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Thread: Mandola vs. short scale Octave Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Mandola vs. short scale Octave Mandolin

    Do they sound different tonally? I want a mandola but after reading about them a little more on this site I think what I really want is a short scale octave mando. What I couldn't see in older posts on this subject is whether a short scale octave mando sounds pretty similar to a mandola. Can I trouble you all to chime in?

    I think a short scale octave is better for me since my brain is too full to easily adjust to the different notes on a mandola, but I want the mandola sound.

  2. #2
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola vs. short scale Octave Mandolin

    Both of my Mandolas are short neck. I was told by Lawrence that not only is the scale longer, the diameter of each string is substantially thinner. He said that the result is a thinner more twangy sound. My mandolas have a strong voice and anything but, twangy. I made a point of going for the short scale. Really a different beast. The short neck plays more like a mandolin and the long neck more like a bouzouki.
    Tony Huber
    1930 Martin Style C #14783
    2011 Mowry GOM
    2013 Hester F4 #31
    2014 Ellis F5 #322
    2017 Collings MT2-O #3666
    2017 Nyberg Mandola #172

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    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola vs. short scale Octave Mandolin

    Whoops, I answered the wrong question. My OM is 22 inches and am not sure if that is considered short or not. Due to the longer scale, the fingering is substantially different, more like a guitar in terms of reach. The tunings are different. Mandola is C G D A and the OM is G D A E like mandolin but an octave lower. You might want to repost this in the CBOM area. You will probably get a quicker and more in depth answer there.
    Last edited by red7flag; Aug-04-2017 at 5:52pm. Reason: Additional Idea.
    Tony Huber
    1930 Martin Style C #14783
    2011 Mowry GOM
    2013 Hester F4 #31
    2014 Ellis F5 #322
    2017 Collings MT2-O #3666
    2017 Nyberg Mandola #172

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    Default Re: Mandola vs. short scale Octave Mandolin

    OMs tend to range from 20-25 inch scales, with most it seems landing in the 20-23.5 range. Bouzoukis tend to be 24-25 inches. My Weber Hyalite was 22.5, and I think a nice blend of long enough to rock the rhythm without getting muddy but short enough to play melody. I think that a short scale OM would sound different than a mandola. Most mandolas are 17.5 +/-, and CGDA is going to give you different chord voicings than GDAE. That said, you could go OM at 19-20 inches, and if you capo at 5 you have mandola tuning. It won't sound exactly like a mandola because of the larger box, sustain difference, etc.

    I'll caveat this by saying that I've played maybe 3 mandolas, ever. The Hyalite is my only OM experience, other than listening. I made my first mandocello purchase this week...it's acclimating as we speak...

    BUT, if you want a mandola's sound, go with a mandola. Treat it as a completely different instrument, which it is, and run with it. I was unwilling to consider tuning other than GDAE for quite a while for the same reason as you, but bought a travel Uke this year, and have had surprisingly little trouble learning different chord voicings on it, so took the MC plunge. We're fixing to find out if my pinky can handle the reach...
    Last edited by CES; Aug-04-2017 at 8:14pm.
    Chuck

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandola vs. short scale Octave Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    Most mandolas are 17.5 +/-
    My Gibson H4 is 15-3/4", and my Weber Bitterroot is 17". I think 17" is considered long -scale for mandolas.
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Mandola vs. short scale Octave Mandolin

    I have a 17" scale Weber mandola and a 22" Weber Octave, both are A models with round sound holes.

    Tone is quite unique for each, the mandola is "punchier" , and cuts through a little clearer on single notes but is a little muddy on chords, where the octave is almost the opposite, loud and clear on chords ( but the low end gets a little muddy) and less clarity or punch on single notes. I use John Pearse mandola set on the mandola and John Pearse Octave set on the Octave.

    I have recorded some stuff using only those two instruments and they do compliment each other well, although the overall tone is quite dark. There may be some tonal overlap but it is highly conditional and not the norm.

    When playing with guitars, the mandola seems to have more sonic similarity to the guitar ( within its own range) than the octave.

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