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Thread: String recommendations

  1. #1

    Default String recommendations

    I know a mess of people swear by the D'Addario J74s, but I'm wondering what other brands or gauges are popular. Can anybody tell me what their favorite strings are and why? I'm mostly looking for options. I have an Amazon cheapo that I've restrung with J74s.

    I also have an Eastman MD504 coming any day. I want to get the most out of both, but I figure the Eastman is coming with a good setup from The Mandolin Store, while the Amazon special could probably be improved by something else. I'm mostly interested in lighter gauge strings. (Anyone else feel like the mando is harder to fret than a guitar?) Does anyone have recommendations for something lighter than the J74s?

    Jim

  2. #2
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: String recommendations

    My 1901 Gibson oval hole A has the D'Addario 80/20 10-34 (or 36) set. My dad mentioned that it needed to be strung up lightly so as not to self destruct.

    If your mandolin is harder to fret than a guitar, it's because the setup is bad. My Doyle Lawson is strung 11.5, 16, 26, 40, and plays effortlessly. The neck and fretwork are very good, and allow an extremely low action with great sound and no buzz. I had 11-40 on it at first, but the thicker plain strings sound and feel better. I use D'Addario Nickel Bronze strings on both F-5s and my guitar. They're a little lower tension than Phosphor Bronze, but I use them for the punchier tone. The extended life and slightly lower tension are bonuses.
    2016 Gibson Doyle Lawson F-5
    GHS PF270 11-40
    Dunlop 500 .96mm

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: String recommendations

    I used to use the J74's all the time until I discovered Elixir Nano Web mediums. I use them for both guitar and mandolins. The sound is great and they last much longer than other strings. Good luck and give these a try, you won't be sorry.

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  6. #4
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: String recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Oregon Jim View Post
    I know a mess of people swear by the D'Addario J74s, but I'm wondering what other brands or gauges are popular.
    Popular brands include Elixir, John Pearse, DR, GHS, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oregon Jim View Post
    Can anybody tell me what their favorite strings are and why?
    I like Curt Mangan, because I can find sets in a range of materials and gauges for different instruments with periodic promotions and incentives for buying in bulk.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oregon Jim View Post
    (Anyone else feel like the mando is harder to fret than a guitar?)
    Because of its double courses and shorter scale, the mandolin requires more pressure to fret cleanly, but you also might be experiencing the effects of playing an “Amazon cheapo” that has not been thoroughly set up by someone who knows his or her way around a mandolin.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oregon Jim View Post
    Does anyone have recommendations for something lighter than the J74s?
    D’Addario makes a medium-light J73 as well as a light J62; however, I’d wait for the Eastman to determine whether the gauge or the setup is the true issue you’re encountering.
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  8. #5

    Default Re: String recommendations

    Thanks for your thoughts everyone. As a couple of you said, there's a good chance my fretting problem is related to setup issues. I look forward to getting the Eastman tomorrow (fingers crossed) with the fresh TMS setup and hope it will prove a lot easier to make clean chords and notes.

    The strings on my cheapo are about 1/14 of an inch from the 12th fret. That translates to .0714, which is a fair amount more than the .059 Rob Meldrum suggests in his nifty ebook on setup, but not outrageously high. Would that be enough to cause the problem? I've tried lowering the action from the bridge end, but I begin to get buzz which I think is associated with the nut end of things.

    Jim
    Last edited by Oregon Jim; Jul-07-2020 at 2:40pm.

  9. #6
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: String recommendations

    It sounds like your issues are due to the setup, or lack there of. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the Eastman’s playability.
    2016 Gibson Doyle Lawson F-5
    GHS PF270 11-40
    Dunlop 500 .96mm

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  11. #7
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: String recommendations

    My Eastman 315 seemed to really like the Siminoff Straight up sets. The E and A courses tended to have a bit much bite for my ears, and the Siminoff's had a great balance.
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

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