in guage have a disproportionate increase in tension that would be too much for the instruments? Thank you.

    Here are the guages:

    Thomastik mittels:
    .010 015 .021 .033

    Thomastik stark;
    .011 .016 .022 .034

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    I am going to add some additional info from this old thread. This statement by luthier Paul Hostetter surprised me:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...tage-mandolins

    “Gibsons and L&H's came from the factory with the equivalent of J-74s on them. Back then there were no real choices in gauges, that's what strings were available, and your only choices were steel wrap or bronze wrap. The Gibsons and L&H's (13-7/8" and 13" scales respectively) were engineered for those gauges. I see no point to using lighter strings on them just because it's 80 years later.”

    I was very surprised to read this because I always had the impression that putting something with greater tension than the TI’s would damage an L&H arch top. So I’m a bit confused. Perhaps someone can chime in and enlighten me? Thank you!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    I do not necessarily agree with Mr. Hostetter's statement about only one choice of string gauge being available in the old days.

    I have strung L & H's with D'addario or GHS 10 1/2 -14 -24 -38 for long periods of time with no consequences. I generally do not go more than a fraction heavier on any pre-war carved mandolins.

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    I do not necessarily agree with Mr. Hostetter's statement about only one choice of string gauge being available in the old days.

    I have strung L & H's with D'addario or GHS 10 1/2 -14 -24 -38 for long periods of time with no consequences. I generally do not go more than a fraction heavier on any pre-war carved mandolins.
    Thank you. Do you not go beyond the 10 1/2 -14 -24 -38 gauge because experience has taught you it is hazardous to an L&H? The TI starks E and A string are heavier than the gauges you set as your maximum. I wonder if this is honing in on the reason folks seem to favor TI mittels over starks? I can find no reference on the Cafe to anyone using starks by the way. As my original post says, the gauges seem remarkably close - and I wonder if that small of a gauge difference can mean a very large change in string tension?

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
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    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    An aside: Lyon & Healy made mandolins in both 13 7/8" and 13" scale lengths.

    I don't think you can generalize broadly about the correct string gauge for either maker. Instruments vary over the history of both. Although in general both are pretty robust instruments in my experience.
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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    I am curious about this. The gauges are extremely close. Does a slight increase in guage have a disproportionate increase in tension that would be too much for the instruments? Thank you.

    Here are the guages:

    Thomastik mittels:
    .010 015 .021 .033

    Thomastik stark;
    .011 .016 .022 .034
    Hi Tim,

    I don't know where those gauges come from as TI don't print them on the packs. However, they do list string tensions at their official website:

    https://www.thomastik-infeld.com/en/...dolin/mandolin

    The difference in rated tension is pretty significant between the mittel and the starks. Flatwound strings can be tricky to compare as the gauge to string tension conversion is quite different compared to roundwounds.

    Martin

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Jonas View Post
    Hi Tim,

    I don't know where those gauges come from as TI don't print them on the packs. However, they do list string tensions at their official website:

    https://www.thomastik-infeld.com/en/...dolin/mandolin

    The difference in rated tension is pretty significant between the mittel and the starks. Flatwound strings can be tricky to compare as the gauge to string tension conversion is quite different compared to roundwounds.

    Martin
    Ahhhhh.....the gauges come from StringsByMail. Here is a recap with tensions:

    Thomastik mittels:
    .010 015 .021 .033
    16.1, 14.8, 14.3, 13.2 (pounds)

    Thomastik stark;
    .011 .016 .022 .034
    17.4, 15.4, 15.4, 15.4

    The G string for example is almost a 17% increase in tension!! So I guess the remaining question is whether that is too much tension or do players just not like the sound of the starks????

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    Thank you. Do you not go beyond the 10 1/2 -14 -24 -38 gauge because experience has taught you it is hazardous to an L&H? The TI starks E and A string are heavier than the gauges you set as your maximum. I wonder if this is honing in on the reason folks seem to favor TI mittels over starks? I can find no reference on the Cafe to anyone using starks by the way. As my original post says, the gauges seem remarkably close - and I wonder if that small of a gauge difference can mean a very large change in string tension?
    I have no experience with Thomastik strings. If the tension figures that other Cafe members have cited are accurate, their unwound strings have a slightly lower tension than the US made strings of the same diameter. Based on those figures, an L & H should be able to handle either Thomastik set.

    When I choose strings, I take into several things into account: tone, feel, what I think is reasonable tension for a particular instrument to handle, and experience with how a particular instrument responds to a choice of gauge or alloy.

    Lyon & Healy's tend to be built a little bit lighter than Gibson oval instruments. I know from experience as a player and owner that they respond well to the US strings I cited above.

    I know from experience as a repairman that some old Gibson oval hole instruments can handle just a little bit more, but tend to develop problems when strung much heavier. For old Gibsons, the absolute maximum I recommend is 11-15-25-40, and that's pushing it on some instruments. Remember, every instrument is different, and some can handle more than others, even if they were built in the same month.

    For some reason, people seem more inclined to put heavier strings on Gibson mandolins than they do on those made by Lyon and Healy.

    Some will argue with me about what these old mandolins can handle. They don't have to look a shocked customer in the eye when I tell them what the cost will be to fix a mandolin that's suffered a badly warped neck or a sunken top from being overstrung; especially when somebody on a forum told them the instrument could handle a heavy string.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    I use the Thomastic mittels, mostly because that is what the fellow I bought it from strongly recommended. I have not tried the stark.
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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    rcc56: Thank you for a very informative post. I think your observation that every instrument is different even if made in the same month is worth keeping in mind. A quick first search has not shown me the tension on the strings you mentioned in your earlier post - bit I will find it (curiosity), I’m sure. Thanks again for the input.
    Last edited by Tim Logan; Jun-01-2020 at 5:17am.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
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    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    EVERYBODY, I ERRED ABOVE: the string gauges were from Just Strings AND I picked up incorrect tension data columns from the TI site earlier. Sorry! Here is the correct info. Tension figures are straight from:

    https://www.thomastik-infeld.com/en/...dolin/mandolin

    Thomastik mittels:
    .010 015 .021 .033
    17.4 15.4 15.4 15.4 (pounds)

    Thomastik stark;
    .011 .016 .022 .034
    21.8 18.7 17.6 17.6 (pounds)
    Last edited by Tim Logan; Jun-01-2020 at 5:13am.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do L&H Model A, B, & C owners use TI mittels and not star

    Although I do love the TI mittels, I cannot but help wanting to experiment with different strings on my L&H model A. However, I do not want to put an inappropriately high tension string on it. Just to be a bit neurotic, I’m going to ask this: it sounds like, from the comments above, that Dogal R92 (medium) .010. .015 .025 .037 strings would not be a problem. However, I do not know the tension and understand that their core material may contribute to the tension being disproportionately higher than the guage increase. Does anyone know for sure if the R92’s would be “safe” on the L&H? As always, thank you.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Phoenix Neoclassical Europa III #623
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress!

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