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mandola, octave mandolin or what

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GUEST,gigix 03 Sep 04 - 05:42 AM
GUEST,Jon 03 Sep 04 - 06:06 AM
GUEST,Jon 03 Sep 04 - 06:07 AM
GUEST,Jon 03 Sep 04 - 06:13 AM
Leadfingers 03 Sep 04 - 06:32 AM
Paco Rabanne 03 Sep 04 - 06:34 AM
mooman 03 Sep 04 - 06:34 AM
Dave Hanson 03 Sep 04 - 07:25 AM
Grab 03 Sep 04 - 07:52 AM
8ch(pl) 03 Sep 04 - 01:02 PM
vectis 03 Sep 04 - 07:55 PM
Terry Allan Hall 03 Sep 04 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,Jon 03 Sep 04 - 08:19 PM
John P 04 Sep 04 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,gigix 05 Sep 04 - 05:21 PM
mooman 06 Sep 04 - 04:50 AM
Inükshük 06 Sep 04 - 10:35 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Sep 04 - 11:13 AM
mooman 06 Sep 04 - 02:27 PM
Inükshük 06 Sep 04 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,Jon 06 Sep 04 - 05:27 PM
mooman 06 Sep 04 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,Jon 06 Sep 04 - 08:32 PM
GUEST,gigix 07 Sep 04 - 11:55 AM
mooman 07 Sep 04 - 12:08 PM
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Subject: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: GUEST,gigix
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 05:42 AM

Hi all,
I have just come to own a fine sounding instrument, whose previous owner called "mandola". However it is not tuned (low to high) CGDA, but GDAE, that is the same of the mandolin one octave below, so someone told me that it should be called "octave mandolin".
The lenght is 51 cm. It has four couples of strings, each couple of the same gauge. The highest pair is plain steel, the rest are wounded.
The previous owner (out of contact now) used it to play Irish Traditional.
How do you think I should call it? Do you know alternative tunings for it? Anybody owns something like it and could suggest me some tips?
Thanks in advance
Luigi Fazzo
luigifazzo@virgilio.it


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 06:06 AM

Different terms are used to describe these instruments. Americans tend to use "octave mandolin" where we (UK) would say octave mandola or perhaps simple mandola.


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 06:07 AM

(I meant simply refer to it as a mandola above).


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 06:13 AM

Oh and on tunings. The one you describe sound to me as if it is normaly tuned GDEA. I see no reason though why you shouldn't experiment with the slightly longer "Irish Bazouki" tunings, GDAD, ADAD are 2 for starters. It's all a bit of a blur really.


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: Leadfingers
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 06:32 AM

'Mandola' has the same relationship to 'Mandolin' as 'Viola' has to 'Violin' and are normally tuned EBFC where C is the thinnest string . The longer necked instrument is PROBABLY what we call in UK an Octave Mandola , which can be tuned where ever you like ,dependant on string weight . I play Mandolin and Short Scale Tenor Banjo and use GDAE on the Mandolin , and EBFC on the Banjo with light strings .
However I have used heavier guage strings on the Banjo and tuned it to GDAE to make it easier to play in sessions (G and D being common session keys) . The 'Long Necked' four paired strung beasties can also be Bouzoukis which have nearly as many tunings as there are people playing them .


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 06:34 AM

Sounds like a piano to me.


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: mooman
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 06:34 AM

Dear Luigi,

This sounds like an octave mandolin (US terminology) or octave mandola (European terninology) as Jon says. The typical scale length for these is about 51 to 54 cm. I assume you are referring to scale length. If it is the total length of the instrument then that could more likely be a mandola (sometimes called a tenor mandola) which would have a scale length of round about 41 cm. The usual tuning for an octave mandola (the one I use anyway) is GDAE although the alternative tunings mentioned by Jon are also possible. If it is the shorter scale length instrument, then it should be CGDA.

If you can conform the actual scale length, i.e. nut to saddle, and the make (if any) of the instrument, we may also be able to advise on further possible tunings and also suitable string gauges.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 07:25 AM

FFS it's an octave mandolin AKA octave mandola, tuned EADG one octave lower than standard mandolin or fiddle tuning, end of.

eric


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: Grab
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 07:52 AM

LF, violas are usually tuned CGDA. See this link.

A mandola (AKA octave mandolin) has a neck length about the same as a classical guitar (except thinner), but has a teardrop-shaped body like a mandolin. Sounds like Luigi's instrument.

FWIW, I've just acquired a cheap tenor mandolin. As mooman says, this is somewhere between the two - basically it looks like a slightly oversized mandolin. This thing is usually tuned CGDA, like a viola. However I've found that if I put mandola strings on it, the longer scale and heavier strings balance out, and I can then tune it to GDAE like a standard mandolin. Because of the larger body and heavier strings, this absolutely *sings* where a normal mandolin just tinkles and pings! I've always disliked normal mandolins for their thin and reedy tone, but mine has bags of sustain and tone now - I love it! If you've got a tenor mandolin, I thoroughly recommend this experiment. (If you've not got one, £60 from Gremlin music plus a tenner for strings. :-)

Graham.


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: 8ch(pl)
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 01:02 PM

In North America a Mandola is tuned C-G-D-A from bass to treble, the G string having the same pitch as a Mandolin G string. In other words, the Mandola is one string or one fifth lower than the Mandolin. An Octave Mandolin (also called an Irish Bouzouki) is G-D-A-E, exactly one octave lower than a Mandolin. Irish Tenor Banjo is tuned the same as an Octave Mandolin, normal Tenor Banjo tuning is C-G-D-A, one octave below Mandola.


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: vectis
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 07:55 PM

Sounds like an octave mandola which is usually tuned an octave lower than a mandolin. I tune mine DGBE and use it as a tenor guitar.


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 08:01 PM

Sometimes these are strung with heavier strings as a mandocello, an octave below a viola/mandola (C-G-D-A), but some string mandocellos with lighter strings and tune them G-D-A-E...I usually keep my mandocello tuned this way, as I'm no longer a member of a mandolin orchestra, so the higher tuning is more useful to me.

It's all good.


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 03 Sep 04 - 08:19 PM

Just spotted a mistake in a previous post of mine. I did not mean GDEA, I meant GDAE (which happens to be my favourite tuning - use it both on mandolin and tenor banjo).


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: John P
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 09:40 AM

My wife and I taught a workshop on octave mandolin/Irish bouzouki/cittern and a music festival several years ago. We had nine instruments in the room and seven different tunings. There doesn't seem to be anything like a standard. Here are some ideas:

GDAE - standard mandolin tuning. Great for chords and melody in a variety of keys. Lots of chord charts and tab music available. Not so great for getting the drone strings sound so many of us like.

GDAD - the most common "Irish Bouzouki" tuning. The top three courses are an open D chord, giving you the drone string effect. The low G on the bottom gives you better choices for playing some chords than you get from a completely open tuning.

ADAD - Another popular tuning for Irish players. Completely open: better drone effects, harder to get a full range of chords. Has a fourth interval on top, like the GDAD tuning.

GDGD or AEAE - open tuning. Advantages are having lowest string be the tonic of the chord. This gives a nice, solid bass. Also, having a fifth interval on top makes more sense to people who have played mandolin or vioin for a long time. Also, a melody learned in the treble can often be transposed down an octave without having to learn new fingering. Like other open tunings, a full range of chords can be a challenge, but not an unsurmountable one. (This is the tuning I use most of the time).

GDGC - Like the bottom four strings of a guitar tuned in DADGAD, only up a fourth. If you've been playing DADGAD, this tuning will allow you take a lot of your chops straight to the octave mandolin. It has the same drone and chord advantages as the GDAD Irish bouzouki tuning shown earlier.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: GUEST,gigix
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 05:21 PM

Gee... Thanks a lot to everybody. I had the feeling I was not going to get easy recipes; but I have now plenty of interesting stuff to work upon.
Love
Luigi Fazzo
(For Moo: yes, the lenght is 51 cm nut to saddle, and I am very interested in kowing about suitable string gauges: thanks in advance)


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: mooman
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 04:50 AM

Dear Luigi,

Let me know what tuning(s) you intend to use and I can help with string gauges. To help, does your intrument have a makers name? Do you know if it has an adjustable truss rod?

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: Inükshük
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 10:35 AM

What a helpful thread. Thanks to all contributors. I recently acquired an excellent custom made mandocello that is presently tuned C-G-D-A. I really enjoy playing it, but seldom take it to gigs as the tunes have to be transposed from the way I play them on mandolin. I have been tempted to get heavier strings and tune it G-D-A-E, but I was worried about the increased tension. Also I would appreciate some guidance with respect to string gauges for this set up. My instrument has a scale length of 54cm.


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 11:13 AM

Leadfingers said it right. I have a Lyon and Healy Mandola I paid all of ten dollars for. It is beautiful and fits my baritone range perfectly. I don't use it for instrumentals. I don't do instrumentals. They make me nervous. But, I can use it as accompaniment for singing, in a way that I can't with mandolin. Mandolin doesn't fit my voice well at all and it doesn't have enough depth to the sound to make a good instrument for solo accompaniment (at least not if you're a baritone.) If you got that high mountain tenor, it would work much better.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: mooman
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 02:27 PM

Dear Inükshük,

A scale length of 54cm should adapt well to GDAE tuning. I have a fine quality instrument with the same scale length tuned in GDAE and have an excellent sound with the gauges .052 .039 .025 and .013 (these are a standard Newtone set but any good quality string would be OK...most players tend to prefer phosphor bronze). This gives quite a solid sound. For a lighter and sweeter but less punch sound you could go down to something like .012 .024 .036 and .048. Open and alternative tunings would benefit from adaptation from these gauges.

The same gauge range would probably be suitable for the same tuning for Luigi's instrument.

Hope this helps.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: Inükshük
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 04:26 PM

moo,
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly. I will be down at the music store tomorrow morning ordering a couple of sets of both your suggestions.
Much appreciated.
Inükshük


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 05:27 PM

When Inükshük said go heavier, I assumed he meant tune to the GDAE below the CGDA the mando-cello (which is the same pitch as a cello) is tuned in. I dread to think what strings would be needed.

I did know someone with an old Gibson mando-cello which I played a few times and loved it in CGDA. The instrument was built like a tank and was hard work (and remember once doing a floor spot playing the Athol Higlanders at a brisk pace and wondering if I was going to get through as the muscles in my left hand were aching after once round) but I found it rewarding for the sound I could get out of it.

This person later put strings along the lines Mooman have given. The owner liked it and found it much easier to play but for me, doing so lost all the qualities that I liked in terms of sound - it did sound OK but I felt it did need something heavier on it to get the full value out of it.

A lot of this is personal/subjective but I'd rather have kept it in the CGDA, put up with the harder work to play and have learned that tuning (the times I tried it in that tuning, I didn't need to worry that I would be playing in the wrong key).


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: mooman
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 06:56 PM

Dear Jon,

The scale length Inükshük has described very much point towards use of string gauges within the range I mentioned (although it is a matter of personal preference of course). The scale length of a mandocello that you (and I as well I think) would be more familiar with, having the low CGDA tuning you describe, would typically have a scale length of about 65 - 67cm. So in this case I was working on the actual scale lengths Inükshük and Luigi reported for their instruments rather than Inükshük's description "mandocello", as I realise usage of the terms mandocello, octave mandolin, octave mandola, short-scale bouzouki, mandola, tenor mandola, etc. vary enormously from country to country and especially either side of the Atlantic.

All the best to you and Pip and hope to see and play music with you again soon!

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 08:32 PM

Thanks Mooman. Your more on the ball there than me! I hadn't considered a what I call a mandocello as being another name for one of those for the octave mandola, etc...

I've not been out playing for a few weeks now but hope to get out again soon. If you ever get towards Norwich or N Norfolk, let us know and Pip and I will try to meet up. Best wishes from Pip and I to you all.

Jon


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: GUEST,gigix
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 11:55 AM

Thanks again Moo. My instrument has been built in 1999 by an italian amateur luthier and fine musician whose name is Giorgio Bionaz (I would be very surprised if you knew him). It comes with a fantastic hand made wooden case covered with a blue flowers tapestry; unfortunately the case is in very bad condition, otherwise I would be delighted to keep it. The instrument has not an adjustable trod.
About the string gauges, you suggested .052 .039 .025 and .013 to Inukshuk and me for GDAE tuning, and this I will try soon. I suppose that if I tune GDAD it should be the same, right? But when I will try GDGC heavier gauges would be suitable for the first two strings?
Thanks in advance for the trouble you take.
Peace
Luigi Fazzo


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Subject: RE: mandola, octave mandolin or what
From: mooman
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 12:08 PM

Dear Luigi,

Not knowing the luthier and in view of the lack of an adjustable truss rod in your instrument, I might suggest you start with the lower range of gauges I suggested, i.e. .012 .024 .036 and .048. These should certainly be comfortable for you and the instrument at the scale length you mentioned. If you find that the instrument could be "driven" more (my current Terry Docherty octave mandola can, as could a John Le Voi model I used to have way back but not the Paul Hathway model I had which was more lightly built and so was better with the lighter strings) you could move to the heavier gauges. The gauges will also work fine for GDAD but if you permanently go to GDGC you could use a gauge higher for the top two pairs.

Peace

moo


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