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Thread: OM strings

  1. #1
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    Default OM strings

    I am looking for better strings on my Octave Mandola 20.5" scale. Currently using the original J80's. I keep seeing mention of J72's and EJ76's or EFT76's. Surely these strings are for Mandola tuned at CGDA. My OM is tuned at GDAE. Can someone please explain why these strings will work on an OM?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: OM strings

    If they work, it is because the scale is longer than a mandola, roughly 25% longer. Longer strings at a similar tension, lower notes. I would use of one the many online string tension calculators to make sure the tension is within a decent range or you could hurt your instrument. I would definitely start with the lighter set. Also know that that wound A pair may not have the same intonation as the plain A's on the J80's at the same tuning.

    The calculator I use, which I do not guarantee at all, shows it would raise the overall tension from 145 pounds to 172. My thought, which I do not guarantee at all, is that sounds OK. You may want to check with the manufacturer of your octave to make sure that is OK. I have heard of a lot of players doing this on shorter scale octaves. My octave has a 23.75" scale and I am happy with the J80's.

    If those work and you still want more tension, carefully repeat the process with the heavier set, at your own risk.
    Last edited by John Flynn; Nov-14-2020 at 9:24am.

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    Default Re: OM strings

    Thanks for the speedy response John - very helpful. I understand that the A course intonation will change with wound strings but not sure which way. My thinking would be that the saddle would need to be nearer the tailpiece - is that correct?

  5. #4
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: OM strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy A View Post
    Thanks for the speedy response John - very helpful. I understand that the A course intonation will change with wound strings but not sure which way. My thinking would be that the saddle would need to be nearer the tailpiece - is that correct?
    No, the other way. A wound A will need to be farther from the tailpiece. The way to think about it is gauge of the core string. So, for a plain A to be at the same note, same scale length and similar tension as a wound string, the string itself has to be heavier and will need a longer run for good intonation. While the wound string may actually be wider with the winding, it is actually a thinner core string with wire wrapped around it to make it vibrate more slowly and produce a lower note. So it sounds counterintuitive, but a wound A is a thinner core string, needing a shorter scale length.

    That may mean having a new saddle made.

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: OM strings

    Many thanks John for an excellent explanation, I now understand! In fact I found a schematic drawing just after my last post showing the effective difference in saddle positioning - not necessarily accurate but certainly a ball-park to be aiming for. Definitely a new saddle is called for - I shall be making that myself.

    Thanks again for your help

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    Default Re: OM strings

    Apologies if you already know this but, just to avoid any confusion, an “octave mandola” as they’re sometimes referred to in the UK are almost exclusively known as an “octave mandolin” in the US. (In my mind, an “octave mandola” would be more logically be called a “mandocello”.)

    In reality, there’s not much choice of regular/off the peg strings for a 20.5” scale OM. Mine uses ball ends and, as far as I’ve discovered, the choice is zero and it’s down to making up custom sets of guitar strings. The cavalry came down the road, however, in the form of Newtone - just down the road from me in darkest Derbyshire - who will put together sets of whatever you’d like. Their prices are comparable with the others and their shipping is reasonable.

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