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Thread: Octofone

  1. #1
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    Default Octofone

    For anyone interested in one of these odd beasts, Retrofret in Brooklyn has just listed one, a bit worn, but playable. NFI.

    These make interesting octave mandolins. It's better to string them somewhat lightly.
    It's getting harder to find them in playable condition.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jan-13-2020 at 3:01pm.

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octofone

    Link

    About 4X what I paid for mine, but mine needed a headstock re-repair, neck reset, carbon fiber rod installed in neck, and new ebony fingerboard -- so it ended up around $500 when everything was done (I got a "frequent customer" price, or it would have been much more).

    Agree about light stringing: remember, they listed for less than $20 new, so don't feature the best construction. My Octofone is the lightest medium-sized instrument I've ever owned. I have mine in octave mandolin tuning, but with "octaved" stringing on the 3rd and 4th courses. As you might expect from its ultra-light construction, it projects very well, but the owner would be well-advised to "baby" it a bit.

    Very interesting instrument, but fragile. And, pretty crummy tuners.
    Allen Hopkins
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  3. #3
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octofone

    Picture it here

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  4. #4

    Default Re: Octofone

    i have never heard one of those i liked the sound of.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Octofone

    Then I guess your bank account is safe for the time being.

    I like mine.

  6. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octofone

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    ...I like mine.
    Me too.
    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

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Octofone

    Quote Originally Posted by ollaimh View Post
    i have never heard one of those i liked the sound of.
    Nor me! :-)

  8. #8
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octofone

    I think it depends, to some extent, on what you're using the Octofone for. I basically use mine for chord accompaniment, when I want a non-guitar voice, more widely spaced intervals in first position chords, usually open strings, chords connected with simple runs, sometimes brief "quotes" from the melody. As stated above, mine's tuned GDAE like an octave mandolin, with "octave" strings on the 3rd and 4th courses, unison stringing on the 1st and 2nd.

    I wouldn't normally use mine as a lead melody instrument, though I've participated in a few jams and played a bit of melody, harmony and counter-melody on it. The Octofone, due to its light bracing, can be quite loud and unsubtle when strummed aggressively. Its tone is not very complex, but mine, at least, has a solid presence in the same range as a guitar, and it works well on old-timey tunes and vocals.

    When I want to do more lead work in the OM range, I prefer my old Flatiron "bouzouki," which is by any measurement a "better" instrument. But the "big" Octofone chords, especially with the octaved stringing, are useful in a variety of settings. And the Octofone's medium size, and relatively short scale, make it convenient as well.

    Remember, it was a fairly cheap Regal instrument when it was manufactured, and I haven't seen any with "fine" work-person-ship -- although there's a new Octofone Guitar Company, trying to revive the instrument with improvements, such as a pin bridge, good tuners, and classier woods, finishes, and quality control. Maybe it'll make a comeback -- who knows?
    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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Octofone

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Remember, it was a fairly cheap Regal instrument when it was manufactured, and I haven't seen any with "fine" work-person-ship -- although there's a new Octofone Guitar Company, trying to revive the instrument with improvements, such as a pin bridge, good tuners, and classier woods, finishes, and quality control. Maybe it'll make a comeback -- who knows?
    Visited their booth at NAMM Show, thought they were a pretty good option for someone looking for a reasonably priced instrument. Most of what they had were set to guitar tuning but they had one tuned as octave mandolin so gave it a try.

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  11. #10

    Default Re: Octofone

    Leo Posch, a local luthier, just finished an Octofone style instrument for a local Irish traditional musician. It sounds good and is substantially built.

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