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Thread: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

  1. #1
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    Default Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Everyone,

    If you have never tried this it is fun and cheap.

    Get a Ukulele. You probably have one laying around. If you don't, you can pick up a good enough one at Guitar Center for $100.00. For some reason, it is apparently easy to make a Ukulele with good tone, while it seems to be pretty much a struggle to find a decent-sounding Mandolin (and definitely not for a hundred bucks).

    Get some Aquila Ukulele strings that are made especially for perfect fifths. I think these are AQ-31 or maybe AQ-32 (be careful here and get the right ones, I apologize for throwing away the paper envelope).

    Tune the Uke just like a Mandola, C,G,D,A. Note that this is NOT reentrant.

    Play all your favorite Mandolin tunes, using your favorite flat pick, totally ignoring the fact that everything is one fifth lower. This is easy enough to ignore if (1) you never sing and (2) you are not playing with other people.

    In addition to being fun, it is close enough to keep your skills up a bit and if you have injuries and such it is WAY easier to play a Uke this way than an actual Mandolin.

    Also, easier go carry on a trip if you don't have a pocket mandolin (which in my experience is actually just a bit smaller than a uke).

    The sound is actually reminiscent of a classical guitar.

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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Lessons learned. It is incredibly hard to type the word "Mandola" in the Mandolin Cafe forum. Every time you do it, the auto-correct wants to change it to "Mandolin". Takes some time to figure out how to outwit it.

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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    My spell check program auto-corrects it to "mindless."
    Steve



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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    I bought a set of the Aquila 31U strings several years ago but I've never got round to fitting them. They're intended for mandola tuning on concert sized ukuleles so I'm not sure if these are the ones you're talking about. There has been some previous talk about tuning a ukulele GDAE but the consensus seemed to be that the E string would either be too thin or too tight.

    If you don't like what yiur auto correct is doing, turn it off!

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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Yes, that is it. "Concert" ukulele. 31U.

    And of course, being a software developer of more than 40 years, I, like most people, have no idea where the "turn off the auto-correct" button is (even though it is probably in plain sight). I try to remember this kind of thing when I create my own interfaces, but probably they come out just as bad.

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  7. #6
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    I did this with a tenor ukulele, and love it! Also have a baritone uke tuned as an octave mandolin, and love it too. I have to make up my own string sets, but it's worth it. It also sounds more like a classical guitar when you use your fingers. I abandoned the pick early on for this reason.

    I never turned on any auto-correct, so don't have to suffer with it; I guess some folks get it by default, though.

    bratsche
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  8. #7

    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    I have a OU-53S baritone uke tuned as a mandocello (following Ondrej's ukecello concept) that I play a fair amount, it is basically a small classical guitar. My Arthur Godfrey baritone uke that is tuned like an octave mandolin doesn't holding tuning very well, I'd like to get an actual octave mandolin before long.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    I was wondering which strings are good to convert a tenor to Mandola tuning?
    Thanks.

  10. #9
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    What I do, Barry, is to use the trebles from any regular fluorocarbon set, as it's easy to tune the E down a step to D. For the basses, I first used the .030 and .035 strings from the Thomastik CF128 flatwound classical guitar set. That is perfectly acceptable, but I found the 3rd string a little noisy under my fingers (the right hand ones, not the left - go figure). So after reading some interesting threads on Ukulele Underground, I took a gamble and bought a 25 yard roll of 100 lb. test Seaguar Premier fluorocarbon big game fishing leader.

    That was costly, but I felt it was an "educated gamble", as there is currently a very popular and highly regarded fluorocarbon tenor set that uses that very gauge for its 4th string (tuned G, the same as a mandola-tuned 3rd string). It worked a charm, and I now have a lifetime supply. I now prefer to use just a single flatwound bass string, as it sounds better under my ear to have the other three strings non-wound. After this success, I even bought another roll of Seaguar Premier, this time 130 lb. test, so I could use it as a 3rd string for my baritone uke tuned GDAE as an octave mandolin.

    However, if you're not as picky as I am, and just want to get your feet wet and try mandola tuning, I think I remember reading that the Aquila CGDA set for concert ukulele works fine on a tenor as well. ;-)

    bratsche
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  12. #10

    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    There has been some previous talk about tuning a ukulele GDAE but the consensus seemed to be that the E string would either be too thin or too tight.
    You can tune a soprano uke to GDAE using the Aquila 30U set. They're what I have on my banjolele and they work great.

    C.
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Daniels View Post
    You can tune a soprano uke to GDAE using the Aquila 30U set. They're what I have on my banjolele and they work great.

    C.
    I stand corrected. Maybe the talk was about the inability to tune a concert to GDAE.

  14. #12
    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Is this the idea?

    https://youtu.be/cOer2zvEPEg

    I can't turn off my spell check, but it only makes suggestions which I can choose or ignore. It doesn't force anything on me.
    Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dog fox gone to ground
    See the splashing of the kingfisher flashing to the water
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    Laughing as it passes through the endless summer making for the sea

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    Cambridge Mandolinist Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by RodCH View Post
    Yes, that is it. "Concert" ukulele. 31U.
    I just bought a couple sets (in case my uke string changing skills needed more practice than 1 set could allow) and strung up my Lanikai concert uke a couple days ago...
    Pretty cool really. Will probably use this in recording sessions for strummy bits and may rework some stuff in the set list to accommodate this instrument.

    Thanks for the info Rod!

    Daniel

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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Best of luck Daniel. I recently re-strung a soprano uke for a friend of mine and it took three weeks for the strings to stretch enough to hold their tune.

  17. #15
    Cambridge Mandolinist Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Yep. Mine is still settling in. The C string goes sharp, the D string goes flat. The other two are a bit less obvious.
    I assume it will settle in. Recording sessions are schedule for 22 and 28 April, so lots or time left.

    It struck me on Sunday: concert uke tuned CGDA is to mandola as classical guitar is to steel string guitar. I'm looking for ways of taking advantage of the timbre.


    Daniel

  18. #16

    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post
    Yep. Mine is still settling in. The C string goes sharp, the D string goes flat. The other two are a bit less obvious.
    I assume it will settle in. Recording sessions are schedule for 22 and 28 April, so lots or time left.

    It struck me on Sunday: concert uke tuned CGDA is to mandola as classical guitar is to steel string guitar. I'm looking for ways of taking advantage of the timbre.


    Daniel
    Sort of along these lines I think the mandocello-tuned baritone ukulele aka "ukecello" is ideal for playing those Bach cello suites and similar things. Some of the fingerings seem more natural on the ukecello than on arrangements for classical guitar. Pieces composed for a 5ths tuned instrument seem to sound best on them, and pieces composed for classical guitar sound best on classical guitar.

  19. #17

    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by Seter View Post
    Sort of along these lines I think the mandocello-tuned baritone ukulele aka "ukecello" is ideal for playing those Bach cello suites and similar things. Some of the fingerings seem more natural on the ukecello than on arrangements for classical guitar. Pieces composed for a 5ths tuned instrument seem to sound best on them, and pieces composed for classical guitar sound best on classical guitar.
    I've a differing opinion on this; since the cello suites were my primary study on gtr for several years, to my ear they sounded quite good (on gtr). To the point that, it took some adjustment to hearing Janos Starker and Yo Yo Ma!

  20. #18
    Registered User Miltown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    I did this, with an inexpensive Diamond Head Tenor Ukulele, and the Aquila mandola strings. The Aquila strings recommend using a concert uke, but other people said I'd be better off with a tenor, and I think they're right; my tenor ukemandola - despite its cheap provenance - is pretty fun to play around with. And it even stays decently in tune!

    All told, I spent under 50 dollars for the whole setup: I got the Diamond Head from Amazon for $35 (I'm not sure what it's listed at now, but it was 35 when I got it) and the strings for, I think, $11.

  21. #19
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by Miltown View Post
    I got the Diamond Head from Amazon for $35 (I'm not sure what it's listed at now, but it was 35 when I got it) and the strings for, I think, $11.
    Wow, I just checked Amazon, and I got a good deal. The Diamond Head is now $77. Honestly, I think it's worth that, but there are probably other cheaper ukes out there that will work just as well.

  22. #20
    (not my heart rate!) 40bpm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post
    The C string goes sharp . . .
    I think I read somewhere that a string going sharp might indicate binding at the nut or saddle. Or maybe not. I think I have adaptive memory. Or maybe not.
    Last edited by 40bpm; Apr-04-2018 at 12:43am. Reason: fix my error - or maybe not
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    Default Re: Ukelele tuned like a Mandola


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