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Thread: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

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    Default I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    I am a guitar player and have been for about 25 years. I try to play and practice daily and love music of all sorts. Knowing this, for Christmas my wife bought me a cheap little $20 uke. I was surprised at how easy it was a apply my skill and intuition to the little guy and in a matter of minutes I was transposing song written for the guitar and generally having a blast. So I decided that I should branch out even further and bought a mandolin. I have had it for several days now and I have a few observations as well as a few questions.

    Observations:

    1) My fingers are sore. Those little strings are very tense. I've been playing guitar long enough to know that this will pass.

    2) It takes way more flexibility and strength in your had and particularly your pinky finger to fret those chords and make them sound clean.

    3) I am amazed at how loud the little bugger is. I bought a US Ovation MM68 and the thing is really projects. I've read that other mandos are quite a bit louder than the Ovation and I don't know that I'd want it any louder for practicing in my little house.

    Now for the questions:

    Since I have broadened my horizons I have been listening to Mandola, Mandocello and Bouzouki music on the youtubes and boy do they make beautiful music. I am interested in the differences between them. I searched the forums and I found someone else had asked this exact same question. I read the thread and I don't know if the answers were over my head or what, but I still don't know the difference.

    1) Is an octave mandolin just an extended scale mandolin with GDAE tuning.

    2) if so, what is a mandocello, how are they normally tuned? Are they sometimes tuned GDAE as well.

    3) Where does the bazouki fit into all this. I've noticed that they sometimes have 6 strings and sometimes 8 are generally tuned open?

    I am asking because I would like to add another instrument to my collection and I am wondering what would be the most efficient learning wise. I want to be able to directly apply what I learn on the Mandolin to my next intrument.

    Thanks in advace.

    Sorry for such a long first post : )

    Aaron

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    In training... KristinEliza's Avatar
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Observations:

    1) My fingers are sore. Those little strings are very tense. I've been playing guitar long enough to know that this will pass.


    Yep... your fingertips will certainly toughen up! But watch for hand strain too!

    2) It takes way more flexibility and strength in your had and particularly your pinky finger to fret those chords and make them sound clean.

    again - watch out for hand strain!

    3) I am amazed at how loud the little bugger is. I bought a US Ovation MM68 and the thing is really projects. I've read that other mandos are quite a bit louder than the Ovation and I don't know that I'd want it any louder for practicing in my little house.


    Well...they do have 8 strings!

    Now for the questions:

    Since I have broadened my horizons I have been listening to Mandola, Mandocello and Bouzouki music on the youtubes and boy do they make beautiful music. I am interested in the differences between them. I searched the forums and I found someone else had asked this exact same question. I read the thread and I don't know if the answers were over my head or what, but I still don't know the difference.


    1) Is an octave mandolin just an extended scale mandolin with GDAE tuning.

    Yes...hence the name. An octave mandolin is an octave lower than a mandolin. Same tuning GDAE

    2) if so, what is a mandocello, how are they normally tuned? Are they sometimes tuned GDAE as well.

    Mandolin family is just like the violin family...

    violin = mandolin (GDAE)
    viola = mandola (CGDA)
    violoncello = mandocello (CGDA - octave lower than viola/mandola)
    contrabass = mandobass (EADG)


    3) Where does the bazouki fit into all this. I've noticed that they sometimes have 6 strings and sometimes 8 are generally tuned open?

    I'm no authority...but I believe the zouks are similar to octave mandolins...but with longer scales.

    Hope this helps. Welcome to the mandolin world!
    Last edited by KristinEliza; May-09-2012 at 12:31pm. Reason: can't spel
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Everything Kristin said, with this added. The bouzouki often has octave tuned courses, where the two strings on one or more of the courses are tuned an octave apart.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Bouzoukis originate in Greece. The older variety has three paired courses of strings tuned DAD. A 20th-century Greek variant has four courses tuned CFAD.

    When Irish musicians began using bouzoukis and similar instruments, they often used open tunings in a combination of fifths and fourths, sometimes with octave string pairs, like GDAD or ADAD.

    The meaning of "cittern" has changed a lot through the centuries. These days it usually means a 10-string instrument with some kind of open tuning, such as DGDAD. A big 10-stringer can also be a "liuto cantabile" (Italy) or a "mandole" (Algeria).
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Thanks for all the great answers. KristinEliza you really cleared things up for me quite a bit. Your explanation of the different instruments completely demystifies them and as usual the answer is a lot simpler than it would at first appear (as is so often the case is in music). It's funny how these systems appear so complex when you are an outsider but really they are very simple. It's psycho-motor mastery that is the most challenging. Thanks for all your help, I think my next purchase will be a mandocello or mandola based on this info.

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Well, I'd look in the middle at an octave mandolin, too. You don't need to re-learn where the notes are, and if you get a longer scale one (say, 22 inches), the bass will sound very nice and rich. The 'cello is over 25 inches in scale, and is a stretch, and is a little more limited in what you can do with it. I love mine, and use it a lot as an accompaniment, sort of like a portable bass that you can use a few chords on and some interesting fill runs, but it is more limited in tonal range than an octave. Plus, it is slower to get around on. You really need to learn to move your whole hand to get around the board and fret notes cleanly; a little dab up with a pinkie will usually buzz. My feeling is that you need to have a purpose in mind for a mandocello, whereas an octave is more usable in more situations. Mandolas? sort of like violas; what's the point...

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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    "Mandolas? sort of like violas; what's the point..."

    Mandolins are too small, octave mandolins are too large, but mandolas are just right.

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    Marbhna Luimni Eddie Sheehy's Avatar
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    All the instruments have a place in the mandolin orchestra...

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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Thanks for the input. I'll keep all this in mind.

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    In training... KristinEliza's Avatar
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    ah...mandola bashing...just like in the bowed world with violas...nothing changes!

    Glad I could help...

    While I love my mandola...I think you would get more use out of a mandocello initially (unless you're playing with some classical mandolin ensembles.) But don't get me wrong...they are all great!

    Aaron...you don't happen to be a bassoonist in NC by any chance, do you?
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    You will find the Mandocello more challenging (for the above-stated reasons) and would probably find the Mandola more suited to solo-playing (while using the same tuning - CCGGDDAA).
    OM's (short-scale) are also a utility instrument that can handle backing, double-stops, counter-melody, and melody (beware of fast reels). The longer scale instruments (OM's 23"+ and zouks) are more suited for backing, double-stops, counter-melody... However there are no "rules" and variety is the spice of life...

    Citterns - depending on tuning, mine is CCGGDDAAEE - can be used to 'cover' the OM/Mandocello range. However, a lot of citterns use 'light' strings with 'open' tuning and are more suited for backing and counter-melody.

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    Registered User catmandu2's Avatar
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Quote Originally Posted by KristinEliza View Post
    ah...mandola bashing...just like in the bowed world with violas...nothing changes!

    Glad I could help...

    While I love my mandola...I think you would get more use out of a mandocello initially (unless you're playing with some classical mandolin ensembles.) But don't get me wrong...they are all great!

    Aaron...you don't happen to be a bassoonist in NC by any chance, do you?
    Ha ha Kristin!

    fwiw, I prefer mandola to mandolin usually (as I play fiddle to assuage the higher register) as most of my playing is either song (self) accompaniment, or solo chord melody, in which case I like a lower sonic range for jazz voicings, as well as more room (scale length) for harmony

    Frankly, I went to tenor banjo for these reasons

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Quote Originally Posted by KristinEliza View Post
    ah...mandola bashing...just like in the bowed world with violas...nothing changes!
    After getting my mandola, and loving the greater sustain and darker tone (this after I already took up mandolin, OM and mandocello) I decided I needed a viola as well. Got a great 16.5" old viola, and a good bow. Love the rich dark tone; it's like a real good italian roast after drinking nothing but kona. My fiddles sound and feel like toys now. Now I know why my fellow violinists always gave the violists crap; they were jealous!

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    My fiddles sound and feel like toys now. Now I know why my fellow violinists always gave the violists crap; they were jealous!
    Right you are. "Why do violins look small compared to violas? They aren't smaller, violinists heads are bigger."

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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Quote Originally Posted by KristinEliza View Post
    ah...mandola bashing...just like in the bowed world with violas...nothing changes!

    Glad I could help...

    While I love my mandola...I think you would get more use out of a mandocello initially (unless you're playing with some classical mandolin ensembles.) But don't get me wrong...they are all great!

    Aaron...you don't happen to be a bassoonist in NC by any chance, do you?
    Nope. I once lived in NC and used to play Sax, but haven't touched it in many years. It was stolen at a recital and I never replaced it. I have played the guitar off and on since I was a teenager and few years ago decided to start taking it and music theory in general, seriously. My wife Emily challenged me to broaden my horizons by buying me a $20.00 Uke she picked up on Amazon during Black Friday. The Mandolin I purchased was a direct result of that foolhardy mistake on her part. I have discovered a whole new vain of GAS.

    Honestly, I usually play alone, though sometimes accompany my grandpa’s little ensemble. It’s 5 guitars (sometimes 4 and a slide) plus a bass. When I show up, I make 6. It’s tons of fun and we sound pretty decent (through no fault of mine). It occurred to me that the Mandolin would add a little something different to the mix.

    I also like to write and record so I would be doing multi-track recordings with guitar and at some point mandolin and perhaps mandocello.

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    In training... KristinEliza's Avatar
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Just happen to know a bassoonist named Aaron Harmon is all...what are the odds???
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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Sounds like a handsome devil : )

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    Default Re: I know that this has been asked and answered, but I need help

    Get a room...

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