There seems to be a constant debate about what strings work well on an octave mandolin. Well, I’ve got a Trinity College Blackface Octave
Mandolin. It’s got something like a 20 3/4 inch scale length. The strings that came with it were weak and floppy. It didn’t sound bad, but you couldn’t really dig into it.
Someone advised ball end guitar strings of much higher gauge. I tried that for a while, but it was a pain to by separate strings and then remove the ball ends.
Then I was turned on to a set of Mandola strings. Here’s the description from Elderly Instruments, where I order most of my stuff from:
- D’ADDARIO J72 LIGHT GAUGE MANDOLA STRINGS
- The popularity of mandola instruments is growing thanks to quality builders like John Monteleone and Will Kimble. This gauge perfectly suits a 16″ scale mandola and is the preferred gauge by many professionals, .014 .023 .034w .049w.
- ****One luthier told me I was going to collapse the top using higher gauge strings. But I’ve had this Octave mandolin for 2.5 years, and have beat it pretty hard in sessions, and it still plays and sings just fine. The heavier gauge strings, have given it a thicker tone and more volume.