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Thread: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

  1. #1

    Default E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    If you think of an electric mando-cello what are your thoughts?
    Four or eight strings?
    What scale length?
    I believe the scale length of an actual cello is about 27.3 inches for a full size cello down to about 22 inches for a 1/4 size cello.

    As an electric guitar and bass maker, my frame of reference is that shorter scales become finicky when you depart from the average 22 to 25 inch scale length for pitches in the guitar range and 30 to 35 in the bass range. The higher pitched strings tolerate the shorter scale with increasing the string gauge but the lower pitch strings don't sound as commanding and true. When you get into shorter scale, the resonant qualities of the instrument's structure can make or break the quality of the tone. Some 22" scale guitars work while others don't regardless of setup and string geometry and the same applies to 30" scale basses.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Surrey, BC (Vancouver)

    Default Re: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    FWIW - although you probably already know, Eastwood's is 25.5" (though they string it funny IMO), and Gibson m-cellos were 25".

    I'm curious - I assume you're thinking solid body, not hollow/ semi hollow?

  3. #3

    Default Re: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    Yes, solid body. I've done a number of octave mandolin conversion solid body and a couple of purpose built octave mandolins over the years. The conversions were simply inexpensive instruments that kinda fell into my lap for cheap.

    As I got into these things, I felt compelled to start on-line mandolin lessons so I built myself a nice 8-string 15" scale solid body so I could execute the traditional standard chord shapes and fret leaps of six or seven frets on the shorter scale. I've put in a fair effort using mando lessons dot com for about six months. Yesterday, I encountered a Taylor Big Baby that I had performed an octave mandolin conversion on two years ago. It needed some setup work. I tweeked it and got everything right again and was very surprised how awkward it felt doing some of the things that I had recently learned on my mandolin. My left hand fatigued quickly and some of the tunes that I feel confindent with were sloppy. But then, I hadn't developed any of the skill sets back when I was building these longer scale instruments. The octave mando is certainly a different instrument with different playability issues.

    I like my mandolin design. I'm going to start building the full range of mandolin family instruments. I just want to target my mando-cello in the ball park.

    Four or eight strings? - I built myself a 24" scale eight string octave mandolin solid body that I really like and it has a wonderful chime due to the 3rd and 4th pairs being octave splits instead of unison strings. It has a character that I know some would appreciate but I've been in discussions where I understand now why many electric mandolin family instruments are only four strings. I've never inquired about mando-cellos.

  4. #4
    Harley Marty
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Mullingar Co Westmeath Ireland

    Default Re: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    If I where on the war path for a solid body mando-cello my start point would be to find the longest scale to get a wound "A" nylon core string. Hannabach make a super low tension silver wound nylon core classical guitar "G" string. It could go onto a solid body piezo style electric probably of about 26" & play the top "A". The next decision to consider is wether or not to increase the scale length running down to the "D", "G" & "C" to maximise tonal quality & playability. In the last month I've been playing around with an Angel Lopez solid body nylon set up this way & I'm having more fun than Boris & Donald put together!

  5. #5

    Default Re: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    I have always loved the sound from this double strung mandocello... but I’m leery of the long 26” - 27” scale length. I never played guitar, just went straight to mando.
    But the low rich sound from it is incredible!

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  7. #6

    Default Re: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    Oh my...
    Nylon core, let alone piezo pickups is not the direction I'm headed. I've gone there dipping my toe into the vast lake of possibilities with a couple unique instruments. I have a 24.5 scale bass guitar converted from an Epiphone SG using bronze wrapped nylon core U-Bass wound strings and a piezo with a preamp/eq. It is and isn't a totally awesome instrument. Tone is super cool but the dynamic response is such that some sort of compressor is needed to keep it under control for all but the most talented players.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    No, for now, I'm sticking to just a line of instruments of the mandolin family based on a flexible design that I have for a solid (occsaionally chambered) body with mag pickups. I could try to work out the complications of piezos but in all that time, I wouldn't be producing instruments and the distraction could last for years.

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  9. #7

    Default Re: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    Khatarlan, Much thanks for the link. I'm really into double strung mando-family instruments. I was surprised to see another maker building a Ric inspired design. Here's mine, and generally, this is the theme of what I'm building.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a 24" octave mandolin with split octave 3rd and 4th strings.

  10. #8
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.

    Default Re: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    If 4 strings, It would probably be classified as an electric Tenor Guitar..

    *(above) GDAE octave, strung lightly, 8, an Irish bouzouki..

    heavy strung, 8 , low CGDA.. that's your Cello range ..

    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  11. #9
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    Some Ramelectro mandocelli made by Don Ramos and sold through Lark Street Guitars in NJ.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  12. #10

    Default Re: E-MandoCello -- Opinions Please

    Yes, the nomenclature can shift depending on the number of strings and the method of tuning. You can easily build an instrument that is either an electric mandolla, an octave mandolin, or a bouzuki and on saturdays a tenor guitar or an 8-string tenor guitar and maybe a bass ukellele. I enjoy splitting the octave of the 3rd and 4th pair of strings and the nut is cut specifically for these strings so it doesn't have the flexibility for other strings and options. Its all good fun.

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