Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 73

Thread: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

  1. #1
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    DFW, America
    Posts
    3,200

    Question Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Decent guitarist and mediocre mandolin player here. For some reason the idea of the mandola has caught my attention for a while now. (As if the mandolin wasn't already the road less taken! The mandola seems an almost non-existent journey.)

    I don't make hasty purchases, and I'm not ready to buy a mandola: I don't know nearly enough about them yet, though I do like what Big Muddy is making.

    Did you add one to your stable and find that you neglected it after a time? (I did this with the octave mandolin already.) Did you get one and it ended up replacing your mandolin? Did you have a hard time playing your favorite mandolin tunes on the mandola? What did you end up mainly using it for? Did you get one of the cheap flowery ones on eBay and regret it? Did you spend a ton on one and regret that?

    I would just like to hear about your mandola journey and where it has taken you.
    "The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly
    that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable.
    Favourable conditions never come."
    -C.S. Lewis, Learning in Wartime

  2. #2

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    I have an Ashbury 32 E, and I love it still, had a cheap Stagg mando that I would often have to cajole and wrestle with -one of those instruments that bites back. I love it too, but I completely dropped it when the Octave arrived.
    Played the Octave for three months solid without ever putting on a capo. Everything was played open, and really hard work to force myself to use the pinky on the seventh. Tone improved after a while.

    Then after the three months I felt that I was getting somewhere, I had a sort of easy flow that arrived in my left hand.
    All that time and then so excited, I took my capo and gingerly placed it at the fifth fret, first time ever, and was blown away with how easy it was to play!
    I think the mando is equivalent to the seventh fret on the Octave.
    Then I took the capo off and continued...

    (I’m now playing ukulele bass in fifths, which takes a 20 minute warm up each time I change instruments and it’s helped my playing on both, but that's another story)

    -I should add that if I had the money, of course I’d buy a mandolin. A nice one.

  3. The following members say thank you to atsunrise for this post:

    Caleb 

  4. #3
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Picardie
    Posts
    2,008
    Blog Entries
    81

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Slap a capo on the octave mandolin at the fifth fret and have a go!

    The scale will be a bit shorter than the usual 16" or 17" but the fingering will be the same.

    Daniel

  5. The following members say thank you to Daniel Nestlerode for this post:

    Caleb 

  6. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    738

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    I 've always been drawn to the dark side of the mando universe, and actually focused on octave for along time, the first mandola I bought (off of Larry Sledge -who played mandocello on Norman Blake's "Original music from the mysterious south" Album),it was a Romanian made Celtic Cross model with a pick up installed, flat top with a first fret, a very long almost 18 inch scale. While somewhat primitive, that is a pretty good sounding box and I actually wrote music on it ( I find some instruments lead the way ?), but I eventually picked up a used Weber Gallatin oval hole mandola that I play regularly, I even bring it out to bluegrass jams on occasion, I do have my eye on the Yellowstone mandola at Elderly, but am trying to maintain self control. I admit between the mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin and mandocello, I play the mandola the least. The one problem I found with a mandola in a band setting is it shares a lot of sonic space with the guitar so it can get muddy if you wind up playing the same notes as the guitar, for some reason this is less of a problem with the octave. So I do play my mandola enough to keep it around, I enjoy trying to play common fiddle tunes in different fingerings, I admit there is not a lot of material or even performance examples out in internet land, and viola music is all alto clef so there's that to deal with as well. The Blakes and Ostrushko have some music featuring the mandola, I know Peter Rowan has a great mandola "Cold Rain and Snow " out there on You Tube. I was at a Frank Solivan show and he pulled the mandola out for a couple of tunes, so that was very cool and refreshing to see the alto box in action.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  7. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to tmsweeney For This Useful Post:

    Caleblenf12 

  8. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    738

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    The mando is equivalent to the 12th fret on the octave
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  9. The following members say thank you to tmsweeney for this post:

    Caleb 

  10. #6
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Picardie
    Posts
    2,008
    Blog Entries
    81

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    tmsweeney is right about sharing a lot of sonic space with the guitar.

    I've been playing along to Eric Skye's "Kathryn by the Delaware" on the mandola. I can match the pitch of his guitar part on the mandola. How cool would this be as a guitar mandola duet?



    This is why I play mandola. (OK well actually a 5 string emando -CDGAE.)

    Daniel

  11. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Daniel Nestlerode For This Useful Post:


  12. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    22,779

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    I bought one a few years ago to mess around on. Honestly, it's a blast. The first thing that hits you is that there is actually sustain. Good luck on four fingered chords

    I started out simply playing songs with the mandolin fingering then started trying to do them on the mandola in the same key as they would be done on the mandolin. It's entertaining for me, how anyone else feels about it in the house I have no idea.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_0146.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	846.1 KB 
ID:	179937  
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Sep-18-2019 at 2:29pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to MikeEdgerton For This Useful Post:

    Calebhanklenf12 

  14. #8

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post
    tmsweeney is right about sharing a lot of sonic space with the guitar.

    I've been playing along to Eric Skye's "Kathryn by the Delaware" on the mandola. I can match the pitch of his guitar part on the mandola. How cool would this be as a guitar mandola duet?



    This is why I play mandola. (OK well actually a 5 string emando -CDGAE.)

    Daniel
    Many thanks Daniel, what a great tune that is!
    -you don’t by any chance have the tab?
    Though I guess I could just keep playing the vid!

    I wasn’t sure at first (sonically speaking) about the two instruments together but the way they weave to and fro and hold back when the other comes forward, like dancing -really nice.


    Oh yes, sorry I should have made it clear that my 20.5 inch scale length Octave mandolin with capo at 7th fret (13.5 inches) has an equivalent scale length to mandolin, but if you want to play the exact same notes in the same positions as someone who’s playing a standard mandolin, then you have to put a capo at the twelfth fret, it being an Octave mandolin.
    Last edited by atsunrise; Sep-18-2019 at 9:00am.

  15. The following members say thank you to atsunrise for this post:


  16. #9

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	taylorgb3.jpg 
Views:	7 
Size:	379.2 KB 
ID:	179920
    I got this Davy Stuart mandola last year. It's an 18 inch scale and has a bit bigger body. I love it. I use it on Celtic but also old time, Americana, and gospel.

    I've taken to tuning it CGDG and using a capo when I want. Mandolas can be thought of as bigger mandolins but I tend to play mine more like a small bouzouki. But it really is its own instrument. It definitely gets a lot of use.
    Northfield NF5S
    Bayard Guitar bodied octave mandolin
    Gernandt Octave mandolin
    Crump B1 Bouzouki
    Davy Stuart Mandola
    www.singletonstreet.com

  17. The following members say thank you to Chuck Leyda for this post:

    Caleb 

  18. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY
    Posts
    70

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Mandolin never happened for me even after years of trying.
    Mandola is just perfect in every way.

    A non musician woman a few weeks ago asked me why my mandolin had a deeper voice.
    It was nice to know someone was hearing it.

  19. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to BoxCarJoe For This Useful Post:


  20. #11

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    One time, in desperation, I actually tuned my rough old Stagg mandolin down one, then two frets just to see the difference.
    It was actually really nice, I thought.
    Though the strings did feel a bit floppy, and if I’d slackened them off any more then I sure people would have looked around, wondering where the banjo was.

  21. The following members say thank you to atsunrise for this post:

    Caleb 

  22. #12
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    1,323
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    My favorite instrument, out of my personal collection of mandolins, fiddles, and a guitar is mandola. For me it is the right size and pitch range for accompanying my wife on violin and playing solo. And it sounds really cool with a cello...
    I notice that others here all mention the sonic range being a factor in fitting into a group situation, and that was my initial reason for getting a mandola. What I did not expect was the beautiful sound, rather than the punchy aspect of mandolin is a factor. The mandolin is much better at doing rhythm chords heard above the fray.
    It comes down to this however: you have to spend time with each instrument and juggle your time effectively. It's much more demanding than just playing guitar or fiddle.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  23. The following members say thank you to DougC for this post:

    Caleb 

  24. #13
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    4,940

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    I tried a mandola a few years ago, but for the music I play -- Irish/Scottish trad and related styles -- it just didn't work out. Or rather, there were better options. Here's the story:

    I bought a Breedlove 4-string "Radim Zenkl model," a custom instrument Breedlove offered for a brief period. It was an F-hole acoustic mandola with just 4 strings and a humbucker pickup attached to the end of the fretboard. Designed for fingerstyle playing, basically. I had played fingerstyle guitar for years, and was curious to see how that would work on a 5ths-tuned instrument. It was a great mandola for that approach, but the CGDA tuning was a problem for playing trad tunes in the common keys. That wouldn't matter if I always played alone, but I enjoy playing with others in sessions and with my fiddler S.O. at home.

    So I started capo'ing the mandola at the 2nd fret, resulting in a DAEB tuning. The lower three strings are the same notes as the upper three strings on a mandolin or fiddle, and the B on top is usually the highest note in a fiddle tune. Very convenient because your pinky doesn't have to stretch to reach that B note. You lose the bottom G string notes, but the majority of Irish/Scottish trad tunes use only the upper three strings D,A,E on a mandolin. So what you have here with the capo 2 trick, is basically an octave mandolin without the bottom G string. And a bit less sustain than a true OM due to scale length. I eventually just ditched the capo and used custom string gauges to keep it in DAEB tuning full time.

    So that idea worked to get me into the repertoire I wanted to play, trying out a fingerstyle approach. It only lasted for around a year and a half though, and I decided to sell it for a couple of reasons. The fingerstyle approach with 5ths tuning was interesting, but with only 4 strings I couldn't use my thumb often enough. I'm used to doing independent bass lines with my thumb on fingerstyle guitar, and I missed that.

    The other reason I sold it was because by that time, I had acquired a very nice octave mandolin. Every time I picked up that mandola in DAEB tuning, I would look over at my OM and wonder why I wasn't playing that instead, where I would have longer sustain and the use of the G string on the bottom. Some fiddle tunes do have notes on the G string I missed playing them.

    So that's my mandola story. I think I would own one again (a standard double course) if for some reason I reverted to only playing alone at home, or started getting interested in playing Blues or Jazz, where I think mandola CGDA tuning is a more natural fit to the repertoire. I know some folks do use mandola for playing trad, and more power to 'em. It just didn't work for me.

  25. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to foldedpath For This Useful Post:

    atsunriseCalebhank 

  26. #14
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Picardie
    Posts
    2,008
    Blog Entries
    81

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    Many thanks Daniel, what a great tune that is!
    -you don’t by any chance have the tab?
    Though I guess I could just keep playing the vid!

    I wasn’t sure at first (sonically speaking) about the two instruments together but the way they weave to and fro and hold back when the other comes forward, like dancing -really nice.


    Oh yes, sorry I should have made it clear that my 20.5 inch scale length Octave mandolin with capo at 7th fret (13.5 inches) has an equivalent scale length to mandolin, but if you want to play the exact same notes in the same positions as someone who’s playing a standard mandolin, then you have to put a capo at the twelfth fret, it being an Octave mandolin.
    I don't have the mandola tab, no. I do have the guitar tab though. I was thinking about putting it in TEF and then trying to convert it from guitar to mandola.
    I caught the A part by repeated listening and then looked at the guitar tab for the B part. Eric plays more decoratively in the B part which makes the tune a bit harder to catch.

    Hint: Key of E major, capo 2nd fret. The fingering is a LOT easier!

    Daniel

  27. The following members say thank you to Daniel Nestlerode for this post:


  28. #15

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Guitar tab would be great, if that’s ok. It’s those blues sounding scales that I would have difficulties to get down.

    I’ve found I can often write it out as an .abc text file and then use mandolintab.net to covert it for mandola or Octave mandolin or even Irish whistle, or sometimes when I want to use a capo (the Octave is much warmer and richer around the fifth fret) then I use a program to increase/decrease the whole tune by 5 or 7 semitones and when it’s converted it’s in a different tab pattern but still the right key.
    Last edited by atsunrise; Sep-18-2019 at 3:23pm.

  29. #16
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Picardie
    Posts
    2,008
    Blog Entries
    81

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	KathrynbytheDelawareTAB.jpg 
Views:	62 
Size:	129.1 KB 
ID:	179935

    Ask and ye shall receive. Got this from the man hisownself.

    Daniel

  30. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Daniel Nestlerode For This Useful Post:


  31. #17
    Registered User Jonathan K's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    San Francisco East Bay
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    I love my Weber Rawhide mandola, although honestly, I don't play it that much. I would never part with it.

    I can read and play classical and jazz on mandola and with some effort, I can work out chords but I get easily confused if I have to figure out a chord on the fly as I think in terms of mandolin chords. The fact that the mandola is in a lower range does it make it great for accompanying my wife singing.

  32. The following members say thank you to Jonathan K for this post:

    Caleb 

  33. #18

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    After several years of playing in the Providence Mandolin Orchestra as a 2nd or 1st section mandolin player, I switched to the mandola section due to a depletion of their ranks and an itch I wanted to scratch, so I acquired a Weber Yellowstone mandola and started in that direction. The alto tuning caused me a few embarrassing moments during rehearsals with the PMO, usually humorous comments by the conductor complimenting my "harmony" with the rest of the 'dola section. One of my main obstacles was the 17" scale length of the Weber being just too long to make some of the position changes. I have small hands. About the same time, I became familiar with Paul Duff mandolins and commissioned him to build me an H-5 w/Virzi with a 15 7/8" scale length. It is much easier on the hands for sure.

    Since moving to Florida in 2002, I no longer play with the PMO (obviously) but I do keep the Duff out on a stand for whenever to mood strikes (not often enough). I've tried playing it with my Saturday afternoon jam buddies but the guitarist complained about me stepping all over the tonal ranges he plays in so I'm back on mandolin with that ensemble. The 'dola sits neglected for weeks at a time but it is a great instrument.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DuffH5inp.JPG 
Views:	26 
Size:	135.9 KB 
ID:	179938

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  34. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to lenf12 For This Useful Post:


  35. #19
    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    774

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    I bought an Eastman mandola several years ago. It's a decent instrument but I really have not done very much with it at all. I learned a few tunes and I have played it on I think ONE gig, ONE song. (John and Mary by IIIrd Tyme Out)

    I learned a couple other things like Opus 38 (which can also be played on a mandolin just as easily).

    I also recently bought a Northfield Octave mandolin and who knows what I will do with that either....but they're both cool.
    I would say the Northfield is a better quality instrument than the Eastman as far as tone and play-ability so I am more likely to enjoy picking it up for that alone anyway.
    Drew
    2016 Skip Kelley Vintage F-5 (#54)
    2003 Flatbush V4
    2015 Eastman MDA815 (mandola)
    2019 Northfield Flat Top Octave
    https://www.facebook.com/3rdCreekBluegrass

    "Thank you for making it through a truly unreasonable amount of mandolin playing" - CT

  36. The following members say thank you to Drew Egerton for this post:

    Caleb 

  37. #20
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    22,966
    Blog Entries
    52

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    After my first mandolin, a Tanada, was destroyed in my locked car one hot sunny day, I ordered a mandola from Elderly Instruments. I played it capo two down a string as an octave, or no capo as a mandola.

    As I played a lot with others at jams etc., I found the mandola was limiting me, and got myself my first really nice mandolin. I adored that thing and played the potatoes out of it. I would often bring the mandola for an alternate voice.

    My gradually devoted myself to excelling as much as I could with the mandolin, and the mandola, a bouzouki, and even fiddle lessons, became musical distractions. Several years ago one person in a group I played with was going to buy a mandola and I sold him mine.

    It has a good home and is played regularly.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  38. The following members say thank you to JeffD for this post:

    Caleb 

  39. #21
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    22,779

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    After several years of playing in the Providence Mandolin Orchestra as a 2nd or 1st section mandolin player, I switched to the mandola section due to a depletion of their ranks and an itch I wanted to scratch, so I acquired a Weber Yellowstone mandola and started in that direction. The alto tuning caused me a few embarrassing moments during rehearsals with the PMO, usually humorous comments by the conductor complimenting my "harmony" with the rest of the 'dola section. One of my main obstacles was the 17" scale length of the Weber being just too long to make some of the position changes. I have small hands. About the same time, I became familiar with Paul Duff mandolins and commissioned him to build me an H-5 w/Virzi with a 15 7/8" scale length. It is much easier on the hands for sure.

    Since moving to Florida in 2002, I no longer play with the PMO (obviously) but I do keep the Duff out on a stand for whenever to mood strikes (not often enough). I've tried playing it with my Saturday afternoon jam buddies but the guitarist complained about me stepping all over the tonal ranges he plays in so I'm back on mandolin with that ensemble. The 'dola sits neglected for weeks at a time but it is a great instrument.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DuffH5inp.JPG 
Views:	26 
Size:	135.9 KB 
ID:	179938

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    That Duff is beautiful.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  40. #22
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    1,323
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    What is your experience with an Octave Mandolin after having a Mandola? I think I'd like one for many of the reasons mentioned, however scale length is a concern. (And I'm thinking of selling / trading my guitar because it is just 'too big'. Alas, I have small hands too.)
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  41. #23
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    4,940

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    What is your experience with an Octave Mandolin after having a Mandola? I think I'd like one for many of the reasons mentioned, however scale length is a concern. (And I'm thinking of selling / trading my guitar because it is just 'too big'. Alas, I have small hands too.)
    More OMs are being made now in 20" scale lengths as an option, instead of what used to be considered 22" as a standard (more or less). Personally, I wouldn't go shorter scale than 20", because one of the cool things about an OM is the sustain, and that's directly related to scale length.

    I think the key to avoiding frustration with the finger stretch on an OM compared to mandolin, is choice of repertoire. Especially if you're using it to play melody lines and not just chordal backup. I play mainly slower tempo tunes on my 22" scale OM like marches, "metered airs" and O'Carolan tunes. You can really milk the sustain of an OM with these tunes that leave some space between the notes. I save the fast stuff like dance speed jigs and reels for mandolin, which "speaks" more quickly than the OM with stiffer strings and faster note decay.

    A mandola sits somewhere in the middle of those two approaches, a bit more nimble for the faster tunes, a little more sustain than mandolin but not as much as a good OM (talking in generalities here; there are differences in individual instruments).

  42. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to foldedpath For This Useful Post:


  43. #24
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    DFW, America
    Posts
    3,200

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    After my first mandolin, a Tanada, was destroyed in my locked car one hot sunny day, I ordered a mandola from Elderly Instruments. I played it capo two down a string as an octave, or no capo as a mandola.

    As I played a lot with others at jams etc., I found the mandola was limiting me, and got myself my first really nice mandolin. I adored that thing and played the potatoes out of it. I would often bring the mandola for an alternate voice.

    My gradually devoted myself to excelling as much as I could with the mandolin, and the mandola, a bouzouki, and even fiddle lessons, became musical distractions. Several years ago one person in a group I played with was going to buy a mandola and I sold him mine.

    It has a good home and is played regularly.
    I have considered that adding another instrument to the fold means less time for other things, and I already struggle to find time to play the instruments I have. I play mandolin more than anything else. But I also play acoustic guitar, mainly for singing, and I have a Les Paul/Marshall setup that I play rock and roll on (this one is possibly the most therapeutic because doing blues bends at full strength on an electric guitar is a good stress-reliever).

    Thanks, all, for the replies. If I do end up adding a mandola, I want it to be something very primitive-looking. Picture something a Hobbit of the Shire might play.
    "The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly
    that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable.
    Favourable conditions never come."
    -C.S. Lewis, Learning in Wartime

  44. #25

    Default Re: Please talk about your experience with the Mandola.

    I got one of the Eastman MDA315s last year and while I don’t really play it that much it is fun to have and mess around with. I got it mostly because it wasn’t too spendy as I knew I wouldn’t spend a large amount of time with it but it is fun to have and bring to a jam now and again.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •