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Thread: Octave Tuning

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Octave Tuning

    Thinking of trying Octave tuning on my GDAE tuned Mandola. Currently using 0.014, 0.022w, 0.032w, 0.045w strings should I just get another A and E string?

    Also should the thinner strings be above or below the thicker ones when in a normal playing position?

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Well then "Bruce" - "This could cause some confusion"! Are we talking octave mandolin or mandola? What I, some others in the UK and everyone in the US refer to as an octave mandolin (tuned GDAE) can be referred to as an octave mandola by some people.

    As for "over or under"; both have been used and they are likely to sound slightly different. Try searching on YouTube for Tim o'Brien and Sarah Jarosz - whilst octave-over is the usual way, I remember one of them doing it "backards road about", as we in the frozen north say, but I can't remember which.

    Ultimately, its your decision.

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    my 20" OM is in Octave tuning and I did just that -got another E and A string, I have the thin strings 'below' (towards the E) the thick strings. FWIW the recommended gauges (by the builder) are .016, .024, .036, .054
    - Jeremy

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    @Ray(T) It’s a minefield! Never sure why to call it think I’ll just call it an OM.

    “Bruce”

    @derbex. Mine’s a similar scale length, I’ll just get another A and E and experiment

    Thanks both for the help.

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    I had my octave tuned in "octaves." I even had the builder create a bridge saddle for proper intonation for that setup. I mostly did it on the G and D courses. I did try it on the A course also for a while, but I didn't care for it. I finally got tired of octave courses and now have it back in unison. I like it better.

    When I was doing octave courses, I tried both string configurations and I found I liked the thinner strings on the upper side, the bass side, like a 12 string guitar. The reason for me that when doing chords with the thicker string on the upper, or bass, side I found myself sometimes pushing the thicker G string off the fretboard. But when I reversed it, I did not tend to do that. If you don't have that problem, either should work.

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    @Ray(T) It’s a minefield! Never sure why to call it think I’ll just call it an OM.
    Maybe I'm being too logical but it seems appropriate to call an instrument tuned an octave below a mandolin an "octave mandolin". An octave mandola should therefore be tuned an octave below a mandola but one of those is usually referred to as a"mandocello".

    If they were all called "Bruce" it would avoid the confusion!

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    So we’d have a Bruce, a Tenor Bruce, Octave Bruce and a Cello Bruce (or should that be Octave-Tenor Bruce?)?

    Seems sensible enough

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    All those confused by "Bruce" should watch the first 63 seconds of this -

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eyVX3uJpqxc

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Just to throw petrol on the terminological fire, the classical types I sometimes play with just refer to a GDAE tuned mandola as a mandola -as that was it's original tuning (e & o e) I haven't seen a tenor mandola (CGDA) in an orchestra here -doesn't mean there aren't any though.

    So you have a Baby Bruce, a Tenor Bruce, a Bruce and a Bruce O'Cello (and a BrucieBass)

    Hope that clears things up
    - Jeremy

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Cheers Bruce!

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post
    ...I haven't seen a tenor mandola (CGDA) in an orchestra here -doesn't mean there aren't any though...
    Given the CGDA mandola would properly read alto clef it feels wrong to call it tenor. I'd say Europeans need to change their labeling. And an octave mandolin reading 8va basso in treble clef is doing the same thing guitars do, so maybe it should be a guitar-mandolin.

    I wish I could come up with a descriptive name for my 10-string so people would not expect Santa Lucia or Rawhide as repertoire.
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    As far as I can see, the only reason people refer to the CGDA tuned instrument as a "Tenor Mandola" is for the benefit of people who refer to the octave mandolin as an"Octave Mandola".

    Not Bruce!

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    I wish I could come up with a descriptive name for my 10-string so people would not expect Santa Lucia or Rawhide as repertoire.
    Tell them it's your fretted acoustic decachordophone. (That even has ten syllables!)

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Well great service from Strings Direct the new strings arrived within 24 hours of ordering! First impression: great for strumming chords, not so good on melody. But that made me realise that I might only be playing one string at a time rather than two?

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    I've used octave pairs on a mandolin, mandola, octave mando and two mandocello's. I found I don't care for octave pairs on mandolin but really like them on everything else. I like the lower (bigger) string of the pair first, that is, if I'm picking a downstroke I hit the lower string in the pair first. The rule of thumb I follow when selecting string gage is the lighter (higher pitched) string should be no bigger than half the diameter of the "normal" or lower pitched string. In practice you're fine using an A string tuned down to G to pair with a normal G and an E tuned down to D paired with a normal D.

  20. #16
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    ....I wish I could come up with a descriptive name for my 10-string so people would not expect Santa Lucia or Rawhide as repertoire.
    My 10 string mandola (with octave pairs on the C, G and D courses) alternates between being a mandola-lin and a mandolin-dola.

    My 10 string F4 mandocello (again with octave pairs) is sometimes a liuto moderno.

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    So wed have a Bruce, a Tenor Bruce, Octave Bruce and a Cello Bruce (or should that be Octave-Tenor Bruce?)?...
    Just to imbed Ray(T)'s link; one of the quintessential Monty Python sketches:

    Allen Hopkins
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    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Well great service from Strings Direct the new strings arrived within 24 hours of ordering! First impression: great for strumming chords, not so good on melody. But that made me realise that I might only be playing one string at a time rather than two?
    I'd video yourself and look closely at that, make sure you are engaging both strings. I had to correct a problem where I was doing just that by plucking down and out, sort of flicking the pick.
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    I am glad we have this OM acronym, so no doubt about that.



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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Well great service from Strings Direct the new strings arrived within 24 hours of ordering! First impression: great for strumming chords, not so good on melody. But that made me realise that I might only be playing one string at a time rather than two?
    This happens to me too, especially if the melody note lies on the upstroke, where you really need to hear the bass note of the pair, it has got better with time.
    - Jeremy

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    ...First impression: great for strumming chords, not so good on melody. But that made me realise that I might only be playing one string at a time rather than two?
    Found the same on my "octave tuned" Octofone. Going from the third course (octave tuned) to the second course (unison tuned), the melody made a weird change, simultaneously going lower and higher in pitch. On the other hand, the full beefy four-course chords were great accompaniment for either vocals, or another lead instrument.

    Since I already had a unison-tuned OM, I kept the Octofone tuned with two "octaved" courses, and use it mainly for chording. It's a neat sound.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning

    That echoes, and is far better expressed than I did, my experience. In fact I just picked up my new, to me, mandolin which was also octave tunes and the first thing that I did was to change the strings to put in in unison

  30. #23
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Tuning.

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Found the same on my "octave tuned" Octofone. Going from the third course (octave tuned) to the second course (unison tuned), the melody made a weird change, simultaneously going lower and higher in pitch. On the other hand, the full beefy four-course chords were great accompaniment for either vocals, or another lead instrument.

    Since I already had a unison-tuned OM, I kept the Octofone tuned with two "octaved" courses, and use it mainly for chording. It's a neat sound.
    This is what I will probably be doing once I get my OM. The zouk can go back to Octaves then the OM is to be a longer 23" scale, and I'll probably tune in GDAD or ADAD, as I don't really care for GDAE on octaves.
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