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Thread: 80/20 Bronze Strings

  1. #1
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    Default 80/20 Bronze Strings

    Just curiosity. I did a search here and I don't see any mention of 80/20 strings. Seems like it's all phosphor bronze, or into those white metal alloys like monel.

    Only asking because I noticed that they are available (noticed on Mapes drop-down choice, and see them in other makes). I tried a [guitar] set on my old WRC/mahogany OM for the first time last week and thought they sounded pretty good - surprised me. But, that's not a mandolin, nor is it a wood set you'd likely find on one...

    Anybody tried them, and if so, impressions?

  2. #2
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: 80/20 Bronze Strings

    In my experience, 80/20 bronze is quite a bit brighter than phosphor bronze, giving a sort of "brassier," or sharper, sound. The tone from phosphor bronze is warmer, to my ears, and much richer. 80/20 can work rather well on a guitar, for example, where it can provide a punchier bass. But I don't think it works very well on a mandolin. That's just my opinion.

    The most interesting choices for a mandolin, to me, are (1) phosphor bronze, (2) nickel-plated steel, and (3) monel. Mapes does not offer monel, unfortunately. D'Addario does. Both D'Addario and Mapes offer phosphor bronze and nickel-plated steel.

    Other than much greater longevity, I wonder if the new D'Addario XS and XT lines (in phosphor bronze) have anything different to offer in terms of tone. If it's just greater lifetime, then I think I might be better served by three sets of Mapes strings ($6/set x3 = $18), as opposed to one set of XS or XT ($18/set) -- assuming the XS sets last three times as long (can't say). I don't mind changing out strings so much, but others might prefer to avoid that.

    D'Addario also claims their XS sets offer greater tuning stability. That said, I have not been plagued by any particular instability in the past attributable to my strings, once they are broken in (after a few hours). My mandolin mainly goes out of tune with temperature and humidity changes, and no expensive string can help with that!

    I'd love to hear more reports comparing Mapes strings to D'Addario strings, and especially to their new (expensive!) XS sets.

  3. #3
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: 80/20 Bronze Strings

    80/20 can work to give extra punch to an instrument. If you want that tone. My bandmate and mentor uses 80/20 on his Gibson A. Tried a set on my A Jr. and they didn't last long.

    That said, I'm also not a fan of them on guitars. Just brings out an edge to the tone I don't like. Especially on guitars that are naturally bright to begin with.
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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: 80/20 Bronze Strings

    80/20 is all I use. Been my lifelong favorite. Tried the rest and always go back to the best, at least for me. They are a little bright when new, but after some use they become just right. And stay that way for weeks.IMHO

  5. #5
    ************** Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: 80/20 Bronze Strings

    I've been using 80/20 strings on my guitar of late (have never seen any for mandolin, and never even thought of it till seeing this thread). I find that, at least on my guitar, they do the opposite of give extra punch/brighten things up, etc, but rather they settle everything down a bit. It seems like I hear more of the sound of the wood rather than the sound of the strings. I like them a lot. The trade off is, they don't seem to last very long, though.
    ...

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    Default Re: 80/20 Bronze Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    I've been using 80/20 strings on my guitar of late (have never seen any for mandolin, and never even thought of it till seeing this thread). I find that, at least on my guitar, they do the opposite of give extra punch/brighten things up, etc, but rather they settle everything down a bit. It seems like I hear more of the sound of the wood rather than the sound of the strings. I like them a lot. The trade off is, they don't seem to last very long, though.
    I agree with the "settled down" sentiment, at least on my sample of one guitar. I did read that this alloy does tarnish faster than PB, but you can find it in coated strings (not D'Addario's new XT/XS it seems, and EXPs are vanishing, if they can be found at all). I think Elixirs are only 80/20 formulation. I might try a set of those on our son's entry "The Loar" model to see how it responds vs. the EJ74s.

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    ************** Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: 80/20 Bronze Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by still_fiddlin View Post
    I agree with the "settled down" sentiment, at least on my sample of one guitar. I did read that this alloy does tarnish faster than PB, but you can find it in coated strings (not D'Addario's new XT/XS it seems, and EXPs are vanishing, if they can be found at all). I think Elixirs are only 80/20 formulation. I might try a set of those on our son's entry "The Loar" model to see how it responds vs. the EJ74s.
    I'm using Ernie Ball Earthwood 80/20s on my guitar and like them a lot. $10 a set though - ouch!
    ...

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 80/20 Bronze Strings

    Martin manufactures a PB mandolin string in a light gauge.
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: 80/20 Bronze Strings

    Iíve played Elixirs forever on guitar, so tried them early in my mandolin journey. I liked them, and, on instruments played less often they lasted 8-12 months for me. One of my upgrade mandos came with fresh J74s, and, after playing them for a couple months Amazon had a clearance on Elixirs, and I got 5 or 6 sets for like 3.99 a piece. I switched back to the Elixirs and really didnít like the way they sounded. Probably partly PB vs 80/20, partly the coating. I used them up on my beaters, but changed them long before they were dead. Iíve been sticking with EJ 74s or monel since. This is a good example, I think, of how we get used to a mando/string combo and that becomes what we believe sounds good, just because itís our benchmark.

    Of course, Chris Thile played Elixirs for a while because of the extra life, and he made them sound just fine...

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