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Old 01-01-2017, 11:35 AM
pick me pick me is offline
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Default Strings for mandolin?

I want to change the strings on the mandolin in my signature, I feel like they are very dead. Have never changed them on a mandolin before. I understand most say the best way is to do them one at a time, so that is probably what I will do.

I am hearing the J74, or J75 are a good choice, not sure about which brand to use, also have been told the GHS LS250 silk and steel are great., for a more woody sound, toning down a bright sound. Has anyone here tried them, if so what is you thinking about the silk and steel? Are they harder to keep in tune? Also looking at putting a deer antler saddle/bone on this, again has anyone here done this, and what are your thoughts.

Thanks for looking.
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Old 01-01-2017, 11:49 AM
HHP HHP is offline
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Easier to change in pairs. Do the low G's and high E's and then do the low D's and high B's. Idea is to keep tension on the bridge so intonation doesn't have to be reset with every string change.
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Old 01-01-2017, 11:51 AM
midwinter midwinter is offline
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Eastman mandolins tend to be a little bright and shrill, so you'll probably want strings that are a little warmer. I liked the EJ74s on my Eastman.
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Old 01-02-2017, 06:13 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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pick me, I use and endorse John Pearse mandolin strings. Which set I use depends on which mandolin I'm putting them on: on a couple of them I use the JP phosphor bronze medium gauge set, on another I use a light gauge set in the same alloy, and on my oval hole "Sumi-era" Kentucky handbuilt I use the 80/20 medium set.

So it really just depends on what sounds good on any particular instrument, which is why it's a good idea to experiment with at least a couple of different alloys and brands until you determine what sounds best to your ears.

Moving on to your question about using deer antler as a material for the bridge saddle, over the years I've read a number of posts written by people who've tried that, and met and spoken with a few folks who've done it, and in every single instance they were disappointed with the tonal results they got, whether they tried it on a guitar or mandolin. Everything I've heard or read indicates that antler bridge saddles make the instruments they're installed on sound dull and somewhat muffled.

I mean, don't take my word for it, try it for yourself: maybe I got it wrong. But I've never heard or read any account that was encouraging about the idea.


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Old 01-02-2017, 12:26 PM
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posternutbag posternutbag is offline
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Like guitar strings, you will have to experiment. Your mandolin is a modern archtop; it can certainly handle J75s, and that would probably be my starting point.

However, I am not sure that it should be yours. D'Addario strings, and in particular 74s, are sort of the default string in the mandolin world. It doesn't mean they are the best, just the most popular, and they are good strings, so they are a good place to start. J74s will be slightly less stiff than J75s.

If the D'Addarios prove too bright, you could try DR 11s. I have found that they tamp down brightness. My last suggested string would be GHS A270. They have a slightly thicker A string, which I like, and they are my go to strings for my Ellis.


Most of my string changes I do in pairs, G strings, D strings, A strings, and then E strings. You can certainly do G then E, then D, then A, nothing wrong with this approach, but I also haven't found any benefit.

Every third or fourth string change (which is usually 1-2 months depending on how much I play) I will take off the G strings and D strings at the same time so I can wiped down the fingerboard, clean behind the nut, make sure the tuners are snug, take a look a fret wear, etc. Then I do the same with the A and E strings. I have found that you can have two sets of strings off and the bridge stays put.
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Old 01-02-2017, 01:44 PM
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J74 and J75 are both d'addario string sets. No one I know (including me) changes their strings frequently enough. If you've never changed the strings on this and you've owned it for 3 months or longer it doesn't matter what strings you get - they will sound way better than what's on there now. You need loop end strings with the standard Eastman tailpiece. Change your strings one pair at a time. Loosen all strings down 1/2 step first. If you take all the strings off an archtop instrument the bridge will come off, giving you valuable practice in setting the intonation. Do you know how to work the tailpiece? The cover should slide off toward the endpin to give you access to the string loops. Pay attention to how they go thru the hooks, especially the A and E strings.

Your Eastman mando already has a bone nut - changing it out with antler or bone will only impact your wallet.

You need to check out mandolincafe. Far and away the best and most useful forum I've ever seen.
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Old 01-04-2017, 10:23 AM
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Just stopped in to say thanks for everyone's reply. I broke an E string last night so I guess I am heading to one of the music shops near me today. It broke up on the tuning peg so don't know if I have an issue there, but I have re-tuned it several times of late, because of adjusting the bridge up and down, so suspect it was getting weak. Since I bought this second hand I have no idea how old the strings were, but the mandolin looked brand new, and I have had it maybe 6 or 7 months.
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Old 01-04-2017, 10:38 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is online now
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I suggest D'add J74s PB - 11-40. I tend to get the same use out of my mando strings as my guitar strings so every two months is my changing pattern.

JPsd are fine strings but I don't think they are packed in sealed envelopes - which I won't buy any more.

E75s are slightly heavier - which unless you are doing a lot of fast bluegrass solos - might be fine.
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Old 01-04-2017, 12:33 PM
Frogstar Frogstar is offline
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I'll throw in another suggestion to go with J74. Then you'll know what fresh strings sound like on your mando, and exactly what strings are on them.
They're widely used enough that when you're looking for recommendations after this, people will have a pretty good idea where you're coming from.
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Old 01-16-2017, 10:25 AM
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If you would like to try GHS, which is what I like, the A270's are very nice. Also they make a Silk and Bronze which is much better in my opinion than a Silk and Steel.
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Old 03-24-2017, 07:14 AM
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New mandolin player here as I got my Eastman 505 for Xmas. The stock D'Addarios had good tone but seemed very stiff for my rookie fingers. Took a chance on the pricey Thomastik Infeld mandolin strings and huge improvement for me. The TI/505 combo also seems to stay in tune consistently. Good tone, excellent playability at a cost (about $50) but now judged to be well worth the investment for me.
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Old 04-11-2017, 12:31 AM
Br1ck Br1ck is offline
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I know of two large guitar oriented music stores that only carry J 74s, so don't be surprised if you run into that. Get some, then if you ever feel you want to change you will have a reference. Everyone will know what they sound like. Too bright? Ask on a mando website for something warmer than J 74s.

Go to the Mandolin Cafe and get Rob Meldrum's setup guide (free) and get your action measurements and see if you need to do a setup or have one done. Nothing is more important to mandolin's tone and playability than the setup.
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  #13  
Old 04-11-2017, 07:55 AM
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Sooner or later try the Thomastik mandolin strings. You will never look back. Worth every dollar.
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