String instruments are always fascinating. Well, at least the Mandolin is.
Therefore, when you purchase one, you should be ready to have unlimited fun. And that means changing your instrument’s strings from time to time to suit your musical needs.
While there is no single response to your inquires about the best mandolin strings for your device, you can always select from the top choices – such as the ones outlined in this article.
However, you can be sure that nothing beats the good vibes a fresh set of well-picked strings can offer.
Best Mandolin Strings Reviewed In 2021
How to Choose the Right Mandolin Strings
Choosing the perfect mandolin strings for your instrument will give you ample playing time. And because of this, you should pay attention to various things before finalizing your order.
So, if you have been looking forward to learning, keep scrolling. We have so much in store for you:
What Gauge Mandolin Strings Should I Use?
In music, the term string gauge refers to the string’s diameter thickness. And the measurements are usually in thousands of an inch.
Therefore, the mandolin strings aren’t any different. They are generally packaged for sale depending on their gauges, which could be anything from light to heavy.
When you decide to purchase specific paired mandolin strings, you’re going to receive accessories ranked within the same gauge. This means they will help you play the same notes.
Most manufacturers indicate the gauge details on their packages. But some skip this vital step. That’s why it’s important to know what you need.
Generally, the mandolin strings come in three gauges:
- Light: .010 – .014 – .024 – .038
- Medium: .011, .015, .026, .040
- Heavy: .0115, .016, .026, .041
It’s also not surprising to find string sets being sold as either medium or even oppressive.
As a beginner, you might find this a little confusing, especially in the beginning. But with time, you will notice the differences and know which one best suits your instrument.
But even so, here are a few tips on choosing the right gauges according to your preference:
a). Light Gauge Strings
If you want a bright land vibrant tone, you might want to go for the light strings. They are also very easy to vibrate, and you won’t need to exert a lot of pressure to produce sounds.
And because of this, mandolin learners should go for the lighter strings. They offer ease of play, and they are gentle for the fingers.
The same case applies to performers using older instruments without a truss rod neck. This helps them achieve less pressure around the mandolin’s neck, which could otherwise cause a lot of damage.
b). Medium Gauge Strings
These are the most commonly used strings among mandolin performers.
These strings offer users an excellent balance of sounds. The playability is also awesomely sustainable, and the volume produced is of the right quality.
Because of these characteristics, intermediate and advanced mandolin players find these accessories favorable.
c). Heavy Gauge Strings
As the name suggests, the heavy strings aren’t easy to play. They give players a hard time pressing on them, and because of this, they tend to hurt their fingers.
But, even with this, professional players who want to achieve loud, deeper and sustainable sounds prefer these string gauge.
Remember, most modern instruments come with truss rods to allow the adjustment of necks. And this means these types of mandolins can comfortably accommodate all types of gauges.
Therefore, it’s up to you to use a gauge that suits your music style. But if you can’t seem to make the right choice, let an expert help you out.
Coated Vs. Uncoated Strings
I always say that competition is a good thing. Be it in business or general life. It pushes people to do and achieve better.
And the same thing applies to the mandolin industry. Due to the stiff competition in the current marketplace, manufacturers are doing their best to maximize the use of technology to advance their products/services.
The mandolin string manufacturers, for example, are trying all they can to prolong the lifespan of their strings.
The result is coated strings in the market, which are now giving most uncoated strings manufacturers’ sleepless nights.
But as a consumer, which strings are the most suitable?
First, the coated strings are corrosion resistant, which means you can play your instrument in the rain without a worry in the world.
Also, coating maintains the tone quality over time, which isn’t usually the case with the uncoated strings.
Another exciting thing about the coated strings is their long lifespan. In fact, experts say that coated strings can serve you four or more times than the uncoated.
The uncoated strings are popularly known to release buzzing sounds, whenever played, which isn’t very pleasing to the ears. Therefore, if you want to avoid this, go for the coated strings.
However, if you’re sourcing out for stings that will offer you a high vibrant sound, you should consider the uncoated ones. Coated strings are less vigorous thanks to the polymer effect on the tone quality.
Also, coated strings require extra care, and some of them might not withstand heavy playing as the polymer tends to rub off with time.
Roundwound vs. Flatwound Strings
These are the main types of mandolin string windings. The wound refers to the core of these strings, which can either be round or flat or even hexagonal.
The Roundwound strings contain a wound on their outer wire wrapping. And they tend to cause noise when you fret.
On the other hand, Flatwound strings are less popular. And although they’re constructed similarly with the roundwounds, their wrap wire is usually pressed to come up with a flat surface.
Since the surface is smoother, the Flatwound strings rarely produce fewer finger squeaks and are gentle to the fingers.
So, which among the two is the best?
Honestly, they’re both excellent, and as a player, you will have to pick your side depending on preference.
The reason as to why most individuals prefer the flatwound strings is because they are smooth, meaning one can play for long without damaging their fingertips.
Also, jazz mandolin players and their folk counterparts prefer these types of strings because of the mellow sound they produce.
Plus, their tone quality remains pretty the same over time, something that you won’t gain from the roundwound strings.
If you’re on a budget, you might consider purchasing the roundwound strings as they are cheaper than the flatwounds.
However, the good thing with the flatwounds is that you can use them for longer, which is a plus.
Additionally, if you’re used to playing low gauge strings, you can only get roundwounds. Flatwounds don’t have low-gauge.
Another thing, most beginners confess to being comfortable using the roundwounds than flatwounds. They are easy to bend, therefore achieving a vibrato isn’t difficult.
Lastly, flatwounds aren’t readily available. So, getting customized ones isn’t as easy as getting the roundwounds.
Since the mandolin strings are made of metal, you should consider the type of material used as it significantly affects the sound quality.
Some of the most famous materials include:
Phosphor Bronze: this is a popular alloy consisting of copper, phosphorous and tin. The results are long-lasting strings that won’t lose their glory. The strings are known to produce bright sounds.
Nickel-plated Steel: these strings are popularly known for their impressive brighter tone than bronze. And because of this, they make an ideal choice for electric mandolin players.
Hardened Steel: the strings usually are oxidization resistant, making them a perfect choice for individuals who sweat a lot while playing. They are also long-lasting and have a striking outlook.
Chrome Steel: they produce excellent crispy clear sounds without any metallic twang. Also, these strings are tin-plated with a steel core, complete with chrome steel, which offers them longevity.
FAQs About The Best Mandolin Strings
How Long Do Mandolin Strings Last?
This will depend on several factors. For example: which instrument are you using? How often do you play? What kind of strings are you using?
If you are using bright-sounding strings, chances are that you might need to change them monthly.
But if you prefer a heavy sound, you can use the strings as long as you want or when you can’t seem to keep them in tune.
Remember, it will still depend on how much you’re playing. So, typically, it could be around 3-6 months, averagely.
What Are Mandolin Strings Made Of?
Mandolin strings are made of different types of metals. The most popular ones include bronze, copper, phosphor bronze, among others.
But the most common material is the phosphor bronze, which is also considered the highest quality.
Why Are Flatwound Strings More Expensive?
They are smooth, thus easy to pick and roll, meaning manufacturers have to invest in advanced technology to achieve this.
How Much Does It Cost to Restring A Mandolin?
To remove the mandolin strings and provide new ones together with installation, you will spend around $39-$56.
How Do You Change the Strings on A Kentucky Mandolin?
Changing your instrument’s string requires a lot of concentration.
You will first have to remove the broken strings by sliding them off the tailpiece.
Once done, the loop ends should be exposed. Now take time to detach them as you keep a mental note of their respective positions.
Check out the following demonstration video:
Strings are the heart of any mandolin instrument. Each player defines their music based on the type of strings they use. That’s why you should select them with caution.
Some are expensive, and others cheap. But since they all won’t last a lifetime, it’s advisable only to get a few packs at a time. Test the tone quality and see which ones work best for you.
Whichever brand you settle on, ensure it offers you a great balance between affordability, durability and intonation.