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The Fifth Course

Who Needs a Guitar When You Have a Mandola?

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I spent about 2 hours today with my Weber (Alder #2) 'dola. You put something away for a while and you forget how cool it is.

With a banjo capo, this thing becomes incredibly versatile. I was banging through a ton of folk music (contemporary and traditional) and some rock n roll too. [John Prine, John Hiatt, Neil Young, Victoria Vox, Kate Wolf, Dylan, Grateful Dead, Graham Nash, Tom Waits, Stephen Foster, Danny Dill, etc.] I got nearly 2 sets worth of tunes just passing through my big list of songs. And this doesn't count the fiddle tunes, though I prefer to play those on mandolin.

Seems as tough this little beastie will serve admirably in place of guitar as long as the song or tune does not require a lot of sustain, a deep low end, or complex chording.

Yes, I did write "banjo capo." Weber made this instrument with a 17" scale length. The extra inch makes the capo useful for two reasons. 1) String tension: I was getting hand cramps fretting barre chord after barre chord on this thing. A long-ish song like "John Barleycorn Must Die" was nearly impossible, and when I could do it my hand required rest. 2) Fret spacing: a "C" chop chord is also too difficult to achieve accurately through an entire song. So the capo turns closed chords into open ones. --Hey man if Tom Rozum can do it, I can!

Well, if you have a 'dola in your life, pick it up! Slap a capo on there and start playing in more keys!

Daniel

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Acoustic Adventures

Comments

  1. gregjones's Avatar
    Too Cool...........I've been thinking about making my next mandolin purchase a mandola.

    I thought it would be better suited for the "campfire" situations---where it's just pickin n grinnin. Not a worked up tune, just the "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" stuff.

    I'm thinking about something like a used Trinity College to try. If it works out as well as I think it will I could sell it without much of a loss and put those funds into something I really don't deserve at my skill level. I just seem to do better on a really nice instrument, probably because I play it more.