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Thread: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

  1. #1

    Default Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    Found this interesting string conversion on a recently acquired L&H style A mandola.Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    This is interesting. Notice, the 8 strings that are played are still-loop end, so the 4 ball ends and the 4 short conversion strings must be for something other than converting to or from ball end... Perhaps a wolf or vibration eliminator or something like that?
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    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    ... Perhaps a wolf or vibration eliminator or something like that?
    Total = 4 balls, 4 hand-wound loops, and 12 factory-wound loops.

    So yes, I can see how some very puzzled wolves might want to keep away!
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  5. #4
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    Interesting approach, but still erroneous, inefficient, and ... well, goofy. In order to put both strings of one course on one ball, the ball must be removed from one of the strings. If you've already done that, why not remove the ball off the other string too, and string like loop ends?

    Lest anyone dispute that's what was done, take a close look at the cloth wrapping around the strings. These are matched pairs.

    Personally, my solution to a situation calling for a ball-to-loop-end conversion is to thread the other end of the string through the "ball" and pull all the way through, creating a loop. Yes, it's asking for trouble, putting stress on that sharp angle thus created, but I've rarely had one fail. Not that I've done it that often, but in a pinch - such as having broken a string, and borrowing a replacement from a guitarist. I've tried removing a ball with a needlenose pliers, but I think I've broken more strings that way than by using the abovementioned conversion.

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    Notice, the 8 strings that are played are still loop end
    I'm guessing this started with a set of ball-end strings, and the player removed one ball from each pair. If he/she had started with loop-end strings, it makes no sense for him/her to string it up any way other than regularly. Of course, this logic falls apart once the assumption of "making sense" is applied.
    Last edited by journeybear; Apr-14-2021 at 10:52am. Reason: Thought of something else
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    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    For many years I bought custom guage ball end guitar strings from the Euphonon company in NH to use on my octave mandolin. I’d break the balls using the little nippers I use to cut the excess off strings. I’d break very few strings that way, and the strings were so cheap, if I did break one, it didn’t really matter. I bought the strings in bulk, by the dozen for each guage, at about $3 a set plus postage. Sadly, a few years ago, their supplier stopped selling them strings in bulk, and then I heard the guy who owned Euphonon retired anyway.
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    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    Huh, this is kind of weird. As journeybear points out, if you've removed four balls, why not do another four, instead of forcing the (now) open loop onto a ball that already has a string? Maybe there is something else going on here that we don't know about.

    When stuck for loop ends (I also play mountain dulcimer, and it's hard to get loop end strings long enough), I just use the diagonal cutters/nippers approach like Frank Ford demonstrates here.
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  9. #7

    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    As observed by dhergert above, the played strings appear to be loop ended. It seems to me that this installation is a solution to fitting loop strings which were otherwise too short.
    An ingenious solution to boot! I'm unfamiliar with the scale length of a L&H style A mandola or the total string length required from tuners to tailpiece. Could it have been an attempt to string the mandola with mandolin strings?

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    I guess weird strings are better than no strings......

    When I worked at a guitar shop it was fairly common to see "knotted" strings, usually behind the nut or bridge......that is, the broken string was tied together to make it work! Probably more common during the Great Depression, I'm guessing, but we still saw it often. Also, the wrong gauge was often used to replace a broken string because nothing else was available.....Carl Perkins talks about knotting strings to finish a gig, sometimes the knot was on the fingerboard and he had to remember to jump over it!

    This mandolin looks like it was very intentional to me......mad scientist stuff!

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    Registered User Greg Mirken's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    I think mdowlin is right. From the thread wrap those look like they may be Thomastiks, which would also have a wrap over the other end of the wound strings. That might have stuck over the nut without the clever installation.
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  14. #10

    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    I think you nailed it, Greg. They are Thomastiks and, if the the balls were removed and the loops placed over the tailpiece hooks, the upper end wraps would land in the nut slots. A complicated way to salvage a $40 set of Thomastiks.

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    Registered User Greg Mirken's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    IIRC we had a similar problem with stringing our Hofner 500/1. Pyramid strings were the only ones we found that didn't have a wrap that stuck out past the nut.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    Ah, yes. There is the Thomastik Set Which Will Fit an L&H Mandola and the Thomastik Set Which Will Not. I forget the particular number of each set but I learned of the problem before buying my strings and was careful to get the correct set so that I didn't have to do something like this with my mandola.

    Congratulations on acquiring one; there are not many about. My theory is that only two batches were ever built. What's the serial number of yours?
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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Ball End to Loop End conversion

    Ha! Haven't checked this thread in a while. Looks like a couple of you guys came up with a better explanation than mine. Good going!
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