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Thread: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

  1. #1

    Default Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Howdy folks,

    New to the forum as a poster but a long time lurker...

    I have a question that I'm sure I already know the answer to. Coming first from fiddling as a young fellow, where I, in later years acquired some VAS (Violin Acquisition Syndrome), then primarily as a guitar player and acquired enough GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) that it gets me in trouble; I am new to the world of mandolin. So, I have a question; should I be worried about MAS?

    I ask because I really want to get a mandocello but they are quite expensive for something that I just want to toy around on. I looked at the reviews of the Pango stuff; which look incredible for the price and what else I see in the market for similar looking builds but still $2K+ (I'm in Canada, so I'm considering my dollar value here) is a stretch for something I just want to toy with...at first.

    I've seen the Gold Tone and Eastman stuff but as a guitar player, a converted jazz box just isn't of any appeal to me...seems like they just didn't put in the effort and have tried to capitalize on a product. Anyone else feel this way or am I being over critical?

    So, I guess with the question of; Should I be worried about MAS? I'll add: Does anyone know of a non-guitar-conversion mandocello (something that looks like a proper member of the mandolin family) in the $1K range and have any opinion on it?

    Many Thanks,
    Hermann
    Last edited by Hermann Winchester; Jun-18-2019 at 11:01am.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    I succumbed to the syndrome years ago; found a beautiful mandocello, only to discover that it was not nearly as much fun to play as its smaller relatives. They're tuned in fifths, of course, and the stretches were unpleasant. It sat around unplayed for a year or two, then traded for something else.

    You may be made of hardier stock than I, of course.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    For your stated needs, I suggest a modified cheap ovation celebrity, or applause, 12-string guitar:

    - Will save you the $1,000(s)

    - Will provide less guitar sound (low end) than a normal wooden dred

    - Strong neck allows for stringing in any configuration

    - Did I mention cheap (I pick up every applause 12 that I see on CL for a $100 - the necks don't warp as the fngrboards are alloy)

    Alternatively, an oud (imo, more interesting than m'cello).

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Q: Sould you be worried about MAS?
    A: No, it's only painful when you fight it or try to quit.
    Pragmatic answer: Be scared, be very a-scared
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  7. #5
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    It’s only MAS when you start searching for a mandobass to accompany it.
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Alas I have 2 mandocellos, 3 octave mandolins, 2 mandolas and 3 mandolins ( down from 5), so abandon all hope ye who enter here....

    The Goldtone mandocello is worth looking at and is generally @ 8 or 900 new, I bought a shop worn one from Elderly and was pleasantly surprised.
    You can always upgrade when you are sure you want to be a "mandocellist"
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
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  10. #7

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Thanks catmandu2. Unfortunately a guitar conversion isn't of any appeal to me...i have plenty of guitars and am after a mandocello that has the visual appeal of belonging to the mandolin family.
    I have a Turkish Oud that my sister oddly enough acquired for me while in Egypt. Very cool instrument!

  11. #8

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Thanks Bob! I appreciate the input! I thought I responded to this but must have messed it up some how...here goes again:
    Being a guitar player, I'm not too worried about the scale. I also have a few 34" scale basses although I do prefer to play my 30" short-scales when stuck holding down the low end. The 24"-25" shouldn't be much of an issue for me or the 5ths.

  12. #9

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Oh Jeeze...The logical answer to this is; I need a bigger house, right? Not to tone things down

  13. #10

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Yikes...this reminds me of a couple things: 1) I forgot to mention that I've gone down the banjo rabbit-hole and 2) I went so deep I got the Gold Tone Banjo bass years ago...gone now..but I went there

  14. #11

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Thanks tmsweeney! I appreciate the feedback. I don't know what it is other than the Goldtone just has no appeal to me. I just can't help but think that in order to save money, they simply asked a guitar factory to tap the headstock for 8 strings as opposed to 6 and string it up as a mandocello.
    I'm really after something that has the look of an instrument from the Mando family.
    Some time back, Folkway in Canada had what was supposed to be the very first Lyon & Healy Mandocello with a violin headstock. I "played" (fooled around is a better description really) and it was OUTSTANDING. The grumble of the low-end floored me and it was such a thing of absolute beauty. It was even somewhat more appealing to me than a K-4...but at around $10K it was just way beyond my reach.
    I recall seeing Tim May years ago with his K-4 and since, Mike M with his stunning Monteleone and a couple others and they have really captivated me.
    If someone made a Lyon & Healy at a somewhat affordable price I think I'd by it in a pinch. Maybe I just need to consider a Pango F and bite the bullit

  15. #12
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    I have a Ratliff F4 with the oval hole, which has a narrower fretboard than the Goldtone, so the stretches are slightly easier.
    I've posted examples of both in the CBOM section.
    It was more than 5x the cost of the Gold tone though, so I don't think you are going to find anything high quality for under 3000. It does have beautiful tone and is fairly easy to play, but is not for sale.
    I have played a few Gibson K4s you can find them in the 3-4k range, they had a V neck which I thought would take getting used to but it was smooth as butter.
    The new Weber's are usually 5-6K, used ones pop up now and again but the discount is not substantial.
    I did have an ovation mandocello and while you can get them between 8 and 1200 doesn't sound like your cup of tea.
    I do remember seeing a Lyon and Heally style cello a while back( like 10 years ago) it was by a Canadian builder, can't recall the name.
    Good Luck in your search!
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    It’s only MAS when you start searching for a mandobass to accompany it.
    Hey! My Stahl mando-bass and I resemble that remark...

    To the OP: go far outside the box and consider a Wishnevsky mandocello. His website is here. All solid woods, hand-made by a small builder, and no one would mistake it for an eight-string jazz guitar. Well within your price range -- less than $1K for sure.
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  19. #14

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    I have a Ratliff F4 with the oval hole, which has a narrower fretboard than the Goldtone, so the stretches are slightly easier.
    I've posted examples of both in the CBOM section.
    It was more than 5x the cost of the Gold tone though, so I don't think you are going to find anything high quality for under 3000. It does have beautiful tone and is fairly easy to play, but is not for sale.
    I have played a few Gibson K4s you can find them in the 3-4k range, they had a V neck which I thought would take getting used to but it was smooth as butter.
    The new Weber's are usually 5-6K, used ones pop up now and again but the discount is not substantial.
    I did have an ovation mandocello and while you can get them between 8 and 1200 doesn't sound like your cup of tea.
    I do remember seeing a Lyon and Heally style cello a while back( like 10 years ago) it was by a Canadian builder, can't recall the name.
    Good Luck in your search!
    Thanks for the response again TMS. I just seen a video of you playing that Ratliff and the lowend is fantastic! Congrats.
    I played a Weber mandocello at NAMM this past year and it was gorgeous. I think I may have to cough up the dough to at least $2K for the Pango or even more...

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Hey! My Stahl mando-bass and I resemble that remark...

    To the OP: go far outside the box and consider a Wishnevsky mandocello. His website is here. All solid woods, hand-made by a small builder, and no one would mistake it for an eight-string jazz guitar. Well within your price range -- less than $1K for sure.
    Thanks Allen. I've never heard of a Wishnevsky so I'll have to look into it. I was expecting an Asian made instrument for the money I was considering...can't imagine someone hand carving for that price range in our neck of the woods but it seems this fella is so I'll certainly take a peak. An odd looking beast but maybe it's the right tool for the job.

  20. #15
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermann Winchester View Post
    I've seen the Gold Tone and Eastman stuff but as a guitar player, a converted jazz box just isn't of any appeal to me...seems like they just didn't put in the effort and have tried to capitalize on a product. Anyone else feel this way or am I being over critical?
    You're not alone, I've never liked the look (or usually, the sound) of guitar-bodied mandocellos. Or guitar-bodied octave mandolins either, which is why I play a mandolin-shaped Weber OM (the larger one in my avatar image at left). If you're gonna play a big mandolin, then play a big mandolin, is my thinking. Possibly influenced by 30-odd years of playing guitar before starting on mandolin.

    I was fortunate in having the available funds to get into a carved archtop OM, which is a barrier for many folks. I did buy it secondhand. I'm not sure I would have risked it otherwise, not knowing if I'd end up playing it much. As it turned out, I do play it! Although not nearly as much as my mandolin.

    So, I guess with the question of; Should I be worried about MAS?
    Only you can answer that question, but maybe here's something that will help.

    As I get older, I've started working backwards from the music I want to play, and then finding the right instrument for it. Instead of going the other way like I did most of my life, getting infatuated with the instrument first. It's why I've been playing more Irish flute and a little less mandolin now. The mandolin still has a place -- I have far more repertoire on it for one thing, because the uphill climb on flute is more recent. But I'm finding things on flute that I can't do on mandolin.

    That kind of thinking has put the brakes on desiring a mandocello, which I've always thought about over the years since picking up mandolin. I can at least play Irish and Scottish trad tunes on my octave mandolin, although I tend to reserve it for the slower tunes. It's in the same tuning as the mandolin and "plays well with others" in a session.

    A mandocello just isn't a natural fit for the music I'm interested in right now. Mainly due to the CGDA tuning (and also why a brief infatuation with mandola didn't last). It would only be for playing solo at home, and probably not very often. Very expensive for such limited use, because I'd have to play a carved archtop and not a guitar body 'cello. I would still *like* to own one, just to complete the trinity of F-style mandolin, octave, and 'cello. But I doubt it will ever happen.

    Don't let these musings stop you if you have a strong enough interest! And especially if you can think of a way to fit it into the type of music you enjoy playing. I think it's one of the Mandolin Cafe rules that members are supposed to encourage MAS and not discourage it!

  21. #16
    plectrist
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Whatever you do .... do not ... i repeat .... DO NOT ... search for the video from the Music Emporium of the Girouard mandocello. Abandon all hope upon viewing.

    Ryk
    mandolin ~ guitar ~ banjo

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  22. #17

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    You're not alone, I've never liked the look (or usually, the sound) of guitar-bodied mandocellos. Or guitar-bodied octave mandolins either, which is why I play a mandolin-shaped Weber OM (the larger one in my avatar image at left). If you're gonna play a big mandolin, then play a big mandolin, is my thinking. Possibly influenced by 30-odd years of playing guitar before starting on mandolin.

    I was fortunate in having the available funds to get into a carved archtop OM, which is a barrier for many folks. I did buy it secondhand. I'm not sure I would have risked it otherwise, not knowing if I'd end up playing it much. As it turned out, I do play it! Although not nearly as much as my mandolin.



    Only you can answer that question, but maybe here's something that will help.

    As I get older, I've started working backwards from the music I want to play, and then finding the right instrument for it. Instead of going the other way like I did most of my life, getting infatuated with the instrument first. It's why I've been playing more Irish flute and a little less mandolin now. The mandolin still has a place -- I have far more repertoire on it for one thing, because the uphill climb on flute is more recent. But I'm finding things on flute that I can't do on mandolin.

    That kind of thinking has put the brakes on desiring a mandocello, which I've always thought about over the years since picking up mandolin. I can at least play Irish and Scottish trad tunes on my octave mandolin, although I tend to reserve it for the slower tunes. It's in the same tuning as the mandolin and "plays well with others" in a session.

    A mandocello just isn't a natural fit for the music I'm interested in right now. Mainly due to the CGDA tuning (and also why a brief infatuation with mandola didn't last). It would only be for playing solo at home, and probably not very often. Very expensive for such limited use, because I'd have to play a carved archtop and not a guitar body 'cello. I would still *like* to own one, just to complete the trinity of F-style mandolin, octave, and 'cello. But I doubt it will ever happen.

    Don't let these musings stop you if you have a strong enough interest! And especially if you can think of a way to fit it into the type of music you enjoy playing. I think it's one of the Mandolin Cafe rules that members are supposed to encourage MAS and not discourage it!
    Thank-you for such a detailed response. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in the guitar-shaped instruments...I was beginning to feel like a bit of snob.
    I really like your very clever reasoning of considering the music before or as an obvious pre-requisite for the needed instrument. Sadly for me in this case; it is the classical music and obviously the cello solo pieces that first kicked me into wanting one of these instruments. Decided it is then; a 'cello is meant for me. Perhaps I'll sell one of the 6-stringers collecting dust to fund something I know I'd appreciate.
    So much thanks for response!



    Quote Originally Posted by Ryk Loske View Post
    Whatever you do .... do not ... i repeat .... DO NOT ... search for the video from the Music Emporium of the Girouard mandocello. Abandon all hope upon viewing.

    Ryk
    I took the bait. What a great sounding 'cello. One will definitely be in my future. And what a pleasant follow-up after the Music Emporium video when Youtube autoplayed Miss Tuttle making a Nugget OM sound gold only. What an exceptional talent she is!

    Thanks All!

  23. #18
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    I went down this path from the same starting point (violin, then guitar, then mandolin). I tried to cheap out and bought a Michael Kelly octave plus for my first foray into Mandolins of Unusual Size. Not very inspiring. Fortunately I came across Tom Jessen when his OM's were still under $2 k US. I've also since added a mandola, F4 mandocello, F5 mandolin and Hardanger viola that he's built. I play my TJ F4 OM and 'cello a lot. Guitar builders make and sell hundreds of thousands of instruments per year - you can get a decent guitar for a few hundred bucks. There are 10000 guitar players for every mandolin player, and 1000 mandolin players for every mandocello player. I recommend that in the case of these rarer MOUS go for the best you can.

  24. #19

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I went down this path from the same starting point (violin, then guitar, then mandolin). I tried to cheap out and bought a Michael Kelly octave plus for my first foray into Mandolins of Unusual Size. Not very inspiring. Fortunately I came across Tom Jessen when his OM's were still under $2 k US. I've also since added a mandola, F4 mandocello, F5 mandolin and Hardanger viola that he's built. I play my TJ F4 OM and 'cello a lot. Guitar builders make and sell hundreds of thousands of instruments per year - you can get a decent guitar for a few hundred bucks. There are 10000 guitar players for every mandolin player, and 1000 mandolin players for every mandocello player. I recommend that in the case of these rarer MOUS go for the best you can.
    Thanks Mandobart! Sounds like you've got some real treasures there! I agree on your assessment of players and builders as well...and I think this thread has helped me decide that I need to get the instrument I truly want on every level.

  25. #20
    Registered User Jonathan K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    I am very happy with Pango Afanti F mandocello although I don't play it that much. For that price, you can't go wrong.

    I too had no interest in the guitar-shaped 'cellos - I didn't like the feel of the string spacing on the one popular model I tried and I thought it sounded, well, like a guitar. However, I will say that it is rather awkward to play the F style 'cello without a strap. The classical guitar bouts are brilliant for non-strap playing (with a footrest of some sort.) I suppose some players eventually get used to playing the 'cello without a strap, but I gave up. I prefer to play standing in any event.

  26. #21

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    So, to broaden this a bit (and I think I've picked up the answer with the responses already) is it common for the mandolin player to expand beyond the mandolin? Do you get an F or an A then think "I need another"? "Hey, a mandola is definitely needed now!" "Without an OM, I'm useless." "I know it's just for one song but mannnnn do I need that mandocello". "Well, I got the rest of them so the next time I see a MandoBass, it's mine!!!" I guess that's MAS in it's most extreme
    With guitars it seems I have one or two (or more) for every "purpose". Electrics, hollowbodies, jazz boxes, acoustic 12 & 14 frets, nylon strings and Maccaferri's, baritone, resonators...too many really..and I know that. Oh GAS.

  27. #22

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan K View Post
    I am very happy with Pango Afanti F mandocello although I don't play it that much. For that price, you can't go wrong.

    I too had no interest in the guitar-shaped 'cellos - I didn't like the feel of the string spacing on the one popular model I tried and I thought it sounded, well, like a guitar. However, I will say that it is rather awkward to play the F style 'cello without a strap. The classical guitar bouts are brilliant for non-strap playing (with a footrest of some sort.) I suppose some players eventually get used to playing the 'cello without a strap, but I gave up. I prefer to play standing in any event.
    Awesome...thanks! And I never considered the sitting situation...something to ponder now.I prefer to sit and play but it's impossible with my V guitar...now I have to consider that with the F-style mando too

  28. #23
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    I would still *like* to own one, just to complete the trinity of F-style mandolin, octave, and 'cello.
    Trinity? No love for the mandola?
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  29. #24
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    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Well, others may not approve of my suggestion...

    "$2K+ (I'm in Canada, so I'm considering my dollar value here) is a stretch for something I just want to toy with...at first."
    Have you considered looking at a mandocello from Thomann? https://m.thomannmusic.com/mandoloncelli.html
    If you want to try an instrument for not too much money, I don't know if you could find a new instrument for less money.

    I purchased an Irish Bouzouki from Thomann and have been pleased with it. I bought from Thomann for that very reason - I wanted to try a bouzouki without spending too much.
    Is my bouzouki a cheaper instrument? Yes
    Is it fun to play? Absolutely

    Joseph Baker

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  31. #25

    Default Re: Mando Acquisition Syndrome and the Mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermann Winchester View Post
    So, to broaden this a bit...is it common for the mandolin player to expand beyond the mandolin?
    Mandolins are the perfect fetish stringed instrument, imo. Pretty, resonant, versatile, and small! Much easier to buy/ship than guitars...so, much easier to acquire. Plus, they come n a variety of flavors. What's not to like?

    I was over the scroll thing and into big mndlns pretty quickly. Which, quite unintentionally, really limited my quantity of acquisition of the little guys.

    Speaking of MAS (GearAS), it's fun to compare some of the instrument/music forums I read/post on. The trends are similar everywhere: People like to get stuff, play it, and share it; from mouth harps to floor harps - it's GAS. I'm no exception Perhaps wind players go on about reeds and mouthpieces more, and melodeonists on about boxes, but mndln players are right up there in gear obsessions..

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