Has anyone tried this with mandolin strings?

Has anyone tried this with mandolin strings?

Or, it could be relevant for bouzouki, cittern, octave mandolin, mandola; really anything with paired strings.

I use Thomastik-Infeld (TI) flat-wound strings on my 1920 Vega cylinder-back mandolin, and they sound great. I also get plenty of volume, and, since the strings are tin-coated, they resist corrosion and therefore last a very long time. Recently, I broke a D string and only had a D’Addario Phopshor Bronze J74 loop end string in my ‘orphan strings’ drawer to replace it with.

When I put the phosphor bronze string on, I noticed that the sound of that string pair was now, not surprisingly, different: a mixture of the mellowness, bell-like tone, and fast attack of the TI strings with the brighter, longer sustaining twang of the phosphor bronze string. I was intrigued by the sound and decided to also replace the corresponding TI string of the G string pair with a phosphor bronze (PB) string as well.

There may be a modest cost advantage to this approach since the TI strings are tin-coated and last about 10 times as long as the PB strings, while they only cost about 6 times as much. In addition, the string noise due to round-wound strings would be cut in half since the TI strings are flat-wound and have no strings noise at all.

It’s too early to determine whether the change is valuable or not in a session setting in terms of volume and presence. So far, I like the additional complexity of the sound. Perhaps it’s possible to get the best of both worlds.

I would like to know whether anyone else has tried this, and, if so, what have they discovered. Thanks.

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Re: Has anyone tried this with mandolin strings?

I’ve discovered that Elixer brand strings sound just fine on my Taylor guitar but lack body on my banjo/bouzouki/mandolins etc. I’ve switched to D’Addario phosphor-bronze for everything but the banjo and that is now wearing John Pearse medium gauge instead of the Clareen strings it had previously. I truly did not like Thomastik-Infeld strings on my jazz guitar. To each their own.

Re: Has anyone tried this with mandolin strings?

Sounds like an interesting idea, dfost. I have never used flat-wounds on my own mandolin, but when I play a mandolin that has them on, whilst I appreciate the difference in tone, I always miss that bit of bite - and they feel stiff and unyielding. I could probably get used to them (like anything) - maybe even grow to love them, given the chance - but combining flat- and round-wound sounds an intriguing middle path.

Re: Has anyone tried this with mandolin strings?

If I remember correctly, British musician Pete Coe strings his octave tuned Stefan Sobell bouzouki with nickel wound as the higher string on the two bottom courses-the others being phosphor bronze wound-prefering the tone. GDAD tuning I believe.