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Thread: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

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    Default New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    I know, in the long run, I will discover what I like best and what the instrument likes best. In the short term, what's a good place to start? I was thinking phosphor bronze or even flat wounds. I want the tone to not be as bright as it can be. Not bright and mandolin sound like an oxymoron statement, but hopefully, you know what I mean. I looked at the D'Addario web site and they have a range of gauges. Anyone know what a Breedlove Quartz would have shipped with? Or at least what would be a safe gauge?

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    I know, in the long run, I will discover what I like best and what the instrument likes best. In the short term, what's a good place to start? I was thinking phosphor bronze or even flat wounds. I want the tone to not be as bright as it can be. Not bright and mandolin sound like an oxymoron statement, but hopefully, you know what I mean. I looked at the D'Addario web site and they have a range of gauges. Anyone know what a Breedlove Quartz would have shipped with? Or at least what would be a safe gauge?
    Wait, you're talking strings. Do we even know what mandolin you're getting yet ?

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    I'll bet that John is getting this Breedlove Quartz that just sold in the classifieds...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/178617#178617

    I am really liking Monel strings at the moment. They sound warmer than phosphor bronze to my ear. You might start with a light guage , 10-38 and see how you like them. I would not go higher than med, 11-40.

    Congratulations on your new mandolin.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  5. #4

    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    Charley is correct.

    Monels don't come in that light of gauge. 11-40s is the lightest.

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    Why not wait and see what strings are on it, and what you do or don't like about those strings, then go from there?
    Last edited by Bruce Clausen; Nov-08-2021 at 4:34pm.

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    Congratulations! Now, waiting is the hardest part!

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    Registered User Willi Bahrenberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    I think even short term you'll have to make a few yes/no-decisions.

    Roundwound:
    1.: Bronze vs Phosphor bronze - Phosphor tends to be a little warmer and softer. This is what most bluegrass and folk players use and would be your go to, given the preferences that you stated.
    2.: light vs medium vs custom (between Medium and Heavy) string gauge - I wouldn't recommend going for heavier strings in the beginning. They make fretting considerably harder, even if you consider that you can operate with a slightly lower action. This is just how I feel, of course, perceptions in this regard tend to vary significantly.
    However medium is standard, so I'd recommend you experiment with medium and light strings first.
    3.: uncoated vs coated. Coated strings tend to be more resistant to corrosion. Also they give you a very smooth and "glidy" feel. Many folks don't like the slippyness, but for me, I wouldn't go without them anymore. No way around trying them both.

    And then there's flatwound vs roundwound of course. I don't know about flatwound mandolin strings from personal experience, but our bass player uses them and they're probably the smoothest thing I ever touched! As for sound, check some of the extensive discussions revolving around flatwounds in the cafe.

    I hope this is helpful
    Last edited by Willi Bahrenberg; Nov-08-2021 at 3:30pm. Reason: typo corrected

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    i second the recommendation for monels - I have the D'Addario monels on my Girouard and really like the warm, played in sound they have. If you're wanting phosphor bronze strings I've always found the Curt Mangan Bluegrass medium set to be warmer sounding than D'Addario J74's - when I had a very bright sounding Collings MT-O I switched from J74's to the Curt Mangans and was very pleased with how much warmer they sounded.
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    Charley is correct.

    Monels don't come in that light of gauge. 11-40s is the lightest.
    Curt Mangans do, 10-36 but they are pricey. About $15.oo a set but still only a few bucks more than the D'Addario strings.

    I like Bruce's comment about what it comes with and going from there. I tried flat wound strings once and while they felt great under the fingertips, they went dead faster than the regular wound strings. YMMV
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    Hey there,

    I'd start off with good 'ol J74s. They're on the lighter side, are tried and true, and give you a good base to build on. I don't have data on this, but I'd say they are by far the most preferred strings by the players we love to listen to. So, you'll at least have that initiative sorted out.
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    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    I generally used J74 Phosphor Bronze on my Breedlove Quartz, while I didn't adore their sound when brand new, within a few days they settled in and I really liked them.

    I use Monels on my Collings MT2, partly as it's quite bright, VERY LOUD if I push it hard, and because they don't give that break-in period that I don't like the sound of. The monels don't cut the same at the jam, but this mandolin is such a monster it doesn't matter.

    IMO, go with the J74's and once you have a feel for how that mandolin sounds - then start experimenting from the baseline. I found monels sounded kind of dead and flatwounds were too quiet for the jam ... but both were nice at home or playing with my buddy.

    Enjoy it, they're great mandolins that play [and feel] so great in the hand. I like a smaller and thinner neck now, but it was a perfect bridge from guitar sized fretboards to mandolin for me. I played 200+ gigs with my Breedlove Quartz before upgrading and can't bear to let it go.

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  16. #12

    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    Thanks guys!

    Yep. The waiting begins. Then the learning starts. I hope it's a fun experience.

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    Default Re: New to me mandolin coming. Good string to start off with?

    I prefer Elixir nano web mediums. They seem to last longer than some of the other ones I've used.

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