Mandolins are stringed instruments generally plucked with a plectrum while playing. Imagine you are plucking those strings every now and then for practice and either it hurts your fingers or gets torn easily.
Will it annoy you? Or is it even beneficial for you to use lower quality sharp strings? No, right? We feel for you too. That’s why we have brought to the table some of the best mandolin strings which will neither cut your fingers nor split apart in a moment.
Let’s get going. But first, let’s know some important facts about the mandolin strings.
The strings are an integral part of a mandolin. It can brighten up the tonal quality, mellow down a tune, and can even give a tactile feel play with enjoyment. So, buying good quality mandolin strings are a must.
Mandolins consist of two pairs of four strings, eight in total. These are generally tuned to G G D D A A E E with an end loop around the tailpiece.
There’s a major difference in the case of tunings between mandolin strings and other stringed instruments like guitar and violin. Initially, a guitarist might find it difficult to change the strings of a mandolin.
However, mandolin strings are quite similar to acoustic guitars in composition.
Having said that, you need to know the different gauges of mandolin strings found in the market first. You can use any one of the three gauges – light, medium, and heavy.
Light gauges include .10, .014, .024 and .038 strings, whereas the medium consists .011, .015, .026 and .040 ones and the heavy gauge are of .0115, .016, .026 and .041 variety.
Don’t get confused. Basically the lighter the strings, the quicker the vibrations of the instrument costing you no harm. But the heavier it gets, the more pressure is exerted on the mandolin, thereby hurting the fingers.
That is why mandolin players mostly use the medium gauged strings that create a balance between the quality of the tone projection and ease of access.
The strings are made up of different metals. Widely used alloy in the mandolin strings is the phosphor bronze.
An alloy of copper, phosphorus, and tin increases the endurance of the strings whereas, the standard bronze mandolin strings help in generating scintillating sounds.
Other metal alloys like nickel-plated steel strings and copper strings are also used for electric mandolins and bass ones respectively. But stainless steel string is most preferable for players who sweat continuously. Here also, technology plays its part and polymer-coated strings are also available nowadays.
Again, there are two types of mandolin strings based on the quality – flatwound and roundwound. If the strings are wrapped in a wire which is smooth and flat to touch, then it’s a flat-wound string.
While a round-wound string has grooves within each wrapping and is hard to touch. Depending on the requirements, mandolin players use both these types.
Now let’s go and see what’s to keep in mind while buying long-lasting strings for mandolins.
As we discussed earlier, there are three types of gauges of mandolin strings. Each type has certain advantages and disadvantages. It depends upon your requirement.
Whether you want a light, medium or heavy gauge certainly depends on the preference of tonal quality, sustainability, volume control, and the force of playability.
Whatever be the case, you should go for one that creates the minimum damage to your fingers without compromising the sound textures.
The build material of the strings plays a major role in this case. To get a premium feel while playing out a mandolin, you should get either phosphor bronze strings or polymer-coated strings.
The question of durability and longevity comes into the picture here. Coated strings wear off after a point of time and change the sound quality too. Uncoated strings, on the other hand, do not wear off but may rust easily when you practice too often.
Again, whether should you go for a flatwound string or a roundwound, completely depends on your priorities. Flatwound strings are more expensive but more endurable, whereas roundwound strings have lower tension and can be bent easily for vibrato.
As you can see, whatever and whichever strings you choose, every type has certain pros and cons. You need to experiment and judge yourself which strings suit your needs perfectly.
To make it easy for you to judge, we have created a list of best mandolin strings available on the market.
Here we have discussed different varieties of strings from the most popular brands to give you an idea about how these strings will offer a balance between sound and value for money.
So, for those who have basic requirements and are completely fine with the benefits a budget looper can provide, let’s start out the list of best cheap looper pedals without further ado.
D’Addario was the first to introduce an alloy of copper mixed with tin and phosphorous to make more durable and corrosion-free strings.
Since 1974, they have been selling the phosphor bronze mandolin strings and have earned a reputation for the quality. Their J74 is the most popular and widely used set of strings in the market.
The D’Addario J74 uncoated Phosphor Bronze mandolin strings have high-quality features with a loop-end construction. Hence, it produces warm and bright tones and can be fitted with any type of mandolin.
The phosphor bronze build makes it much durable and long-lasting than others delivering an unmatched performance on your mandolin.
A legendary mandolin player like David Grisman has endorsed D’Addario products for the quality they matter.
Their J74 set of strings is the best selling mandolin strings in the market. Hence it also tops our chart of the best mandolin strings.
The D’Addario J74 has already set the bar high for best mandolin strings out there. So our next pick would be the Elixir Mandolin set.
It gives a tough competition to the high-tech mandolin strings available on the market.
The Elixir mandolin strings are light acoustic strings enabled with an ultra-thin Nanoweb coating giving an “uncoated” feel. It has an 80/20 copper to zinc ratio in its construction with a wrapped wire so that it can be used for a long time.
Applied with the state-of-the-art Fluoropolymer coating all over the string, the interiors are well-protected from any type of corrosion. Moreover, it feels smooth to touch and tunes quite well with any electric mandolin because of the loop ends.
Qualitywise this is one of the best-coated mandolin strings made in the USA. No doubt it’s included in the list of the best mandolin strings.
Here’s another D’Addario set that features medium-light phosphor bronze mandolin strings, the D’Addario EJ70. It is a hit among mandolin players who want a good quality ball end mandolin string.
As you know already that the phosphor bronze strings are more sturdy and long-lasting than other metal strings and D’Addario was the first to put it in use.
The EJ70 set of strings is no different. These have a light construction. Hence, no damage caused to your fingers and you can perform efficiently. These strings are used in the mandolins which require ball end.
These versatile strings are very affordable and light. It’s a great choice for beginners but please do take care while winding up the strings.
Because of the quality materials used and the accuracy it gives while playing, its a sure pick in the list.
Ernie Ball is one of the well-known strings producers for any type of acoustic instrument. Their budget-friendly Earthwood Mandolin Strings are an apt choice for any loop-end mandolins.
Like the Elixir, this set of strings have also an 80/20 copper and zinc construction, wrapped around a tin-plated steel core wire.
Therefore, it is easy to play without harming the fingers and produces a crisp pleasing tone. It is mainly targeted at the beginner mandolin players.
If you are looking for inexpensive yet durable loop-end mandolin strings, then the Ernie Ball Earthwood set is a great choice.
D’Addario range of mandolin strings are so widely used and commonly found in a lot of variety that we can’t stop including them in the list. Another good quality mandolin strings from this brand are the EXP74 range.
You’re already familiar with D’Addario’s best selling mandolin string set J74. The EXP74 is just a coated version of the same.
Made with the same phosphor bronze alloy, these medium mandolin strings features similar loop-end construction to fit any mandolin. The sound quality does change a bit from the original J74.
But, the plus point is that it has almost four times the longevity of the original strings.
If you’re a J74 fan and looking for a more durable set with similar features, then the EXP74 is just the right choice for you.
The next best pick on the list is the DR mandolin strings. These are corrosion-proof heavy handmade strings suitable for daily use.
Made up of phosphor bronze, the strings are quite sturdy in nature and are designed to last longer than other traditional mandolin strings.
It produces a warm and crisp tone with much clarity without any additional tension. It is very flexible and easy to play creating high stability.
The DR mandolin strings are perfect for a beginner if they intend to use it daily for training purposes.
Another budget-friendly phosphor bronze strings for mandolin is the A240 model from GHS. These are available in different ultra-light gauge lengths like .009, .013, .020, and .032.
This set of well-made strings come in an attractive package with more than 8 strings. So you don’t have to purchase the strings for your mandolin time and again.
This comes with a NitroPack singles feature, meaning old traditional strings under a new covering that is easy on fingers and produce sweet and warm tones.
It is a perfect choice for modern-day mandolin players. But that does not affect the sound quality. It is mellower than any heavy gauge strings.
If you’re a beginner mandolinist looking for a highly affordable set of strings, then look no further.
The GHS A240 serves your purpose quite beneficially. You will get more than 8 strings just under $6. That’s why it has made it to our list.
The next D’Addario variant of phosphor bronze 8-string mandolin set on the list is the EJ74.
Its a popular medium gauge mandolin strings that has the highest ratings and recommendations on the internet.
It’s similar in features with D’Addario J74 and EXP74 mandolin strings. It also has a loop end built for a universal fit and helps in delivering high-quality performance. The sound quality is warm, bright, and clear as usual.
The D’Addario EJ74 mandolin medium strings give a proper balance of quality, flexibility, and value. If you’re in need of something like this, go get it.
Well known for its high-quality guitar strings, Martin is no less than a D’Addario or Elixir in making special durable acoustic strings for a mandolin. It has a great reputation among professional mandolinists.
It has an 80/20 copper-zinc alloy built with the proper gauge. It gives out excellent sound quality and flexibility. The strings are ideal for any deep and rich bass or bright treble. However, this is not a U.S.A. made product.
It is one of the least expensive good quality mandolin strings on the market. Hence, it is an absolute pick for a beginner.
Enough of phosphor bronze mandolin strings. Let’s take a look at the D’Addario EFW74 stainless steel flatwound strings for mandolins.
Built with stainless steel, the strings are more resistant to oxidization. Therefore, if you sweat too often, then it is perfect for you. The other features are almost similar to the classic E74 strings having a loop end construction for universal fit. The strings have a complex combination of interlocking when wound on a hex core. The durable flatwound strings allow for a mellow sweet sound along with a smooth and enjoyable playability experience.
If you surely want a good quality set of flatwound mandolin strings, then you must go for the D’Addario EFW74 set. It is most suitable for Irish music and classical players.
As the company endorses, Jim Dunlop really focuses their everything on the performance of the product. The nickel wound mandolin strings of DMN1140 range offers excellent tonal response and ease of playability.
These are nickel made medium gauge mandolin strings that can be used over a longer period of time without any worry.
The texture feels so comfortable that you can keep on practicing your favorite songs on the instrument for days.
Moreover, the materials used in the loop-end construction of the strings are least dangerous for your skin.
If you have been wondering for long to play those difficult songs on the mandolin but never got success, we recommend just the right product for you.
The Jim Dunlop DMN1140 Mandolin strings will make your playing more rewarding and pleasurable than ever.
Another stainless steel flatwound mandolin strings variant on the list is the Thomastik-Infeld 154. This is most widely used by students and professionals alike.
Genuine Austrian Thomastik-Infeld 154 mandolin string set is an expensive product made up of solid steel core. The mix of technology with high-quality materials speaks for the price paid.
You can comfortably play the pleasant lows and sharp highs with these strings. Having said that, the tuning gives pretty good stability to the tones.
Though the 154 mandolin string set is an expensive Thomastik-Infeld product, it’s a favorite to most professional and beginner mandolin players all over the world.
So we couldn’t miss this product to include on the list of best mandolin strings.
Want the bestselling light gauge mandolin strings? Here’s the D’Addario EJ73 for you. If you are in love with the D’Addario products, then it’s a sure pick for you.
As said already, these are light gauge mandolin strings made with phosphor bronze alloy. It gives the most endurance and sustainability to the strings. So even if they are the light gauge, it won’t break apart so easily nor will it hurt your fingers. Moreover, it will help in producing a warm and bright tonal response.
This is no doubt the best among light gauge mandolin strings on the market. If you are just starting out, you surely need this one.
Another Thomastik-Infeld product on the list of best mandolin strings is the 150 series. This one is a flatwound silver steel product.
The 150 mandolin set is built with tin-plated silver steel featuring a finely polished flatwound structure with chrome steel wire. Thus it can be used rigorously for a long long time.
The core is built with an elastic, steel alloy that provides high inertia. Thus it is great to optimize the strings for enhanced vibratos.
Durable yet affordable, the Thomastik-Infeld 150 mandolin string set is a catch for beginners.
Last but not least, the final pick on this chart had to be D’Addario. The EJ62 80/20 bronze mandolin strings are a great choice for light gauge acoustic strings.
This set is made up of 80/20 bronze alloy followed with a loop end construction. Naturally, it provides nice and crisp projecting tones with a universal fit.
The strings are wound over a hexagonal high carbon steel core. This helps in achieving great intonations.
The D’Addario EJ62 string set is highly recommended for players who want a touch of freshness to the traditional mandolin sound.
You need to understand everything about the mandolin strings, from their types to sizes to strengths, in order to recognize why and how a certain set of strings perform. Basically it all depends upon the music style you are playing with these strings.
We have tried to cover some of the unique and great quality strings that are out there in the list of best mandolin strings. Hope this read was useful for you. So you be the judge and get going with the perfect one.