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danb
Mar-12-2005, 8:38am
Here's my new toy, a 1915 vega 10-string.. it's 13 7/8" scale just like a mandolin, making this one unique as far as I know.. I have seen 2 others with mandola scale.

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/foo/vega_10_str/IMG_0377.jpg

danb
Mar-12-2005, 8:40am
The Top is made of 3 pieces (you can see the middle piece is about as wide as the tailpiece cover, and lighter than the two surrounding pieces). The bridge, nut, and pegs are all original to accomodate 10-strings, while the tailpiece has only 8 hooks.

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/foo/vega_10_str/IMG_0379.jpg

danb
Mar-12-2005, 8:40am
I checked out the images of the Loar Mando-viola.. same tuning pegs, but mine aren't gold plated

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/foo/vega_10_str/IMG_0386.jpg

danb
Mar-12-2005, 8:40am
Cool bridge really.. compensated for CGDAE

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/foo/vega_10_str/IMG_0390.jpg

danb
Mar-12-2005, 8:41am
Cylinder back..

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/foo/vega_10_str/IMG_0400.jpg

danb
Mar-12-2005, 8:41am
Just 8 hooks!

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/foo/vega_10_str/IMG_0402.jpg

danb
Mar-12-2005, 8:42am
Hard to tell the 3s from 8s..

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/foo/vega_10_str/IMG_0385.jpg

danb
Mar-12-2005, 8:44am
Extra patent sticker underneath the label appears to read "Pat Nov 4, 1913"

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/foo/vega_10_str/IMG_0395.jpg

danb
Mar-12-2005, 8:49am
The tone is surprising. I was expecting the C to be really bad considering the "normal" scale length. The strings it seems to be designed for (.045 or so I think) sound pretty flubby. I put a pair of .052s on and it sounds nice.. but they strike each other and buzz. Hence, I borrowed a trick from Paul Ruppa and the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra, and used just a single string on the bass. I'll probably go a little heavier now I know it's not causing insane tension!

It's quite fun to play. Chording in an Irish session works amazingly well.. you sort of combine two keys in your head to make up the chords. On a 10-string, fingering a Dmin chord feels like Dmin + Amin at the same time, if that makes any sense!

Condition wise, It's probably refinished (Fletcher Brock thought so at WG), and the top has sunk a bit (bridge has a near invisible shim, no clealy defined "Bend line" in the top like other Vega cylinderbacks), but it has a very nice set-up and didn't seem to go anywhere when I put strings on it. I used D'Addario mandola gauges for the bottom 4 + a .010 for the top Es.

Very sweet little tone to it. I think I shall use it on a track or two on the upcoming disk, and maybe move it along after that!

pklima
Mar-12-2005, 9:48am
Looks great. It's even better to hear that it's a functional instrument.

Linda Binder
Mar-12-2005, 10:33am
Congrats Dan. It looks great and sounds like it will continue to be way fun. My CB mandola is a 15" scale and I love it. The low c's sound great. I'm always surprised when I read about 16", 17" scale and higher mandolas but I think the cylinderback design must make the low strings more viable on a short scale. I've listened a lot to Hamilton Holanda's eponymously named CD on which he plays a 10 string throughout. I don't know the scale length on his instrument but he plays amazing riffs that span the range of his instrument. I want one! Good purchase!
--Linda

Linda Binder
Mar-12-2005, 10:44am
After I posted I started surfing for 10 strings and saw they have quite a few here: http://www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk They have a 10 string Vega CB but it has 15" scale--not as rare as your mandolin scale but still, not very common. I wish I could "hop the pond", stop into this place and try some of the instruments. The guitar shaped one looks fun...
--Linda

danb
Mar-12-2005, 2:55pm
Funny you mention that AMC one, I was sort of hoping that when I got this one it was a longer scale http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

It's quite nice. Gathering information on it from some of the Vega experts out there at the moment..

Bob DeVellis
Mar-12-2005, 11:28pm
Vega called the 10-strings "Lute-Combinations" (recall that they called the cylinder-back the "lute mandolin"). They came in three sizes, actually, with mandolin, mandola, and mandocello bodies. Each had a hyphenated model designation indicating the neck scale and the body size by the word after the hyphen. So, a "mandola-mandolin" (what you have, Dan) had the scale length and body size of a mandolin whereas the "mandolin-mandola" had mandola scale and body size. The "mandola-mandocello" was mandocello sized. Both the "mandola-mandolin" and the "mandolin-mandola" are tuned identically, CGDAE. The smaller emphasizes the mandolin tone while the larger emphasizes the mandola. The tuning for the mandola-mandocello spanned the range of octave mandolin and mandocello, an octave below the other two models.

I'd love to get my hands on one of the larger-bodied mandolin-mandolas. I have a cylinder-back mandolin and a mandola. I once tried stringing the mandola as a mandolin just to see what it would sound like. It sounded great but to keep it that way would have meant changing the nut and bridge, which I didn't want to do. A combination lute mandolin-mandola would be just the trick. If anybody has any leads (on this continent), let me know.

Oh, a serial number of 31326 should put it at late 1914 or early 1915.

danb
Mar-13-2005, 4:10am
Interesting, thanks for your input Bob. As you say, it works better in the mandolin range, though the C is usable..

krishna
Mar-13-2005, 7:19am
I've always wondered what cylinder back ment. What a nice looking mando!...Kerry

Bob DeVellis
Mar-13-2005, 9:45am
The nondistinct cant seems odd. Is there a scorch mark on the underside of the cant? Usually there is, where the top plate was pressed against a hot iron to make the cant. If not, I'd wonder if the top is a replacement, although it looks like its been around for some time. I would think it would be pretty hard for the cant to just collapse without the top plate separating from the ribs down by the tail block (or somewhere) and hanging over the ribs.

danb
Mar-13-2005, 9:52am
I'll try to take a look in there with a mirror to see if I can see any evidence of it..

Linda Binder
Mar-13-2005, 10:27am
I wonder if it's feasible to convert my dola to a 10-string. It's already been extensively worked on, new top, etc.--a FrankenVega. The deciding factors are probably headstock room for the extra tuners and fingerboard width--how wide is the neck on yours Dan? Then I'd need a bridge, nut and...well it seems I could get by with 8 hooks. I think I'll run the idea by Denny Rauen and see if he throws me out of his shop...
--Linda

Eugene
Mar-13-2005, 10:47am
...The "mandola-mandocello" was mandocello sized...The tuning for the mandola-mandocello spanned the range of octave mandolin and mandocello, an octave below the other two models.
Pardon the following tangent. Of course, the early use of the term "mandola" in Europe was for what English speakers now call "octave mandolin," G-d-a-e'. Also, the bowlbacked 5-course mandoloncello, C-G-d-a-e', was common to the better Italian builders. Its originators called it liuto cantabile or liuto moderno. Raffaele Calace claimed to have invented the beast, although there is likely more hype than reality to the claim. In one of the more famous photos of Raffaele, he is sporting a liuto cantabile, and he did write a great body of difficult music for the instrument including a concerto with piano accompaniment. He also recorded a good deal on the instrument, often in trio with his daughter Maria on mandolin and a pianist whose name I've forgotten, but including one of his unaccompanied preludes.

This is a rather long introduction to the nugget at the heart of the discussion: I was not aware that Vega built a "mandola-mandocello," or, in deference to the older name, a liuto cantabile. Has anybody seen one? I'd love to see an image or few...or lay hands to one. By the way Dan, your new Vega is marvelous. Enjoy it in good health.

Linda Binder
Mar-13-2005, 1:08pm
I've decided to nix the idea of a conversion of my mandola after taking a look at it, playing it, and realizing how much I like it as is....I'll just have to keep dreaming about a five course instrument. Have fun with yours Dan!
--Linda

danb
Mar-13-2005, 2:24pm
This is a scan that Paul Ruppa gave me..

danb
Mar-13-2005, 2:24pm
I'd be keen to see any documentary evidence on the 10-stringers though..

J. Mark Lane
Mar-13-2005, 2:33pm
Very cool. I have on order a 10 string in 17 inch scale from Doug Dieter, to be set up for CGDAE. I was calling it a "mandolalin," but now I guess I should call it a "mandolinola."

Jim Garber
Mar-13-2005, 2:34pm
I had one of those 10 strings years ago and found it unwieldy. I recall it worked best in a celtic style cittern tuning dgdae but that the two 5th strings when tuned to C were too flimsy and didn't have much sound. I didn't experiment with different string gauges tho. I ended up selling it to a musician in VT.

BTW I am glad, Linda, that you came back to your senses. If you want a 5 course instrument, there are ones out there or you could have one built. Your poor Vega has been thru enough. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jim

danb
Mar-13-2005, 2:39pm
Well if any of you guys know my backstory, this is actually the third 10-string instrument I have had. #1 was a Sobell 10-string mandola GDAEA 20 3/4" scale. Next was a Steve Owsley Smith 10-string DGDAD or DAEBE bouzouki.. I think of the three I've had hands on so far the Sobell had the best scale and the Smith had the best overall tone/utility. The long scale length was fighting my left hand pain though, and I had to let it go. I have to say, playing a 10-stringer really opens up the field wide.. melody & backing are easy to reach on the same instrument!

Jim Garber
Mar-13-2005, 2:40pm
I found this photo of a style 207 fancy 10 string. Not sure what the scale length was tho.

Jim

Jim Garber
Mar-13-2005, 2:52pm
The strange thing is that at the time Vega was able to get 10 string tuners but not 10 string tailpieces. Very odd, wouldn't you say? Yes, tiples were common I suppose but then they also would have 10 string tailpieces, I would hope. I have to check my Martin to see what it has. Obviously, I don't play it much.

Jim

Jim Garber
Mar-13-2005, 2:59pm
Condition wise, It's probably refinished (Fletcher Brock thought so at WG), and the top has sunk a bit (bridge has a near invisible shim, no clealy defined "Bend line" in the top like other Vega cylinderbacks), but it has a very nice set-up and didn't seem to go anywhere when I put strings on it. I used D'Addario mandola gauges for the bottom 4 + a .010 for the top Es.
Dan:
I just reread some of the text here. It is rare to find any of these cylinder backs without some sort of top sinkage.

I wonder if even the set of strings you have on there, slightly heavier than a J62 set with the added C, is still too heavy. I dunno... makes me a little nervous.

Jim

Jim Garber
Mar-13-2005, 3:22pm
The nondistinct cant seems odd.
My 202 has a sunken top more so on the treble side than the bass. The crease is not all that noticeable on either side but on the treble is is practically nonexistent. The top may be more sunken than you realize. Get thee to a luthierie!

Jim

acousticphd
Mar-13-2005, 4:26pm
There have been at least several European "Waldzither" (?)-type) instruments, apparently made to be set up and played with 9 strings, on ebay over the past months. Probably other people here have noticed them. How related/dissimilar are these short-scale 10 strings from American companies?

Martin Jonas
Mar-13-2005, 6:57pm
The Waldzither is a German cittern-type instrument which derives vaguely from earlier instruments but was first called this name about 1900 when a Hamburg company called Böhm introduced a nine-string instrument with Portuguese-style tuners and confusingly called it a Thueringer Waldzither, even though Thuringia is nowhere near Hamburg. Later, they were also built with more conventional slotted headstocks. The configuration is pretty much what Dan has now, i.e. four double courses plus a single bass string, and probably for much the same reason, preventing buzzing on the bass. However, their scale length is usually rather longer than a mandolin and they are not tuned in fifths but rather in a variety of open tunings (e.g. cgceg, gdgbd or dadf#a). There's nothing to stop you tuning it in fifths, though, with suitable string gauges. There's some lovely Waldzither playing on the early albums of German folk band "Liederjan". A Waldzither by a modern German builder is here (http://www.guriema.de/nr45p.htm) and a German site with loads of historical pictures, brochures and in-depth technical information (in German) is here (http://www.studia-instrumentorum.de/MUSEUM/zist_vogtland.htm).

Martin

danb
Mar-14-2005, 2:24pm
OK, this image is from Paul Ruppa of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra (http://www.mandolincafe.com/cmsa/groups/milwaukee.html)..

danb
Mar-14-2005, 2:36pm
Jim, probably a good idea. Having just one C-string probably helps.. but still..

Jim Garber
Mar-14-2005, 3:07pm
Here is a photo of a group from July 1914 issue of Crescendo magazine. Three members play 10 string Vegas: a combination mandolin-mandola, a combination mandola-mandolin and combination cello... what do you call that?

Jim

Jim Garber
Mar-14-2005, 3:15pm
Here is a closer look at the three 10 strings.

Jim

Jim Garber
Mar-14-2005, 3:19pm
And here is a photo of W. R. Kitchener, shown here with a 10 string mandocello.

Where are all these ten strings? I have never seen any of these cello/liutos.

Jim

danb
Mar-15-2005, 6:33am
Great pictures Jim, thanks for posting those!

pklima
Mar-15-2005, 9:18am
Great photos, Jim. I'd love to find one of these big 10-strings!

mikeomando
Mar-15-2005, 11:05am
Oh, I'm getting all fluttery. Danb, where did you find it? What sort of ballpark figure did it cost you? I play 5 and 10-strings all the time, and once you get used to the chord forms, it's a lot of fun to get that extra low note. What a great find. I'm jealous over here...

danb
Mar-15-2005, 11:46am
It was an eBay purchase. I'm planning to record it, but I'm not going to keep it for the long haul. I'll have a longer-scale 10-string eventually (long story, it's in the pipeline anyway) that will likely supplant it. I'm not sure exactly where to price this one, seems pretty unusual, might need a little work, sounds really cool..

Paul Hostetter
Mar-15-2005, 2:22pm
I believe the 10-string Vegas were really bandurrías portuguesas which were strung in fourths. They work as mandolinolas (!) and of course were marketed as such, but the original impetus for making them was for the local Portuguese market. Most of the Vega workforce was Portuguese, there's a huge Portuguese population in the Boston area, and there were big bandurría bands there. The labels usually say as much.

Speaking of Calace and his wacky instruments, here's one from an old catalog:

http://www.lutherie.net/harp.bass.sm.jpg

A 10 string in 17 inch scale, to be set up for CGDAE? How are you ever going to get a high E to not break at 17"? I managed .008s on a 15.5" scale once and they held but felt like cheese slicers. If you’re thinking an octave lower, that means all the strings will be extremely slack.

I have worked on and played a couple of normal four-course Vega mandocellos and they were fantastic. Unlike the absurdly short-scaled Gibsons, they had 27" scales which put them right in line with real cellos.

danb
Mar-15-2005, 5:05pm
Paul, it's actually 13 7/8ths scale.. I have D'Addario mandola strings on the bottom, and a light E on top. (just one C string down below)

danb
Apr-01-2005, 3:42pm
I whacked up a quick sound clip with my new portable recording rig..

Vega 10-string (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/foo/vega_10_str/vega.mp3) playing with Lord MacDonald's reel in C (because I can!) and a little bit of a Dminor reel that sounds cool chording across all 5 courses

ira
Apr-01-2005, 9:16pm
never touched a 10 string. but tried a vega cylinder back at music emporium in mass. and it was the sweetest sounding thing i ever played- if i only had the spare coupla thousand..........
enjoy your instrument!

Bob DeVellis
Apr-02-2005, 9:30am
Dan -- very cool. What a wonderful sound! The second one is Julia Delaney, is it not? A nice mandola sized Vega 10 string would be a really nice instrument to own. I've never had a chance to play one but based on how much I love my cylinder-back mandola and mandolin, having the two combined in one would really be fabulous.

danb
Apr-02-2005, 9:37am
yes, that's right. Julia D. I was just noodling around with some new recording equipment so that was about the most salvagable part of that track to use, so no B part. This one is a mandolin-scale one, don't forget. The C is a bit floppy still, but pretty credible.

jasona
Apr-02-2005, 2:16pm
The depth of the drone and the sparkle of the melody is great Dan. Nice mandolin!

violmando
Apr-02-2005, 2:25pm
OK, if anyone runs across one of those 10string mandocellos in playing condition--LET ME KNOW!!!! TOO cool!

danb
Apr-02-2005, 3:27pm
Jasona: sort of a dark musky flavor with a lemon grass finish too? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

jasona
Apr-02-2005, 3:50pm
Dan: I never put lemon grass in my Islay http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif