What To Do When There Are Thousands of Strings But You Only Have 1 Mandolin

After research and excruciating decision making, you have finally come to a decision on which mandolin you want to buy. You go out and get it and start practicing and maybe at one point or another, just like with guitars, ukuleles or any strings instruments, you realize that you want to experiment or upgrade with some of the accessories. Strings, being the most important accessories (and to be honest they are not really accessories, you can probably play without accessories but I really doubt there is a way around strings) so you want to research and learn more about various strings out there and find out which one fits best for your mandolin. Well, my friend, you are in for a ride because it might seem like an easier choice than when you were deciding on the mandolin but unfortunately finding the best mandolin strings is not simple at all.

Top 5 Best Mandolin Strings

#ImageGuitar Model
Rating
Check Price
1D'Addario EJ74 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings, Medium (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
2
Elixir Strings Mandolin Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Light (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
3GHS Strings A240 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings, Loop End, Ultra Light (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
4Ernie Ball Earthwood Mandolin Medium 80/20 Bronze Loop End Set (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
5Martin M400 Mandolin Strings, Light (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon

Deciding on mandolin strings is complicated due to the factors you have to consider when choosing one and I do not mean complicated in a bad way. You get more options and though it might seem like a painful process, you get more choices which is a good thing (duuh). There are few things to keep in mind:

Gauge – If you ever had a guitar or any other string instrument before, you will know that gauge is one of the most important factors to consider when buying your strings. There are three main types of gauges: light (less tension on the instrument, brighter sound, easier to play, great option if you are a beginner), medium (perfect golden mean between characteristics of light and heavy strings), and heavy (deeper sound, better volume, but harder to play with and boy oh, boy if you are a beginner those strings will destroy your fingers). I would definitely suggest getting light or at least medium gauge strings if you are a beginner unless you are sure you want the sound of heavier strings and can cope with how much harder it is to play with them.

Material – a.k.a basically tone of your instrument. The most popular metals for mandolin strings are probably phosphor bronze, standard bronze, stainless steel, etc. Phosphor bronze creates bright timber, while stainless steel will create a darker tone. So determine what sound you prefer and then go look at which material fits your requirements the best.

String Wrap – Mandolin strings are made by wrapping wires around a core (which most of the times is made of steel). Since cores are rarely different, what matters is the wrapping material. It affects not only playability but also the tone and the feel of the string. It is also important to mention that wrapping will affect corrosion of the string, but it also depends on the coating on the outside of the the string. Depending on the wrapping you can get a brighter or more mellow tone.

It is important to consider guides as the first step to finding the right mandolin string, or basically anything out there you can buy, but no matter how many of guides you read actually experimenting with one or two or five different strings is the surest way to understanding your needs and requirements. Maybe you bought a great mandolin string set that created a mellow sound but at some point you realize you want a brighter sound or heavier string. It is always better to learn through experience rather than through other people’s information. When you were buying a mandolin it was probably impossible to go around and experiment with a lot of different designs and types but strings do not cost that much so you can buy several with very different specifications and see which fits you the best.

D’Addario EJ74 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings, Medium

D_Addario EJ74 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings, MediumOne of D’Addario’s most popular and cheap models, EJ74 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings Medium is great for experienced players as well as beginners. Strings in this set have corrosion resistant phosphor bronze that is precision wound on hex high carbon steel core. This makes the strings more sturdy and long-lasting. The resulting strings will not only last you for a while but will also create brighter sounding tone with perfect intonation. It is also equipped with universal fit loop end for a more universal fit and Phosphor Bronze material creates well-balanced tone. This model is also available in a flat wound model for a smooth playing and reduced string noise. This model is affordable, lasts long and is great for practicing. It also has a clear and consistent tone to every string, especially the high ones.

 Elixir Strings Mandolin Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Light

Elixir Strings Mandolin Strings w NANOWEB Coating, LightElixir is one of the best manufacturers of guitar, mandolins, and banjo strings out there so choosing one of their models will definitely be a step in the right direction. 80% copper and 20% zinc with a bronze wrap wire Elixir Strings Mandolin Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Light creates a bright tone and is easy to play. This set features NANOWEB coating which protects your strings and makes them more durable but at the same time, you do not get that textured feel like you get with a lot of other coated strings. This coating protects not only the outer surface of the string but also the inner core from any damage, dust, and sweat or anything that might come along your pass, increasing the lifespan of the strings. This set also stays in tune longer than other models. Although it is a little bit more expensive it is a good “investment” for the long term.

GHS Strings A240 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings, Loop End, Ultra Light

GHS Strings A240 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings, Loop End, Ultra LightLet’s imagine, you are a freshman at college trying to get into the music industry and somehow instead of going for a more mainstream instrument you have somehow stumbled upon an idea to get a mandolin and learn how to play. You are a beginner with a minimum wage job at your college cafeteria that makes food of dubious quality, all you want to do is relax at the end of the day and practice a little on your mandolin. Well, taking into account that the aforementioned job of yours is minimum wage and you have paid a buck or hundred on your college textbooks and mandolin, you do not want to spend a single more penny on anything. Alas, your strings broke so now you have to start looking for a new set. Look no further because GHS has got you covered. Their A240 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings, Loop End, Ultra Light are easy to play with and do not hurt fingers like some of the heavier strings do. This model is a great option for beginners not only because of that but also because they are cheap. Apart from that, if you are a newbie who wants mellower tones AND wants something at a good price that will last you awhile, you have stumbled on a gold mine.

Ernie Ball Earthwood Mandolin Medium 80/20 Bronze Loop End Set

Ernie Ball Earthwood Mandolin Medium 80-20 Bronze Loop End SetYou can search for weeks on end to find a great set of strings and ponder on for weeks before buying them,  but the truth is that strings are cheap enough for you to “splurge” your money on without too many regrets. If you are a beginner looking for something affordable I would say Ernie Ball is always a way to go. They have always offered strings at the best prices without compromising the quality and Mandolin Medium 80/20 Bronze Loop End Set is one of them. This set is 80/20 copper with zinc alloy, wrapped around a steel core wire plated with tin. These strings offer darker tone so they would be great for bluegrass music. One main issue with this set of string would be that the loops come off a little too easily.

 Martin M400 Mandolin Strings, Light

Martin M400 Mandolin Strings, LightMartin, being one of the most famous and best manufacturers of guitars, is not a disappointment when it comes to strings. Their M400 Mandolin Strings is great for beginners as well as experienced players. These strings are  80/20 composition alloy that gives them clarity and longevity of sound. They are one of the cheapest options out there that also offers durability and good tone. One issue with these strings is that they do not have coating so it might not last you as long as strings with coating but, to be honest, that is the case with any uncoated string sets. You might be able to find strings that are of higher quality and last you longer but those will cost you probably three or four times more than this model. So, if you are looking for a “compromise” between price and quality this one is a good option.

Conclusion

In the current market that always sells the best this and the best that, it is easy to follow the basic guides or lists and believe that something that is great for a lot of people will be great for you. But if you are serious about mandolins you will sooner or later realize that it is impossible to find “the best mandolin” or “the best mandolin strings” because the concept is really relative to every individual. I hope that some of the points that I have made here or the list of strings with their specifications will be of some use to you but in no way am I saying that this is the ultimate guide or you will definitely find something amazing only by looking at those factors. Experiment, experiment, and experiment as much as you can because that will be your guide to finding the right strings for you and ultimately lead you to find your sound and style.

 

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