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Best Mandolin Strings In 2021: A Buyer’s Guide

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

1. Elixir Strings Mandolin Strings, (Light)

The Elixir strings remain the most sought in the current marketplace for a reason: they are impressively ultra-thin thanks to their unique Nanoweb coating.

The manufacturers of these strings outdid themselves by presenting them in a traditional texture, something that most performers seem to appreciate.

You see, the texture ensures you achieve the much-needed tangible feedback from your instrument.

This, combined with experience, leads to a fantastic outcome: one to be remembered for years.

And because of their durable nature, these strings can be used for a long time, making a worthwhile investment.

Although some individuals complain of a little discomfort, in the beginning, it does fade with time as you get used to your new accessory. This is especially true for players who haven’t used coated strings before.

The .010 .014 .024 .034 light gauge strings are made of copper and zinc, producing a bright bell-like tone.

Pros
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Long tone life
  • Bright and responsive
  • Light enough to relieve pressure on your hands
Cons
  • The coating might not withstand heavy training.

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2. D'Addario EJ74 Mandolin Strings, (Medium)

Like the Elixir Strings this D’Addario EJ74 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings, are also ranked among the highly competitive in the marketplace, within their range.

They are a true definition of an excellent balance between quality and price.

So, if this sounds like the perfect combination you are looking for, place that order.

The best part is that these strings can withstand heavy use. So, if you plan on practicing daily and for long hours, you now have a choice.

And that’s not all. These mandolin accessories are typically every player’s dream.

They come with a sturdy construction from Phosphor Bronze and plain steel and offer a universal fit.

Besides, the strings are made in the US, which means the quality is guaranteed. Value for your money is what you will get.

Be ready to enjoy the well-articulated warm tones as you find your way around your instrument and define your musical future.

Pros
  • Strong enough to withstand daily use.
  • They can fit any instrument, thanks to their universal fit feature.
  • Top-quality strings
  • Durable, reliable and produce bright and warm sounds
  • No damage to sounds
Cons
  • Heavier than the typical medium-size strings
  • Few reports on undone loops

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3. D'Addario EJ70 Mandolin Strings, (Medium/Light)

The first thing that should run through your mind when you hear the brand D’Addario is guaranteed quality.

And the potent nature of the D’Addario EJ70 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings is enough proof.

How? They come expertly made from phosphor bronze, which is an automatic indicator of longevity.

Also, the presence of phosphor bronze means that you can play your instrument with confidence, knowing that you will achieve accurate notes, with no deformation.

Another thing, the strings are universal fit, meaning they can comfortably fit all types of mandolins (as long as they require ball-end strings.)

When using these strings, you don’t have to worry about damaging your fingers’ tips as they are light enough.

The package is professionally packaged, and having been made in the US, quality is guaranteed.

Also, these 1.06 ounces strings produce crispy clear, beautiful sounds.

Pros
  • Can be used to play all types of songs
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Offer durability, reliability and longevity even with heavy use.
  • Produce clear tones
Cons
  • Not easy to install, especially for beginners
  • Much heavier than expected

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4. Martin M400 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Body

If you’re sourcing for lightweight strings for your mandolin, you should consider getting the Martin M400 Bronze.

The strings are made out of a bronze wound, therefore guaranteeing users durability and reliability over time.

Also, expect to achieve a clear and bright tone when playing, thanks to the bronze winding, which offers these strings depth, especially as you hit the bass notes.

They are easy to play, even for beginners.

You will only have to give them a light touch to attain beautiful music. And because of this, these strings are best suitable for Celtic/ customary Irish music performers.

With all these features, you probably expect these accessories to be expensive, right? Well, that’s not the case. In fact, they’re the most affordable choice you can get out there.

Pros
  • Very responsive to light touch
  • Favorable for both experienced and beginner users.
  • Offer excellent sound quality
  • Decent quality
  • Value for money
Cons
  • The E strings seem to break easily

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5. Ernie Ball Earthwood Mandolin Strings, (Medium)

Truth be told, if the material is your main focus when choosing the perfect strings for your mandolin, you can never go wrong with bronze.

A mention of it quickly translates to sturdiness and beautiful appearance.

And this is precisely what these Ernie Ball Earthwood Mandolin Medium 80/20 strings promise to offer you.

They come carefully made out of top-notch bronze alloy.

This also means that these mandolin accessories are pretty gentle on the fingers, so you don’t have to worry about pricking yourself.

I also liked this set because all the strings are loop end, meaning you can quickly achieve tone consistency.

And because of this, these Ernie Ball Earthwood strings, make an ideal pick even for picky performers.

They promise accuracy and deliver nothing less.

When you receive your package, you will be glad to have made such an investment. The strings scream durability, and you will enjoy spending time playing your instrument.

The strings deliver value not only for experienced musicians but also for beginners. The tones are crispy clear, complete with impressive overtones that can be used to bring life to any kind of song.

Pros
  • Bronze alloy makes these strings gentle for your fingers
  • They are potent
  • Beautiful appearance
  • The loop-end design ensures sound accuracy
  • An excellent pick even for beginner players
  • Can deliver on every kind of song
Cons
  • Not recommended for aggressive players
  • Some beginners experience difficulty in tuning, but once they get help, it will be smooth.

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6. GHS Strings A240 Mandolin Strings, (Ultra Light)

If you’re an enthusiastic player, the first thing you will notice about the GHS Strings A240 strings is the excellent fun-filled packaging.

But that is not all.

This model comes with sufficient strings that will serve you for long.

So, value for money is what you will receive.

Once you open the package, you will notice that it contains Nitro pack singles, which will remind you of the traditional set, at least in terms of quality.

The noticeable difference is that these accessories are modernized to fit the current times.

The GHS Strings A240 might be ultra-light, but they are sturdy enough to take you through your concert performance without embarrassing breakages.

Also, the fact that these strings are made out of phosphor bronze means that they are rust-resistant. Therefore, nothing should stop you from playing and dancing, even in the rain!

I also noticed that some more fantastic features, including the loop-end style, which makes them a universal fit, complete with lock-end twists for extra strength.

And before I forget, they are light and very kind to your fingers, even after long playing sessions.

Pros
  • They don’t break easily, so they can be used for prolonged practicing/performances.
  • The package comes with enough strings to last you for long
  • Very durable and comfortable strings
  • Rust-resistant to withstand wet environments
  • Can comfortably fit any mandolin model
Cons
  • Too light to provide sufficient volume and heavier tones
  • Some mandolins might produce scratchy sounds.

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How to Choose the Right Mandolin Strings

Choosing the perfect mandolin strings for your instrument will give you ample playing time with your mandolin. 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.

The Material

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:

Conclusion

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.

Lee Cardwell
Owner and Chief Editor of Music Tech Hub. I play banjo, mandolin and I am currently learning how to play the harmonica.

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