View Full Version : Starting with Mandola

Feb-03-2005, 2:00pm
I´ve been playing mandolin for some 8 years, and now I just got myself an entry level Mandola from David Kilpatrick in Scotland. He imports Mandolas, Bouzookis a.o. instruments from Romania, and there´s a lot of bang for the buck - all
Spruce and Maple. Great sound, sustain, and it´s pretty loud too.

The bridge that came with it is a cheap looking piece though, and I wonder what would be a good subsistute? I´ve tuned it CGDA, but the A course seems somewhat dull compared to the wound strings. Do you think a better bridge, maybe of ebony, would improve on that?

I think the string gauges are 14 to 44, but I have no idea what brand it is.
What strings would you recommend? Who makes those strings that make a difference?
Would you use lighter gauges for DAEB?

I´m aware that different Mandolas may require different set-ups, just like Mandolins, but I´d be happy to get some inputs and suggestions on these matters, so please share your expeiences with a Mandola rookie.


Martin Jonas
Feb-04-2005, 5:00am
Hi Søren,

I see you took the plunge!

String gauges: the labels that David puts into his bouzoukis list the gauges he recommends -- have a look whether there are any gauges on you label. Again for bouzoukis, David prestrings them with Newtones, which he also sells separately. I think if you tune up to DAEB then your scale length work out at much the same as the bouzouki capoed at the 7th fret, so Newtones bouzouki strings should work fine, and suit the Troubadour. They're 11 to 39. David Kilpatrick sells them as well.

As I've said before, the tone and sustain on mine improved dramatically when I changed the bridge for an ebony one. I got mine from an Ebay seller on Ebay Germany called "franksmusic". He doesn't list a bridge now, but maybe you can ask him whether he has any in stock. It was cheap (£5.99) and very well made (ebony with bone insert). You can see it on the photo of my Trohbadour in the "Post a Picture of your CBOM" thread. Otherwise, Elderly list two flattop bridge blanks: one ebony (http://www.elderly.com/accessories/items/MA5.htm) and one rosewood (http://www.elderly.com/accessories/items/MA4.htm). I haven't tried these.

Have fun!


Feb-04-2005, 7:15pm

Re: Flattop bridges, StewMac does sell seperately the bridge included in their flattop campfire mandolin kit. I inquired about this but don't have a part number handy. But if you email StewMac they should tell you. It is rosewood I think, and around $10.

I play a 17" flattop mandola; is yours an octave or a tenor. However, I just buy phosphor bronze and plain steel guitar strings in bulk, and break out the brass ball to make a loop-end. This gives more options in string guages, costs about $3/set when purchased a dozen or more of each, and to me sound fine. I use string gauges of 47w, 32w or 35w, 23w, and 13 plain steel. These gauges are about midway between standard (eg, D'Addario mediums) mandolin
and mandola sets, to put a little less strain on the instrument.

Feb-08-2005, 5:26am
Thanks to both of you, Martin and Jeff.
I´ll snoop around a little while yet to find a proper bridge, and have already made a few notes of your comments.

My mandola is what is named a Tenor Mandola in Europe, and it´s rather short for a mandola, 402 MM, which makes it easy for a mandolin player to pick it up.
I tuned it CGDA. When I capo it at 2. and gets DAEB, space for fingers is almost like on the mandolin. However, lover pitched and with fatter strings it produces an awesome volume and tone, and it´s great for Celtic.
Can´t seem to put it away!

Thanks for your info on the strings, Jeff, I´ll make a note of that too!