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Thread: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

  1. #1

    Default Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    I have an 8-string mandocaster that doesn't get played much. I think I might enjoy it more if it was a four-stringer.

    How practical (or pointless) would it be to try and rig it as a four-string instrument?

    Are the technical changes required of the nut and the bridge too bothersome to make it worthwhile? Would the positions of single strings over pick-ups placed for double courses make it even less worthwhile?

    ron

  2. #2

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    It's pretty easy to just remove 4 of the strings as an experiment and not worry about the extra notches in the nut and saddle. Give it a try. BTW - I had a 5 string emando (Mann SEM-5) but found it was too much like a little electric guitar sonically. I sold it and replaced with an 8 string emando which I greatly prefer although I can now appreciate the sound of single string mandolins. Someday I'll get another 4 or 5 stringer.

    The magnetic field generated by the pickups are overlapping so you shouldn't notice a signal falloff between individual strings but the signal may not be as strong due to only 4 vs. 8 strings.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  3. #3
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    I have an EM 150 ized A 50 that the last owner had converted to a CGDA 4 string..

    (thus eliminating the weak E string output issues )

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  4. #4

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    I'd be interested to hear what Soundfarmer Pete has to say

  5. #5
    fishing with my mando darrylicshon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    I agree just remove 4 strings to see if you like it if you really like it you can always have a new nut made for it and keep your old one incase you want to go back one day
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  7. #6

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    I have an EM 150 ized A 50 that the last owner had converted to a CGDA 4 string..
    (thus eliminating the weak E string output issues)
    What about the floppy C string issue on such a short scale length?

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  8. #7
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    Its an 0.050" not that floppy (pickup is Magnetic)..
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  10. #8
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    my mandobird is now 4 string. I even removed half the machine tuners so it is less top heavy
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  11. #9

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Wilson View Post
    my mandobird is now 4 string. I even removed half the machine tuners so it is less top heavy
    Original nut, or new four-string nut, Barry?

  12. #10

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    That's a pretty hefty C string Mandroid. I've played a bit heavier on mandola and guitar. I can see where that could work.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    I find I am now less interested in single-course emando---I like the richer and smoother attack of the doubles, and I use much lighter strings so I can bend when I want. It is possible, with some practice, to either bend the pair cleanly for a small pitch change, or to damp one string and bend a whole step or third. So the advantage of single strings is small and the advantage of doubles significant in offering a different sound and it preserves the mandolin response and feel.

    If the gauge ratio for fifths-tuned short strings is around 1.5, like a .040 G with a .026 D, a C should be .061. The problem with short C is the stiffness of the heavy gauge making the tone thudding and the overtones false and harsh.

    I found .056 good for matching tension, but nickel-wound strings were dull (Ernie Ball), or even very ugly tone (D’Aquisto). I found that the Ernie Ball stainless-steel wound have good overtones at short scale and heavy gauge. I recommend them for 4- and 5-string emandos. These are not the dark tone of flats, more the twang of country electric guitar. My 5-string set is .010, .014, .024, .040, .056.

    For bending and low effort with 8 strings I would say try .009, .013, .022, and .034.
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  15. #12
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    I followed Johnny Gimble's example (from what I read)..
    Actually so did the Luthier who did the A50 to EM 150 like conversion
    [Included extra sets of strings ]

    used a shortened 'Strat' like 4 pole stacked humbucking pickup ..
    inset at midpoint between fingerboard end and the bridge.

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  16. #13

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    I do tend to take forever to get around to things, but eight months after I asked the original question, I finally removed four strings from the mandocaster.

    What a transformation - for the first time, it's suddenly fun to play. At the moment it's still on the original double-course nut, which plays just fine, but I'll surely get a new nut to spread the strings a little better at that end of the fingerboard.

    The Almuse pick-up is nicely balanced across the four strings, too.

    Now I might even be tempted to remove the redundant tuners. Hmmmm......
    Last edited by Ron McMillan; Jul-23-2016 at 6:11am.

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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    If the gauge ratio for fifths-tuned short strings is around 1.5, like a .040 G with a .026 D, a C should be .061. The problem with short C is the stiffness of the heavy gauge making the tone thudding and the overtones false and harsh.

    I found .056 good for matching tension, but nickel-wound strings were dull (Ernie Ball), or even very ugly tone (D’Aquisto).
    +1 on a .056 bottom C, works a charm. I used Newtone nickel wound which give great tone and were easily available for me, but for preference I would probably go with Chromes.

  18. #15

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron McMillan View Post
    I do tend to take forever to get around to things, but eight months after I asked the original question, I finally removed four strings from the mandocaster.
    It's about time Ron!!!

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  19. #16

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    It's about time Ron!!!

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    Guilty as charged, and feeling all the more silly since the 'new' mandolin is so much fun

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  21. #17
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    I put mine back to 8. I just didn't use it enough. I want a 5 string someday
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  22. #18

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Wilson View Post
    I put mine back to 8. I just didn't use it enough. I want a 5 string someday
    I'll keep that option open, at least for now. The reason I tried going to four strings was simply because I never played it when it had eight, and I've spent too much money on a lot of custom work on it for it to sit doing nothing. So either I enjoy it this way, or I return it to eight strings and sell it on.

  23. #19

    Default Re: Possible to convert 8-string Mandocaster to 4-string?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron McMillan View Post
    Guilty as charged, and feeling all the more silly since the 'new' mandolin is so much fun
    Try it with a slide. Big fun as well!!

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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