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Tuning mandolin as guitar

GUEST,bernieandred 24 Jul 09 - 01:47 AM
Tim Leaning 24 Jul 09 - 02:07 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Jul 09 - 02:48 AM
Will Fly 24 Jul 09 - 03:53 AM
Backwoodsman 24 Jul 09 - 04:03 AM
Will Fly 24 Jul 09 - 04:10 AM
Darowyn 24 Jul 09 - 04:24 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Jul 09 - 06:35 AM
Darowyn 24 Jul 09 - 06:45 AM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Jul 09 - 07:00 AM
Leadfingers 24 Jul 09 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 24 Jul 09 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin (in Transylvania) 24 Jul 09 - 08:14 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Jul 09 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Ray 25 Jul 09 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Jack 04 Feb 16 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,but the mandolin is basically the bottom 4 s 04 Feb 16 - 03:14 PM
Leadfingers 04 Feb 16 - 07:27 PM
GUEST,Ray 05 Feb 16 - 05:10 AM
Wesley S 05 Feb 16 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,Ray 06 Feb 16 - 04:51 AM
Backwoodsman 06 Feb 16 - 05:22 AM
Leadfingers 06 Feb 16 - 05:26 AM
Backwoodsman 06 Feb 16 - 05:27 AM
Backwoodsman 06 Feb 16 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 06 Feb 16 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 06 Feb 16 - 05:35 AM
Will Fly 06 Feb 16 - 06:16 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 06 Feb 16 - 06:29 AM
PHJim 06 Feb 16 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Ray 06 Feb 16 - 02:13 PM
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Subject: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,bernieandred
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 01:47 AM

I have just bought a mandolin & wonder if anyone has info on tuning it as the top four strings on guitar. I understand session guitarist Tommy Tedesco used to do this for all stringed instruments. I realise that the purists will frown at this, but I just want to be able to add a different sound to my music without learning all new fingerings & tunings.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 02:07 AM

Seems like a good idea waiting with interest...


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 02:48 AM

I think the sound comes as much from the way the cadences and accidentals fall to hand - the same reasons why alternate tunings give a different sound to the guitar. For that reason, when playing for the morris, I largely use a short-scale bass guitar with custom strings tuned upwards GDAE from what is usually the bottom G on a bass guitar.

If you are going to tune a mandolin to the same intervals (and pitch but an octave up) as the top four strings on a guitar (DBGE) you are going to need custom strings as otherwise the lower three courses will be MUCH too tight.

You won't get the sound of mandolin chords, though. The inversions will be different.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 03:53 AM

Additionally to what Richard has said, the mandolin is constructed to take a particular tension within its design - like all stringed instruments. If you change the ratio of the tension of the strings, you might affect the body and neck of the mandolin. They're tough little beasts, as a rule, but your instrument might be affected by the change. I do understand the desire to bring a different sound to the music - which is why I also have tenor banjo, mandolin, tenor uke, violin - and a new tenor guitar on the way. It doesn't take too long to get acclimatised to fingering in 5ths (violin, mandolin, etc.) and the fingering brings different voices with it.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 04:03 AM

Why not try a Nashville-strung guitar instead? Nice high tinkly sound.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 04:10 AM

What's Nashville tuning, Backwoodsman? I've heard of it, but don't know what it is.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Darowyn
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 04:24 AM

Nashville tuning is when you fit very light strings to the lower three positions on a guitar, and tune them to the same notes E A D, but an octave higher than normal. Another way to think of it is that you are using just the high strings from a 12 string set.
I did keep a guitar in Nashville tuning at one time, but then I realised that what I was really wanting was a 12 string.
I would really advise you to stick with the mando tuned in fifths. You will be amazed how easy it is to get used to the different tuning.
One thing you may not have realised is that a fifth tuning means that the same fingering pattern applies on all strings- so if you play a major scale based on the open string, the fret positions go 0,2,4,5,(change string) 0,2,4,5. Unlike the 4ths and Major third tuning of the guitar top four, that works on any two strings.
Secondly, you can play nearly any mandolin chord with two fingers.
It is always useful to have a less familiar instrument when you are composing- otherwise it is much too easy to settle for the patterns that your fingers are familiar with, and never find anything new or interesting.
There are few things more demotivating than the feeling that "there's nothing I can play that I want to hear!"
Accept the challengep- learn to play the Mandolin properly!
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 06:35 AM

Darowyn - F major!


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Darowyn
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 06:45 AM

1. It's not based on an open string tonality!
2. Apart from the fact that you start on fret 3 on the D course, it follows exactly on the Minor Scale pattern, thus:-
3, 5,(Change string) 0,1,3,5(Change String),0,1
0,1,3,5 every time!
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 07:00 AM

"...if anyone has info on tuning it as the top four strings on guitar."

Well most ukelele players do it that way (though with the D string an octave higher.) (Though I prefer to tune my ukelele like a mandolin...)


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 07:45 AM

My only thought was "WHY?"


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 08:11 AM

It largely depends what you want to do. If you just want a "different sounding mini-guitar" then go for it, but a couple of things you ought to be aware of:

Firstly- you wouldn't want to use off-the-shelf mandolin strings, because you'd be tuning three of the pairs of strings higher than their intended pitch- a tone, a fourth and a fifth respectively. Ouch! Your fingers wouldn't thank you, nor the mandolin.

Secondly, there are good reasons why a mandolin is tuned the way it is- tuning it in fourths gives you way less range (a 5th) and you may also find the fretboard is a little tighter on space this way.

Have you thought about a bouzouki? The standard Greek tuning is CFAD, a tone below a guitar, with octaves on the lower two courses- but a lot of players tune up to match the guitar. It's an octave lower than a mandolin, but with a longer scale-length, and of course the familiar tuning, you could easily play up the neck into mandolin range.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,Jack Campin (in Transylvania)
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 08:14 AM

Look up what the South Indian classical player U Srinivas does with his mando. His website has a description. Restrung in five single courses, CGCGC.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Jul 09 - 10:07 AM

No, what I meant, Darowyn, is that the F major chord is not a two finger one.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 25 Jul 09 - 11:59 AM

As both a mandolin player and guitarist, I'm with Leadfingers. Sounds like bernieandred can't be bothered to learn the instrument. As far as alternative guitar tunings are concerned, I've always said that I'll worry about those when I've exhausted the possibilities with normal tuning.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,Jack
Date: 04 Feb 16 - 01:29 PM

Actually the reason I tune a mandolin to a guitar tuning is so I can sight read difficult single-note music when needed. I play theatre and have been playing guitar many (many) years. While I appreciate the nuances of actual mandolin tuning, sight reading in guitar tuning is second nature to me.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,but the mandolin is basically the bottom 4 s
Date: 04 Feb 16 - 03:14 PM

errrmm... the mandolin is basically the bottom 4 strings of a guitar
but upside down with bass to treble inverted ...


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Leadfingers
Date: 04 Feb 16 - 07:27 PM

The only advantage I can see is Chords in anything but the basic ones of G , D , C and F . Single note melody is relatively simple with practice , even in B Major and C Sharp


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 05:10 AM

As Leadfingers said unless he can't be bothered to learn the instrument properly.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Wesley S
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 09:01 AM

Try using the device musicians call a "capo". You will have the benefits of higher pitched sounds without the bother of learning something new. Find a musician and they can show you how to use it. Or try youtube.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 04:51 AM

Nice try Wesley; that was my first thought, but I've never managed to use a capo at the 12th fret! ..... and don't try to use a capo on a mandolin or you'll have the capo police after you.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 05:22 AM

A capo isn't much use above about the 2nd fret on a mandolin, and tuning it like a guitar destroys the 'modal' character of the sound.

Better to learn to play it properly. IMHO.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Leadfingers
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 05:26 AM

Shortening the string length DOES result in some loss of tone , so I refuse to put a capo on my Mando


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 05:27 AM

Or do as I suggested earlier - string a guitar with a Nashville set (also known as 'High-Strung'). You get a nice, high, tinkly sound without the tuning problems and jangliness of a 12-string, and still using standard guitar chords and scales.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 05:28 AM

Correct, Terry, it does! I don't capo my mandolin either! 👍


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 05:35 AM

I endorse Backwoodsman's suggestion.

Also cheap kid's 3/4 and 1/2 scale guitars ar are ripe for alternate stinging and tuning experiments.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 05:35 AM

I endorse Backwoodsman's suggestion.

Also cheap kid's 3/4 and 1/2 scale guitars ar are ripe for alternate stinging and tuning experiments.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 06:16 AM

That's great advice, PFR - I like to experiment with stinging kids now and then...

:-)

On a more serious note (ho ho), the problem with using 3/4 and 1/2 scale guitars is that they're often not well made enough for really accurate intonation - but the idea is good.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 06:29 AM

Yeah - agreed you have to shop carefully...

But the Squier 3/4 scale strats were a good junk shop find, hold a tuning, and the pickups aren't too shite.

Samick did some good half scale electric guitars.

Plenty of others to try, ebay is your best friend for these kind of things.

Can't speak for the quality of most kid's size acoustics, but I bet there are some half decent bargain brands.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: PHJim
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 01:30 PM

A guitarist friend of mine was playing in the pit band for a musical and there was a mandolin part. He asked to borrow my old Ibanez mandolin. The Ibanez was a good player, but not a valuable instrument, so I said, "Sure."
He returned it with a few sets of mandolin strings as thanks, but when I went to play it, I noticed that he had the strings replaced with the gauge that would permit DGBE tuning. He told me that he couldn't read the music in mandolin tuning and apologised for retuning my mando.


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Subject: RE: Tuning mandolin as guitar
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 06 Feb 16 - 02:13 PM

The late Dave Shannon once borrowed one of my mandolins because he''d been booked for a session at Strawberry studios and didn't have one (and wasn't used to playing one). Needless to say, he played it in mandolin tuning.

Just as an asside, when he picked it up, I asked him who the session was for but he didn't know. When he brought it back he said that he'd asked the producer who's recording it was and he replied "Oh nobody you'd know. It's somebody from the midlands called 'Harvey Andrews' "


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