View Full Version : mandobass players--can I talk to you?

Dec-26-2004, 4:14pm
I play mandola and mandocello but I'm a classically trained bassist so I am interested in mandobasses. Our newly formed Dayton Mandolin Orchestra doesn't own one--we use 2 double basses. I'd like to hear from folks who DO play mandobass.
Do you like it? Is it worth finding one--and paying the price?
What about new ones? THANKS!

Dec-26-2004, 6:55pm
Ok I don't know anything about mando bass, but I have to ask, is this Dayton Ohio?

Dec-26-2004, 7:57pm
Yep, we're talking Dayton, Ohio--
We meet Tues. nights in Centerville, OH--want to join us?
Here's the web address:
Dayton Mandolin webpage (http://www.daytonmandolin.net)

Mike Crocker
Dec-27-2004, 4:57am
Hilary James plays one sometimes, or has in the past. Google her and you'll likely turn up a reference. She and mandolinist Simon Mayor are a duo.

My guess is, tonally, the string bass is better, but you can't beat a novelty like a mandobass!

Peace, Mooh.

Jim Garber
Dec-27-2004, 10:06am
I am not sure why you posted this in the post a picture section. I was looking fwd to some juicy photos of mandobasses. #Attached is a set of mandobass and mandocello that was on ebay some time ago. I am not necessaruily recommending this one but thought it was interesting.

I had a Gibson mandobass many years ago. Due to the changing humidity conditions in apartments in this part of the country, it was prone to back seam separation and I had to have it repaired a few times for that.

The scale for this instrument is the same as an upright bass, about 42inches which makes it more difficult than say a std electric or acoustic guitar style bass. Also, I would say that the bass tone is better on a std upright.

When I was in the New York Mandolin Orchestra the bass player there played a balalaika bass and got amasing tone out of it. He used a shoe leather for a pic and lots of strong motions to get his tone.

I would say, stick to the double bass, esp if you know the instrument. #IMHO there is no advantage for you in using a mandobass. The double bass is a superior instrument.

If you were an electric bass player or a guitarist I would say try an acoustic guitar bass with an amp (esp if you were the only bass player in the orch). Some of them sound pretty good and you can get that bass tone for less money and less strain on your muscles.


Dec-27-2004, 10:29am
We use mandobass in the Providence Mandolin Orchestra. Normally it is amplified because, unamplified, it is not loud enough. The PMO owns two of these, original Gibsons.

Dec-27-2004, 10:34am
I just love the pictures. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Jim Garber
Dec-27-2004, 10:35am
In the archive there are fifteen Gibson mandobasses (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/list_mandolins.pl?mandobass).

One question I have: were there any other models besides model J?


Darryl Wolfe
Dec-27-2004, 11:41am
Maybe they made one J-5http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Dec-27-2004, 12:28pm
Sorry for the location--I'm not sure WHAT I did to get this post in this Forum, but once it was.....
THANKS for all the replies so far, tho'. I just learned last night that a contrabass balalaika exists--what a COOL instrument!
Yes, once a bassist, always a bassist!

Jim Garber
Dec-27-2004, 1:04pm
I think that they actually used the contrabass balalaika in the New York Mandolin Orchestra.

Lark in the Morning (http://larkinthemorning.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_BAA008_A_Romanian+Balalaika%2C+ ContraBass_E_) has a Romanian-made contrabass for a reasonable price. I cannot vouch for the quality tho.



Jim Garber
Dec-27-2004, 8:30pm
Here is the one I would love to try and would bet would be an amazing one. At the Music Emporium in Mass, a Vega mandobass:


I believe that the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra uses one of these.


Dec-29-2004, 10:42am
Hey violmando I just dropped your music director an email about maybe coming over and checking out a rehersal or a performance. I'm really interested in what you guys are doing. Thanks a bunch,

and Jim that Vega is super cool!


Dec-29-2004, 11:02am
Greetings Ethan,
I went to the first performance of the DMO and Allen, their director, came to the last meeting of the Columbus Guitar Society, Eastman in hand. I'd do the trip if I could afford the time. I can't, so I'll have to stay satisfied with concert attendance.

Dec-29-2004, 11:26am
Howdy Eugene good to hear from you, the time is certainly of cocern but I'm used to driving to Dayton becasue my family is there so it wouldn't be that big of deal. But I think I'm more interested in performances as well, I'm not sure I could dedicate enough time to make it worth their while.

According to the DMO website Charlie Klie plays in it and he is from Columbus, I heard he was interested in forming an orchestra here in Cowtown, but I've not seen him in a while, so hopefully this fullfills his need in that regard.

Keith Miller
Dec-30-2004, 11:20pm
there is a bass for sale from the acoustic music co just follow the link on the cafe home page. they want £7000 for it though http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Jim Garber
Dec-31-2004, 1:14pm
Andreas Köpke (http://www.bouzouki.de/) builds mandobasses.



Dec-31-2004, 1:59pm
Thanks, Jim!
Someone else mentioned Pendennis, but I couldn't get the link to work. Looks just like a Gibson J, huh--COOL!

Jim Garber
Dec-31-2004, 3:50pm
Looks just like a Gibson J, huh--COOL!
I don't know his work directly, but I would say that it probably plays and sounds better than the old Gibsons.


Dec-31-2004, 4:24pm
I have never handled an original mando-bass, but I've been led to believe they are far too cumbersome and anti-dextrous to be worth the effort, that you're better off with a proper bass anyhow. Given the tuning and pizzicato technique are the same, why not?

Jim Garber
Dec-31-2004, 4:36pm
My sentiments exactly, Eugene! See my comments above.


Jan-04-2005, 11:57am
I have seen Hilary James using an original Gibson style J MandoBass with Simon Major but she mainly uses a very nice modern custom made upright (electric) Bass or a modern James Greenwood acoustic bass (similar to the J Style but even fatter!).

Martin Jonas
Jan-04-2005, 12:05pm
I have been wondering what differentiates a mandobass from an acoustic bass guitar. After all, both are tuned the same way and both are fretted (though the bass guitar may be fretless). It's not fixed bridge vs floating bridge, either: see Eston bass guitar, attached. So, what makes a mandobass a mandobass rather than a bass guitar?


Jan-04-2005, 12:22pm
Well, Martin, for one answer: scale. The mandobass approximates the 42-inch scale of the double bass. Biases apart, #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif I cannot imagine a superior string instrument than the double bass for the contrabass octave. The bass guitar is 33-34 in. long in scale; when electric, well, volume is not an issue; when acoustic, ehm... I have yet to hear one that was satisfactory in sound. There are, of course, many acoustic/electric hybrids but, if judged unplugged, most would score rather low in tonal quality/quantity.

My own bass (base?) instincts (as also discussed under CBOM) have often lured me into fantasies of a plucked/picked bass instrument. I just have not settled between any of the options (mandocello, folk bass-lutes, some other acoustic bass...) When, however, we are speaking of a CONTRAbass one, my life's companion beats them all, hands down.

Jan-11-2005, 9:57pm
anyone know what a mandobass would cost? i saw two at the elderly web site a few months back for 2200 or around there but they seemed to be pretty beat up. Any one on the Cafe the new owner of those? I would love to get one if there is one availble.

Jim Garber
Jan-11-2005, 10:40pm
Current VG guide says $3,300-3,900.


Jan-11-2005, 10:56pm
As a fellow bassist I have to concur with Victor - there is nothing like a good double bass to cover the contrabass range in a string instrument ensemble. Plus you have the option of bowing as well as plucking any given note.
Having said that, I will mention that the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra (of which I am a member) uses two mandobasses which together produce a pretty decent bass sound. I do think it helps to have two, as no mandobass by itself has ever blown me away. The contrabass balalaika seems to be overall a more successful instrument, though I don't know why that is.

Jonathan Jensen

Jan-12-2005, 5:45am
I'm curious about the berda (http://www.geocities.com/tamburica_vorarlberg/english/xpic-en-berda.htm), the fretted contrabass used in tamburitza ensembles.
I think it is played with a pick.
Has anyone played one of these?

Jan-12-2005, 1:58pm
Hey, this one is new to me--do you know how it is tuned? I wouldn't mind getting a contrabass balalaika....

Jan-12-2005, 2:19pm
The four-string berda is tuned EADG. More info. (http://www.geocities.com/tamburica_vorarlberg/english/instruments.htm)

Jim Garber
Jan-12-2005, 2:29pm
The berda looks like a bass body without a fingerboard. I still thinlk that if you are a bass player you would be better off with the std instrument.


Jan-12-2005, 4:15pm
I'm just a crazy double bassist in my other life, but had never seen ones like these before---just curious. I'll be sticking to ye olde contrabass and in mando orch, mandocello. LOVE that sound!

Jan-12-2005, 8:15pm
Why Jacob--have you played a berda? What's it like? The one picture looks like a giant banjo....I am intrigued. And the sad part is that I used to live near Cleveland, where there are probably several...Anyone know of Tamburitza groups in Ohio? Or how to find out? I'd just love to hear one and see the instruments up close...

Jan-13-2005, 2:12am
I'm curious about the berda (http://www.geocities.com/tamburica_vorarlberg/english/xpic-en-berda.htm), the fretted contrabass used in tamburitza ensembles.
I think it is played with a pick.
Has anyone played one of these?
No, I haven't played a berda.
That's why this question was asked.

I did once briefly play a contrabass balalaika.
It was much larger than the balalaika illustrated above.
It was nearer the size of a 4/4 double bass.
It was huge with a very large and full acoustic voice.

Jim Garber
Jan-14-2005, 9:07am
All right... here is the ultimate bass... banjo (what could be better, right?)

Years ago Music Emporium had one tho i think it was a Vega and not a Gibson. Many folks of the female persuasion have lusted after the outfit the player is wearing.


R. Kane
Jan-14-2005, 9:44am
There's a 20's era Gibson Mandobass at Acousticmusic.org in CT. Not listed on their instruments page, but you can see it in the outer gallery photo.