View Full Version : Weber mandolas

Feb-29-2004, 10:59pm
What's everyones opinion of Weber Alder mandolas? #Can they be tuned GDAE with the right strings?

Mar-01-2004, 6:49am

I had an Alder. It was a really nice mandola with very nice wood (although, at the time, I didn't appreciate the natural finish). Sounded very nice. I have since sold it to buy a Bridger mandola. I like the Bridger fine, but I think I should have just kept the Alder.

I don't know about the strings and tuning. Seems like that question has been asked here before. Also seems like the consensus was that it would be difficult to do.

Another thing I liked about the Alder was you can mount a Fishman Rare Earth in the soundhole for a great amplified sound.

I bought mine used and sold it for about the same amount.

Mar-01-2004, 10:58am
Still kicking myself for selling my Alder a few years ago...

I wouldn't string it up as a mandolin - the tension is likely to be to much for the top. Besides, it's got a great sound as a mandola!


Mar-01-2004, 6:07pm
I like the Bridger fine, but I think I should have just kept the Alder.
Hoyt, are you saying that because they have very similar sound? Or because the arching is preventing you from mounting the soundhole pickup?

I ask because I've lusted after a Bridger Mandola for some time, but have gone back and forth between getting one and getting a Sobell. The Sobell is quite a bit more cash (though not as much as you'd think). But if the Alder is very similar then the Alder would be the better buy..

Mar-01-2004, 9:09pm

I've actually mounted the Rare Earth in my Bridger, so that's not a factor.

What I really meant is that the Alder was such a good mandola, that I should have just been happy with it and saved about $ 1,500.

The Bridger is fine and I would have to find something outstanding to think about replacing it. I do have a couple of concerns with it, maybe a good setup would help.

I don't know how to explain the difference between the two. While I'm sure the Bridger sounds better in the ultimate sense, I hit the best three notes of my life on the Alder (three or four consecutive, harmonious notes is about it for me). It just had some Mojo that was cool. Maybe it was the flattop, nontraditional finish, or indestructible build.

I'd be happy to talk some more about the Bridger. Hoyt

Mar-02-2004, 1:29am
The reason I'm asking is that I have found one for about $700 in excellant condition. They are $1400 new. My struggle is I only play the mandolin now and changing instruments with a different tuning I think would be difficult for me. Is the mandola a hard instrument to learn? Is it good for rythmn playing?

Mar-02-2004, 1:57am
That's a great price; I'd probably see if I could play it first before I'd buy (or get some kind of trial period). Personally, it wasn't the tuning that got me, it's the stretches.

Mar-02-2004, 9:33am
It's an ebay item. 6years old but in excellant mint condition. What do you mean by streches?

Mar-02-2004, 9:49am
Stretches ... on a seventeen inch scale, the chop chords are a monster to play. So - the way past that is to use four fret (long) chords. These come out of virtually any Tenor Banjo book / Web site and simplify and reduce the pain quotient of playing. There are some chords which just don't work well on a mandola! But others just shine on it.

Here - this is Tremolo, (http://www.tremolo.no/english/misc/chords/tenorindex.htm) the Mandola / Mandolin web site with a terrific, online chord book / catalogue. If you take a look at this you'll see the normal limitations of "four fret chords". It really doesn't limit you and I find I do a lot of these voicings on Mandolin to so ... It is the formerly common, basic chords for both instruments.

As for use as a rhythm instrument - it's a very good option but it does require a different technique in playing. I find I use a right hand damping to stop the sustain from blurring the punch of the rhythm. A left hand damp, at least on my instruments really doesn't sound too good.

Mar-03-2004, 9:11am
Great web site. All those chord form are what I already play on the mando, just moved up or down as needed. Cool!

Now what did you mean about rythmn playing and different technique?

[/QUOTE]As for use as a rhythm instrument - it's a very good option but it does require a different technique in playing. [QUOTE]

What I want the mandola for is celtic playing. Jigs, reels, hornpipes,......etc

Mar-03-2004, 4:39pm
Bob, I'd suggest listening to John Doyle, Hazel Wrigley or Dennis Cahill. None record with Mandolin (they all play them) but - their rhythm structure is one of the delights of duet or small ensemble playing. Celtic Chords and rhythm are one of the mysteries of the universe. You can hear it, you can play part of it, you can feel the rhythm and you can experience it ... but to get it all together in one place is the art.

The common conversation among experienced Fiddlers / fluters / box players are about the "clueless guitarists". And it's true. Celtic rhythm is about laying an almost subliminal groove down and not stepping on anyone. It can be done and it sounds great when it works but ... oh boy, when it doesn't, it isn't worth remembering. I've been in a few sessions (I closed my case when they're around) when John Doyle (Solas) or Dennis Cahil was playing rhythm and it was incredible. You could barely hear them but the groove made people dance in their seat. They literally PICKED UP the rest of the players.

Yeah - you can do it on mandola but it's a lot of damping and a lot of learning to be in the background with a good Bodhran player. I think - you may find that the chord choice and voicings in Celtic music is a bit different from what you're used to. What you need to do is to listen to a LOT of different celtic music - from the Wrigley's to Hayes / Cahill to Solas to any good Ceilidh band to Michael Coleman, Kevin Burke etc. All good / great - all different interpretations and most are jaw dropping performances. Recent Liz Carrol CD's (Lake Effect / Lost in the Loop) or especially any of the Wrigley's remarkable offerings will open your eyes and ears.

Mar-03-2004, 11:32pm
The Alder is a good mandola. Generally speaking, however, I think that while it compares to the Bridger in playability, the Alder is a notch below the Bridger in sound. Of course, there are exceptions within any model of mandola. But the Bridgers I've played were quite full and rich. Definitely worth the extra money.