Best Mandolin String Review – Top Rated Models in 2020 with Buying Guide
Here you can find out which are some of the best mandolin strings you can buy right now, especially if you are in a hurry and you don’t want to do all the research by yourself. We analyzed the options you can find on the market, went through all of the advantages and disadvantages and concluded that D’Addario Bronze Strings is one of the top products to consider buying. It is a premium model that relies on the sturdiness of the bronze strings and has a price that you won’t even feel. This is the set for you if you are planning to use your mandolin daily and if you want something that won’t hurt your fingers. If by any chance this model is unavailable, the next best buy you could make right now is Ernie Ball Earthwood Set, that has all the features of a successful product.
Our Top Choice
If you are looking for a mandolin set that will withstand the test of time and help you achieve great results, this model might be just the answer to your quest. Made of phosphor bronze, a material that adds to the product’s durability, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to rely on it. The high-quality materials used render a beautiful and warm sound.
As with any other strings, you need to make sure that they are correctly used, to avoid any damage. For some users, these can seem too loose or too strong, but it’s a matter of personal preference.
If you need a mandolin set that you can rely on, then you should add this product to your list since its good construction could be exactly what you are looking for.
When it comes to materials out of which strings can be made, few can compare to a high-quality bronze alloy. For this reason, Ernie Ball’s Earthwood Set is preferred by many musicians, as it delivers accurate acoustics. Even played by a beginner, these strings can render a beautiful sound with rich tones.
These strings are rather light which makes them ideal for beginners or musicians with hand strength issues, but if you are into more aggressive styles of playing, then these might be too light.
All in all, this set is crafted using superior materials and it delivers beautiful sounds, which means that you can definitely give it a try.
Also To Consider
What makes the Elixir Strings stand out is a super-thin NANOWEB coating that actually transforms the strings by giving them a more traditional texture, this way enhancing the tactile feedback and adding to the experience that players have with this product. This also makes the strings suitable for extended use.
If you are not used to playing coated strings, these might seem a little strange in the beginning. Some players don’t like them at all, but this is just a matter of what the person is already used to.
Even if you’ve never played coated strings before and you’re not sure if you’re going to like it, you should give this set a try and see for yourself.
12 Best Mandolin Strings (Reviews) in 2020
We went through all the best reviews to find models worth mentioning, and that can be anything but a waste of money. Only high-quality models were taken into consideration, and we allowed no flaws or downsides so you can make a wise investment.
- 1. D’Addario EJ74 11-40 Medium Phosphor Bronze Mandolin String
- 2. Ernie Ball Earthwood Mandolin Medium 80/20 Bronze Loop End Set
- 3. Elixir Mandolin Sets Ultra-Thin Nanoweb Coating Light Acoustic
- 4. D’Addario J74 Phosphor Bronze Medium
- 5. D’Addario EXP77 EXP
- 6. GHS A 240 Ultra LT Mandolin String Phosphor Bronze
- 7. D’Addario EJ73 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings
- 8. DD’Addario EXP74 EXP Coated Phosphor Bronze Medium
- 9. D’Addario EJ70 Phosphor Bronze Medium Light Ball End Mandolin Strings
- 10. Jim Dunlop Nickel B001AK7HAU
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Frequently asked questions about mandolin strings
- Best mandolin strings brands
1. D’Addario EJ74 11-40 Medium Phosphor Bronze Mandolin String
These are some of the most competitive items on the market because they offer a great balance between price and quality. It is a best selling mandolin set that will last a long time, even if you use the strings daily.
This is the complete answer to your musical troubles.The construction makes for a universal fit, and that will ensure that you can use it even with your own instrument. Quality is guaranteed since this set is made in the U.S.A.
And they are created of phosphor bronze, which adds a long lasting life to the product. And the materials make the sounds the model creates warm and bright and very pleasant to hear.
Because they are crafted out of durable materials that don’t damage sound in any way, your notes will always be articulate and accurate no matter in what environment you’re playing the mandolin.
If you are looking for a set of strings that won’t get used easily, D’Addario comes with an efficient solution for you that works even when the strings are used daily.
You don’t have to worry about the size of the strings because they are universal to make sure they will fit any instrument.
The brand offers you great quality, having its products made in the U.S.A. according to strict standards.
The strings are very durable thanks to the phosphor bronze construction that also create a bright and warm sound.
You will be able to play mandolin in every environment since the strings are made of materials that don’t damage the sound.
The strings are a little bit heavier than expected even though they are described as medium light.
You have to make sure that you use the strings correctly in order to avoid any damage.
2. Ernie Ball Earthwood Mandolin Medium 80/20 Bronze Loop End Set
When it comes to materials that have a lot of potential, few other choices are as sturdy and nice looking as bronze. And this set is made of only of a high-quality bronze alloy, that will be kind to your fingers while you’re playing your instrument.
All strings are created in a loop end style, meaning your sound will be just the way you like it all the time. This set can please even the pickiest musician because it will deliver accurate acoustics.
This kind of strings and the materials they are made of will bring a lot of value to your purchase and will make you enjoy the mandolin even more. Ernie Ball created a product that pleases all types of aesthetics.
They will deliver, even in the hands of beginners, crisp sounding tones with pleasing overtones, that’ll enrich all the songs you are going to play with them, and so you will impress your audience even more.
These strings are very sturdy and nice-looking as they are made of a bronze alloy which is also gentle to your fingers while playing the mandolin.
The sound is very accurate thanks to the loop end design which allows you to deliver the notes the way you wish.
It is also a great choice for beginners as you can achieve a beautiful warm sound with a rich tone in order to impress the audience.
Thanks to the quality materials the strings are made of, you are able to deliver crisp sounding tones and pleasing overtones.
This set is made to delight every musician due to the accurate acoustics the strings produce.
If you are used to a more aggressive playing style, these strings may seem to light for you as they are made to provide for a beginners’ needs.
These strings are a little bit tough to tune so if you are a beginner you may need some help.
3. Elixir Mandolin Sets Ultra-Thin Nanoweb Coating Light Acoustic
This is a product that stands out in the best way possible, which is a rare feature that should not be overlooked. Add that to the competitive price, and you have a choice to be considered.
The extra feature we were talking about is a super-thin NANOWEB coating that transforms the strings by giving them a traditional texture, which adds to the experience of this product, enhancing the tactile feedback, all the mandolin strings reviews say.
This set is a joy to use for an extended time, and it won’t feel rough to the touch so your fingers will not hurt. This will make hours of rehearsal a breeze and will make you forget about band-aids around the tips of your fingers.
When it comes to models that combine all the secret ingredients, it doesn’t get better than this. This one is sturdy, unique and it offers a lot of using hours because it can withstand a lot of tension and extension.
The special thing about this set of strings is the super-thin NANOWEB coating which enhances the tactile feedback by giving them a traditional texture.
For extra durability, the coating protects the strings from corrosion and contamination.
The strings are gentle to your fingers so you won’t need band-aids after long rehearsals or extended concerts.
These strings are sturdy thanks to the quality materials they are made of, so you can enjoy them for a long period of time.
The strings withstand tension and extension very well due to the unique design that was crafted using superior materials.
Quality is the main feature as they are made in the USA according to strict standards.
Since these are coated strings, it may feel weird for the first time if you’ve never used this type of strings before.
These strings are loop-ended, so if you own an electric mandolin you should check other models with a ball-end design.
4. D’Addario J74 Phosphor Bronze Medium
This manufacturer has been in the industry for a long time, so it knows how to create well-made products. And this model is no exemption to that rule because it packs a lot of sturdiness in such a light body.
The string themselves are made from premium phosphor bronze, a material that can survive a lot of hours of aggressive guitar tuning and is non-toxic and cool looking.
And since attention to details is essential, this model is made in the States, for an added touch of quality and as a guarantee that all the notes you want to create will sound to the point and beautiful.
The fit is universal and the materials carefully selected. These are strings that can be used by both beginners and professionals alike because they respect all the acoustics rules and are what you would want from a product in this category.
D’Addario manages to combine two of the most important features in one product by creating a sturdy and yet light set of strings.
The strings can withstand hours of rehearsals as they are made of premium phosphor bronze that also gives them a non-toxic look.
They come individually packed in paper envelopes to prevent any possible damage.
You will be able to deliver beautiful notes that will sound to the point due to the quality materials.
These strings meet all the needs of a musician which makes them suitable for both beginner and professional mandolin players.
If you are a beginner, you may find it hard to install the strings, especially the E string that may snap if not mounted correctly.
The G string doesn’t deliver a sound as warm as the other strings so you may feel that you get a bad vibration.
5. D’Addario EXP77 EXP
There’s no such thing as an unbreakable product. This one gets close to that impossible task. It is a unique set of strings that will meet all of your needs and deliver quality so it won’t fail you when it matters the most.
The model features something unique to this brand – it has custom gauges for consistency and balance across the strings, to get a uniform sensation when using them so you can create beautiful melodies.
The sound it provides is crystal clear, and the quality is high-class. The items are sturdy, and you can use them daily, and they won’t break, even when rehearsing for many hours.
The bronze product has a looped construction that makes it a universal fit and is totally non-toxic and environmentally friendly, and what’s even better is that it won’t rust if you play in humid places.
The main feature of this set of strings is the fact that it has custom gauges that allow you to get a uniform sensation.
The custom gauges also offer you balance and consistency across the strings in order to obtain beautiful sounds.
These strings deliver crystal clear sounds as they are made of high-quality materials.
You will get to enjoy playing the mandolin for a longer period of time as the strings are sturdy enough to withstand hours of rehearsals.
The design of the strings is universal, made to fit any mandolin, no matter the size as they are environmental friendly at the same time.
These strings are not as loud as other models so if you are used to louder ones, check other products.
The strings have extra tension ant that’s why they may seem to you a little stiff compared to other strings.
6. GHS A 240 Ultra LT Mandolin String Phosphor Bronze
This product is packaged in a young and fun way, that will add to the overall quality of the set. The model has enough strings for you to use for a long time and since they are so well made, you won’t have to repurchase them anytime soon.
It features NitroPack singles, a type of string that pays tribute to the quality of the traditional ones but in new clothes, fitted for the modern times.
They have a lot of strength, so they won’t break during your concerts or at unexpected times and are made of phosphor bronze wraps, which are rust repellent and sturdy. This way you can even play the mandolin in the rain, and they will still do their job just fine.
Other features are the loop ends for a universal fit and the lock-end twists for added strength and they are also lightweight and kind to your fingers at all times.
If you are looking for a set of strings that won’t break easily, this is the right choice for you as they are made to withstand hours of playing daily.
This is an efficient set as it contains enough strings so you won’t have to purchase other ones very soon.
These strings are made of phosphor bronze wraps which give them strength and durability.
You can play mandolin in any weather conditions as the strings are corrosion-resistant and rust-repellent.
The strings come with loop-ends that fit every model and lock-end twists for added strength.
These strings are very lightweight and gentle to your fingers so you can enjoy the musical experience at its finest.
Since these strings are light and smooth, they lack volume and strong tones which may be a problem for you if that doesn’t fit your style.
Depending on your mandolin, the strings deliver a sound that’s a little bit scratchier than other strings on the market.
7. D’Addario EJ73 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings
Good light strings for musical instruments are hard to find. There’s no wonder why this model is one of the best selling sets from D’Addario. It combines a sophisticated manufacturing with excellent materials for a reduced price tag.
In order to fit almost all types of mandolines, they have a loop end construction that also adds to the quality of the notes the string produces.
They are made of phosphor bronze, the top choice in materials from which this type of product is created. It is an element that gives them strength and sturdiness but also makes them flexible enough not to hurt your fingers.
The sound is warm and bright in tone, and it can please even the best-trained ear. That performance is achieved because the model is made in the U.S.A. which adds a boost in quality.
The great thing about these strings is the fact that they are very light since they are made using sophisticated materials.
These strings are designed with a loop-end construction for improved performance on the stage.
Moreover, the quality of the notes is given by the phosphor bronze used in manufacturing these strings.
The phosphor bronze also gives the strings strength and it is gentle to your fingers at the same time.
The product is made in the USA by paying attention to the details so the clients can enjoy a quality product for a long time.
These strings create a warm sound to please every musician or spectator.
Despite the fact that the product is described as being medium light, the strings are a bit heavier than you would expect.
If you are a beginner, it is better to ask for help when installing the strings as the E string may snap easily.
8. DD’Addario EXP74 EXP Coated Phosphor Bronze Medium
The product is a classic set that provides immense quality at a lightweight price. It offers consistency in sound and a warm tone to ensure that when you pour your heart into the songs you’re playing, the audience will feel it.
Also, the string has a thin layer of XP coating over the bronze wire via an elaborate craftsmanship that only adds extra value when purchasing this product. This adds a protective barrier against rust and damage.
The fit is universal, and the lifespan is extended since they are flexible enough to take even extreme mandolin playing sessions.
One of the best properties of this model is that it provides a natural tone and quality notes. That is important when you have a specific feeling you want to convey through your music and should not be overlooked.
Your audience will be very pleased with your performance if you are using these strings as they deliver a warm tone and the sound is consistent.
The main feature of these strings is the XP coating applied on the bronze wire that increases the durability of the set and the comfort when playing.
Since the strings are XP-coated, you can play the mandolin on different weather conditions as they are corrosion-resistant.
You don’t have to worry about the size because the fit is universal.
The sound delivered by these strings is very natural and warm in order to delight everyone’s ears.
This set of strings is not one of the loudest on the market, so if you prefer a louder style, it is better to check other products.
These strings are a little bit less crisp on the top end than other similar products on the market.
9. D’Addario EJ70 Phosphor Bronze Medium Light Ball End Mandolin Strings
This is a product that comes from a brand associated with quality. And the sturdiness of these strings confirms that. They are made from phosphor bronze that gives them a long life, and that helps with creating accurate notes with no distortion whatsoever.
They can be used on all kinds of mandolines that require a ball end, and their light construction will make using them a joy since they won’t damage the tips of your fingers when playing the instrument.
The set is made in the U.S.A. and promises a professional packaging and a high-class performance. The models can be used by everyone, and everywhere from your room to a concert hall because they won’t break when you least expect them to.
All types of songs can be performed on these strings, and they will sound beautiful a clear. The sound output is accurate and is the best product to grow accustomed to. They will inevitably become your go-to strings whenever in need.
This model offers the buyer a long-term musical experience as the strings have good strength to withstand many hours of rehearsals.
The strings deliver a clear tone with no other distortion thanks to the phosphor bronze which they are made of.
These strings are versatile due to the fact that they are suitable for all ball-end mandolines.
The light construction of the strings prevents any damage to the tips of your fingers to allow you to play a long time.
You can play any type of song with these strings as they produce a clear tone no matter the place.
You have to be careful how you install the strings as the D string may get unwound a few millimeters from the bridge.
If you are a beginner, it is recommended to get some help when mounting the strings on your mandolin to avoid breaking them.
10. Jim Dunlop Nickel B001AK7HAU
When creators have respect for sounds, products like this come to life. It is a set that offers articulate and focused tonal response and will make even playing the most difficult songs rewarding and comfortable.
The texture of the strings offers a balanced tactile feel so you’ll never miss a note and which makes a beginner’s life so much easier since they’ll develop finger memory for the chords much faster.
Nickel is the chosen material for manufacturing, and it gives it a long life, even if you are going to use the items every day and for an extended period of time.
Everything about this possible purchase is non-toxic and nonallergic so you can be safe at all times.
The style of the strings is looped, and they are tuned in 4 pairs, this way you will always have a backup.
If you are either a professional musician or a beginner, this set of strings may be what you are looking for as it offers you a focused and articulate tonal response.
These strings help you develop chord memory faster due to their quality construction which gives them a different texture.
This set is made of nickel which gives the product durability in order to offer you the joy of playing with the same strings for a longer time.
The design of the strings is looped and the installing process is easy so you won’t waste your time struggling with technical stuff.
The strings are flexible and yet strong in order to withstand long playing sessions and many rehearsals.
This product is different from the usual bronze strings so if you are not used to nickel, you should avoid buying these.
Since these strings are made of nickel, they are not as light as other similar products.
11. DR Strings Mandolin
These items are made of phosphor bronze, and that is the element that enhances the robust nature of the product. The material not only makes it able to withstand daily use, but it also makes it rust free.
This can quickly become your favorite model if you prefer your notes crisp, clear and warm in tone. They are exceptionally beneficial if you are a beginner and you want to train your ear. They’re quality mandolin strings for sure.
You can use them on any type of mandolin, and the quality manufacturing won’t make them strain or add tension, so that you can play this instrument in a very stress and pain-free way.
It is going to make your mandolin sound even better, and they could last a user for a very long period because of the durable construct. And as a bonus, they are very flexible, and your fingers will thank you for that.
If you are looking for a set of strings that is rust-free and durable at the same time, this is a great choice for you.
The strings are made of phosphor bronze which gives them a long lifespan and protection to accidental damages.
These strings deliver a clear and warm tone as well as crisp notes to enhance your musical performance.
They are a great choice for beginners as they help them train their ears and speed up the process of learning.
The fit is universal, making the strings suitable for every loop-end mandoline in a comfortable way as they don’t strain or add any tension.
This model is great for beginners but if you are a professional musician, this set may not be the most suitable choice for you.
These strings are heavier than you expect so if you are looking for light design, check other products.
12. Thomastik-Infeld 150 Mandolin
The manufacturer created a product that can last endless hours of use, so you won’t have to change the strings every other day. They are made of phosphor bronze and can be ideal for all types of mandolines.
As a factor to differentiate this model from others on the market, is the fact they are tin-plated. This standard will ensure the sound will be bright and with the extra smooth polish, there isn’t the risk of scratched and tensed fingers as cheap mandolin strings would have.
The core is elastic, and that will aid the musical vibration for an enhanced experience. Optimized strings are hard to come by, but this product is just that. And to that add an extended lifespan and crazy reasonable prices, and you have a deal hard to ignore.
The strings are responsive, and you won’t ever miss a note while using them because they offer a lot of tactile feedback. All of these features make it an item to give a chance to and to let it become a tradition.
These phosphor bronze strings are made to withstand many hours of playing so you can focus on your work.
Another great thing about these strings is that they are tin-plated which makes the sound brighter.
The extra smooth polish lowers the risk of scratching your fingers in order to make you feel comfortable while performing great music.
These are very flexible strings for more accurate sounds in order to please your audience.
For a better musical experience, the core of the strings is elastic so the musical vibrations are enhanced.
The strings are very responsive as they offer you tactile feedback for more playing accuracy.
If you are a beginner, you may find it difficult to mount the strings so it is better to watch a tutorial or ask for some help.
These strings are not as lightweight as other similar products available on the market.
Yearly Guide & Report
When it comes to mandolin strings, things might look simple since they are just almost like a plain long wire. But beneath the surface, there’s a hidden complexity that you should be aware of. Below we explained in detail, but in a straightforward manner, all there is to know about a good mandolin string.
Everything is analyzed from size to materials and types of strings, so you can see an in-depth global view of what makes a good purchase. These are all the tricks and tips highlighted by the experts in this field for you to take advantage of.
What are strings made of?
When it comes to such an item, the perfect material does not exist. It is more about experimenting with sound and finding the tonality that you like the most. The best idea is to buy different types of strings made of diverse alloys and see which one sounds more melodic to you.
The type of alloy can also change the projection of a note and for how long you can hold that specific note. The most known choices when it comes to the creation of these products are phosphor bronze and nickel, but there are a lot more materials to choose from in this overflowing market.
But you don’t have to settle for just one type of chord. You can even change them to fit your songs. If you want something bright and warm in tone, go for the bronze ones, but if you want something a bit more powerful and sharp, nickel can be your best friend.
It is essential to know what type of genre you’re mostly going to play on your mandolin, as some types of music sound better if played on a particular type of string. For example, the magical atmosphere of jazz is enhanced when phosphor bronze chords are used.
What type of string should I choose?
The choice between heavy and light is mostly a personal one. The professionals don’t recommend one in particular, but they say every musician should try at least once both types of strings. None is better than the other, but the sounds they help create are different, so think about the specific tonality of that song and buy the chords that fit it.
The terms light and heavy are mostly used to describe the gauge of the mandolin which is basically how much tension the strings place on the instrument. It is what gives the sound a boost of power and projection. Some types are harder to play than the others, but you shouldn’t sacrifice the atmosphere of your song because it might be difficult to use the strings.
This difficulty is increased by the fact that the heavy models need more pressure on the fret in order to move them. It can be challenging if you have to play a dynamic part or one that requires you to change the notes very fast.
It is all about finding the right sound for your compositions when looking for mandolin strings for sale. When it comes to tension and power, it is a quite well-known fact that heavy strings are the go-to strings that place a lot of tension and that produce a more rich sound. The light ones are perfect for delicate and romantic songs because they produce elegant melodies.
How often should one change a string?
Changing your strings can be quite complicated if you are not an experienced user. So the answer to the question regarding how frequent one should change the chords is, well, every time the cords break or start to sound out of tune and impossible to recalibrate.
There is no need to change them after a set date if the sound output is still clear and rich as you are accustomed. The most important criteria that reveals that maybe it is time to buy some new ones is when you want to experiment more with the music you’re playing.
An often thing that happens with experienced musicians is that they replace the strings when they want to convey a certain emotion or when they have an important concert coming up. This is a great way to avoid accidents, and more importantly, it is an ideal way to not have your strings break on stage.
In general, new chords equals better sounds. A new set will improve the certainty with which you will play the songs because you know they are not going to break. It increases the overall playability of an instrument. It is best to replace them every three months or so, just to be safe.
Other things to keep in mind
The length of a product can also be a decisive factor. It is important to measure your strings to make sure that before you buy a new set, their sizes will match so you won’t have to return it. It has to be measured from the ball/loop end to the bridge but also from the bridge to the nut and then from the nut to the peg meant for tuning. The best string height for mandolin is revealed by following those steps.
Speaking of the ending of a string, this is an aspect that matters too. It is a term that refers to how your strings are attached to the tail of the mandolin. And usually, there are two types: ball end or loop end strings. To see which one fits you, just look at pictures of the endings and then look and see what type your instrument uses.
There is another trick to consider when buying a new model. And that is the wrap of the string. It is the alloy than covers the metal core of the product, and it can affect the tonality in its entirety, and in that aspect, it matters just as much as the core material. Some of the popular choices are silver, nickel alloys and all types of other unique coats for each brand.
All of these things combined make for a product to watch out for. Now that you are educated regarding the essentials of a string, it should be much easier for yourself to find a model that you will be using for a long time to come.
Another factor to consider is the string gauges, and this feature refers to the thickness of the string’s diameter, which is measured in thousandths of an inch. There is no need to memorize the size in actual inches since the gauge is referred to by string manufacturers as light, medium, and heavy.
You need to keep in mind that paired courses always have the same gauge since these mandolin strings need to be played together and tuned to the same note. You should keep a sharp eye on the packaging of the product you’re purchasing since some manufacturers specify the gauges for all eight strings while others only list the gauges for the four paired courses.
As you develop your preferences for specific gauges, you’ll find it very useful that certain string manufacturers sell sets that use intermediate designators such as light/medium or medium/heavy. The differences between these gauge ranges are subtle, but it makes it easier to find the best fit for your instrument and playing style.
Do make sure to use only products that your instrument can handle since an old mandolin might not be able to handle medium or lighter gauges. This is because modern instruments are fitted with truss rods that reinforce and allow the neck to be adjusted. This allows modern mandolins to handle any of the available gauges.
For instruments that lack truss rods, it is better to stick with lighter gauges since they won’t exert as much tension to the neck.
The sound of each material
While it is important to experiment with different string materials on your own, it is very useful to know what type of sound you can expect from each material. To make it easier for you to decide on your first set of mandolin strings, we have compiled a list with the most common string compositions and the sound that you can expect from them.
Phosphor bronze mandolin strings are the most popular option, and this is because they offer a balance between tonal brilliance and tonal richness. The most sought-after phosphor bronze mandolin strings are those that use 80/20 phosphor bronze alloys since they last longer and they don’t lose their brilliance.
While bronze strings are great for musicians who want a balanced sound, if you want a brighter tone, then nickel plated steel is a very good choice. If you’re looking for strings for your electric mandolin, then you should get strings with pure nickel windings to ensure that they’ll work with magnetic pickups.
Stainless steel strings are popular among players due to the superior oxidation resistance of the material that makes the strings last longer and have a bright timbre. Most players who have tried stainless steel strings with their mandolin have reported that the sound is bright and clear in the trebles, has a satisfying clarity, and it is breathy and full in the bass.
You can also use stainless steel strings for electric mandolins. Unlike brass and bronze strings that don’t have the same magnetic qualities needed to produce a lot of volume, stainless steel is right there with nickel plated steel as some of the best string compositions for electric mandolins.
Chrome steel strings feature a chrome steel wire wrap and a tin-plated silver steel core, and this allows the strings to have superior clarity without that metallic twang that some players may not like.
Lastly, coated strings are made with an outer polymer coating that is designed to make them last longer by resisting oxidation. It is hard to talk about the sound since string manufacturers use all kinds of polymer formulations over various string cores. Thus, it is impossible to generalize about the sound of these strings.
Coated strings are still an experimental technology that lets manufacturers try new metal alloys to create strings that are more durable and easier to play. Still, most polymers will have an effect on the tone quality and will make the upper range of the sound less vibrant.
Getting a coated option is still a bit of a risk since not all manufacturers have perfected the technique of applying the polymer to the string. Regardless, if you feel ready to experiment with your mandolin, then investing in a quality set of coated strings is not a bad idea at all, especially since with each passing year these strings are only getting better and better.
Flatwound or roundwound strings?
While all wound mandolin strings will have a core that is either round or hexagonal, there are some strings that are wrapped in a special type of wire, which results in a smooth and flat surface around the outside of the string. These are called flatwound strings.
You can tell the difference between the two types of strings by simply touching them since, while on a roundwound string you can easily feel every groove, on a flatwound string, it is much harder to notice these details.
As you’ve probably already guessed, neither is better than the other. Instead, each one offers advantages and disadvantages. If you don’t like the squeaky sound when you run the finger across the string, then a flatwound option can give you a better experience.
The flat surface will also let you play for longer since there are no grooves that could damage your fingertips. Just as coated strings, flatwound strings will also keep their tone quality for longer compared to roundwound strings.
If you’re used to playing low gauge strings, then roundwound strings are the better option since flatwound strings can’t be bought in low gauge. They are also much more expensive, and they have fewer customizations available since they are still a relatively new type of mandolin string.
Some buyers might argue that, because they last longer, the higher price can be offset by the fact that you won’t have to replace them as often. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which one you prefer since you and only you can know what your ideal balance of tone, value, and flexibility is.
Frequently asked questions about mandolin strings
Q: What are mandolin strings made of?
Most of the strings on the market are crafted from a high-quality phosphor bronze, that keeps the tone as neutral as possible, without distorting the notes it creates. Other choices can be made of steel, but those tend to be ignored unless you’re looking for a specific type of sound. And, of course, you can opt for alloys and for strings that are made from a mixture of materials. It is all about finding the right sound for yourself.
Q: Why are mandolin strings doubled?
This pattern was used in the old times for most musical instruments, but the mandoline is one of the few that has retained it to this day. It helps with the longevity of a note by bypassing a quick fading away trough tremolos. It is basically a way to create an illusion of a sustained note by playing many short ones very fast. And somehow this ended up being the signature sound of a mandoline.
Q: Are mandolin strings the same as guitar?
The answer to this question is considerably simple. In essence, all string instruments use the same type of strings to create the notes and the tonality they are known for. There are a few interesting differences between them, notably the anchor which for mandolines can be either ball or loop ended. But if you’re a bit crafty, you can use them even for guitars. Also, keep in mind that sometimes the length can vary from an instrument to another.
Q: How to change mandolin strings?
Changing them is a task that requires a bit of concentration. There are a lot of time-efficient methods you can find on the internet to save you some time and some frustration. But the main thing is you’ll have to do is remove the broken strings by sliding off the tailpiece, and that will expose the loop ends of the chords. Detach them in order by paying attention to how they are positioned, and then replace them with the new ones.
Best mandolin strings brands
D’Addario is a brand trusted by professionals and amateurs alike. They offer high-quality and sturdy products at a competitive price. They focus on performance and accuracy, by making models that will create natural sounds that can steal emotions out of everyone who listens to music played on their strings.
A lot of amazing performers used their products, as a statement of quality and all of them are made in the United States to ensure the highest standards are reached. They only use top of the line materials, exclusively non-toxic and environmentally friendly, perfect for the modern times.
DR Strings is one of those brands that are synonymous with quality by now. They offer a lot of products that great musicians use all the time, because they are sturdy enough to survive extreme hours of use. The company is dedicated to bringing premium products to the public for small prices.
Their strings are created form the best available materials around and are purchased by thousands all around the world, as a proof of how good they are. The models are diverse, and they have items for most types of stringed instruments for you to choose from.
Dunlop is one of the oldest and most sought out for string manufacturers in the US. They are known for the articulate sound they produce and for the enhanced tactile feedback the strings offer, which makes the models perfect for beginners and experienced users alike.
They offer a large palette of musical accessories for you to choose from and the long life of every purchase is ensured. Most of their stuff is produced in the States, and they ship all around the continent. It became a famous brand mostly because they sell a lot of value for a reduced price tag.