Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

String Experiment

I’m getting ready to put fresh strings on. I have another set of mediums but I also have some lights, or maybe they are ultra-lights. Anyway it got me to thinking. Has anyone here ever experimented with different weight
string pairs on their mando? Like maybe a medium top string and light lower string in the pair? Kind of like a 12 string guitar? Thought about playing around with that on my next string change but I thought I would check in here first so as not to waste my time. I just thought it might be an interesting effect.

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You mean octave pairs like a bouzouki? It’ll create intonation problems if you play up the neck, and be a different sound when playing.

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I thought his meaning was not octaves… But maybe using heavy on low strings and light on top strings.

He kind of made it sound like he meant octave pairs

The only time I have mixed lights with heavy’s is when I busted a string and didn’t have a new set to hand.

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How did that work out?



In that case (when you mixed the set), how did it affect your sound and playing? Did it bother you or did you feel that everything was just… off ?

Or… Did you find some advantage that made it not it tolerable - but preferred? If so, which aspects?

I am going out on a limb to presume it was not a desirable experience or you would be still doing it.

@Stixx3969, @Dragonslayer,

I don’t think octaves could ever work (I am thinking double-string mandolin here) because the tension would be unadvised and dangerous for the tuners to tighten so much.

Hi @WillCoop since it was mostly the 5th string that would break it did,t bother me too much. As soon as I got home i would change the full set.

Well, for the G and D courses it should be fine, and on bouzouki and twelve string guitar usually the first two courses are unison strung.

I was just wondering if anyone had ever done it. I doubt that I will.

Did you actually mean octave courses? It wasn’t clear

No. I just meant two different gauge strings in the same pair, tuned the same.

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That is what I thought… Thanks for confirming.

I suspect it bothers those who mix… More than the playing itself.

Would one even tell if they picked up a Mando that had both. I wonder…

This idea is intriguing to me… Use heavy sent for upper… Light for lower in the set… Across all strings.

This might brighten tones when cross-picking but add bottom end to normal lower downstrokes?


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It could be done to equalize volume between up and down strokes, but it seems a bit extreme. It also could cause intonation issues. If you do it, keep a diary about it

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Now I am kind of intrigued by the octave tuning :grinning: That might be kind of cool (except for tuning… I can’t seem to ever keep a twelve string guitar tuned for more than a moment in time).