View Full Version : Another question about instruments

Feb-25-2004, 12:23am
Again I am at the place where I want some bigger sound for rythm backing, more bass and volume. I kind of like the idea of an octave mandola(GDAE) or a 10 string mandola(GDAEA) or a nice deep bodied mandolin with a big voice. How do you choose?

Feb-25-2004, 12:11pm
Its a never ending quest, for the right sound. Just keep visiting shops that stock all of the above. One day when you least expect it you'll be picking away, you'll here the magic tones and say to yourself "this is the one".

Feb-25-2004, 4:30pm
If your really going for a rhythm sound / approach, I think you should most likely stay with a four course instrument. The chords are easier to make, the fretboard will make more sense and you'll get a lot more use out of it. It seems that the five course instruments are pretty good for cross picking and melody ... not many people use them for rhythm however. I have a five course (9 string) and find it almost impossible to fret all five courses and get a clean sound out of it. Of course that could just be me ...

Feb-25-2004, 7:23pm
What do you want to play rhythm backing behind, Bob? I think that's the key to your question. Do you need to stay out of other instruments' range, give a vocalist an easy pitch reference, play in a wide variety of keys, project over a concert grand piano or a horn section? All those are important considerations.

Generally, though, I agree with Dion that it's almost impossible to play rhythm on five courses the way one would on four. On my troll cittern, I do play rhythm but mostly stick to double- and triple-stops. This works for jazz or just-plain-weird music, but isn't very folky.

Bob DeVellis
Feb-25-2004, 8:13pm
You might consider getting your hands on a large-bodied tenor guitar that you can restring for GDAE tuning. The bassier tone and greater sustain is excellent for rhythm work. But the somewhat shorter (than standard guitar) scale and tuning in fifths make the transition from mandolin relatively easy. You'll have trouble with closed chords in first position, but then, open-string chords sound really great on these things.

Feb-26-2004, 10:12pm
Hi Bob, #I just got an octave with a 221/2" scale and I'm loving it!!! #Chords and rythm never did much for me on the mandolin, and because they didn't I didn't practice them. #I spent my time learning melody line. #Now every time I pick up the octave the first thing I feel compelled to do is go through a chord progression. #I think if I were contemplating a five course instrument with a long scale length tuned in fiths I might just say what the heck and go with a guitar and six strings and tune in fourths and thirds or whatever they do. #I really don't know but I suspect that a guitar is much better chord machine.
# Hi Jacob What guage stings do you use on the A strings when you tune ocatave? #Thanks for any information in advance. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Feb-27-2004, 9:09pm
Thanks Jacob. I think I'm going to have to try out the octave tuning soon. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/coffee.gif

Mar-02-2004, 1:44pm
seanh makes a good point! There are reasons why guitars have been used so prevalently for chords/backup/rhythm.

Not that I'm against using mando-family instruments, but for what you're looking for, pickinbob, with bigger sound and volume and depth of bass-- I think you might be looking for a good dreadnought guitar! Maybe even a 12-string if you really want big chords. (guitars are tuned in 4ths with a 3rd thrown in, which makes chording MUCH easier on a long scale neck!) -- they can also be tuned in open tunings that capture some of the nice drones/overtones you can get with the long-scale mando family instruments.

At some level, while I am TOTALLY in favor of pushing the envelope of customary use for any instrument, I think it often takes an advanced level of skill and/or creativity to do so. There are good reasons to go with the known strengths of any particular instrument rather than trying to re-invent.

You could probably make a screwdriver work as a drill...and invent a new tool in the process-- but a drill will work better for making holes most of the time. Unless of course what you enjoy is the process of invention!


Mar-02-2004, 1:53pm
OK, Bob,

what do you say you let me build one for you. Tell me what you want. I am biased but I love the sound of the one I just finished. I have sent out a few kits so you could just wait to see what they think of them when they are done.


Mar-02-2004, 2:40pm
I know I sound like a broken record, but I would advise anyone against taking up the guitar. Guitarists, even good ones, are a dime a dozen wherever you go. This planet does not need any more.

In the past several years, I've been asked to play guitar exactly once - I was the only musician who showed up to back a pair of singers and they thought guitar would be easiest to sing over. They're right - partly because it lends itself well to full-sounding chords, also because it's a familiar sound. But even if playing full-sounding chords behind vocals is what you want, I'd still advise you to take up something else unless you are absolutely unconcerned about opportunities to play with other people.

Mar-08-2004, 11:12pm
In July of 2001, I was in Eldery and played a 25.375" scale Peterson Celtic 'zouk (#107). The tone just blew me away and since it was tuned GDAE, I was able to make noise on it like I sorta knew what I was doing. It followed me home that day. Nice mahogony neck with a maple headstock veneer, quilted maple back (flat) and sides, spruce top, Martin-branded mini-Schaller tuners.

I don't think its been out of the case since I moved here from Michigan 18 months ago but last night I dug it out. It was in perfect tune - and it again blew me away tone-wise. It is just a great sounding instrument.