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Thread: Help with selecting new strings

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    Question Help with selecting new strings

    I am new to the mandolin and recently picked up an Eastman md315 - I love this thing and never want to put it down! I was thinking about upgrading to a CA bridge and when I do that I figured I would also get new strings. I saw a review saying that ".012 PB and SS every other string" is often recommended. Can someone please help me understand what that is or if there is a better way to go? Thanks very much

  2. #2

    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Cassato View Post
    I am new to the mandolin and recently picked up an Eastman md315 - I love this thing and never want to put it down! I was thinking about upgrading to a CA bridge and when I do that I figured I would also get new strings. I saw a review saying that ".012 PB and SS every other string" is often recommended. Can someone please help me understand what that is or if there is a better way to go? Thanks very much
    As another beginner of sorts, *IMHO/YMMV/$.02, I'd just stick with the "standard" EJ74s unless you can articulate well what sound or quality you want that those do not provide, and your technique is to the point that your instructor (or other, more advanced player that has played your mandolin) can say, "You should try X strings to get more of the sound you want."

    That bridge upgrade will require proper fitting by someone that knows how to do it. It's probably another thing I'd defer, unless you can see a fault with the one that came with your MD315.*
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    FWIW, .012 is very thick for E on a mandolin .0115 is considered heavy, .011 medium .010 medium-light .. .009, light ..
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    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    GHS A270 would be a good set of strings, A260 for a slightly lighter gauge set. If you want a more even tone over the life of the string N270 or N260 for a slightly lighter set. The A270, or N270 would be similar to the EJ74's, but would have a .016 for an A instead of a .015. Most folks like the heavier A.
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    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    You are just starting out.....use the lightest strings you can and make the clearest, cleanest notes you can. The bridge only makes a small difference. But make sure you have a very good setup by someone that knows what they are doing with the light strings set up for light action. You are not trying to impress anybody at this point but yourself.

    Have fun. Most of all..........have fun. Realize also that you will make anybody within earshot very annoyed. Very annoyed.

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    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    Strings ...... each player will have a favorite set and that is for a particular mandolin. Your style , taste and instrument will dictate which string you "like" best. I do recommend sticking to a set with a .11 E string. Otherwise between materials and manufacturers you can "audition" different sets for years. D'Addario EJ74 is as good a place as any to start your string interview process. Enjoy the journey. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  8. #7

    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    My first mandolin was a 315. In my opinion, 11-40 strings sounded weak, while 11.5-41 really brought it to life. You can set the action a little lower with the heavier strings to counter for them being slightly harder to fret.
    Soliver arm rested and Tone-Garded Northfield Model M with D’Addario NB 11.5-41, picked with a Wegen Bluegrass 1.4

  9. #8

    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    Quote Originally Posted by MediumMando5722 View Post
    My first mandolin was a 315. In my opinion, 11-40 strings sounded weak, while 11.5-41 really brought it to life. You can set the action a little lower with the heavier strings to counter for them being slightly harder to fret.
    Thanks for the info! When I got mine the luthier said he sets the action a little higher than they come from the factory and I feel like it is too high and I am struggling to get my fingers out of the way of strings on tricky chords so I was planning on having the action set a bit lower and it got me thinking about the bridge and what other strings might sound like, etc.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Cassato View Post
    Thanks for the info! When I got mine the luthier said he sets the action a little higher than they come from the factory and I feel like it is too high and I am struggling to get my fingers out of the way of strings on tricky chords so I was planning on having the action set a bit lower and it got me thinking about the bridge and what other strings might sound like, etc.
    Yeah, no need for the high action with the EJ75 strings. Nickel Bronze sounded especially awesome.
    Soliver arm rested and Tone-Garded Northfield Model M with D’Addario NB 11.5-41, picked with a Wegen Bluegrass 1.4

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    Quote Originally Posted by Cassato View Post
    I saw a review saying that ".012 PB and SS every other string" is often recommended.
    Maybe I am missing something here. I read that as PB (phosphor bronze?) and SS (stainless steel?). Aside from the comments above about .012 being on the heavy side, the unwound strings in a PB set or a SS set would be just steel anyway since there are no windings and the wound strings would have different metals for the winding but not the cores.
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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    I'm probably of no help but have recently, a couple of years ago, fallen in love with the insanely expensive Thomastik Stark set on my oval A. I do not know if they work equally as well on an F-Hole mandolin. I am sure others here will know. But I'm more Celtic than BG so that certainly influences my tastes but it sounds pretty good on the Sharon Gilchrist lessons on Peghead Nation when I practice. But they are so expensive, on the other hand After two years they are still going strong.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    You are just starting out ... make the clearest, cleanest notes you can. The bridge only makes a small difference ... Most of all..........have fun.
    Yes!!

    Also realize that:
    - your ears (perception of tone) will change over the next year or two;
    - your fingers (perception of "easy-vs-difficult") will change over the next year or two; and,
    - the biggest modifier of tone is also cheapest: picks that vary in thickness, stiffness, shape, and material (assuming you can avoid the exotics for a while!).

    So maybe this isn't the ideal time to be experimenting with new bridges?

    And: ANY new strings will change over the next week or two, so give 'em time before comparing to the priors or making a "final" judgement.
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    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    Hmmm. I used to have a 315, and the factory set up, IMO, was already a little high at the nut. Not unplayable, but not optimal. It’s been a couple of years, but IIRC, I lowered action at the nut a fair amount, but only slightly at the bridge. Mine was a 2015, so maybe Eastman has dialed in their factory set ups since then? Otherwise, not sure why the dealer would raise the action…

    Agree with the above opinions regarding strings/gauges. I use EJ 74 or 75 or GHS 270s for the most part. Is “SS” silk and steel, maybe? I used to have a Kentucky that was a little overbuilt, and J-75s really improved volume and tone on that mandolin. Play around with it and see what sounds/feels best to you. Have fun experimenting with picks as well!

    I thought about upgrading the bridge on my 315 to a CA, but the stock bridge wasn’t terrible and I never got around to it before I sold it in a downsizing move 3 years ago. If you go that route, make sure you fit it or have it fit well to the top of your mandolin.
    Chuck

  16. #14

    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    Thanks for all the input, I was talking to my instructor and he happened to recommended the strings that come from the factory, so I will keep them. I still need the action lowered, since the place I got it from said they raise it I am just going to see if they can lower it a bit without spending much / any money. Still going to get a CA bridge but not in any rush at this point

  17. #15
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with selecting new strings

    Lowering the action should not cost you anything since you bought the mandolin from that store. It should be a simple adjustment.
    Jim

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