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Thread: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

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    Default Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    When we buy a set of 'monel', or 'phosphor bronze', or whatever strings, are the unwound strings always plain steel? Is that the same with 'stainless' string sets?

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    I believe the kind of string, phosphor bronze, stainless, etc. only refers to the wrap on the string. The core of the string and the plain strings are not the same as the wrap.
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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    If you ever have seen strings being made, the process includes drawing the wire to the appropriate diameter, then wrapping the wire. All strings have drawn centers then they are wound with another wire of the appropriate material to make the the finished string. The strings are looped and cut. All strings have a steel core. There are differences in the grade and type and steel used.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Indeed. If I may illustrate by example (kind of my thing):

    I recently put a set of D'Addario Nickel Bronze strings (trying something new) on my F-4. I thought they didn't sound bold or "live" enough, so I removed the G and D strings and put them on my A model - where they sound all right - leaving the A and E strings on. I put the G and D strings of the set of D'Addario Phosphor Bronze strings on the F-4, and the A and E strings of that set on the A model. Mix and match. I knew I didn't have to swap out the whole set but could do this because the single strings from each set would be the same.
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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    I'm not sure about the variations available for the treble mandolin strings, but for violin E-strings I see there's quite a range: plain steel (carbon steel or stainless), tin-plated, gold-plated, titanium-plated, and plain steel wound with aluminum or chromeó not to mention plain gut E-strings.

    https://store.fisherviolins.com/Guid...ings_a/298.htm

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Are the Thomastiks unwound A and E strings simply the same as other stainless steel strings?

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post
    I'm not sure about the variations available for the treble mandolin strings, but for violin E-strings I see there's quite a range: plain steel (carbon steel or stainless), tin-plated, gold-plated, titanium-plated, and plain steel wound with aluminum or chromeó not to mention plain gut E-strings.
    https://store.fisherviolins.com/Guid...ings_a/298.htm
    My experience with violin Es is that the different coatings do produce different sounds - perhaps partly because the string is being bowed rather than picked? Some violins have problems with the E string 'whistling' (sounding 2 octaves higher?) specially on the open string. Wound Es can be the solution to a whistler, gold plated Es can sound great, but tend to increase whistling on susceptible fiddles.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Canada View Post
    Are the Thomastiks unwound A and E strings simply the same as other stainless steel strings?
    Thomastik A strings are wound. https://www.thomastik-infeld.com/en/...dolin/mandolin
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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    I wanted some silver strings so I could chase away evil like Silver John in the Manley Wade Wellman books. I don't think there's any such thing, though

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Actually, Sue, you could get silver-wrapped G and D strings from a violin setó but the four strings would cost $100 or so.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    I had this same question a few years back, so I contacted a few string companies - d'addarrio, DR, a few others. The reply was pretty much the same: there are only a few people in the world manufacturing music wire. Each company's alloy may vary slightly from the next, but within d'addarrio for example, ALL their plain strings are the same. Meaning that for mandolins, the A and E strings are all same between a set of phosphor bronze, 80/20, monel, etc.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    I wanted some silver strings so I could chase away evil like Silver John in the Manley Wade Wellman books. I don't think there's any such thing, though
    Sue, try a set of these. And if those look just too downscale, you could always try this set. Let us know if they keep the vampires away.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    I wanted some silver strings so I could chase away evil like Silver John in the Manley Wade Wellman books. I don't think there's any such thing, though

    Sue,

    I love good strings and have my favorites for the violin. They are Evah Pirazzi Gold. They come with a gold-wound G, a silver-wound D, an aluminum-wound A and a really nice steel E that does not whistle on my Roth violin. The cores of the G, D and A are synthetic. Superb sound, but expensive. A set is more than $100. They also have a silver-wound G, that I prefer more than the gold.

    This may explain why I like TI strings on my mandolins.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    I wanted some silver strings so I could chase away evil like Silver John in the Manley Wade Wellman books. I don't think there's any such thing, though
    GHS makes silver strings for mandolin in pure nickel. They have been my strings since they came out. They are no where near $100.
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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    GHS makes silver strings for mandolin in pure nickel. They have been my strings since they came out. They are no where near $100.
    I don't understand, but I'm trying to.

    How can silver strings be pure nickel? These are two completely different elements. Silver (Ag) is atomic number 47; nickel (Ni) is atomic number 28. Silver is a fairly soft metal (2.5 on the Mohs scale), nickel is sort of in the middle though definitely harder (4 on the Mohs scale). One could scarcely be a substitute for the other. Indeed, I'm not sure how silver would be more useful than nickel as a suitable material for strings, being so much softer, despite being more expensive. Unless you mean "silver" as a color. That seems misleading in this context.

    Regardless, that statement doesn't sit right, in terms of how language works. Furthermore, I do not see silver strings in GHS' product lineup.

    So, in closing, I repeat: I don't understand, but I'm trying to.
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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    Sue, try a set of these. And if those look just too downscale, you could always try this set. Let us know if they keep the vampires away.
    Louise, when I thought about this for a hot minute a while back (I was reading a book of Silver John short stories), I saw these, plus some imported ones for about 7 bucks. But alas, the A and E strings are are steel. Evil might just laugh in the face of steel A and E strings.
    Last edited by Sue Rieter; Dec-05-2021 at 8:04am.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    I just looked up some listings of Rotosound plain guitar strings, and they do make plain (unwound) stainless steel strings in gauges suitable for mandolin A and E strings. Probably too bright sounding for mandolin?

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    but within d'addarrio for example, ALL their plain strings are the same. Meaning that for mandolins, the A and E strings are all same between a set of phosphor bronze, 80/20, monel, etc.
    They call their XS plain steel strings "Fusion twist" and put out a graph that says they are 131% more stable. They call their XT "NY Steel" and tout those as well. No mention of the plain steel on other sets.

    I mean the marketing is unsurprising but it is kind of funny that they would readily admit it is all BS when asked directly.
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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    “ How can silver strings be pure nickel? These are two completely different elements. Silver (Ag) is atomic number 47; nickel (Ni) is atomic number 28. Silver is a fairly soft metal (2.5 on the Mohs scale), nickel is sort of in the middle though definitely harder (4 on the Mohs scale). One could scarcely be a substitute for the other. Indeed, I'm not sure how silver would be more useful than nickel as a suitable material for strings, being so much softer, despite being more expensive. Unless you mean "silver" as a color. That seems misleading in this context.

    Regardless, that statement doesn't sit right, in terms of how language works. Furthermore, I do not see silver strings in GHS' product lineup.

    So, in closing, I repeat: I don't understand, but I'm trying to.”

    The confusion probably started many centuries ago, in China, wiith the smelting of copper ore containing nickel, which is the ancestor of nickel-silver, which goes by many names, often implying silver, which is not present. Not only is the stuff ‘silvery’ and seen plated on all sorts of things, but since silver is considered valuable, attaching the name to something of lesser value is obviously attractive.
    Like ‘all wood’ in reference to e.g. particle board, or ply.
    Somehow, our 5 cent coin, which is nickel silver (on and off), escaped being called a “silver”
    Of course, like most of us, I haven’t handled actual coins in a few years, and can’t even recognize them because of the design explosions.
    Now nickel-silver or german silver or argentum as a technical alloy often contains a bit of zinc, which changes the mechanical properties.

    I’m thinking that silver strings wouldn’t help in traditiional anti-vampire mojo, unless they were also crossed, which, like the Ghostbuster streams, would be a bad idea.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I had this same question a few years back, so I contacted a few string companies - d'addarrio, DR, a few others. The reply was pretty much the same: there are only a few people in the world manufacturing music wire. Each company's alloy may vary slightly from the next, but within d'addarrio for example, ALL their plain strings are the same. Meaning that for mandolins, the A and E strings are all same between a set of phosphor bronze, 80/20, monel, etc.
    D'Addario used to make the Martin Bluegrass fiddle strings, and it is my gut feeling that gauges of strings within sets, like light and medium, are a key to understanding who may be supplying the the sets in a private label mode. i.e.; Martin banjo strings come in the same gauges as D'Addario, etc. I have some knowledge about this but am not free and (it may not be wholly correct anyway) to divulge it. There are very few string manufacturers of fretted strings in the USA. Not sure how many. I do know that when D'Addario bought Super-Sensitive, they reformulated the Red Label Violin string to their specs and it made the strings a little less bright and forgiving.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    They call their XS plain steel strings "Fusion twist" and put out a graph that says they are 131% more stable. They call their XT "NY Steel" and tout those as well. No mention of the plain steel on other sets.

    I mean the marketing is unsurprising but it is kind of funny that they would readily admit it is all BS when asked directly.
    To add to the confusion, they used to sell 'New York' plain guitar strings, claiming they stood a lot more abuse (bending etc) than conventional plain strings. The implication is they are/were a different alloy or similar.

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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    I don't understand, but I'm trying to.

    How can silver strings be pure nickel? These are two completely different elements. Silver (Ag) is atomic number 47; nickel (Ni) is atomic number 28. Silver is a fairly soft metal (2.5 on the Mohs scale), nickel is sort of in the middle though definitely harder (4 on the Mohs scale). One could scarcely be a substitute for the other. Indeed, I'm not sure how silver would be more useful than nickel as a suitable material for strings, being so much softer, despite being more expensive. Unless you mean "silver" as a color. That seems misleading in this context.

    Regardless, that statement doesn't sit right, in terms of how language works. Furthermore, I do not see silver strings in GHS' product lineup.

    So, in closing, I repeat: I don't understand, but I'm trying to.
    Yup JB I was thinking silver in color. While silver strings will work for a violin, they would be too soft for a fretted instrument and not last long. So I was thinking Sue wanted them for her mandolin and was just using the nickel for the silver color. I like the nickel strings and use them myself, they are a good sound on my mandolins.
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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Interesting about so much use of nickel... A lot of people have serious allergies to nickel.

    Most banjo players are aware of this either from personal experience or from banjo playing friends who have nickel allergies.
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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    Yup JB I was thinking silver in color.
    Oh, good. Clears that up. Thanks!

    Yeah, tried D'Addario Nickel Bronze strings for a change from Phosphor Bronze. I don't really care for them, have less of the warm tone I'm used to. Not sure why PB are called that, whether there is some phosphorus mixed into the alloy. But the NB definitely have the silvery color.
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    Default Re: Are unwound strings always plain steel?

    FYI, wire materials have always been of particular importance for wire harpers. Yes, softer metals wouldn't work on a fretted instrument with alloy frets, but they're used on harps. Here's an article for anyone wanting more info: http://www.wirestrungharp.com/materi...er_report.html
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