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Thread: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    I strung it with standard 11-14-24-38, which yielded good tone and caused no consequences to the mandolin.
    I'm going to try D'Addario EFW74's with gauges 11-15-26-36. I'd like to try several flatwound sets and choose a winner before the nut and bridge adjustments are done. Any suggestions are more than welcome.

  2. #27
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    Except for the 36, that's heavier than I would recommend for an L & H. It might stress the top, and these older mandolins usually seem to respond better to lighter strings.

  3. #28
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    I'll steer clear of those then, not seeing many other choices though for flatwounds.

  4. #29
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    I don't know of many choices in flatwounds.
    Personally, I've always favored standard nickel or 80/20 bronze on the old mandolins. These days, I lean more towards nickel.

  5. #30
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    I thought the seller included at least one set of Thomastik mandolin strings. I would use those. I have the T-I mediums on mine and it is fine. I also used them on my 1921 Bacon Artist and they sound fine on that one as well.
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  6. #31
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    This company offers flatwounds in the Optima and Pyramid brands, as well as the Thomastik-Infeld. I seem to remember the D'Addario flatwounds have a plain E and A course, where the Thomastiks have a plain E and a wound A. I'm not sure whether the Optima or Pyramids have wound or plain As. If you do change strings to find what you like, keep the old ones. The T-Is last far longer than most mandolin strings, and it would be a shame to toss away a set with two weeks of playing time on them.

    I have a long-scale L&H B, probably a year newer than yours, and it has been fine with the T-I mediums. The necks on those mandolins are sturdy. The black line in the middle of the neck is vulcanized fiber, like the pick guard. For an early form of plastic, the vulcanized fiber has held up very well.

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  8. #32
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    Tension figures are easily available from some manufacturers.
    Here's some info from the Thomastik and D'Addario websites:

    TI medium: 126 lbs.
    TI heavy: 154 lbs.

    J73 light: 156 lbs.
    EJ74 phosphor: 170 lbs.
    EF74 flat wound: 172 lbs.
    EFT74 flat tops: 192 lbs.

    Note that the TI mediums have the lowest tension of the above sets.
    TI heavies and J74 lights are approximately equal in tension.
    EF74 flat wound are 16 to 18 lbs. higher in tension than TI heavies and D'Addario lights.
    EFT 74 Flat tops 36 to 38 lbs. higher that TI heavies and D'Addario lights.

    My general rule of thumb for safely stringing carved L & H and oval hole Gibson mandolins is not to exceed 160 lbs. of tension on the instruments. You might be able to get away with a few lbs. more on a Gibson that's really solid.

    Do folks get away with stringing these old mandolins heavier? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. When the answer is no, the result is a badly warped neck and/or a deformed top.

  9. #33
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    From Strings By Mail site — https://www.stringsbymail.com/optima...set-13456.html
    Optima Mandolin 3050.L Soloist Flatwound Polished Strings 10-30, Set
    Flatwound Mandolin Strings wound in pure nickel, finely polished
    3051.L - .010 - e - Silver Steel
    3052.L - .013 - a - Pure Nickel Flatwound
    3053.L - .020 - d - Pure Nickel Flatwound
    3054.L - .030 - g - Pure Nickel Flatwound
    The other flatwound sets are not described on that page.

    The Pyramid string listing don’t say whether the A is wound or not. https://www.stringsbymail.com/mandol.../pyramid-3504/
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  10. #34
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I thought the seller included at least one set of Thomastik mandolin strings. I would use those.
    He did include the light set Jim, they're on the mandolin now and sound great. I was surprised to learn they were the light set because they produce a great range of volume.

    The nut and bridge need some adjustment and my luthier said my homework was to decide on which strings I'll be using before he does this work in early February.

    I'm inclined to try the TI mediums before that happens. It is wasteful and expensive to replace these pricey strings with so much life left but I'm trying to get the setup dialed in for the long haul.

  11. #35
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    I would keep the current strings on if you like the way they sound. Let him set up your mandolin with those lighter strings. If you later decide you want the mediums I would think it might just be some very slight adjustment for the mediums. If you are planning to use a completely different string then I can understand. But I can’t imagine that switching to a slightly heavier gauge would entail a major re-adjustment. Finally don’t drive yourself crazy. There is no long haul. You are just starting in a journey. I have gone through different strings an often didn’t bother to see my luthier each time I switched.

    I have done the same journey for violin strings. I started with cheap ones years ago stuck to the metal cores then eventually made it over to the synthetic cores now I am using ones that advanced violinists might use. And these are close to twice the cost of T-I mandolin strings.

    Enjoy playing your mandolin. Don’t worry so much about the perfect strings. Have your luthier do the set up work with these if you like them. Did you say that your luthier cannot do the set up until February? What reason?
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Dec-02-2022 at 10:13pm.
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  13. #36
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    The compliment to the Thomastik 154w (W stands for soft or light) is D'Addario EFW74 flatwound stainless light.

    Jim is right. Your luthier is right. You'll be all-right with this set up.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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  15. #37
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    Default Re: Lost in my search of a mandolin for classical music

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    Jim is right. Your luthier is right. You'll be all-right with this set up.
    Jim continues to guide me well and I'm very grateful. Now is a good time to just enjoy the thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Did you say that your luthier cannot do the set up until February? What reason?
    Appointment is set for then but he mentioned possibility of doing it a couple weeks earlier. Looked like he is slammed with work and the holidays might play into it too.

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