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Thread: Is my mandolin octave or regular?

  1. #1

    Default Is my mandolin octave or regular?

    I am new to this site and very happy to have found it! I was just given a mandolin from my father. He said that it is an octave mandolin, however didn't seem to actually know too much about it. When he did play it often he tuned it as an octave mandolin. Now that it has been unused I am trying to tune it and not completely sure what I am doing.

    First.... Do I tune it as a regular or an octave?
    Second... What is this black thing on the side for?
    Third.... Can I use a guitar tuning app to tune it? I tried and I get all different results... Like G5, G3 etc. do I aim for straight up g? G1?

    Thank you for taking your time to read this post. Also apologies for all the pros reading my beginner post. 😝
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  2. #2
    Runnin' Free Theo W.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Western Slope of Colorado

    Default Re: Is my mandolin octave or regular?

    Hi there! That's definitely a regular ol' mandolin. You should tune it as a mandolin with your tuning app. The black thing that I think you're referring to is a pickguard. And as for the numbers next to the notes, that refers to the octave the note is in. The lowest pair of strings is G3, then D4, A4, and E5. You can use your app to get to those notes, however may I suggest looking up a video on youtube or using this link:

    Good luck!

    Theo Wecker

    Currently waxing poetic about:
    2008 Weber Buffalo
    2016 Martin D-18

  3. #3
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    West Hartford, CT

    Default Re: Is my mandolin octave or regular?

    Based on the picture I'd say it's a mandolin. Measure the strings from bridge to nut (the scale length). If it's around 14", then it's a mandolin; if around 20" or more then it's likely an octave. If it's turns out to be around 17" it might be a mandola.

    A mandolin and an octave mandolin are both tune GDAE (low to high). A mandola is CGDA. Any guitar tuner should work to get it in tune. Just be careful not to tighten the strings so much that they break.

  4. #4
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.

    Default Re: Is my mandolin octave or regular?

    scale length unstated 13~14 is mandolin ..

    I have a Mandola It's scale length is 400mm/ 0.4M
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  5. #5

    Default Re: Is my mandolin octave or regular?

    Thank you for your responses! And thank theo for the octave breakdown.

  6. #6
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Capitol of MI

    Default Re: Is my mandolin octave or regular?

    That's a Rover mandolin, an entry-level instrument, but not a bad one to learn on. I don't believe Rover made any Octaves, so that rules it out.

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