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Thread: 16-string Italian bowl-back mandolin

  1. #1
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    Default 16-string Italian bowl-back mandolin

    I found a 16-string (!) Italian bowl-back mandolin recently while travelling in Spokane, Washington at Cole Music Company. The owner told me he ordered it for a friend who didn't end up buying it because it didn't "suit his needs". This thing was an absolute beast to play. The fretboard was amazingly wide, certainly NOT a chordal instrument, even two-string harmonies were somewhat difficult to fret. Not to mention it was difficult to tune/hear while the owner's buddy loudly played half-baked blues riffs on an electric guitar.

    Has anyone else had any experience with 16-string mandos?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 16-string Italian bowl-back mandolin

    I've seen pics of a few. Yeah, just too many strings. After two I think you hit the point of diminishing returns. And you just get lost in the peghead trying to tune the thing.

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    Default Re: 16-string Italian bowl-back mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Schlegel View Post
    I've seen pics of a few. Yeah, just too many strings. After two I think you hit the point of diminishing returns. And you just get lost in the peghead trying to tune the thing.
    Schlegel, no doubt! My first thought when I saw it was, that must be a pain in the neck to tune. A slow tremolo sounded amazing, though!

  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: 16-string Italian bowl-back mandolin

    The 12 strings are quite common. In the US they were built in quantity by Oscar Schmidt Company. I have seen one A model Gibson with 12 strings. 16 strings are ridiculous, assuming that that setup is 4 strings per course. Some ethnic instruments have 14 strings -- Filipino bandurrias for instance but I think the set up is still double-string courses.

    Check out the latter posts from this thread.

    BTW I wonder if that music store ordered this one: "Mariachi" Mandolin - 16 strings
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    Jim

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    Registered User Terry Allan Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: 16-string Italian bowl-back mandolin

    Pawn shop I check out, from time to time, had a 12-string (triple-strung) flat-back mandolin, made (I think) in Germany...looked like WWII-era or thereabouts. Kinda in the Lyon & Healy style, it seemed. If it's still there next time I pop in, I'm take a cell-phone shot of it.

    Even w/ lowish action, it was/is a bear to play fast on.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 16-string Italian bowl-back mandolin

    the people who can play those things must have massive hands..... bet they sound pretty neat though

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