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Thread: Restringing Gibson

  1. #1

    Default Restringing Gibson

    Hi,

    I wanted to ask if anybody has ever tried restringing a vintage Gibson mandocello to the tuning commonly used on Irish bouzoukis?

    I believe the original Gibson instruments of this class were tuned in fifths: C,G,D,A ( low to high).

    The tuning I'm inquiring for would run G,D,A,D.

    I imagine both nut and saddle may need replacing as the slots would need to be pre-cut for the thinner strings?

    I'm really wondering would the lighter strings and pitch shift still work on this bigger bodied instrument?

    I know 'work' is a vague term but I mean respond / sound well.

    Any experience or thoughts on this anybody?

    Michael

  2. #2

    Default Re: Restringing Gibson

    I don't know about restringing a Gibson, in particular. There are a couple of folks on youtube who have restrung Eastman 'cellos to OMs and other variants. I can't imagine that is would damage the Gibson, though I imaging you might lose some of the volume, and possibly, tone in converting it.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Restringing Gibson

    You can absolutely do this. It'll work great. I can work out the gauges for you later if you like, or take a look yourself at http://stringtensionpro.com/SetBuilder?set=EJ78

  4. #4
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Restringing Gibson

    You might not have to change the nut and saddle. Try changing the strings first, and see how it behaves.

    Let Marty work out the gauges for you. If you want octaves on the 3rd and 4th, he'll need to know that.

    I've seen a lot of these 'cellos suffer from over-stringing. However you decide to tune and gauge it, start lighter rather than heavier. Many of the pre-packaged 'cello sets I see are way too heavy for an old Gibson. I think the bouzouki sets were designed more thoughtfully.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-26-2019 at 6:40pm.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Restringing Gibson

    Estimated string gauges and tensions for Gibson mandocello tuned G2G2 D3D3 A3A3 D4D4:
    24.5" scale length

    D4 course: 0.013" plain steel
    20lb tension

    A3 course: 0.018" phosphor bronze round wound
    20 lb tension (or 21.6lb with 0.018" plain steel)

    D3 course: 0.026" phosphor bronze round wound
    19.75lb tension

    G2 course: 0.041" phosphor bronze round wound
    20lb tension

    This is a little heavier selection than the D'addario EJ81 Irish Bouzouki set, which is 11-16-28-40.
    You may still want to go a little heavier to 0.028 and .044 on the lower courses.
    The D'addario Mandocello set clocks in around 30lb tension per string. As RCC says, probably not ideal for the structure of the instrument.

  6. The following members say thank you to Marty Jacobson for this post:


  7. #6

    Default Re: Restringing Gibson

    Thanks Folks,

    I think the string gauges won't be too much of an issue - I'd probably go with what I use on my other bouzoukis: .13, .18, .32, .42.

    It would be nice if the nut and saddle didn't require adapting but I believe the lowest string on the typical mandocello set up was in the .70 area so I imagine putting a .42 in there will leave it swimming around.

    The real question I'm trying to find an answer to is how the thing will sound. I'm unaware of whether the Gibson mandocellos were constructed to particularly accentuate the bass end so maybe someone here might be able to comment?

    I'm wondering would an attempt to 're-pitch' to a higher register like this mean the treble end of the sound would lack punch / clarity due to the nature of the instrument's construction?

    That said, the re-stringing I'm thinking about is only adding one different pitched note to the original intended tuning - i.e. a higher plain steel D pair where the wound A pair would have been.

    Michael.

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