A String Query

  1. Reywas
    I've never seen anyone mention this before, but there's something magical about the A strings on my mandolin.

    Exhibit G
    Whenever I begin practicing, I take some time to tune up my strings. No matter how much I mess up, at least I was in tune. I hone right in on my G and D strings, only to be off just enough to fall out of the 'perfect' zone on my electric tuner-sometimes even wavering between on tune and just high or low. You would think given the amount we complain about tuning that every string would be equally as finicky, and yet for some reason my A strings never are.

    Exhibit A
    Like a magnet flying towards a refrigerator or a dog leaping after a ball, my A strings seem to naturally gravitate towards being in tune. Maybe the tuners are just magic, because I always seem to give just the right twist to hit the sweet spot. Today I even switched out the factory strings for D'Addarios, and the same thing happened. When I tried to tune just above perfect to account for stretching, it was just as hard to avoid being in tune as it usually is to get into it.
    So, after all of that setup, here's my question for everyone: Do your tuners love A more than any other note? Is your mandolin synced up to the vibrations of the universe, always gravitating towards that magical A? While the rest of the strings conspire to ruin your tone, do the As alone fight to make you sound good? Or is my tuner just broken?
    Or, perhaps, have you noticed other strings that are easy to tune? Does each mandolin have a unique tuning-difficulty fingerprint? Inquiring minds want to know!
  2. HonketyHank
    That's weird. I see lots of complaints about the A string not holding tune while all the others stay good. (And I haven't figured that one out either.) But my suspicion is that it has something to do with either dark matter or Gibbs free energy. Or both. Or maybe your mandolin has a built-in reverse entropizer right below the A strings.
  3. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    A is the note a tuner is calibrated around. You should be able to adjust the tuner so A=440, 442 if you like it high, 415 (or even lower) if you're into historically informed baroque playing, and so on.

    Not sure quite where I'm going here, but tuners and A have a relationship. Do your A strings always match, or do they drift off from each other?
  4. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin
    My experience in tuning is that all the strings tend to be sharp or flat (according to weather conditions) to the same extent.
  5. FredK
    I used a tuning fork for over 45 years for my guitar. Once the A string was in tune, every other string was tuned relative to the A. I decided to go with an electronic tuner when I bought my first mandolin a little over 3 years ago. Using the tuner, it seems easier to tune the D string first, then A, then E; saving G for last. After that, it's a matter of ensuring the strings are in tune relative to each other - especially the G string which seems - to me - to always be a little sharp when using the tuner as compared to relative tuning.

    To your point, the A string seems to be more sensitive to change than any other string on all 3 of my mandolins. They hang on the wall in our sunroom, which dubs as my office, so I can pick them up and play them whenever I like. They frame either side of my desk nicely and I enjoy looking at them. Because they are out of the case, the strings are in more need of tuning each day. When left in the case, there's less variability. Don't know if that's what you were going after but hope it helps.
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