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Thread: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

  1. #26
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    I certainly understand not liking the brightness, but intonation after so many years would have driven me nuts. However, unless I am doing a lot of gigs or broke strings I am a bit lazy about changing them.

    In any case, I never really liked the tone of phosphor bronze strings and that is what your flattops are. You might consider trying a different string that sounds less bright from the start. I switched over a few years ago to Monels and then to D'Addario NBs for both mandolin and guitar. To my ears, they sound great from the outset. If you prefer the smoothness of the flatwound strings then go with T-Is—yes, they are expensive but they are designed to last years. I see that the D'Addario FlatWound strings are not PB, so that might be a better choice for you.
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  2. #27
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    Some of the strings on my instruments are years old but mostly because I don't play them any more. For the instrument I play regularly and my backup, changing them depends on use and season. Since I play my snake most often, it gets changed more often -- say every four to six months if I change my strings in the fall. If I change my strings in the spring, by mid-July or August, the strings have become black and pitted and you can feel every pit when you run a finger down them. Probably the shortest time between string changes was a week -- from Saturday to Saturday -- during a particularly hot, humid and busy workshop/festival week. I'd never seen strings corrode so quickly! So summer, I now use coated strings. I will say that I have no preference for sound -- old(er) strings sound fine, new strings sound fine (past that first day or two), for me it depends on their feel and how easy they are to stay in tune.
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  3. #28
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    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    Happy that that it was not "Dog Years". I tend to be a less than new string player myself, but that would be a record for me. I have an electric winder that helps out when I do change strings.

  4. #29
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    So after about 5 days of playing for a couple hours a day since the change, the strings are taming down a bit. The wound strings are still a little more bright than I like, but they are encouragingly shaping up. And at the same time my new flatpick is breaking in. So I'm feeling more in control of tone and volume.

    I actually did enjoy the process of changing the strings, and I usually do. I have a James tailpiece so there is really no challenge to getting the strings on, but in the process I got to look over the mandolin carefully and double check everything. That's a nice process that I usually only get to do once a month when I do a deep cleaning. I like my mandolin a lot and spending time with it, either setting it up or playing it, is more of a pleasure than a task.

    I'll be at a festival next week and there will be lots of jamming; I'll be splitting my jamming time between this mandolin, my main playing banjo and my double bass, and I expect that not to be an even split -- given how prolific banjo players are and how few bass players are needed at any given jam, most likely my jamming at this festival will be very mandolin heavy... So sometime between now and when I get home after the festival I expect the mandolin strings to be fully broken in and from then on they'll be once again in my long-term maintenance mode, which I'm expecting will last for years.

    The last time I changed strings on this mandolin was when it was re-fretted, and despite strong suggestions from the very wise and respectable luthier who did the fretwork, I only changed the strings then because the old strings got accidentally re-installed incorrectly and I didn't want to worry about string length when correcting them. That was 7 years ago. I've played it very heavily since then, and have even changed the original tailpiece out with a James tailpiece with the same strings on, with no problem.

    If anyone wants to hear this mandolin with the old 7-year old strings on it, here's a post I put up here in MC just a couple of weeks before changing the strings: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ferrerid=31252 .
    -- Don

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  5. #30
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    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    You're go to go for another seven years, or maybe longer.

  6. #31

    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    I have considered different strings, in particular the Thomastic-Infeld flatwounds. I might try them sometime. But based on their long-life reputation, if I were to find that I liked their tone, I can almost guarantee I would be keeping them for longer, not shorter periods of time.
    Hi Don. I have had my first set of T-I flats on the Collings for about 11 months. Past few weeks I have been attending a weekly session again which leaves me feeling like I really need to change them to get brighter again, but OTOH there is nothing objectively wrong with them and I usually do a change after they start breaking—and they just don’t!

    What I’m saying is that I think they would fit in with your preferences. If I actually preferred old-string-sound, these would be the ones. They are truly artisanal creations, almost works of art. I would never have said that about any strings I’ve ever tried previously. The high cost is not unreasonable if you amortize it over years!
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  7. #32

    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    I love new strings but I'm too lazy to change them most of the time.

  8. #33
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    I have held string change parties. I invite several friends, mandolins, guitars, 12 string guitars. We put an old blanket on the kitchen room table, share tuners, plyers, clippers, and good talk. On the stove behind us is huge big caldron of chili, and in the oven is some corn bread.

    Makes the task almost agreeable.
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  10. #34
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    I find that the pick also damages or wears on my strings, in addition to the fret divots and body oils. I find it tough to imagine 7 year old strings without damage to them, regardless how much they are cleaned.

    Not knocking Don or others in the “old strings” camp, just saying it ain’t me.
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  11. #35
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    I should at least mention, our cats absolutely love it whenever my wife or I change strings. You can imagine...

    That said, it absolutely is not the process of changing them that I have any problem with. My F-9 has a James tailpiece which helps to make changing strings a breeze. And I actually enjoy getting back into the OCD mode of maintenance on instruments in general (which is a good thing since I repaired fretted instruments for a number of years).

    It's just the brightness. And yes, TI flat wounds are very tempting in that respect. The D'A FlatTops also produce a slightly muted tone which is more to my preference over round wound phosphor-bronze strings, but they (especially the wound strings) have to wear in. Happily, after a few weeks now, including a very mandolin-intensive festival that we just returned from, the FlatTops are starting to sound like I like them.

    I've appreciated all the comments, btw. Thanks for all the brain food!
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

  12. #36
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emotional hearing, and changing out my 7-year old strings...

    It is a taste preference.

    One problem is how a string first sounds when put on may not be the sound you are after. For example, I find phosphor bronze strings (EJ74 etc.) to be too bright and brassy when first applied, but within a week of hard playing they become so warm and delightful. They stay in that delightful woody warmth for (in my case) several months. If I didn't know this, say, and I liked the loud brassy sound, I would have to change them every week.

    Another problem is that strings change so gradually (usually), so we cannot really do an A-B comparison. It is a comparison between the distant memory of A with the present B. With my phosphor bronze example, after a few months of hard playing they ever so gradually degrade, but to my taste don't become unacceptable for another several months, and even after six months still have a very agreeable sound. But it is a sound I would not put up with if compared to strings only a week old. But compared to a distant memory they sound quite nice.

    My routine is to try to change them every three months, usually get it done within four months.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
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