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Thread: Urgent Strings Question! (Help a beginner, please!)

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    Exclamation Urgent Strings Question! (Help a beginner, please!)

    Hi everyone! I just started playing mandolin this year—I got a Fender is FM-52E as a gift. I love it so dearly. I just had to change the strings for the first time (MONTHS overdue) and I put on D'Addario Medium Gauge strings. I realized only after that the strings that had come on my mandolin were D'Addario Light. Is this a problem? How old exactly are the "old" mandolins that weren't built to support any gauge but "light"? Can my mandolin support medium gauge strings? I'm nervous and could really use some wisdom from you all. Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Urgent Strings Question! (Help a beginner, please!)

    I think mediums will be fine. You may need to adjust the intonations. It makes a big difference on bowl backs.
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    Default Re: Urgent Strings Question! (Help a beginner, please!)

    Your mandolin will support medium or even heavy gauge strings just fine. The ones you have be careful of are those designed for lighter strings (Flatiron 1N, for example, which require D’Addairio EJ 62 gauges), old bowl backs (which you don’t have), and older cant top models like Martin made. The more modern carved top instruments typically handle the heavier gauges without issue. Also, as a former Fender 62E owner I can attest, imports designed for beginner budgets tend to be over-built to avoid structural warranty issues. No offense intended; I really liked my blueburst 62E and eventually gave it to my brother, who’s still playing it, as I moved up the mandolin food chain. I hope you continue love your mandolin and play it with joy!
    Chuck

  4. #4

    Default Re: Urgent Strings Question! (Help a beginner, please!)

    Thanks for the swift reply, David. I'm so grateful. It's funny you mention the intonations—they're actually perfect now and they were OFF with my light strings, even after I changed the bridge placement with my teacher's guidance. I wonder that means, haha!

    So in what cases are mediums not fine? Are we talkin' old vintage mandolins from the 30s or what? Does anyone have any insight?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Urgent Strings Question! (Help a beginner, please!)

    Chuck! Thank you SO much! That really gives me peace of mind. And no offense taken—I am well aware I don't have the best mandolin model or brand, but I love her just the same. Someday I'll invest in a fancier mandolin to start a nice little collection. But I'm relieved to know the beginner budget mandolins are "over-built." THANK YOU AGAIN!

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    Default Re: Urgent Strings Question! (Help a beginner, please!)

    You might even prefer medium gauge strings! Other than intonation, the other thing to keep an eye on is neck relief. You might not notice it immediately, it might take a couple of months.

    Heavier strings might have a tendency to bow the neck forward slightly. It’s not a problem, just a set-up tweak you should know about. In case you don’t know, neck relief is the amount of bow in the neck between the nut and the twelfth fret region. Guitars benefit from a minor amount whereas, on mandolins, most people prefer a completely flat fretboard. It’s simply a matter of tightening the truss rod slightly to reduce the bow.

    You can check it by holding a string down on the first and thirteenth frets and see if there is a gap between the frets and the middle of the string. It’s probbaly worth looking at the neck now so you can tell if anything has changed further down the line.

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Urgent Strings Question! (Help a beginner, please!)

    Your particular Fender model (FM-52E) will be fine with the strings you have bought for it. It has a spruce top which will be pressed rather than carved and as CES says, those models tend to be quite solidly built so can safely take the heavier strings. Ray mentions intonation and neck relief and it is interesting that you say the intonation seems more accurate with the new strings! Possibly the strings fitted when you got it were already old?

    I have played models similar to the Fender and they are fine instruments. The electrics add a new dimension to the sounds you can get out of the instrument. Good luck and I hope you have a lot of fun with it.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

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