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Thread: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

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    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    This is at least 27" scale I expect? Kind of an interesting idea? This one is strung in octaves.

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    An amazing sound. It would be ideal for some bass counterpoint with a mandolin. In the right hands however. Large hands.
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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    27" is a good baritone guitar scale length, so I'd imagine not unsuitable for mandocello.

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seter View Post
    27" is a good baritone guitar scale length, so I'd imagine not unsuitable for mandocello.
    Actually that might be exactly NOT the case. The mandocello is tuned to C2 like the violin cello which does have a 27" scale.

    Many have complained that the C-course strings on the mandocello with a 25" scale are too sloppy -- well here is the solution.
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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    The somewhere-around 25" scale often used for mandocellos is a compromise. It makes it a little easier for players to navigate the frets but it makes it harder for the builder to attain a good balance, especially on the low C strings, and it requires heavy strings to get enough tension to avoid "sloppiness" in the bass strings.
    The one mandocello that I've built has a 25" scale and it sounds good on the low strings, but I can't help but feel that it would sound better with longer, smaller gauge strings. I've heard that a 27" scale (very similar to actual cello scale length) gives a very good sound to a mandocello and I suspect it is true, though I have not had my hands on such an instrument to find out for myself.

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    The somewhere-around 25" scale often used for mandocellos is a compromise. It makes it a little easier for players to navigate the frets but it makes it harder for the builder to attain a good balance, especially on the low C strings, and it requires heavy strings to get enough tension to avoid "sloppiness" in the bass strings.
    The one mandocello that I've built has a 25" scale and it sounds good on the low strings, but I can't help but feel that it would sound better with longer, smaller gauge strings. I've heard that a 27" scale (very similar to actual cello scale length) gives a very good sound to a mandocello and I suspect it is true, though I have not had my hands on such an instrument to find out for myself.
    I think the one in that video (post #1) must be pretty close to 27" or maybe even more? It was converted to a mandocello from bass guitar and those things have scales ranging from circa 24" to 34". This looks like one of the longer scaled ones for sure?

    It apparently was modified so that the instrument would stand up to the greater string tension that the 4 course would put on the neck?

    How it would work from the player's point of view I think would depend a lot on what you want to do with it? I think trying do real chords on a 27" scale instrument tuned in 5ths would take a some big hands. On the other hand, if you want to play cello music on it I don't see why it would be any more difficult than a violin cello to play?
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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    I think the one in that video (post #1) must be pretty close to 27" or maybe even more? It was converted to a mandocello from bass guitar and those things have scales ranging from circa 24" to 34". This looks like one of the longer scaled ones for sure?

    It apparently was modified so that the instrument would stand up to the greater string tension that the 4 course would put on the neck?

    How it would work from the player's point of view I think would depend a lot on what you want to do with it? I think trying do real chords on a 27" scale instrument tuned in 5ths would take a some big hands. On the other hand, if you want to play cello music on it I don't see why it would be any more difficult than a violin cello to play?
    A cello of the same scale length is easier to play! because of the vertical fingerboard as opposed to the horizontal mandocello fretboard.

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Marty View Post
    A cello of the same scale length is easier to play! because of the vertical fingerboard as opposed to the horizontal mandocello fretboard.
    Could be I have never tried to play a cello.

    My point was that on a cello you are usually not using it to make chords - - because of the rounded bridge two strings or double stops are all that is reasonable? Or is that not the case?

    Do you play both by the way? I do not think I have ever talked a person who plays both although I expect many cello players have dabbled with the mandocello?

    I have another question too. Anyone think that a standard acoustic bass guitar neck would stand the tension of a set of mandocello strings?
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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    How it would work from the player's point of view I think would depend a lot on what you want to do with it? I think trying do real chords on a 27" scale instrument tuned in 5ths would take a some big hands. On the other hand, if you want to play cello music on it I don't see why it would be any more difficult than a violin cello to play?
    The 27" scale wouldn't work for me, that's for sure, because I would want to play chords as well as just double-stops. At least those I could reach! You can still play out of a barre shape and hit a few chords on a mandocello. It isn't all huge stretches. But 27" would be too much for me. I had a baritone acoustic guitar for a while with a 27.5" scale and it worked fine in 4ths tuning, but a mandocello in 5ths is a completely different beast.

    There's a reason Gibson settled on a 24.75" scale length for their run of mandocellos. There is an interesting interview in Mandozine with John Monteleone where he says (about the famous mandocello Mike Marshall plays): "I kept the Gibson 25" scale because it is still manageable to play. Any longer than that and it becomes an impossible hand spread for comfortable playing." And Mike Marshall has large hands, at that.

    WRT converting an acoustic bass guitar -- the string tension might be workable, if you go a little light on the gauges. For reference, one of D'Addario's string sets for acoustic bass guitar is 191 lbs. total tension, and their mandocello set is 245 lbs. total tension. Use a string tension calculator to match the gauges the acoustic bass guitar is designed for, and you'd be safe.

    I think the larger issue is that acoustic bass guitars are almost always flat tops. You wouldn't get the same sound as the classic archtop mandocellos, if that's what you're aiming for.

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    Could be I have never tried to play a cello.

    My point was that on a cello you are usually not using it to make chords - - because of the rounded bridge two strings or double stops are all that is reasonable? Or is that not the case?

    Do you play both by the way? I do not think I have ever talked a person who plays both although I expect many cello players have dabbled with the mandocello?

    I have another question too. Anyone think that a standard acoustic bass guitar neck would stand the tension of a set of mandocello strings?
    Correct & right about chords on the cello, I play mainly 23" or 24" Tenor guitars & 23" Tenor banjo. For chords I go for the guitar, for Irish trad tunes go for banjo with a flat pick or half size cello (GDAE) with a bow. Even though the scale lengths are the same the cello is an easier stretch for the left hand. However I find the right hand is slower than picking the banjo or bowing the fiddle, probably because the bow isn't resting down on the strings. I also play a long scale resonator bass tuned an octave lower in 5ths (GDAE).

    A way of making a long scale manageable would be to go for fan-frets. I have a Tenor guitar on order 23" high E to 24" low G, I would think fan frets would work with a double course stringed mandocello.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    Could be I have never tried to play a cello.

    My point was that on a cello you are usually not using it to make chords - - because of the rounded bridge two strings or double stops are all that is reasonable? Or is that not the case?

    Do you play both by the way? I do not think I have ever talked a person who plays both although I expect many cello players have dabbled with the mandocello?

    I have another question too. Anyone think that a standard acoustic bass guitar neck would stand the tension of a set of mandocello strings?
    Correct & right about chords on the cello, I play mainly 23" or 24" Tenor guitars & 23" Tenor banjo. For chords I go for the guitar, for Irish trad tunes go for banjo with a flat pick or half size cello (GDAE) with a bow. Even though the scale lengths are the same the cello is an easier stretch for the left hand. However I find the right hand is slower than picking the banjo or bowing the fiddle, probably because the bow isn't resting down on the strings. I also play a long scale resonator bass tuned an octave lower in 5ths (GDAE).

    A way of making a long scale manageable would be to go for fan-frets. I have a Tenor guitar on order 23" high E to 24" low G, I would think fan frets would work with a double course stringed mandocello.

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    For a cellist that explores the instrument like a mandocello it is worth checking out a fella called Rushad Eggleston

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    That's a Big Un!
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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    This is at least 27" scale I expect? Kind of an interesting idea?
    Cafe member Joe Mendel explored this idea back in 2010. You can see and hear it in action!



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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Ha, eish I want one now

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Matt (Mandowalt) and I talked about the scale length a lot before we decided to go with 27" on the advice of Rick Turner and Paul Hostetter, and others. Tone was the big factor in going with 27". When I completed it I took it over to Curtis Buckhannon's to compare to his K-1 (I think). We both thought the sound was very comparable for the K-1 being an arched top instrument and mine being induced arch topped. We both thought the G & C strings on mine had more clarity of tone, more focused, and overall the instrument had just a bit more of a metallic tone. Not bad, just a little different. Matt was very pleased with it and played it with doubled strings for a few years and finally decided it was too beastly to play for extended periods that way and went with single strings. I set the action as low as I could, so it wasn't pressing individual courses that was difficult, it was the combination of big doubled strings and a long reach. We both thought it sounded very good, but was not the easiest to play. I built 3 with the 27" scale, the last one I made has a 25.5" scale, it's easier to play, but the low tone isn't as focused. It is a compromise, we all want great tone, but we have t o be able to actually play the thing too.

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Just as an aside, my Paul Hathway Mandocello (flat top) has a 26 inch scale; the low courses sound very good to my ears. I feel an even longer scale might be a bit too much of a handful (forgive the pun), albeit I don't have big hands. Even with 26", apart from the fingering stretch, the long neck can make it awkward and tiring to hold for any length of time, though maybe the bouzouki style shape of the Hathway is a factor there.
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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Cafe member Joe Mendel explored this idea back in 2010. You can see and hear it in action!
    This directly demonstrates what I missed in the Richard Morgan 'cello sound: unison tuning. Octave tuning is fine on zouks and citterns where you want that brilliant chime, but on the C course of a cello it evaporates all the bass punch. Now someone should experiment with wet tuning to make it a bomber squad.
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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Mendel View Post
    the last one I made has a 25.5" scale, it's easier to play, but the low tone isn't as focused. It is a compromise, we all want great tone, but we have t o be able to actually play the thing too.
    Is the last one this blonde?

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Yes it is. That's the one.

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Mendel View Post
    Yes it is. That's the one.
    Are there any video clips of that one? Or can you share any impressions of it in contrast to the 27” scale one(s)?
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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    In this article, Richard Morgan says he's made them up to 860mm (nearly 34") in scale length:
    https://www.themandolintuner.com/hai...ers-journey-8/

  29. #22

    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    I don't have any sound or video clips of that one. The sound wasn't vastly different, I just thought the C string in particular had a "better" tone and projection on the longer scale. I have large palms and average length fingers and that extra inch and a half made it more work to play.

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    Default Re: So what would a 27" scale mandocello sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Marty View Post
    Correct & right about chords on the cello, I play mainly 23" or 24" Tenor guitars & 23" Tenor banjo. For chords I go for the guitar, for Irish trad tunes go for banjo with a flat pick or half size cello (GDAE) with a bow. Even though the scale lengths are the same the cello is an easier stretch for the left hand. However I find the right hand is slower than picking the banjo or bowing the fiddle, probably because the bow isn't resting down on the strings. I also play a long scale resonator bass tuned an octave lower in 5ths (GDAE).

    A way of making a long scale manageable would be to go for fan-frets. I have a Tenor guitar on order 23" high E to 24" low G, I would think fan frets would work with a double course stringed mandocello.

    - - - Updated - - -


    Correct & right about chords on the cello, I play mainly 23" or 24" Tenor guitars & 23" Tenor banjo. For chords I go for the guitar, for Irish trad tunes go for banjo with a flat pick or half size cello (GDAE) with a bow. Even though the scale lengths are the same the cello is an easier stretch for the left hand. However I find the right hand is slower than picking the banjo or bowing the fiddle, probably because the bow isn't resting down on the strings. I also play a long scale resonator bass tuned an octave lower in 5ths (GDAE).

    A way of making a long scale manageable would be to go for fan-frets. I have a Tenor guitar on order 23" high E to 24" low G, I would think fan frets would work with a double course stringed mandocello.
    Speaking as a cellist first, I think you would be surprised as to how many chords are played on the cello. Both playing finger style or with the bow, the 3+ note chord shape is used often in advanced playing. Obviously with the bow we play primarily one or two strings at a time but with finger style its not limited any more than mandolin or mandocello. The problem is definitely the spacing when you move to a horizontal playing position. Its much less natural for the arm and fingers when your trying to pay chords at 27" scale length even though its doable, it may not be worth it.

    I'm currently finishing up a fretless mandocello conversion from an archtop guitar that is about 25.5" and its pretty comfy and sounds good. I've got another in the works that I am playing to try at closer to 27"

    Definitely and interesting conversion and I'll be excited to share when I can.

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