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Thread: Mandocello question

  1. #1

    Default Mandocello question

    I have a mandocello that was made from an arch top guitar. I was wondering if it could be strung with lighter strings and be played as an octave mandolin. Thanks for your thoughts.
    Joe
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    That looks nice!
    What's the scale length?

    It can easily be setup as an octave mandolin. It may not be ideal scale length, but you're already 3/4 of the way there.
    The G, D & A courses you have now are exactly what you would use for the octave mandolin, they just have a C below them. You might need to cut a new nut and maybe recut the bridge slots, but basically just remove the C strings and move everything over one position and then add suitable E strings.
    Best, Stevo

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Thanks Stevo

    Scale length is 24 1/2Ē

    A luthier in Central Florida did the work for me. Shaved the neck, made the finger board, did tuners and bridge. Came out real nice, i just donít play it that much. I was thinking as an octave mandolin it would be easier to play chords and stuff I know on mandolin.

    Thanks again

  5. #4
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Here is a video of when I restrung my Eastman MDC805 mandocello as an OM. As Stevo said, you're already 3/4ths of the way there. You don't have to redo any bridge or nut slots just to try it out. I think I used 0.010" strings for the E's.


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  7. #5

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jomamma View Post
    Thanks Stevo

    Scale length is 24 1/2”

    A luthier in Central Florida did the work for me. Shaved the neck, made the finger board, did tuners and bridge. Came out real nice, i just don’t play it that much. I was thinking as an octave mandolin it would be easier to play chords and stuff I know on mandolin.

    Thanks again
    It is hard for me to transpose on the go, using octave mandolin shaped chords on my mandocello, but a 5th lower. I mostly play the mandocello as a solo instrument because of it. I can more easily play my octave mandolin with other folks since I'm more used to GDAE tuning. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!
    Best, Stevo

  8. #6

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jomamma View Post
    Thanks Stevo

    Scale length is 24 1/2Ē

    A luthier in Central Florida did the work for me. Shaved the neck, made the finger board, did tuners and bridge. Came out real nice, i just donít play it that much. I was thinking as an octave mandolin it would be easier to play chords and stuff I know on mandolin.

    Thanks again
    I think thatís the same length as the Northfield octaves. They sell string sets for those, might try that. But double check, it might be 22 1/2, I canít remember.

  9. #7
    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jomamma View Post
    I have a mandocello that was made from an arch top guitar. I was wondering if it could be strung with lighter strings and be played as an octave mandolin. Thanks for your thoughts.
    Joe
    Nice looking instrument!

    However, if you are converting from an archtop guitar I think that an easier approach than narrowing the neck -- which gets to be a real hassle where the neck lays on the fret board -- is to make it a 5-course cittern (i.e., CGDAE).

    The standard guitar neck is just about exactly the right width for adding the 5th course. Here is the pic of a brand new The Loar arch top guitar that I converted into a cittern. The guy I sold it to really liked it last I heard and it really did sound good even if I say so myself.

    The biggest advantage is you now have a mandocello and an octave mandolin in the same instrument!
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    Bernie
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  10. #8

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    What a good looking instrument for a conversion. You’ll have no problem as an octave mandolin. I’ve just endured a forced education on scale length limitations with my electric mandolin. For mandollas, octaves, and mandocellos, the choice of scale length gets broader. I’ve been experimenting with these for a few years now building new instruments and doing conversions whenever an appropriate victim guitar came into my possession. If you’ve enjoyed your mandocello at all, you will like it more as an octave mandolin. You have a wide variety of options for string gauges. Personally, I split the 3rd and 4th course of string into octave split pairs using a .017p / .044w for the G and .014 / .026 for the D strings. It’s just a cool option you can try someday. Something you might not be aware of is that a typical guitar six pole piece magnetic pickup has no problem when used on a guitar modified like yours is. The magnetic fields all converge into a single field about 1/8” above the pole piece so just about any pickup will work if you want to go that way. Have fun

  11. #9

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Thank you everyone for chiming in, but more indecision looms. This thing is really cool sounding and I’ve had fun playing the low notes for the last few days. So once this wears off I’ll either give it a try as an Octave Mandolin or maybe find one to purchase.

    Thank you
    Joe

  12. #10

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    A lot of guitars convert quite easily to octave mandolins. If your mandocello gives you joy maybe it’s best to just leave it alone - don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. I do conversions all the time. A really nice conversion that’s easy to do if you want an acoustic instrument is a Big Baby Taylor. Keep your eye out for one.

  13. #11

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Thanks Wrnchbndr

    That sounds like a good plan. I think I’m on the lookout for a Big Baby Taylor.

    Joe

  14. #12

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Another thought,

    I have an old Seagull S6.- dreadnought shape guitar. What would have to be done to that guitar to become an Octave Mandolin?

    Thanks
    Joe

  15. #13

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    You can get a Big Baby Taylor in A+ condition for about 250 to $300. Theyíre damn good guitars but not terribly valuable so your not commuting a sin. The necks are bolt-on so itís not a big deal to taper the width so the width at the nut is reduced - if you want. You can do this with a set neck but itís a little awkward in comparison.
    I simply plug the holes in the headstock using a tapered reamer and a cello peg shaper. I redrill for eight mini tuners. You can install an overlay or not. I do basically the same at the bridge - plug 4 of the six bridge pin holes leaving the two E-string holes and then drill and taper the six needed additional holes. You need to plan this with accuracy. A new nut and youíre done. The next time I do this, Iíll take some pictures. I do this kind of thing a lot. Iíve been a service tech for 20 years so to me it ainít a big deal. I donít recommend it for a novice but if youíre skilled and you understand the processes, itís quite easy. Iíd never do this on a valuable instrument. The last Big Baby I did should be kickin around my shop somewhere. We picked it up for cheap because some kid went at it with a sharpie and there was a separation of the top and back - it had been abused. Iíll look for it.

  16. #14
    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramparte View Post
    I think that’s the same length as the Northfield octaves. They sell string sets for those, might try that. But double check, it might be 22 1/2, I can’t remember.
    Scale length on both the Northfield octaves is 22"
    Drew
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  17. #15

    Default Re: Mandocello question

    Capo
    Spruce dork

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