Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylon??)

  1. #1

    Default Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylon??)

    Howdy! Hoping there are some mandocello players here that might be able to help.

    I have an old suzuki mandocello (old world/European style, body shape is teardrop, but it has a flat back instead of bowl) which was made in 1967. The strings are about that old. They're the traditional classical style mandolin strings.

    I was looking in to what kind of strings to get to restring it. Would western mandocello strings (like D'addario phosphor bronze) be too heavy? It seems like the top is starting to bow in a little, and I don't want to put on any strings that would cause further structural issues.

    My other thought was if there are any classical guitar style strings (silver wound) that are the right gauges for mandocello tuning (CGDA) that might give it a nice sound and be easier on the top of the instrument.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User PT66's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Silvis, Illinios
    Posts
    708

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    First, you might get more responses in the CBOM section of the forum.
    Second, what is the scale length?
    Third, I think the D’Addario mandocello strings are too heavily for any flat top mandocello. (But that’s just my opinion)
    Dave Schneider

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2023
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    Dave has provided good advice, and I can add some personal experience with finding appropriate gauge strings from previous threads. First, the scale length and other details can be used with gauge calculators to give you a ballpark idea of the appropriate gauge. With my mandocello, the scale length is 24.75 inches which was the standard for vintage Gibsons. I've seen a fair number of Gibson mandocellos that have partially sunken tops due to too much tension for the particular condition or design of the bracing. A lighter gauge that was recommended and works reasonably well for me has been 18-28-44-66 which I haven't yet found in a particular packaged set from D'Addario or others.

  4. #4
    Registered User Martin Beer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    Lighter phosphor bronze strings can work fine for a low C if the build of the instrument is light and responsive enough to speak well with them. I have a 0.060" phosphor bronze low C on my 650mm (25.6") scale, CGDAD unison tuned cittern after trying both lighter and heavier phosphor bronze strings as well as nylon core strings made for extended range classical guitars (which were promising but broke too often in my application).

  5. #5
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Adamstown, MD
    Posts
    478

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    Though centered on a different type of mandocello, you may glean some useful info from this thread.

  6. #6
    Registered User PT66's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Silvis, Illinios
    Posts
    708

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    I recently did a guitar to mandocello conversion. The donor guitar was a Guild Jumbo Junior. Slightly shorter scale than a full sized guitar. Here is my thought process. When you do drop D tuning on a guitar you don’t change the string and C is just one step lower so a heavy low E should be okay for C. (.058 ?) Drop the A string down a step for the G. D is D. Now you a choice. Raise the G string a step to A. Or drop the B string a step. I probably would us two light gauge G strings for the A pair.
    Dave Schneider

  7. #7
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    3,673

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    I use Curt Mangan Light Mandocello strings on my Tom TJ Jessen custom 10 string mandocello.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2022
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    most likely, Martin Jonas and I have the similar (if not the same) model MC-815 Suzuki-Nagoya Japanese mandocello. (https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/m...6-Martin-Jonas, watch his wonderful youtube videos)

    I am willing to share my story (full version here: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-reinforcement)

    Before I knew about the mandolin cafe, I installed the Daddario mandocello set, but it never played right, spent a lot of time in a closet. Eventually I got it out, measured the neck, found severe forward bow, barely-playable high action, neck noticeably bends forward as low-C strings are brought to tension. I estimate that these low-C strings are strong enough to bend the instrument into a full O-shape if I keep cranking them.

    Eventually my mandocello went to the shop of amazing the Nicole Alosinac (https://www.nicolealosinacluthiery.com/). We decided to install/retrofit an adjustable truss rod and a wedged fretboard (to correct the super low string height at the bridge. we decided against doing a neck reset). $$$$$.

    Result was better than expected, with the adjusted adjustable truss rod, it plays just fine with the Daddario mandocello set strings, I see no evidence of any neck movement or body distortion (we were worried about body folding at the sound hole). Action is very low, tone is good, sustain is great. My fingers tell me that it plays the easiest of all of my instruments (Bruce Weber Sage-1 Octave, Gibson A-4, etc). (Of course the scale length is on the short side and low-C strings go more thump! than bang!).

    During the truss rod retrofit, Nicole discovered a metal neck reinforcement, a square section tube, of the style used in 1970-ies guitars, that failed. I do not know exact failure mode, most likely the square tube bent/deformed or glue-to-neck-wood failed.

    Strings. Original plan was to use Thomastic flatwounds, same as I use on the Bruce Weber Octave. But the loop ends were too small for the tail-piece hooks and I could not source large guage low-C strings (if they even exist). I am still considering some kind of nylon strings (inspired by Roger Tallroth's guitar), but for now the Daddario mandocello set strings do the job just fine. (ask me again in 10 years!).

    So good luck with your new instrument and good luck finding the right strings for it. If you like the tone and the feel, and you have somebody in your area who can do the job, I recommend the truss rod retrofit ($$$$$), much less worry about string guage and high-low action adjustment.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    Wow! Thank you all so much for your advice. One of the other threads that was linked had a great little chart that I will look into when I have a chance to measure the scale length.

    D'Addario EJ78 Phosphor Bronze............................................ ...............74 - 48 - 34 - 22
    Curt Mangan Fusion matched Phosphor Bronze........................................74 - 48 - 34 - 22
    Curt Mangan Fusion matched Phosphor Bronze (light)...............................70 - 46 - 30 - 20
    Thomastik-Infeld Octave Mandola (Euro mandocello) 1804.........................70 - 49 - 38 - 22
    Thomastik-Infeld 185M Liuto Chrome Flatwound with steel core..................70 - 49 - 33 - 22
    Dogal Calace HR138 Mandoloncello carbon steel half-round.........................72 - 55 - 34 - 23
    Dogal Calace RW93A mandoloncello carbon steel wound.............................(????)
    Dogal Calace RW93MW Mandoloncello carbon steel round wound multiwire....75 - 52 - 32 - 23
    Dogal Calace RW93AMW Mandoloncello 10-string carbon steel multiwire........75 - 52 - 32 - 23 - 14

    I'd still like to look into nylon strings and after a lot of searching I found out that there is a so called 'banjo cello' that Goldtone makes which has special strings that might work if the scale length is right. Anyone here have any thoughts on that?

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2022
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    you can also get mandocello string sets from emando, he is a member here,
    https://emando.com/shop/strings_cello.htm

    and yes, I know about the Marcy Marxer Cello Banjo, when she was in town with a concert years ago, I got to try her's. nylon strings, easy on the fingers, huge tone. about as heavy as you would expect (she plays sitting down). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYiTP8JQp-I

    my scale length is 58 cm and before the truss rod retrofit I had a custom set of phosphor-bronze strings 20-32-46-74 (the 74 is from the J78 set). after the retrofit, I planned to use Thomastic guitar flat wounds GB20-GB28-GB41-??? strings. Now I have the J78 set, 22-34-48-74.

    for selecting custom strings, I use the string guage calculator,
    https://chordgen.parmakis.co.uk/tensiontool.php?lp

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Indepndence OR
    Posts
    644

    Default Re: Western mandocello strings on a European mandocello? (or nylo

    I am always surprised I don't see more of Newtone (UK) suggested in these mandocello string threads. They make strings to your specifications rather than some standard. This has allowed me to try a variety of windings and guages. I am currently using a C at 0.67, probably a bit light for my big old Gibson K4, but I got fingers almost as old as the Gibson. I would at least suggest checking them out, you can order a few sets at different guages and see what works.
    But maybe other players have had a different experience and different advice.
    Jim

    Dr James S Imhoff
    Boston University
    Oregon Mandolin Orchestra

    1912 Gibson K4 Mandocello; Thomann Mandocello; Stiver F5; American? Bowlback; Martin 00016; Dusepo Cittern/liuto cantabile

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •