Bouzouki strings on an octave mandolin

  1. SMH
    I have a Trinity College Octave. Last week I got to play a bouzouki for the first time and loved the sound of the hi-lo string courses. Anyone have experience or suggestions re: whether this is a good idea or any drawbacks. I am thinking I would need a new nut, but is there anything else I should think of?
  2. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Off the top of my head I'd suggest there may be tension problems with bouzouki strings being put on an octave, as the zouk has a longer scale length, therefore greater tension in the strings when brought to pitch. If you put them on an octave you may find some buzzing issues due to the lower tension, resulting in your having to raise the height of the strings above the fingerboard, not something you'd especially want to do. If you go with high strings on the G and D then the nut would require attention or replacing to accommodate the thinner strings.

    Interestingly a friend who got a bouzouki recently asked me to put unison strings on it for him after he'd heard mine with the unison rather than octave strings! Just shows how much our tastes vary.
    Let us know how you get on if you decide to put the zouk strings on your octave; certainly would not cause structural porblems.
  3. SMH
    Thanks John, I hadn't even thought about the tension. Based on that information I wonder if a better way to get the same sound on the octave might be to use octave A & E strings and tune them down to G and D?

  4. Ray(T)
    Not quite sure what you mean by that Sean but why don't you start by stringing your G and D in octaves? There are a couple of examples of this in the thread below - "Singing and the OM".
  5. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Your idea about putting the A and E on as octave G and D is interesting, Sean. I think your intention is that they become your high octave pair and would only be a whole tone down from their usual pitch. I have just dropped the E on my tenor guitar to D and it seems to play well enough - my octave and my tenor both have the same scale length as they are my own builds, so I just did a quick experiment just now to see what it would do. This being the case you might well be able to do what you suggest and get a playable set-up.
  6. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Sean, just been browsing over on the Forum and there is a thread there, "Bouzouki strings for an octave?" in the Octaves, Zouks, Citterns, Tenors and Electrics section under CBOM. Lots of interesting ideas there.
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