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Mandolin Strings

PeanutPeanut Green Bay, Wisc.New
edited October 2005 in Mandolin Posts: 6
I put the mandolin down during college, about the same time that I picked up a camera. That was 10 years ago. Recently I realized that there was no reason that I couldn't do both. After all, I've moved back to my home town for love and there's not much to do around here. After living in New York and Chicago, Green Bay moves pretty slowly and even after buying a house and getting married - I find myself with more time largely because there's nowhere to go after dark unless you want to shop or get drunk. Which I don't. I want to swing.

Realizing that the mandolin that I bought for myself back in high school was too painful to play, I got myself a used Mid-Missouri M-2. I'm really happy with it. However, I desperately need to get some new strings for it. Now, since my mandolin playing has pretty much been confined to the Green Bay area, which is not mandolin country, I've only ever bought the strings that were available around here: GHS, Dean Markleys, and Gibson strings and the like. I realize now though that this is only the tip of the iceberg. I'd like to get some guidance:

1. Which set of strings are the darkest and warmest on the market?
2. The Argentine strings that are made for the mandolin, are these good? How do the sound?
3. Which are your favorite strings and what do you like about how they sound and feel?
4. Is there any relationship between strings and vibrato? If so, which set of strings are optimal for vibrato?

It's hard to put into words what I would like in strings; I guess I'd like some strings that are able to be dark/warm when played with moderate force, but progressively brighter when played harder.

Thank you very much,



  • mandomaxmandomax Gainesville, FLNew
    Posts: 4
    If you're looking for a dark sound, try the thomastik-Infelds. You will sacrifice some volume should you make the switch. I prefer DR strings (11-46), because they last a long time, and they are versatile, as I play bluegrass, swing, blues, and classical. D'addarios are OK- J74s or 75s are fairly common, but they just strike me as too bright. It takes a bunch of sweating on them to make them sound OK, to my ear. I've never tried the argentine strings, so I can't comment. I don't use vibrato on the mandolin much, since it is a coursed instrument, I find it to be a rather sour sound. I'll use bending to deliberately achieve that effect, but don't do much finger vibrato otherwise.
    "Music gives everything to me and I, in return, must give everything to it."
  • garygary turlock, caNew
    Posts: 4
    You might want to try La Bella flatwound strings. To me they have a nice warm tone at 1/2 the cost of TIs. Ted at sells a set he's put together specifically for jazz and he's great to deal with. La Bellas can also be purchased from fqms.

  • djazzbirddjazzbird Humboldt County CaliforniaNew
    Posts: 3
    Yep, try the Thomastiks, the dogs last forever, and yep, try the Labella's, they got a little more punch. I am playing Thomastiks on the Mp3's on - take a listen. I am using a Kent Armstrong electric pickup and a Schertler so its not really a pure taste of the Thomastik tone I supppose; no mics. For vibrato, I use a cordless drill or a leslie.
    Good luck, stay home and swing bro, Bird
  • PeanutPeanut Green Bay, Wisc.New
    Posts: 6
    A cordless drill? I'm honestly not sure if you're joking or not... How exactly do you apply this cordless drill?

    Thanks for the tips, I think I'll start with the LaBella's, largely because they're 1/2 the cost of the Thomastiks, and see if they satisfy my darker, warmer, but progressively brighter urges.
  • PeanutPeanut Green Bay, Wisc.New
    Posts: 6
    Okay, doing the responsible thing and reporting back: I went the Labella JM-11s that are available at the site. They are everything I was looking for, and I'm ecstatic.
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