View Full Version : 5 string electric - guitar or mandolin like?

Jul-10-2004, 11:23am
Hey emando players. I play acoustic mandolin and want to have a custom 5 string electric built for me. My question-- is a 5 string electric more like a guitar than a mandolin as far as familiarity of chords etc? Are the chords similar to an 8 string mandolin even with the low C string. Would just like to know if id be able to play it with any competency.


John Rosett
Jul-10-2004, 12:48pm
i don't think that you'll have much of a problem. i played 5-string emando in a band from '85-'91, and the transition was pretty seamless. you can mute the low string easily when you want to, and it opens up a whole new set of chords and scales in whatever possition you're playing in.
after that band broke up, i sold the 5 string, and didn't really play one til weiser this year, when i played one of paul lestock's "jazzbo" 5 string acoustics. i played it for a couple of hours at a jazz jam, and had a blast with it. now i want a 10 string acoustic!
good luck, john

Jul-10-2004, 5:26pm
The five string opens up some possibilities. However, I find that it is awkward to mute the low C when using standard chord shapes. I find that open tunings with the extra low string can give some really great sounds, like the carnatic e-mando players from India use (e.g. U. Srinivas).

Jul-12-2004, 10:53am
I've found it pretty easy to start playing 5 instead of 4/8. Plus it's a lot of fun to have that added low end. A few afternoons on the couch looking at your chord shapes, and you'll figure out how to adapt and grow them really nicely for your five stringer. Strangely, I'm having a devil of a time right now as I try to play some tenor guitar, though. I keep playing stuff in the wrong key... For some reason I find it a harder shift than playing the five.


London Al
Jul-12-2004, 4:25pm
Hi Kekule,
One of the electric mandolins I've made in the last couple of years is a 5 string and Ive always tuned it like the top 5 strings on a guitar. In fact I use 5 guitar gauge strings on it. The tension works out ok, and even though some chords are a bit fiddly, It's a lot of fun to play.
(I'm getting a web site together, when its sorted I'll be posting the URL in the cafe)
Oh and by the way, a warm advance welcome to the wonderful creative cutting edge world of electric mandolins and LOTS of effects pedals!!
Al in London UK

Jul-19-2004, 7:41pm
As 5th intervals remain the same CGDAE, note names change but shapes remain consistent.
Low 4 can swipe stuff from tenor banjo arraingements.
single strings have a guitarlike sound , unlike double courses.
Its the microdissonance of which we know and love.
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blues.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blues.gif

Jul-27-2004, 7:05pm