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Thread: 12 string mandolin

  1. #1

    Default 12 string mandolin

    I have been working on / repairing an old 12 string bowl back mandolin. So far its going well. I need to know , what is the correct way to string it . It came strung with one string lighter than the other 2 on the G,and D strings but all three the same on E, and A.
    I purchased 2 new sets of strings , but am unsure of how to proceed.

    I could really use some information , and advice .
    Thanks so much in advance, as I have recieved help here before
    Last edited by Lyle Lincoln; Apr-12-2019 at 10:36am. Reason: incorrect spelling/wording

  2. #2

    Default Re: 12 string mandolin

    You're basically going to have to decide how you want to tune it, and then calculate gauges you think will work.
    What kind of strings did you get? "normal" mandolin strings are way too heavy for a bowl-back, and adding an extra 4 strings won't help much. Presumably it's braced for more tension than a normal bowlback, even still I wouldn't want to put anything stronger than GHS A240's on it if all tuned in unison at normal GDAE mandolin tuning.

    If you look up "trichordia" or "mandriola" strings, you may find other hints.

  3. #3
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 12 string mandolin

    Octaves on the G and D is an unusual combination: the Neapolitan ones were generally all unison GDAE, while the German ones were in octaves, with one string in each tuple an octave below normal mandolin tuning. Personally I've found octaves on the G course too big and floppy, and after a bit of experimentation, prefer the octave string as the middle one of the 3. Oh and make sure the setup puts the tops of strings level at the bridge and the bottoms level at the nut, otherwise it's kind of unplayable. Hope that makes sense.

    And yes, keep the strings as light as possible, otherwise these do self destruct in short order!

    Meanwhile I might as well post this one again so you can hear what octave stringing sounds like:


  4. #4

    Default Re: 12 string mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    You're basically going to have to decide how you want to tune it, and then calculate gauges you think will work.
    What kind of strings did you get? "normal" mandolin strings are way too heavy for a bowl-back, and adding an extra 4 strings won't help much. Presumably it's braced for more tension than a normal bowlback, even still I wouldn't want to put anything stronger than GHS A240's on it if all tuned in unison at normal GDAE mandolin tuning.

    If you look up "trichordia" or "mandriola" strings, you may find other hints.
    thank you very much

  5. #5

    Default Re: 12 string mandolin

    I have seen your demo via google. I may just order a set of mandriola strings if I can find a site that is in English

  6. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: 12 string mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Lyle Lincoln View Post
    I have seen your demo via google. I may just order a set of mandriola strings if I can find a site that is in English
    Here's some for the German tuning (on Amazon)

    Here's an old thread from a few years back on the same subject: Stringing a Tricordia

    Unless this is a super high end mandriola (which I highly doubt) I would just string it with regular light gauge mandolin strings. The most common of these old 12-strings were made by Oscar Schmidt and have the OS monogram on the scratchplate. They are OK instruments but IMHO pretty unwieldy to play even if you get around some of the problems people have with bowlbacks. Tripled up strings are much harder to play.
    Jim

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  7. #7

    Default Re: 12 string mandolin

    thank you to everyone for the information. as soon as I finish reassembly I will try out some of the suggestions to see what works for me

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