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Thread: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

  1. #1
    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    So I've been playing mandolin for maybe 20 years and I'm getting older and wondering -- long-term -- if my fingers are going to hold up. I'm wondering if there is such a thing as a four-string mandolin (GDAE) with nylon strings in a traditional mando scale? I know it's not going to be a banjo killer, but I think it will let me continue playing as I get older. Need not be a custom F, maybe just a flattop.

    Does this animal exist? Anyone have suggestions?

    Thanks
    Last edited by Elliot Luber; Jan-30-2019 at 12:00pm. Reason: typo
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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    PS... I'm not big on ukes because of the tuning and shorter scale.
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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Would a 4-string electric mandolin help any? I've never tried an electric mandolin and don't know if they are like electric guitars, which tend to be much easier to fret than acoustic guitars.
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    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    I'm working on something to fit this need, but in the meantime . . . https://www.mandolele.com/

    Steve

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    Registered User Bob Visentin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.


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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Are you not considering a uke. You can get the Aquila fifth tuned strings and you will be set. You don't have to go crazy. To try it out any uke will do. Soprano has 13" scale and concert around 15".
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Why not just go lighter on the steel/PB strings? Plain steel loop end single strings are available down to .008”, and wound phosphor bronze down to .018”.

    If you buy bulk after choosing your favorite gauges the price per set is less than $5.
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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Quote Originally Posted by flatpicknut View Post
    Would a 4-string electric mandolin help any? I've never tried an electric mandolin and don't know if they are like electric guitars, which tend to be much easier to fret than acoustic guitars.
    Already have a Kentucky. I'm looking for an acoustic four-string that will take nylon strings. Thanks.
    Last edited by Elliot Luber; Jan-30-2019 at 5:20pm. Reason: adding thanks
    Eastman 605 and Kentucky 300e mandolins.

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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Thanks for the banjolin idea, but not my cup of bleach.
    Eastman 605 and Kentucky 300e mandolins.

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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    I have a uke. Just looking for more neck. Thanks.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    Why not just go lighter on the steel/PB strings? Plain steel loop end single strings are available down to .008”, and wound phosphor bronze down to .018”.

    If you buy bulk after choosing your favorite gauges the price per set is less than $5.
    That could certainly work. Just looking for the long-term. I have a little Karpal Tunnel but no arthritis or anything (yet).
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    I really like the looks of those Griffin mandolele's.

    Butch Baldassari had a mando-uke as well.....

    http://nashvilleguitarcompany.com/cu...eith-little-2/
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  17. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Santiago View Post
    I have a uke. Just looking for more neck. Thanks.
    Not sure what you mean by "more neck". If a concert (15" scale) is too short—really it is longer than most mandolins—then go to a tenor (17" scale). I don't know if Aquila makes a fifth-tuned set for tenor uke but I know they will make custom sets should you want to go that route.

    BTW the Soprano Aquila set and the Concert Uke Set are both available from Elderly and elsewhere. I think they are also available at Strings and Beyond.

    OOPS! So sorry. The 31U set is for tuning a concert uke CGDA — My mistake.

    A thread discussing tenor uke tuned to fifths here.

    I do agree that the Griffin mandolin looks great. I could not find the price for them on his site. Anybody know. The reason i a asking why not a uke is that they are out there in drives and pretty decent for little outlay. I am also suggesting that it would be a good way to see if that works for you and if that becomes your main way of playing mandolin then maybe the Griffin might be a good investment. I do imagine that with x-bracing those would sound somewhat different.
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Jan-30-2019 at 10:27pm.
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    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenS View Post
    I'm working on something to fit this need, but in the meantime . . . https://www.mandolele.com/

    Steve
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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Here's a radical idea...if you're not having any troubles as of now,don't fret (pun intended) about the future.Enjoy your mandolin. Lighter strings maybe but no need to get something nylon strung unless you feel a need for a new instrument.

    Another idea,if you don't already have one, is a tenor banjo.Even though the strings are steel, they're a LOT easier to fret than a mandolin. Depends on the kind of music you like to play.
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    A solid body Fender electric, a standard flat top or canted top with a nut cut for four strings. A set of silk and steel or light gauge strings on a standard mandolin makes a world of difference also. As for now … play on! R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  22. #16
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    Smile Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    The term Melody Banjo was applied to a 4 string Mandolin scale length instrument ,,
    those probably more manageable with nylon strings on their friction tuners than if strings were steel .

    FWIW Fluke are a good candidate for restringing in 5ths.

    I've used 3 of the 4, 2 wound, from Martin baritone uke sets and the 1st string from soprano for my 4 string sets..


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  23. #17

    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Lighter strings, taller frets, both reduce fretting effort, especially if the frets are well below .040.

    Shorter scale 13" oval hole mandos are also easier on the hands (13" is commonly used for classical).

    I am old so I started with easier to fret versions, never even bothered to try a standard configuration.

    13" scale found here for example, $2500 for the plain version.

    http://www.petercoombe.com/classical-mandolin.htm
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    There is a fellow I met at a festival, who restores vintage banjolins and restrings them with nylon. They are double strung like a mandolin, but require much less force. They are not loud, but they have a very very pretty sound. And are a dream to play.

    If anyone remembers this guy please post, he has been a vendor at Clifftop. I just cannot remember his name. Or indeed if you are him, please chime in.

    I have his card around here somewhere. If I find it I will post.
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    Registered User Rodney Riley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Santiago View Post
    ...maybe just a flattop.

    Does this animal exist? Anyone have suggestions?

    Thanks
    Yes, some exists. Click image for larger version. 

Name:	C4C8A68E-C5F9-4B97-A43D-8EE22A67C579.jpg 
Views:	13 
Size:	797.6 KB 
ID:	174599 nut width Click image for larger version. 

Name:	3E20AE80-BCBC-482C-B99F-50CE122AC192.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	500.5 KB 
ID:	174600 This one was made under the “Boat Paddle Ukulele Company’s” name. He now builds under “Hoffman Luthier”.
    https://www.hoffmannlutherie.com/ My Mando is about halfway down on his pictures page.

  26. #20
    Registered User Rodney Riley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Santiago View Post
    ...maybe just a flattop.

    Does this animal exist? Anyone have suggestions?

    Thanks
    Yes, some exists. Click image for larger version. 

Name:	C4C8A68E-C5F9-4B97-A43D-8EE22A67C579.jpg 
Views:	13 
Size:	797.6 KB 
ID:	174599 nut width Click image for larger version. 

Name:	3E20AE80-BCBC-482C-B99F-50CE122AC192.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	500.5 KB 
ID:	174600 This one was made under the “Boat Paddle Ukulele Company’s” name. He now builds under “Hoffman Luthier”.
    https://www.hoffmannlutherie.com/ My Mando is about halfway down on his pictures page.

    Oooops, reread your post. As you can see, this has 8 strings, not 4. Since he makes 4 and 5 stringed Ukuleles. Sure he could make a 4 string Mando. NFI

  27. #21

    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    A bit of a newbie here, so this might not be an option as I would have expected to see it already, but is there not somewhere to buy nylon strings that would work with a mandolin, or even just made for mandolin? and couldn't you use just one as well, if you were worried about the pressure needed. And if string spacing was a problem then somehow, I'm sure a new nut would be less expensive than a new mandolin.
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  28. #22
    Registered User Rodney Riley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string nylon-stringed mando. Acoustic.

    Aquila makes a set of nylgut Mandolin strings. Quick check and found them here,

    https://www.stringsandbeyond.com/aqu...SABEgJmRPD_BwE

    What I use on my Boat Paddle. But I have my local brick n mortar store order them for me. Since the owner and I play in our church band

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