Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Monel strings on a mandolin?

Hi all,

For some time I have enjoyed Martin Monel strings on my various acoustic guitars. They tend to have a stronger fundamental (less overtones) when compared to PB or 80/20 strings. I especially like the Monel strings for my bluegrass acoustic as it gives the guitar a very dry, clear tone that does not step on top of other instruments or voice. My mandolin tends to have very thick overtones, which gives it a blurred, overtly rich tone. Now Martin offers Monel strings for mandolin and I have just purchased (and am awaiting delivery of) a set of the Martin Monels for mandolin. I’ll post when I receive them and let you all know how they feel and sound.

While on the subject, anyone have a favorite mandolin string with a strong fundamental and dry tone?

1 Like

Hey Doc,

I look forward to hearing how you like them. I have mostly used j74s and run them a long time… probably for the same thing you are looking for. They lose their overtones as they age. I suspect monels will be pretty sweet from day one. As a bonus, monels (on GTR) last as long as any strings I have used.

I had a set on guitar once.
for the first day or so they sounded so off & out of balance I was ready to tear them back off but my buddy convinced me to play them another day…when they finally “came in” they were pretty great strings.

I just couldn’t get over that long break-in and my guitar looking like it had braces with those silver strings on it.

I’ve always used J-75’s (pretty heavy gauge, but once you get used to them, they’re great and feel fine). The tone with these are plenty thick and give a good chop. I like Monels on guitar and like Fiddlewood said, at first you wonder why you ever put them on. But like Mike said, they do last a long time.

I would think think they’ll sound great on mandolin… And if they last longer… Well, who wants to change mandolin strings?.. Uggghhhh!

Let us know how you like them DR.

I’m excited to hear your review! I primarily use J74s myself.

I have been using the Sam Bush strings for years and love them but they stopped making that particular set.
I think that D’Addario is making that equivalent set now.

I have tried other types over the years but nothing can match them (for my preference)

So looking forward to your review of Martin’s set because i just opened my last pack of Sam Bush strings

Okay, got home from work and the package of strings was waiting. I ate dinner, removed the old strings, cleaned the fingerboard, polished the frets and installed the Martin monel strings. The gauge was practically the same as my previous Elixir 80/20s (11, 15, 26, 40).
The instrument is an Aria AM800 (their top of the line solid carved mandolin at the time). The instrument has a nice fast fingerboard and was recently refretted (plays amazing) but has a slightly muted voice (about as loud a dreadnought) and nice balance from string to string. The reason I wanted to try the monels as that the mandolin was a bit rich with overtones and I wanted a stronger fundamental.
First impressions. The strings tune nicely. Adjacent strings of the same pitch do not fight with each other (never seem to be perfectly in tune) as much as 80/20s. The mandolin is definitely slightly quieter. But the fundamental pitch is there in spades. I think these will sound really nice played with other instruments. Chords are clear and not blurred with overtones. Plus, the strings feel really nice. The voice is not as aggressive and pointed as new bronze strings; it is much smoother and rounder.
The mandolin belongs to my son and he showed up just a few minutes after I put them on. I will give a more comprehensive review when I get some more time with the instrument. By the way, he likes them, a lot!


So I got to spend some more time with the monel strings. More impressions.

They play very nicely in tune. Understand that the mandolin was very well intonated, but 80/20 strings would not play in tune over the entire fingerboard. For example the unison strings might play in tune on the first fret but would sound out of tune on the 12th fret. The monel unisons played consistently in tune over the length of the fingerboard. Very nice. The strings feel nice under the fingers as the tension feels lighter than the gauge would point to. So playing is effortless and fast compared to bronze strings. The tone is exactly as I previously stated, round and warm with a strong fundamental (very little overtone).
I played a gig today with my son playing the mandolin and his instrument sounded nice with a guitar. The tone was clear, clean and did not step on the guitar while backing up with chords and cut through nicely while soloing. The strings are slightly quieter than 80/20s. If I had to guess, I would say about 3db to 4db quieter (all things being equal). Also, the monels have a faster decay than bronze wound strings.
I definitely like the strings and will probably make them my “go to” strings from now on. At $6 a set, if they last like the guitar monels, sticking with them is a no brainer. However, if volume is your main concern, you might be better off looking elsewhere.

1 Like

Awesome, thanks for the review! Sounds pretty ideal. I will give them a try.