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Thread: Flatwound mandolin strings

  1. #26
    Registered User bstanish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    I looked up the strings on the Strings by Mail site but could only find the Optima Flatwound Mediums... didn't see the Soloist line offered. Maybe they took it off their shelves. I was really hoping to try them.
    I took a look back at my orders and it appears that I special ordered the Soloist set from SBM. You could probably do the same if you really wanted to try them out. I don't remember it taking much longer than a regular order.

    Cheers

  2. #27
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Boss_Hagwon_Daniel View Post
    I guess now you can say whether they're worth twice that price. They're ~$50 at most online retailers I've found!

    I'm planning to get some soon. I've only ever read glowing descriptions of them.
    Pricey, yes, but they’ll last more than a year.

  3. #28
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    There have been a lot of responses to the OPs question about flatwound strings by suggesting the D’Addario FT74. Whether you like those strings or not is a personal preference (I personally hated them). What you need to know, however is that the FT74 is NOT a flatwound string. There is a night and day difference in tone, feel, material and tension. FT74 strings are regular roundwound bronze strings that have the outer layer ground to a flat surface. The two biggest differences between FlatTop strings and flatwound strings is 1- flattops are bronze, flatwound are stainless steel and 2- flattops have space between the windings where dirt and oils collect and flatwounds have no space between the windings. That’s the two main reasons why flatwounds last so long. Steel does not corrode like bronze and dirt and finger oils can’t get into the windings. I know it’s personal preference but it drives me crazy when FT strings get talked about in threads about flatwound strings. They’re so entirely different from each other.

  4. #29
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by tofuhippo View Post
    do they sell the flattop G and D strings seperately? (since the a string breaks so often) and i wonder what kind of life the Thomastics get? someone told me they change their Thomastics out about once a year. also i understand that the Thomastic thickness gauge is off... i.e. a medium set is a light, a heavy set is a medium. does anyone know about this?
    I used Thomastik for about 10 or so years and they would be on the mandolin between 1 to 1-1/2 years depending on how many gigs I had that year. Concerning the weight, it’s not that heavy is medium or medium is light or anything like that. It’s just that Thomastik measures their tension differently. Flatwound strings, by the nature if their construction, are lighter tension than roundwound strings. So a flatwound string of the same diameter as a roundwound string will be a lighter tension. So a heavy flatwound string will have a similar tension as a medium roundwound string.

  5. #30
    Emando lover David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    I have them on my gretsch New Yorker. I think they sound good and feel good. But they’re quiet. Mellow. Good for jazz and classical.
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  6. #31
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    I had flat wound strings on an electric mandolin and liked them so much I put them on two acoustic mandos too. The were definitely less bright than conventional strings, but I liked the sound.
    One factor that I don't think anyone has mentioned is the fact that they feel great on the fingers. Also, no string screech if you slide your fingers up the wound strings.
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  7. #32
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    First: this thread goes back to 2004 which is why one post says TI strings cost $21.50.

    Using flatwounds is always a matter of taste. The only mandolins of mine I like them on is my Lyon & Healy A. German mandolins and Phoenix neo-classical model among a few others are voiced specifically for TI strings. I dislike them on my other mandolins including bowlbacks but some players do prefer them.
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  8. #33
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Has anyone tried flatwound strings with a nylon/nylgut core or non-metal core? Or even non-metal core strings? I'm referring specifically to G & D strings in the set. I purchased two sets of Savarez Extra Light strings from Julien Martineau at the 2017 CMSA Milwaukee Convention; I think he uses these on his custom Roman bowlback from Brian Dean. Silvery Steel plain A & E strings and steel-wound G and D with nylon (or silk, I can't remember) cores. I put a set on bowlback and the other set on an early Flat-back Washburn. Both projected very loud and well with bright tone, sustaining lows and punchy highs; surprising for such light gauges. But they didn't last very long as they eventually broke, maybe from manufacturer quality or that my mandolins were too long of a scale for those strings to handle. I think Julien custom commissions this set from Savarez since I can't find them for else anywhere else online. And they are not the Savarez 1540 set available online. Granted, these are not exactly flat wound strings; they actually reminded me of the Low G ukulele strings. I've been looking for some flat wound nylon combo.

  9. #34
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Aquila tested a set designed for modern mandolins back in 2015 (see this thread) and sent sets to some of us to report back. I am not so sure they ever went into production.

    Thomastik mandolin family strings are probaby based on their solid steel or braided steel core violin strings but I don't think they make any strings similar to their violin strings with synthetic cores.
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  10. #35
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Gean Vincent Almendras View Post
    Has anyone tried flatwound strings with a nylon/nylgut core or non-metal core? Or even non-metal core strings? I'm referring specifically to G & D strings in the set. I purchased two sets of Savarez Extra Light strings from Julien Martineau at the 2017 CMSA Milwaukee Convention; I think he uses these on his custom Roman bowlback from Brian Dean. Silvery Steel plain A & E strings and steel-wound G and D with nylon (or silk, I can't remember) cores. I put a set on bowlback and the other set on an early Flat-back Washburn. Both projected very loud and well with bright tone, sustaining lows and punchy highs; surprising for such light gauges. But they didn't last very long as they eventually broke, maybe from manufacturer quality or that my mandolins were too long of a scale for those strings to handle. I think Julien custom commissions this set from Savarez since I can't find them for else anywhere else online. And they are not the Savarez 1540 set available online. Granted, these are not exactly flat wound strings; they actually reminded me of the Low G ukulele strings. I've been looking for some flat wound nylon combo.
    Ah, here they are: Julien Martineau Strings. I wonder if they are available anywhere in the US. Maybe only in Europe?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Specifications

    Designed with world-renowned mandolinist Julien Martineau, the new Savarez Premium strings for mandolin are inspired by the strings of the 18th century and their so magical sound.

    They are perfectly true in tone, and offer an exceptionnal playing confort. Its rich harmonic spectrum provides contribute to a clear sound.

    Mi-E-1 and La-A-2 strings are made of bare stainless steel, which gives them a longer lifetime by avoiding oxidation.

    Ré-D-3 and Sol-G-4 strings are made of silver plated copper spun on a synthetique core (multifilament of a specialy made polymer, elaborated for its tension, elasticity and stiffness, characteristics fit for mandolin). Combination between a synthetic core and and silver plated copper offers a great homogeneity among the strings and allows an easy playing.
    Tensions:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Jim

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  11. #36
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by mandobassman View Post
    Pricey, yes, but they’ll last more than a year.
    I kill them in about 2 months.
    For me, Thomastiks are overpriced, I used them for many years, but they kept becoming more and more expensive until I couldn't justify the outlay. In the meantime, I play Fisoma Supersolos, which are also flat wound, but cost less than half the price of TI's . I'm not aware of a source directly in the US, but Lord of the Strings in the Netherlands ships worldwide (nfi).
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

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  13. #37
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Polecat View Post
    I kill them in about 2 months.
    For me, Thomastiks are overpriced, I used them for many years, but they kept becoming more and more expensive until I couldn't justify the outlay. In the meantime, I play Fisoma Supersolos, which are also flat wound, but cost less than half the price of TI's . I'm not aware of a source directly in the US, but Lord of the Strings in the Netherlands ships worldwide (nfi).
    Yes, I stopped using TI for the same reason. Even only changing them once a year, I couldn’t justify the cost. That, and the fact that D’Addario came out with their flatwounds, which are more suited for Bluegrass anyway. Been using them ever since. I actually did try the Fisima Supersolo once. I broke two of the wound strings and the E courses had a strange sitar-like sound to them. I only tried that one set but was not satisfied with them. It made me question the quality since I had never broken a set of TI’s in over 10 years of use.

  14. #38
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Busman View Post
    One factor that I don't think anyone has mentioned is the fact that they feel great on the fingers. Also, no string screech if you slide your fingers up the wound strings.
    I always take that for granted until I play someone else’s mandolin. The screech from the windings drives me crazy.

    Love flatwounds!!

  15. #39
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    First: this thread goes back to 2004 which is why one post says TI strings cost $21.50.
    When I started using them in 1998 they were around $17.50. I thought that was a lot!!

    I stopped using them when they were over $40.

  16. #40
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Quote Originally Posted by mandobassman View Post
    Yes, I stopped using TI for the same reason. Even only changing them once a year, I couldn’t justify the cost. That, and the fact that D’Addario came out with their flatwounds, which are more suited for Bluegrass anyway. Been using them ever since. I actually did try the Fisima Supersolo once. I broke two of the wound strings and the E courses had a strange sitar-like sound to them. I only tried that one set but was not satisfied with them. It made me question the quality since I had never broken a set of TI’s in over 10 years of use.
    The D’Addario flatwounds don't have a wound A string, and feel much stiffer to me than the european sets. When I used TIs, occasionally an A string would break, as is also the case with Fisomas - I have not had an issue with the quality, as I have always been able to get them replaced (I stopped using TIs in about '98, pre-internet, bought them in a music shop).
    About 6 months ago I acquired an octave mandolin, and being unable to find suitable flat wounds, I put a set together from this website, I had to replace the tailpiece to accommodate the ball-ends, but its worked out pretty well.
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

  17. #41
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    FWIW equivalent violin strings cost about the same as T-I mandolin ~$40USD. And you get 1/2 the number of strings.
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  18. #42

    Default Re: Flatwound mandolin strings

    Oooh a zombie thread!

    Flatwounds have a unique tone, and feel.

    I WAS a long time Tomastik user and lover, even at $40 a set. I recall when they were $20.

    BUT, i wont buy them any longer.

    For me, somewhat heavy handed, older sets lasted 9 months of heavy daily playing. TIs are fast and smooth, have less tension, and make really high fret work was effortless. Yes they are a bit “dead on arrival”, in tone, in a way. But, when they are good, long lasting, i love them. Less tension per given gauge results in less drive for an addy top, unless one uses the heavy/starks.

    Mic’d mittels sound like regular phosphor bronze strings.
    I favored them because of the unusually fine tuning stability. I could play hours with no need to tune!


    But, over the past year, I have had two sets, each on a different mandolin, and each set had a broken string within a week. Fwiw, I bought these on amazon . Others I have bought from on line discount string sellers. These had no breakage issues. I cant imagine these are ever counterfeit. These had the black silk wrap.

    I did call the NYC TI distributor, and they graciously sent replacements, one A one D. I had to send the broken strings back!

    But, im done with TI because of this. Simply too much $ to break, too much trouble to get warraranty spare strings, and too pricey to buy spares to have on hand. Imho, other spares, non TI, dont really work.

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