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Mandola tuning/strings

McGrath of Harlow 27 Nov 08 - 08:47 PM
Dave Hanson 28 Nov 08 - 04:27 AM
Les in Chorlton 28 Nov 08 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 28 Nov 08 - 05:50 AM
Geoff the Duck 28 Nov 08 - 08:32 AM
Backwoodsman 28 Nov 08 - 10:00 AM
Banjo-Flower 28 Nov 08 - 04:10 PM
jonm 28 Nov 08 - 04:21 PM
Les in Chorlton 28 Nov 08 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 28 Nov 08 - 05:21 PM
jonm 29 Nov 08 - 04:01 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 29 Nov 08 - 04:08 AM
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Subject: Mandola tuning/strings
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 08:47 PM

Came across a Mandola the other day and enjoyed playing it. So I might be gettng it.

Thing is, it's tuned CGDA, and GDAE would suit me better, so I'd probably be restringing it. And I'm wondering whether it'd be better to use octave stringing for the bottom strings or unison.

Any advice or thoughts on this.


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 04:27 AM

I'd go for unison if you intend mostly to play tunes, octaves are OK on bouzoukis and twelve string gits, or on mandolas used mainly for accompaniments.

eric


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 05:33 AM

Eric is spot on. I use a light gauge CGDA and it sounds good even when I play it, in fact it sounds so sweet I can't walk past it with out playing a quick tune.

CGDA leads me to play mostly in G and a bit of C. Playing in D means fretting two 7th frets which tends to sound less crisp and certain, or using a capo which tends to make it a bit sharp.

GDAE would be more fiddle / squeeze box friendly - I have gone back to Irish tuning tenor to play with them. The Mandola sounds great with sensitive guitar but gets a bit drowned out by squeezers.

I'd say buy one because they sound so good, now where is my Nelson?

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 05:50 AM

If it's a true mandola you may having difficulty tuning it GDAE (actually octave mandolin tuning) as the neck will be a bit short, so the strings will sound very slack and the intonation will be terrible.

It it's what our American cousins have decided to call an octave mandola (technically a mandocello) i.e. built to be strung one octave below the mandola, you should be able to do so easily, but you should at least consider calling it an octave mandolin - as that is what it will be. (If you try to tune it GDAE at the same pitch as a mandolin it will become some bits of wood).

You do sometimes hear people calling mandolas (i.e. tuned CDGA at viola pitch) 'tenor mandolas.' Actually the mandola (from mandora, meaning almond-shaped) is the senior member of both the 'mandolin' (which means 'little mandola') and violin (which it pre-dates) families - so the word should never need to be qualified by any descriptor other than those used to define the other mando-family members.

In fact the word 'tenor' is most often used also to denote an octave drop - as in tenor banjo and tenor guitar, so 'tenor mandola' would, if used, mean the same thing as 'octave mandola' (if such a thing existed) - correcty a mandocello. You could call an 'octave mandolin' a 'tenor mandolin' if you so chose, but people usually don't.

Typical string sizes for a mandola are 12 20 30 42

Tom

Oh and the bouzouki is not Greek but Turkish - and the word bouzouki means (I'm told by my chum Louis de Bernieres, though he may be winding me up for my pedantry) 'a mistake' or 'a thing badly done' in Turkish.

More of this nonsense here


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 08:32 AM

Tom's comments about tuning are very true. The note you can expect an instrument string to produce depends on three factors. The length of the neck, the thickness of the string and how tight you stretch it. If any of the three are significantly different from the instrument the set of strings are sold to fit, you could have problems tuning. Of course it is possible to use a higher or lower gauge string to produce an appropriate tension for the neck length, but the different forces applied to the neck may not do the instrument a lot of good.
To my mind, a mandola has been built to sound right in a specific sound range, so you would not be doing it justice by dropping the tuning. As Les says, playing in CGDA, makes a slight difference to playing in some keys, but for a lot of tunes, you just move the fingering from a mandolin up one string until you run out of strings. For some tunes, you would then have to drop an octave and work out different fingerings. As someone who has played both mandolin and a short necked CGDA tenor banjo, there is a lot of overlap between the two tunings, but each tuning can make playing some tunes simpler and more natural than the fingering used in the other tuning. Alternatively, some tunes work better in one or other tuning.
My advice (if it IS a standard mandola and not an Octave job), would be to give it a proper try in CGDA before trying to re-string for a different tuning.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 10:00 AM

I have a Fylde Mandola which, in a discussion with Roger Bucknall, he told me is actually an 'Octave Mandolin' - i.e. tuned GDAE one octave below the Mandolin.

McG - the strings are all unison. Roger says it can be tuned CGDA "using the appropriate strings", but their website doesn't say what constitutes "appropriate strings".

BTW, I might be prepared to sell it, if anyone's interested, as I'm looking to buy a mandolin.


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 04:10 PM

I'll give you ten bob for it John just to take it off your hands

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: jonm
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 04:21 PM

The usual confusion in designation of mandolas:

Most "mandolas" are tenors, tuned CGDA, with scale lenths of about 20 - 21". Some octave mandolins are called mandolas, tuned GDAE, but generally with scale lengths about 23".

A scale length of 21" will not readily take GDAE tuning; although you can up the string gauge, they will still be too floppy to give decent volume and tone.

Similarly, the string gauges for CGDA tuning for a 23" scale would be very thin and breakable.


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 04:47 PM

And Mandolas are Nelson for obvious reasons

L in C


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 05:21 PM

jonm, I've always understood that mandolas are, like violas, alto instruments - not tenor.

Octave mandolins, mandocellos and violincellos are of course tenor instruments (as are tenor banjos and tenor guitars), mandolins and violins are treble instruments, and the basses are, obviously, basses!

But I agree with you about the neck lengths and string gauges :-)

tom


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: jonm
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 04:01 AM

I agree, Tom, that in terms of classical pitch designation you are correct, however, in terms of name, the CGDA family (mandola, banjo nd guitar) have all had "tenor" attached to them.


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Subject: RE: Mandola tuning/strings
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 04:08 AM

They have indeed - but if everyone agreed to use the correct terms in future, we'd soon have fewer people buying the wrong instrument and getting the wrong strings etc (only kidding)!

t


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