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Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.

Les in Chorlton 11 Mar 16 - 08:39 AM
Dave Hanson 11 Mar 16 - 09:01 AM
Backwoodsman 11 Mar 16 - 09:29 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Mar 16 - 11:40 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 11 Mar 16 - 11:56 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Mar 16 - 12:11 PM
Bonzo3legs 11 Mar 16 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,Ray 12 Mar 16 - 03:42 AM
Leadfingers 12 Mar 16 - 04:33 AM
Will Fly 12 Mar 16 - 05:23 AM
Backwoodsman 12 Mar 16 - 06:04 AM
Backwoodsman 12 Mar 16 - 06:06 AM
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Subject: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 08:39 AM

I know this will have been answered somewhere but we do tend to slide of the original request a bit.

Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc. have basically five essential properties:

1. Thickness or gauge
2. Length
3. Loop or end toggle
4. Material - Steel? or Nickel?
5. Winding - Bronze or Nickel.

I know this is not exhaustive or entirely accurate but is the list about right?

Second point - Although sold sometimes in sets of 4, 6 or 8 and so on and in ones or twos they are packaged as guitars, banjos. mandos etc. - can I simply fit a string of choice - by length and gauge etc to any instrument as long as it will go on?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 09:01 AM

round wound or flat [ tape ] wound.
strings now also made from stainless steel.
they can be cryogenically treated [ seems like just a sales gimmick to me ]

it's usually loop or ball

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 09:29 AM

Guitar and mandolin strings are also available now in Monel (core and wrap).
Possibly the most common winding material nowadays for acoustic instruments is Phosphor-Bronze, with bronze second.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 11:40 AM

So providing the length and the gauge are appropriate we can fit anything to anything regardless of the name on the packet?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 11:56 AM

...can I simply fit a string of choice - by length and gauge etc to any instrument as long as it will go on?

Yes. As long as two strings are of the same gauge, same composition, and have the same style end for attachment to the instrument, it makes no difference whether their packaging says "guitar", "banjo" or anything else.

And, in a pinch, ball-end strings can easily be converted to loop-end, and vice-versa, with a pair of pliers and a modicum of manual dexterity.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 12:11 PM

Thanks Bee-dubya-ell that has crystalised of lot of thinking around what to fit to my octave mandola!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 05:50 PM

We were using banjo strings for guitar top E in 1963, I learnt the trick from Stu Taylor when in Lord Sutch's Savages!!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 12 Mar 16 - 03:42 AM

..... and then there are coated strings.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Mar 16 - 04:33 AM

I don't like changing just one string - keep a loop coiled at the peg , so if one breaks , and its usually at the bridge , its easy to 're loop' the ball end and pull it through , so there isn't one string that is brighter than the others . Then change the set after the gig .


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Mar 16 - 05:23 AM

It doesn't really matter what strings are used for what - it's all personal taste - as long as the string tension can cope with scale length and tuning, and as long as they sound equal in tone and projection.

Example: If you buy a tenor guitar from somewhere like Hobgoblin Music, the scale length will really be intended for something around octave mandolin tuning - and the string gauges used will be appropriate for that. However, those same string gauges will not be appropriate for a tenor guitar in "standard" viola (CGDA) tuning, and will break.

For my CGDA tenor guitar, I use Elixir .010 gauge Phosphor Bronze Nanoweb, but swap out the top .010 string for a .009 gauge string - less tension and closer to breaking point. (The top string on a tenor in this tuning is A above the top E of a conventional guitar).

I don't tend to break strings at acoustic gigs. The nearest I get to breaking a string is at a band gig, when playing electrically. However, I can change a string in about 30 seconds flat because, when I designed and commissioned the guitar, I specified a Lowden-style bridge. With no bridge pegs to worry about, changing a string simply involves whipping off the broken bits of the old string, threading the new string through the bridge and winding it round the tuning peg. Simples.

And I always use coated strings (Nanoweb, not Polyweb) because I can kill a set of uncoated strings stone dead in a morning's playing!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 12 Mar 16 - 06:04 AM

I haven't broken a string for......oh, donkey's years, at least twenty.

I change uncoated strings every three weeks, when they start to sound dull and, if I'm using coated strings, it's every six-to-eight weeks. I also try not to use the same guitar for several tunings, I have one for EADGBE and DADGBE, and another for DADGAD - so strings aren't weakened by frequent re-tuning.

I'm convinced that those practices, plus the fact that I'm not a 'thrasher', are the reasons for my strings not breaking.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Strings for guitars, banjos. mandos etc.
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 12 Mar 16 - 06:06 AM

I also have very dry hands (just call me 'Ole Never-Sweat'!), and I think that helps too.


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