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Thread: Five String Madness

  1. #1
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Five String Madness

    New baby at my house. Woo hoo.

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    Girouard 10 string fan fret mandola.
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  3. #2
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Now that looks fun

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    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Jeff, Looks great! Let us know how hard or easy you find adapting to the fan frets.
    Enjoy
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
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    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Cool! What is the range of scale lengths? Looks like a fairly big distance between the two.
    Jim

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Cool! What is the range of scale lengths? Looks like a fairly big distance between the two.
    From nut to bridge high E strings is 14 3/4 inch. From nut to bridge on the low C string it is 16 3/4 inch.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    I love the tone and volume on this instrument. The fan frets take a little getting used to, but not as much as one might suppose. It quickly becomes intuitive, and feels normal. That is my experience.

    I am having more trouble with the five courses. "The bottom ain't the bottom ain't the bottom anymore". But that is more me versus me than me versus the instrument.
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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Ooh! I thought this thread was gonna have something to do with banjos.... so this is a pleasant surprise. Got video?
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

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    Registered User bbcee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Good on you, @JeffD! I gazed longingly at that one the couple of times it's been up for sale. Can't wait to hear it!

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I love the tone and volume on this instrument. The fan frets take a little getting used to, but not as much as one might suppose. It quickly becomes intuitive, and feels normal. That is my experience.

    I am having more trouble with the five courses. "The bottom ain't the bottom ain't the bottom anymore". But that is more me versus me than me versus the instrument.
    Yes. It is confusing having that extra course. I have a five-string viola with a high E. I wonder if after you get used to it it will be harder to go back to the 4 course instruments.

    BTW this thread really should have been called Ten String Madness.
    Jim

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    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    BTW this thread really should have been called Ten String Madness.
    Math burn!


  13. #11
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Ooh! I thought this thread was gonna have something to do with banjos.... so this is a pleasant surprise. Got video?
    Yea I should have called it 10 string madness, or five course or something.
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  14. #12
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Yes. It is confusing having that extra course. I have a five-string viola with a high E. I wonder if after you get used to it it will be harder to go back to the 4 course instruments.
    I wonder about that too. My prejudice (and hope) is that it is like experienced multi-instrumentalists, what suffers is what ever is not being practiced. Its time away from a mandolin hurts mandolin proficiency, whether one is watching television, or taking up the fiddle or guitar. Or any other skill. It is time away from playing by ear that hurts proficiency playing by ear, and whether one is mowing lawn, playing golf, or learning to read music.

    I.e. if there is any negative impact on playing my four course instruments it is just that I have another way to avoid playing them. I don't think the new skills involved getting proficient on the ten string fan fret will unlearn me any regular mandolinning. That is my prejudice anyway. We will see.

    On this topic I would love to hear other's experiences.
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  15. #13
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Quote Originally Posted by bbcee View Post
    Good on you, @JeffD! I gazed longingly at that one the couple of times it's been up for sale. Can't wait to hear it!
    Me too. And I fought the MAS, and.. the MAS won.

    Actually, several years ago I tried a five course fan fret mandola owned by Allen Hopkins, made by Bernie Lehmann. I really loved it. Since then I have had my eyes open for one.

    And I have read so many good things about Girouard that I thought the risk was minimal.

    The tone is exceptional on this instrument. Tonight is the "big test" as I take it to the jam.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Cool! What is the range of scale lengths? Looks like a fairly big distance between the two.
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    From nut to bridge high E strings is 14 3/4 inch. From nut to bridge on the low C string it is 16 3/4 inch.
    I mis-measured. Subtract a quarter inch from both. This instrument has a zero fret, and so the real scale length is not from the nut but from that fret. (I believe, I think, am I wrong???)
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  17. #15
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    That looks nice. I looked at that and thought "where in the heck do you a ten string mandolin tailpiece?" A quick search came up with this...

    https://www.allenguitar.com/tpcs_tr-10.htm

    I love my Girouard F-5, Max and Laurie are great to talk to.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  18. #16
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    I am loving this as a jam instrument. I do a couple of old time tunes that end up down in the growlers. Like Joe Thrifts's "Whiteface", and it is fun to grab me some of that bottom C course.

    Also, and I haven't done the trigonometry as to why, but CGDAE makes it much easier to play in F or Bb. And also it is easier to be useful in E.

    The fan frets are crazy. Ever time I pick it up I have to do some warm up scales. But it soon gets pretty easy, pretty intuitive.

    I am struggling a little with the frets being a little farther apart. No problem but I can tell and I need to work on it. OTOH moving up the neck is easier because the frets are a little closer together, and because the fanning is not as extreme.

    All in all this was money well spent. No regrets. Lots of fun.

    It is also fun to watch those players directly across from me wig out when they notice the fan frets.
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  19. #17

    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Also, and I haven't done the trigonometry as to why, but CGDAE makes it much easier to play in F or Bb.
    My trigonometry theory is that adding the open C shifts the flatness/sharpness to the left (if you view the Circle of Fifths (which should be the Helix of Fifths anyways) as a number line, with C being 0, F being -1 etc). The flat keys will feel more at home as you move to the left.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    My trigonometry theory is that adding the open C shifts the flatness/sharpness to the left (if you view the Circle of Fifths (which should be the Helix of Fifths anyways) as a number line, with C being 0, F being -1 etc). The flat keys will feel more at home as you move to the left.
    I think you are right.
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    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Helix? Please explain

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    My trigonometry theory is that adding the open C shifts the flatness/sharpness to the left (if you view the Circle of Fifths (which should be the Helix of Fifths anyways) as a number line, with C being 0, F being -1 etc). The flat keys will feel more at home as you move to the left.

  23. #20

    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Something my oldest daughter came up with while doing a high-school project where she was explaining equal temperament. She didn't like the fact that the Circle of Fifths isn't all fifths – B to F# is a fifth, but B to Gb sure isn't – so she drew a helix, where F# was directly above Gb. Makes perfect sense to me – the scales of F# and Gb may fall on the same black and white keys on a piano, but they aren't the same thing, especially to a violinist, which my daughter is. (The helix also allowed her to show how F# and Gb had the same mathematical values in equal temperament, but not in, what's it called, unequal temperament?)

    I prefer the number line, where the flat keys stretch infinitely (theoretically) to the left (like negative numbers), the sharp keys stretch infinitely to the right (like positive numbers), and the two "dimensions" have nothing to do with each other. My daughter's helix is a good compromise between the circle and the number line.

  24. #21
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Interesting. I subscribe to Chad Manning’s fiddle course at Peghead Nation and he discusses this in a simpler way.

    Still, do theoretical tools need to align perfectly with equal temperament? Do musical synonyms need to have identical definitions? If so, one might argue that an F# isn’t really above the Gb on the helix.

    Finally, the helix is hard to draw

    Back to that circle idea. Q.E.D.

  25. #22

    Default Re: Five String Madness

    The number line is easier to draw than either of the other two systems.

    Care to take a crack at presenting Manning's simplified version?

  26. #23
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    He was discussing how the “same” note might need to be slightly flat to sound right in a certain key. I forget which video but it was not a analysis of the “circle” of fifths.

    So, do fan frets help you stay in tune better?

  27. #24

    Default Re: Five String Madness

    Whenever I see one of these fan fret mandos, I always wonder Why so, um, "fanned"?

    Someone like Jonathan Mann, who makes 5-strings with a 14.7" scale-length and 4-strings with a 13.875" scale-length – why doesn't he just build them all with a uniform, very slight fan?

  28. #25
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five String Madness

    What has been explained to me is that mandolins are smaller than mandolas for a reason. The mandolas in general need a longer scale length. That when you try to get that much range on one instrument, either the top string is slightly too tight (mandola with a high e added) or the bottom string is slightly to loose mandola with a low c added). According to some, the best you can achieve is some kind of compromise between the two.

    Fan frets is a way to put two, or more really, different scale lengths on the same instrument, in order to avoid compromise in trying to accommodate so great a range on one instrument. My instrument is 13.5 inch scale length at the high end, and 14.5 inch scale length at the low end.

    That is the gist of it, if I understand correctly.
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