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Thread: Changing strings to help fingertips

  1. #1
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    Default Changing strings to help fingertips

    Hello all! I am 6 months in, playing a lot, loving it! I am having ďa timeĒ with my fingertips.
    I started on a $100 Amazon mandolin that had a pretty bad setup, string were way too high.

    I got my Eastman 314 oval about a month ago. My fingertips were in pretty bad shape at that time. I thought things would get better with a mandolin that was setup a little better. The setup is fantastic. And they have, but Iím looking/hoping to get them in a little better shape. A little smootherÖ

    The mandolin came with J74ís. After a couple of weeks, I wanted to give Monels a try, and those DíAddario Monels medium are still on there.

    I had to go through some pretty long, extensive chemo treatments a few years ago, still have some neuropathy as a result, so I donít know how much of a factor that is, if any.

    One of my main questions that I am wondering.. what would benefit my fingers the most, switching to lights? Or switching to flatwounds?

    I have some DíAddario flatwound mediums in my case, thinking about putting them on tonight.
    Or if lights would benefit me more, Iíll wait and get some of those?

    I have seriously been considering getting TIís for the 314 oval. If I did, what gauge would you think I want to go with? I know these are a little different when it comes to gauges..

    Thanks yíall, looking forward to hearing from you!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Go for the TI lights! The most important strategy is comfort! If you are not comfortable you will most probably not play.
    Once you are comfortable and the E and A strings begin to lose their tonal qualities (usually in that order) you could begin to replace them with steel strings progressively increasing the gauges. Plain steel strings are cheap! See how your comfort level adapta and take it from there. The G and D strings last a very very long time. When you eventually replace the G and D strings consider the Thomastiks Mittels which are heavier gauge.
    Another important consideration is making sure the action on your mandolin is set up properly. This could make all the difference in comfort and applies to any string choice. You may want to look into this with the present strings on your mandolin. A proper setup alone could make you comfortable and provide you with an immediate solution.
    Encouraged by this suggestion a long time playing mandolin friend of mine with a progressive arthritic condition switched over to TI strings and is happy with absolutely no regrets. Good luck with your playing and I hope this provides a comfortable solution for you.and

  3. #3
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Or you can keep playing until you develop thicker callouses.
    At some point soon, your fingers will not hurt and it will all be good, as long as you keep playing.
    Shouldn't take too long.
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    The TI lights are 009, 014, 019, and 029. Make this jump?

    I was thinking going light with the Monels, or medium with the TIís, but maybe light TIís would make the most senseÖ

    So, would the medium flatwounds help much at all in the meantime? I can throw them on for now. I think my girls are wanting to get me TIís for Fatherís Day

    CWroyds- Iíll definitely keep playing no matter what. I can deal with any pain. Just figured would be a little better 6 months in.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    I recently switched to TI flatwound mediums on my Eastman 515, for both tonal value and comfort. I have been really happy with them.
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    Registered User poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    You should have calluses by now, but you can reinforce the tips with crazy glue.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    GMorgan- so are those the Mittels?

    I think Iím going to put these DíAddario EFW74ís on nowÖ.

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    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Lighter strings will help but also see Pete Martin's (free) mandolin basics video on left hand technique. The section on finger pressure when fretting.

    I started out with a poorly setup mandolin and I had to use a LOT of pressure to get a clean note. That became a habit that was (and still is) very difficult to unlearn. Heavier pressure than necessary will lead to sore fingertips and will also make it very difficult to get your tempo up to typical fiddle tune speed.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    I am no doctor but I would guess that your neuropathy could be an added factor. Certainly look into changing your technique to limit strong finger pressure on the strings. Unless the action is already very low I would set it up for the lowest possible and echo the others who say go to a lighter gauge string set. Ans use the minimal pressure you need to get clear clean notes. Sometimes we press on the fretboard more that we actually need to. I know I am repesting what others above have already said but consider it just reiteration.
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Well thank you everybody, appreciate it!
    Iím experimenting with some of the strings that I have. I really like the feel of lighter strings, I have on some 80/20 lights right now. Just trying to see if I can pull a little more volume, and tone out of them.

    Flatwounds (DíAddario) felt good too.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Quote Originally Posted by Medley12 View Post
    GMorgan- so are those the Mittels?

    I think I’m going to put these D’Addario EFW74’s on now….
    They are the Thomastik Infeld flatwound medium and I really like how they sound. I think they are easier on the fingers, but that may be just my impression based on what I wanted to be true. Still, I really like their clarity and how well they sustain
    ---
    "I don't fret. My mandolin frets."

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  12. #12

    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    I would agree with Jim that your health issues may be contributing. My first mandolin was also setup poorly (really high at the nut) which required a lot of pressure to fret the first 3 or 4 frets. Watching good players I realized how little pressure they use. So you may try making sure you are fretting on the back of the fret not the middle between frets and try to see how little pressure you can get a way with.
    As far as strings I liked Elixir strings - they are Gore-Tex coated and I thought they were easier to play/fret than other strings of the same diameter. Tehy would be worht a try and they come in medium and lights.
    https://www.juststrings.com/elixirmandolin.html

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Thanks everybody, and GMorgan. I ordered a set of medium TIís, called Mittels, from Sweetwater. They were in stock, and that far away away, so surely Iíll have them by the weekend.

    I didnít play at all today, am going to take off the week actually. Just wait for those strings, check them out this weekend. Hopefully 5 days off will helpÖ

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Shea butter or coconut oil or hemp oil regularly rubbed in, and use an Emory board to remove any extra bits that flake off. That’s my recommendation for keeping the calluses even and intact. Play lots and press as little as possible to get the fretting right. Technique can greatly affect comfort.
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Thanks Matt, I knew there were a couple of recommended oils, couldnít remember what they wereÖ.

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    Registered User mcgroup53's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    I use a product developed by Paul Glasse's with Polly that used to heal skin wounds and Harden callouses called ClimbOn. One tiny 4 oz tin lasts a year, and you rub the balm into your fingertips and other abraded areas after practicing or playing. This stuff absolutely works and should help Harden those callouses so you can play pain free

  18. #17
    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Quote Originally Posted by mcgroup53 View Post
    I use a product developed by Paul Glasse's with Polly that used to heal skin wounds and Harden callouses called ClimbOn. One tiny 4 oz tin lasts a year, and you rub the balm into your fingertips and other abraded areas after practicing or playing. This stuff absolutely works and should help Harden those callouses so you can play pain free
    I'm a confirmed ClimbOn user, but I don't know that it hardens calluses; rather, my experience is that it moisturizes and heals cracked skin without softening calluses. I don't use it too much in the warmer months, but during the winter, I use it every night before going to be bed, and it keeps my fingers from cracking while not softening the calluses. Great stuff.

    As always, NFI and YMMV.
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    I got the TIís a few days ago, and they have made a huge difference! Love the tone too

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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    I tried ClimbOn on recommendations above, after years of cracked skin and splits round my thumbnails . Alcohol based hand sanitizer is making that worse for me at the moment, and peeling satsumas oranges doesn't help (Citrus oil is a very efficient degreaser). ClimbOn is great - it seems to heal all the cracks and splits in a few days, without softening calluses enough so I notice. Thanks for the headsup!

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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Well, Iím going to have to look into this. I kinda forgot about it.
    Thomastiks have been working out great,

  22. #21
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    How long are your practice sessions. When I started I would play until my figures were killing my. I stopped that and went to two to three fifteen minutes sessions a day. The callouses came much quicker with that now I can play longer.
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  23. #22
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    In General (Physics) a thinner string will reach pitch at a lower tension ..
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    Circumstances just had me take off 4 days of playing unfortunately. Yesterday I was able to play 20-25 mins. Fingers donít hurt, but there are some cracks, peeling, etc.
    Itís better since changing to TIís for sure. Iím going to get some of that ClimbOn to help.

  25. #24
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    I work with industrial equipment and the hand cleaners really dry your hands out so I am always using some kind of lotion as long as it isn’t to smelly but I like coconut oil and such.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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    Default Re: Changing strings to help fingertips

    I have had great success with Guitar Hands. https://www.guitarhands.com/ Not an endorsement or medical advice, but just my experience. Especially useful at a festival, after playing for several hours, and finally some players I have been looking forward to playing with all year, and my fingers hurt and I want to extend my playing time a few more hours. It just works. I keep it in my gig bag.

    But your mention of neuropathy might be most relevant. I am not sure how much any topical treatment is going to help enough.
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