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Thread: What I hate most about mandolin

  1. #26
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by V70416 View Post
    Or,the old axiom,"Mandolin players spend half their time tuning;and the other half playing out of tune."
    That quote was used for the ancestor of the mandolin, the lute...and the family has not changed in centuries.

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  3. #27
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Clements View Post
    David, please explain your reference to "12 tone ET fretted instruments".
    Thanks in advance.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    With a good fretboard you will not hear those equal-tempered (ET 12T means equal-tempered 12-tone scale) as out of tune.
    Just that - 12 tone equal temperament tuning, what guitars, mandolins, electronic keyboards, etc. are tuned to.

    It's a compromise tuning system that, by tuning everything very slightly equally leveled out, and thus compared to pure tuning, by being just a little out of tune everywhere, you can play in every key and use chords and such and not be so out of tune that certain keys are "off limits", so to speak.

    In guitar world, you have folks that use special nut or fretting systems to be able to "sweeten" the thirds in typical open chords so that they can really tune to a mean-tone tuning system that keeps 3rds closer to natural tuning.

    But that doesn't work when you play out of those keys.

    So mandolin has frets in that 12 T ET system, and thus has to be tuned to make that very useful system work to best advantage.

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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    That quote was used for the ancestor of the mandolin, the lute...and the family has not changed in centuries.
    Also applied to harps. A harp player told me this joke--
    Q:"What is the difference between a harp that's in tune and one that is not?"
    A: "Absolutely none."

    I would like to hear from others here. Have you tested the tuning for each fret with a strobe?
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  7. #29
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    So mandolin has frets in that 12 T ET system, and thus has to be tuned to make that very useful system work to best advantage.
    I do understand that 12TET compromise. What bothers me more than any other odd sounds occurs in two places: Open A in concert with open E - this has to be a close fifth - and A fretted at 7 to sound in unison with open E.

    For whatever reason, I hear the inconsistencies most in either of those two circumstances. And keeping the A course tuned to perform in those two circumstances is what may drive me mad someday. It's always a touchy compromise, and sometimes it works out OK.
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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    Also applied to harps. A harp player told me this joke--
    Q:"What is the difference between a harp that's in tune and one that is not?"
    A: "Absolutely none."

    I would like to hear from others here. Have you tested the tuning for each fret with a strobe?
    Good one, Tom.

    Exactly what data are you looking for, Tom? I have only a Peterson Stroboclip, no big, expensive strobe tuner. I just tuned the E course.

    It read right on at 12th fret. 12th fret harmonic read right right on.
    All frets at half steps read right on, surprisingly, except for:

    F - tiny bit sharp
    F# - tiny bit sharp
    G - tiny bit sharp

    Action is low. String gauge 11.5
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  9. #31
    This Kid Needs Practice Bill Clements's Avatar
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob A View Post
    I'm told that oboe players all go mad from the increased intracranial pressure playing their instrument requires.
    And we bassoonists are crazy for picking such an instrument in the first place!
    You gotta be a lip contortionist to play the belching bedpost in tune...
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  10. #32
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    All frets at half steps read right on, surprisingly, except for:

    F - tiny bit sharp
    F# - tiny bit sharp
    G - tiny bit sharp

    Action is low. String gauge 11.5
    The stroboclip should be fine. 5th fret on the E and 7th on the A would be the culprits making it hard to get both to agree. If 5th fret E is high, the A needs to be sharp to match the fingered note on the E. This makes the 7th-fret E on the A very sharp to the open E.

    A feeler gauge would be handy, but it looks like either a high nut or too-long a distance to the first fret. If the error stays constant as you go up to 7th fret is the the distance. If the error decreases as you go up it is a high nut. Action at the bridge will not affect the first fret, ditto its location. But even if the fretboard is perfect to itself, if the transition from nut to frets behaves differently it throws everything off.

    Guitar repairmen tell me Taylor shortens their fingerboards from the standard layout, and so do other makers. One mandolin builder here does so, also. I don't know if there is an explanation for why the nut seems to not work at the mathematical location---perhaps because it is usually a bit higher than frets, but maybe something else happens.

    In any case, I had a terrible time getting my octaves and unisons to agree until I looked closely at the fret behavior (even with a very low nut). I had to remove about 0.010" or 1/4mm from my 14.25"-scale mandos (two makers). Afterward everything sounds sweet without compromise, in all keys, as equal temperament promises. The nicest thing about shortening the fingerboard is I can now have a comfortably high nut with a strong clean tone.

    Ask yourself -- do concert pianos always sound out of tune? Equal tempering should not mean unpleasant intervals.
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    The A string being out of tune is worse on my octave than regular mandolins. With either of my Gibsons, the fiddler in our band doesn't notice it being out of tune. Not so with the octave. She immediately notices. OTOH, it's making me be more picky with tuning. And I've now doubled my ownership of Peterson and TC Electronics tuners.

    In the other situations where I use the octave, it's not as noticeable. But it's still an issue I want to solve. But I've narrowed it down to the player, not the instrument. So there's that.
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Clements View Post
    Do violinists have the same devil to deal with?
    I suspect that's one of the reasons they do this vibrato thing - to cover all possible tunings in one note.

    But we mando players have a similar device - we can do wet tuning.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    From mbruno - " Just be happy it's not a banjo." Repent right now or you'll be getting the ''midnight knock'',& a whole banjo orchestra will descend upon you.

    It must be just me - very rarely do i need to adjust the tuning of my banjo,apart from the 5th string, which obviously takes a lot of punishment,& even that only needs a re-tune a couple of times over an hour or so. The strings on my mandolins stay in tune very well indeed. I did have a problem with the 'lower' A string on my Weber,but i sorted that out - sticky nut slot. The most common cause of my mandolins going out of tune at all,is temperature. When they get cold,they go sharp - when they get warm(er) they go flat.

    I have 3 mandolins which i usually play 'in rotation' - but,sometimes i'll play 2 or all 3 of them. It's a rare occassion when i need to re-tune them - maybe down to a more stable UK temp. range. We most certainly don't get the huge temp. / humidity changes that you folks in the US can get at times,although this year was the exception to the rule for us - the hottest UK Summer since our records began - but even so,not too bad,
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    The only thing I hate about the mandolin, is what seems like a lack of respect from the majority. It seems to me that unless your willing to be and act like a clown regardless of talent nobody outside the community will notice your there. Just look at some of the greats and the try and find a seriously great mandolin player that didn't have to act the typical jester to get a job. Messed up IMHO.

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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    I haven't watched this video about Pythagorean, just intonation and ET in awhile but it's often recommended for violinists (the presenter is not exactly right about pianos being tuned in ET). There's no universal formulas for tuning, except maybe slightly stretched octaves, depending on whether you need chords or single string runs to sound good. There's also articles on how string quartets tune in 2 magazines for classical players, The Strad and "Strings" that maybe you can google for.

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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mbruno View Post
    Just be happy it's not a banjo.
    Unless it's a tenor banjo
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Well …. It does seem like any problems a mandolin has in frets or setup or construction are magnified in tuning and playing issues. This may be due to the short length of playing field and or double courses. I am sometimes glad not to have been blessed with perfect pitch. Sometimes. Fresh strings after they settle in and constant vigilance on the position of the bridge help avoid tuning issues for me. Using Med-Heavy .41-.115 sets of strings helps also. Having a VERY well made instrument I expect helps even more. But the A is always the most cantankerous of the lot. Truth... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Clements View Post
    Do violinists have the same devil to deal with?
    Fiddles don't have frets so it is a different beast. Intonation issues are part of the daily battle.

  21. #41
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    The only thing I hate about the mandolin, is what seems like a lack of respect from the majority. It seems to me that unless your willing to be and act like a clown regardless of talent nobody outside the community will notice your there. Just look at some of the greats and the try and find a seriously great mandolin player that didn't have to act the typical jester to get a job. Messed up IMHO.
    Do you include the vaudeville acts that Bernardo dePace and Dave Apollon did in your indictment?




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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    The only thing I hate about the mandolin, is what seems like a lack of respect from the majority. It seems to me that unless your willing to be and act like a clown regardless of talent nobody outside the community will notice your there. Just look at some of the greats and the try and find a seriously great mandolin player that didn't have to act the typical jester to get a job. Messed up IMHO.
    I don't know what music you are talking about but in bluegrass I cant think of many that acted like a clown, just great pickers from Monroe to today.

  24. #43
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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Do you include the vaudeville acts that Bernardo dePace and Dave Apollon did in your indictment?



    Two of my favorites, that sadly make my point. I never said they were silly just forced to be silly to make a living in spite of being two of the best ever.

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    Default Re: What I hate most about mandolin

    What I hate about a mandolin ? The addiction to playing it ! I finally understand how an alcoholic feels !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain

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