The 2023’s Best Mandolin Strings
You might think that once you buy a new mandolin, you’re locked with its sound for the remainder of its life. But there’s another thing to think about: the strings. They can be almost as crucial to the sound as the instrument itself.
Do you desire a mandolin with a loud tone or one with a rich, mellow tone? How crucial is the mandolin to be simple to play and comfortable to hold? Answering these questions and thinking about the differences between the finest mandolin string brands will help you choose the right strings for your instrument.
Quick Picks: The 2023’s Best Mandolin Strings
Mandolin Strings Martin M400
J74 Mandolin Strings by D’Addario
EXP74 Coated Phosphor Bronze Strings by D’Addario
EFW74 Flatwound Mandolin Strings by D’Addario
What to Look for When Purchasing Mandolin Strings
First, some fundamentals:
What Is the Number of Strings on a Mandolin?
Mandolins feature eight strings in two pairings, unlike many other stringed instruments.
What are the strings on the mandolin tuned to?
The mandolin strings are tuned similarly to the violin’s four strings, which are G-D-A-E. The main distinction is that the mandolin’s two strings are tuned the same as each violin string. G-G-D-D-A-A-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E
Is the string on a mandolin the same as the string on a guitar?
Mandolin strings end in a simple loop that wraps around a hook beneath the mandolin’s tailpiece, one of the primary distinctions between them and guitar strings. For this reason, if you play guitar, changing mandolin strings may be tough at first. Still, if you’re careful, you’ll rapidly acclimate to mandolin-style strings.
Mandolin strings are essentially comparable to acoustic guitar strings in terms of composition.
However, because the mandolin was once a more specialized instrument, there were significantly fewer options for selecting the best mandolin strings.
Fortunately, numerous string makers have passionately embraced the mandolin industry today, and mandolinists everywhere have a wide range of alternatives.
Before looking at specific brands and kinds of mandolin strings, you should think about some bigger picture questions that will help you narrow down your options.
What String Gauge Should I Go With?
Mandolin strings are available in one of three gauges.
.010,.014,.024,.038; light:.010,.014,.024,.038; light:.010,.014,.024,.0
Lighter strings vibrate more quickly, put less tension on the instrument, and produce a brighter, more vibrant tone. Medium:.011,.015,.026,.040 Heavy:.0115,.016,.026,.041
Many beginner mandolin players prefer light mandolin strings because they do not cause calluses on their fingertips.
Suppose you have an older mandolin without a truss rod in the neck. In that case, lighter strings may be a good option because they put less strain on the neck and prevent serious damage to the instrument.
The most popular gauge is a medium gauge, which provides a good blend of brilliant tone quality, strong playability, sustain, and volume.
However, the heavier the strings are, the more difficult it is to press them down on the frets, and the more your fingers will be harmed.
If it suits your playing style, the payout is a louder loudness and stronger sustain, as well as a deeper, richer tone.
What Metal Should the Strings Be Made Out Of?
The most important determining factor in the tone quality of mandolin strings is the metal utilized in their manufacture.
The most common alloy, or metal combination, is phosphor bronze, made of copper, tin, and phosphorus, and has a brilliant timbre and a long lifespan.
Standard bronze strings have a brighter timbre than phosphor bronze strings, but they have a shorter lifespan.
Stainless steel, nickel, and copper, for example, offer a darker tone and a deeper bass sound.
Nickel-plated steel strings produce a brighter tone than bronze strings, making them popular for electric mandolin players.
Stainless steel strings, like stainless steel kitchenware, have the advantage of being oxidation-resistant.
This can make a considerable difference in extending the life of the strings for players whose fingers sweat a lot.
Strings: Coated vs. Uncoated
Thanks to recent technological advancements, many mandolin string producers have experimented with techniques to increase the lifespan of their strings.
Coated strings result from applying a polymer coating to the wound strings (those most susceptible to corrosion).
While this technological breakthrough solved a lot of long-standing concerns with traditional strings, you should weigh the benefits and drawbacks before hopping on board.
Advantages of Coated Strings
The polymer is covering shields the strings from dirt and dust, avoiding deterioration and preserving their original tone.
The last four times are as long as uncoated strings, and in some cases, even longer!
When your fingers brush against the strings, they will not make a buzzing sound.
Manufacturers may experiment with new metal alloys thanks to the polymer coating. Certain metals, such as copper rust easily and are unsuitable for traditional strings. They are, however, protected from oxidation by the polymer covering and hence have a much longer lifespan.
The Disadvantages of Coated Strings
This is still a new technology, and not every company has mastered the application of polymer to the strings.
The tone quality of the strings will be affected by the polymer. The sound will be less bright in the upper range; the only question is how the tone will alter.
Over time, the polymer may wear away.
Flatwound vs. Roundwound Strings
The core of all coiled mandolin strings is either spherical or hexagonal.
On the other hand, flatwound strings are wrapped in a special sort of wire, which results in a rather smooth and flat surface around the outside of the string.
Flatwound strings have a different feel to them than round wound strings.
On a round wound string, you can feel distinct grooves between each wrapping, but it’s much difficult to perceive on a flatwound string.
There is no difference between flatwound and roundwound strings. Instead, most mandolinists will favor one or the other depending on their priorities.
The Advantages of Flatwound Strings
They create a less squeaky sound when you run your finger across them. Their smoother surface causes less damage to your fingertips, allowing you to play for longer periods.
The sound is mellow, particularly appealing to folk or jazz musicians. They don’t lose their tone quality as soon as the traditional round wound strings, just like coated strings.
The Disadvantages of Flatwound Strings
They are normally more expensive than round wound strings; however, this can be mitigated by leaving them on the mandolin for longer periods.
You can’t buy low-gauge flatwound strings, so if you’re used to playing low-gauge strings, they won’t feel the same.
The strings have a higher tension than round strings, making bending and vibrato more difficult. Although this is a far bigger issue for guitars than for mandolins, it can still significantly impact.
Because flatwound strings remove the upper end of the harmonic range of the string, the higher strings will have a comparatively dull tone.
Because they aren’t as prevalent, there are fewer customizing options.
When it comes to finding nice mandolin strings, you’ll have to try out a few various types before settling on the right one.
In the end, you’re looking for the right mix of value, tone, and flexibility to match your requirements.
Reviews of the Best Mandolin Strings
While Martin is best known for their unmatched guitars, they also provide a string line for guitars, mandolins, and other instruments.
Mandolin Strings Martin M400
The M400s are made of an 80/20 copper alloy and are among the most affordable mandolin strings on the market, costing roughly $7.
J74 Mandolin Strings by D’Addario
D’Addario’s phosphor bronze J74 strings are a traditional choice with a long history.
In 1974, D’Addario introduced phosphor bronze, a copper alloy with tin (to prevent corrosion) and phosphorus that revolutionized string production (to make the metal last longer and to make it stiffer).
Ricky Skaggs, David Grisman, and other icons of mandolin playing have endorsed the J74 mandolin strings, which are also created in the United States.
EXP74 Coated Phosphor Bronze Strings by D’Addario
D’Addario has designed a coated version of its best-selling mandolin strings in the highly-rated EXP74s, building on the standard set by the J74s.
These strings are substantially more expensive than the J74s or most other typical strings, costing about $15. However, J74 fans searching for a longer-lasting string need to look no further.
EFW74 Flatwound Mandolin Strings by D’Addario
D’Addario’s EFW74 flatwound strings are made of stainless steel, despite their resemblance to the legendary J74s.
These strings aren’t cheap, costing roughly $20, but jazz, classical, and folk players may be convinced by the greater comfort and rich tone they give.
Mandolin Strings GHS A240 Phosphor Bronze
The A240 brand of phosphor bronze strings from GHS is available in “Ultra-light” gauges., 009.013.020, and.032, making them an appealing option for novice mandolinists.
154 Mandolin Strings by Thomastik-Infeld
At roughly $40, these flatwound, solid steel core strings from Austrian producer Thomastik-Infeld are more expensive than most other options.
They’re flatwound and incorporate some of the finest levels of quality and technology available. So if you’re ready to spend the money on a good set of strings, they might be worth a second look.
Earthwood Mandolin Strings by Ernie Ball
When it comes to electric guitar strings, Ernie Ball is one of the more affordable options. Still, they also have a comprehensive array of strings for other instruments.
Mandolin strings with an 80/20 copper and zinc alloy wound around a steel core wire plated with tin are part of their Earthwood brand of acoustic instrument strings.
Elixir Nanoweb Coated Mandolin Strings
Elixir Strings Nanoweb Coated Mandolin is a leading manufacturer of instrument strings, ranging from guitar to mandolin to banjo and beyond.
Their nanoweb-coated mandolin strings include a cutting-edge polymer coating that covers the entire string, not only the exterior edges but also the space between the windings.
The inside metal is 80 percent copper and 20% zinc.
Best Mandolin Strings Reviews
The mandolin is a string instrument that has been around for a few hundred years. It is popular with different types of folk music and bluegrass and country. The mandolin is usually plucked with a pick to produce its sound.
Like any other string instrument, the mandolin’s sound and feel dictate tonewoods and construction. But, it is also important to use good strings on a string instrument to get the best sound.
There are many different types of strings for you to choose from. They all make different sounds and feel different to the touch. Different types of strings can be used for different purposes. It is not easy to suggest the best mandolin strings because this can differ depending on the instrument, the musician, and playing style.
Here are some of the most popular mandolin strings on the market.
D’Addario EJ70 Mandolin Strings, (Medium/Light)
The first thing that should run through your mind when you hear the brand D’Addario is that they make high-quality products.
The D’Addario EJ70 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings are very powerful.
They come expertly made from phosphor bronze, a durable material that will last for a long time.
The presence of phosphor bronze in your instrument means that you can play confidently, knowing that you will achieve accurate notes with no deformation.
The strings are a universal fit and can be used on all types of mandolins, as long as they require ball-end strings.
These strings are light enough that you don’t have to worry about damaging your fingers’ tips when using them.
The package is professionally packaged and made in the US. This means that the quality is guaranteed.
These strings produce clear and beautiful sounds when you play them.
Alice Silver-Plated Copper Alloy Mandolin Strings
If you want strings that will make beautiful music and look great, this set is perfect.
These strings are strong and durable because they are made with a steel core and a copper alloy that is silver plated. This way, the string can keep its sound quality and take on a lot of pressure without breaking.
The copper alloy protects the core of the string from being degraded by corrosion and grime. Next, a silver plating is applied to the alloy. As a result, the string is gleaming and lovely. This coat’s sheen does not fade, allowing the string to maintain its appearance for a long period.
These strings are mostly available in light gauge, making them perfect for beginners. They are also great for professionals. Another reason these strings are so good is because they are affordable and priced lower than most other strings of this quality.
DR Strings Mandolin
These are among the best and most long-lasting mandolin strings on the market. Many seasoned mandolinists all throughout the world adore them.
These strings can be used in any mandolin. They are also designed to be strong and durable, so people can use them every day if they want. But these strings are most commonly known for the sound they produce. It’s been described as “warm but crisp” and “clear to the ear.”
The strings are extremely flexible, making them suitable for beginners and experts. It’s worth noting that each set’s strings are meticulously handcrafted.
These strings are made to last a long time without being damaged. They are resistant to corrosion, which means they will stay in good condition even if extreme humidity changes over a long period.
One of the most well-known brands is D’Addario. The EXP74 series is a popular coated variant. The J74 is their most popular and best-selling line.
The same phosphor bronze alloy is used in the EJ17 series as in the J74. It has a comparable design that should work with just about any mandolin. It’s said to last up to four times longer than the J74s. There are subtle tone shifts, as you might expect.
The EXP74 is a suitable alternative to the J74 if you’re looking for a more durable solution. Many of the same characteristics can still be found.
Types Of Mandolin Strings
There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing mandolin strings. The materials used and how the strings are made are two important factors.
The gauge of the strings affects your mandolin’s sound quality, projection, and tone. There are three main categories:
This is the simplest and most pleasant string to play. Brighter tones and faster playback rates are achieved because of the lightweight design.
This type has the best balance between the two gauges above and below it. It takes the best features from each type.
The tone of this gauge is powerful, deep, and rich. But it can be difficult to play, mostly for beginners, because you need to press with a lot of strength to make them sound. A heavy-gauge might put a lot of tension on your mandolin, which can cause damage over time.
The mandolin’s strings are constructed of several metals. The most popular materials are phosphor bronze, nickel-plated steel, stainless steel, and chrome steel.
Today, most strings are made with a core and several metal alloy strips wrapped around them. This is called string wrap. This method of fabrication gives your strings more durability and flexibility. The string wrap can be applied in a variety of ways:
This is the most common and popular sort of string. It’s comfortable to play and the cheapest of the three.
The tops of the string’s windings are polished to create flatwound strings. When played, this type feels smooth and makes less noise.
Because it produces a smooth and warm sound, this string wrap is ideal for folk and fingerstyle artists. Silver-plated copper wire is mixed with silk strands to achieve this look.
Steel is usually used as the major component of the mandolin string. Other materials, such as nylon, spiral steel, braided steel, and solid steel, are also available.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Mandolin String
You will need to try many different sets of strings if you want to find the perfect setting for your mandolin. Each mandolin model has its own unique characteristics, which can be good or bad depending on the string type you choose.
You will need to find the right set of strings for your mandolin. This might take some time, but it is worth it. I recommend starting with light gauge strings if you are a beginner. This will make playing easier for you and reduce the amount of tension on your instrument.
The gauge of the strings is an important factor. Heavier gauge strings will give you a louder and deeper sound, but they will also be harder to play.
The light gauge is the most popular type of string gauge. This type offers extra comfort and makes playing styles that are faster possible.
Different types of strings offer different sound qualities. The gauge of the string affects the tonality or the sound quality. Heavier gauges create a deep and rich sound, while lighter gauges produce a brighter sound.
Mandolin strings come in a wide range of pricing. The cheapest ones cost around $5, while the most expensive can be $50. This difference depends on the materials used and how they are made. More expensive sets usually last longer because they are made with more durable materials.
If you want to replace the strings on your mandolin without spending a lot of money, the tried-and-true classic D’Addario’s J74s are the way to go.
They won’t last forever, so buy a few packs at a time, but you’ll get great tone and playability for a low price.
Elixir’s Nanoweb coated strings offer an ideal blend of price and string longevity for those who want to explore with a higher-quality string.
While the tone quality may suffer, they will still sound fantastic.
Plus, by choosing the more expensive strings and leaving them on your mandolin for a few months, you’ll actually be saving money.
When it comes to finding high-quality mandolin strings, the best advice is to check out a variety of different designs.
You’ll never know until you test if coated strings, flatwound strings, stainless steel strings, or a mix of those alternatives sound better on your mandolin.
Strings are a relatively inexpensive purchase compared to a new instrument, so you can make significant improvements in tone quality without having to buy a new mandolin.
Frequently Asked Questions About Best Mandolin Strings
There are many types of mandolin strings. Some people like the D’Addario J74 Phosphor Bronze Strings. Other people like the Thomastik-Infeld 150 Mandolin Strings. And some people like the D’Addario EJ70 Medium Light Ball End Mandolin Strings.
Lighter gauge strings sound brighter but produce less volume and sustain. They may not bring out all the resonance and tonal richness that your mandolin can produce. Heavier gauge strings are more difficult to fret due to their greater tension. They produce a richer, deeper tone with more sustain and volume.
Electric and acoustic mandolin strings are typically made with a steel core wire. The type of alloy used as the wrap wire affects the tonal quality of the string.
Most players find that a mandolin needs very little relief. This means that the mandolin only needs 1-2 thousandths (. 001) of an inch of space between the string and fretboard when measuring at the sixth fret. This is about the thickness of a piece of paper, so it’s not much at all!
How often should you change your mandolin strings? It is suitable for people who use their mandolin less than 100 hours a month to change the strings every 3 months. If you use your mandolin less than 100 hours a year, changing the strings once a year is recommended. If you use your mandolin for more than 200
The order of the strings on a Mandolin will be reversed: the lowest string (G) will become string 1, and the highest string (E) will become string 4. This is how it will look when you look at the fretboard while playing (see Figure 1).
The Ernie Ball Mandolin Light Strings are made of tin-plated steel and have a bright, crisp tone with excellent projection.
D’Addario EJ74 Phosphor Bronze Medium Mandolin Strings are popular for mandolin players. They have a deep, woody tone and are known for their durability. Many famous musicians, including Ricky Skaggs and David Grisman, use them.
There is no discernible difference between ball-end and flat-end strings (as on guitars). Mandolinists are not singled out for punishment; many banjo players must bend strings to accommodate tailpieces as well. Bear in mind that all mandolins come equipped with tailpieces and movable bridges.
The mandolin is a steel-string instrument with four strings tuned to the same notes like the violin. The machine head is like a guitar used to tune the strings. The body of the mandolin is pear-shaped and deeply vaulted. The fingerboard is raised a bit and has seventeen frets.
Mandolins have two strings. This makes the sound stronger, and the resonance lasts longer.
The mandolin is generally found in bluegrass and classical music. The ukulele is generally found in Hawaiian and folk music.
If the action is too high on your instrument, it will be difficult to play. If the mandolin feels too stiff, you can lower the bridge. If the strings buzz, you can raise the bridge.
Bowed instruments only vibrate sideways because of the motion of the bow. This is different than plucked instruments, which vibrate in all directions.
Removing the mandolin strings and replacing them with new ones will cost you around $39-$56.
The strings on your banjo become dirty and oxidized over time. When you play, your fingertips will have difficulty gliding over them. We recommend changing your strings every two months if you play less often or once or twice a month if you play more often.