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Thread: Mandola string advice sought

  1. #1
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Mandola string advice sought

    Hello,

    What choices for mandola strings are out there? I know of: D'Addario, Thomastik and GHS.

    Which am I missing? Are there others choices out there?

    Thanks in advance!
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Passernig Mandola
    Leo Posch D-18

  2. #2
    Teacher, repair person
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    I make up my own sets from singles-- 12-20-32-49.
    It's a good set for the old Gibson oval hole mandolas.

  3. #3
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    John Pearse make a couple different sets. Mangan also has at least one set.

  4. #4
    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    Hello,

    What choices for mandola strings are out there? I know of: D'Addario, Thomastik and GHS.

    Which am I missing? Are there others choices out there?

    Thanks in advance!
    What's your scale length. It makes a big difference in string choice.
    Purr more, hiss less. Barn Cat Mandolins Photo Album

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    I use the Curt Mangan sets pretty much exclusively, and highly recommend them.
    I have used the John Pearse, they were a little darker.
    I did not like the GHS.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

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  7. #6
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    warning. check this forum for reports that d'addario mandola strings set is too heavy and destroys vintage gibson mandolas. I put this set on a gold tone mandola, the neck bent forward and the top sunk by a few mm. (was flat top, now concave instead of convex) (this mandola is a product of a furniture factory, but still! there is a truss rod that does not seem to work) (mandola still playable, "good strummer", but volume and tone are meh for playing melody leads).

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    I will confirm that the D'addario mandola set is too heavy for old Gibson mandolas.

    I recommend the following set for these old-timers: 12-20-32-49
    Loop end singles are available from D'Addario and Curt Mangan.

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  10. #8
    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    OP's mandola seems to be a Passernig. Still don't know scale length.
    Purr more, hiss less. Barn Cat Mandolins Photo Album

  11. #9
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    OP's mandola seems to be a Passernig. Still don't know scale length.
    Sorry, been down the last couple of days with the flu. I don't know the scale length, but will measure ASAP.
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Passernig Mandola
    Leo Posch D-18

  12. #10
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    I use the Curt Mangan sets pretty much exclusively, and highly recommend them.
    I have used the John Pearse, they were a little darker.
    I did not like the GHS.
    I'm another big Curt Mangan phosphor bronze fan, on my mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello and HD-28. They sound better (better tone, better volume, better sustain) than anything else I've tried (and I've tried most everything except Thomastik).

  13. #11
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    OP's mandola seems to be a Passernig. Still don't know scale length.
    So, I couldn't find any info about my scale length. I'm embarrased to say that I'm not sure what that means. It is a Passernig mandola. I don't know how many of them were built. I took some crude measurements, and here is what I measured:

    from the nut to the 12th fret: 7 3/4 inches
    from the nut to the 21st fret: 11 inches
    from the nut to the end of fretboard: 11 1/2 inches

    Hope that helps and thanks.
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Passernig Mandola
    Leo Posch D-18

  14. #12

    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    So, I couldn't find any info about my scale length. I'm embarrased to say that I'm not sure what that means. ...I took some crude measurements, and here is what I measured:

    from the nut to the 12th fret: 7 3/4 inches

    Hope that helps and thanks.
    We all started fresh, and have been there!

    Scale length is the full length of the vibrating string, from the nut to the bridge saddle. That distance is approximately double the distance from the nut to the twelvth fret.

    (Just to mention, when you halve the length of a string of a particular size and tension, the resulting pitch is an octave above the pitch of the original length.)

    So, in this case, knowing the distance from nut to twelvth fret is 7.75 inches, 7.75 x 2 equals 15.5 inches scale length.

    Cheers!
    ----

    Playing a funky oval-hole scroll-body mandolin, several mandolins retuned to CGDA, three CGDA-tuned Flatiron mandolas, two Flatiron mandolas tuned as octave mandolins,and a six-course 25.5" scale CGDAEB-tuned Ovation Mandophone.

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  16. #13
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    John Pearse P B
    These came on my Weber Mandola. I have tried various others but always end up back with John Pearse. I'm assuming Bruce Weber may have thought likewise and why he put them on my mandola.

    NOTE FOR WEBER OWNERS: Tomastiks are not long enough for the Weber designed tail piece.
    Last edited by Pittsburgh Bill; Dec-03-2022 at 10:36am.
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  17. #14
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    1. Are there any non-PB choices, except for the Thomastiks?

    2. If I wanted less PB sizzle, and a more fundamental tone, which of the PBs would fit?

    Thanks for the knowledge and advice!
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Passernig Mandola
    Leo Posch D-18

  18. #15
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    Nickel single loop end strings are available frm D'Addario and Mangan. GHS carries at least some sizes in "bright" bronze, and Mangan carries some sizes in monel.
    You can go to their websites and search for loop end singles.
    If you order a couple of different things and experiment, you'll find something that suits you.

    You can order loop end singles from any store that is a D'Addario, Mangan, or GHS dealer, or direct from most of the manufacturers, or through internet sellers such as juststrings.

    As far as off-the-shelf pre-packaged sets are concerned, we are at the mercy of what the string companies throw together, and many of them don't know squat about mandolas [or mandocellos either]. They don't even go to the trouble of evaluating whether the string tensions of their pre-packaged sets are within the parameters of what is safe for the instruments. And since mandolas aren't high demand instruments, they may never learn much more about them. That's why I've been making up my own sets for decades.

    I tend to favor nickel wrapped strings these days. I've also used 80/20 bronze. I've never been big on phosphor bronze strings for any mandolin family instrument.
    Last edited by rcc56; Dec-04-2022 at 5:08pm.

  19. #16
    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola string advice sought

    I have a Collings mandola and I use EJ76 on it. I really like the extra pop the medium gauge strings give it. Possibly too heavy for a flat top, but even then, I used them on a Weber flattop and they worked well. I'm not sure why do many people like lighter gauges. They may be easier on the fingered but the instrument does it sound the way I want it to. I have even a stronger opinion about that with octave mandolins. Lighter gauges make them sound more like an Irish bouzoukis. But your instrument needs to be built solid enough to support them.
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