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Thread: Electric Octave Mandolin. 4 vs 8

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    Default Electric Octave Mandolin. 4 vs 8

    Iím looking for opinions on whether a 4 string electric solid body octave mandolin or an 8 string would have the better sound. Where I live doesnít allow me access to any to try myself. Thank you
    Miles B

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    Default Re: Electric Octave Mandolin. 4 vs 8

    It depends on what you consider better sound. Different players use different tools for different applications. You will also see different scales advertised for OM's. The most common are 21.5" and 22" then you jump up to 23" which is also a tenor guitar. You may be better off asking this question in the CBOM/Tenor Guitar section of the forum.

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    Registered User DogHouseMando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Octave Mandolin. 4 vs 8

    One consideration that I had to ask myself is whether you want the instrument to play as a traditional mandolin. The electric set up won’t have complete translation of traditional mandolin sound, but there is a difference between 4 and 8 Strings for this IMHO. I went for a 4 then a 5 because I wanted to translate some electric guitar skills to this kind of instrument. But if going for an electrified 8 string sound is what you’re going for, that’s cool too.
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    Default Re: Electric Octave Mandolin. 4 vs 8

    Quote Originally Posted by DogHouseMando View Post
    One consideration that I had to ask myself is whether you want the instrument to play as a traditional mandolin. The electric set up wonít have complete translation of traditional mandolin sound, but there is a difference between 4 and 8 Strings for this IMHO. I went for a 4 then a 5 because I wanted to translate some electric guitar skills to this kind of instrument. But if going for an electrified 8 string sound is what youíre going for, thatís cool too.
    I play an acoustic/electric 8 string hollow body Octave mandolin so Iím looking for a different sound and a different feel. I thought a solid body electric might provide that. I want a good sound and I think 8 strings would give a fuller sound than 4 strings but I donít want it to sound too much like my current octave mandolin. I havenít been around solid bodies so Iím not sure what to expect. Any advice you have would be welcome. Thank you. Miles B

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    Mandol'Aisne Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Octave Mandolin. 4 vs 8

    Hi Miles,

    Expect a solid body electric octave mandolin to remind you a lot of an electric guitar. It won't matter whether it has 8 strings or four (or 5).

    If you really do want both a different sound and a different feel then I would look into a solid body electric 5 string octave mandolin (GDAEB).


    Daniel

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    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Octave Mandolin. 4 vs 8

    Quote Originally Posted by thistle3585 View Post
    It depends on what you consider better sound. Different players use different tools for different applications. You will also see different scales advertised for OM's. The most common are 21.5" and 22" then you jump up to 23" which is also a tenor guitar. You may be better off asking this question in the CBOM/Tenor Guitar section of the forum.
    If you look on Jon Mann's site (and this is true of Tavy's work too) they are doing 18" and 19" scale on electric OM models. Tavy does his with a octave pair on the G to stop it sounding too muddy.
    My electric tenor guitars are all 23" because that is indeed kind of Std
    Last edited by Lord of the Badgers; Jan-24-2020 at 1:18pm.
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

    Bouzouki: Paul Shippey Axe
    Tenor Guitars: Acoustic: Mcilroy ASP10T, Martin 0-18t. Electric: Manson, Eastwood
    Mandolins: Davidson f5, A5 "Badgerlin".
    OM: Paul Shippey Tone. Mandola: Davidson 2 point.
    My band's website

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    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Octave Mandolin. 4 vs 8

    It's true that most electric mandolin variants will sound like an electric one way or another. Sure. The chords will be recognisable to an experienced ear. But to me that is not as much the point - for me it's playing in fifths electric style that is the goal. Another textural take on the mandolin "thing". Plus I've always been an ambient pedal head so playing mando with my strymon delay pedals is a bit cool.
    I don't play six string ever so if people say to me "Oh it just sounds like an electric guitar " that challenge doesn't mean a lot. It'll still be admired for being a different instrument regardless of string count... And who doesn't like having a gear chat.
    I guess just stay clear of standard electric guitar widdling and you'll be fine

    For what it's worth as I mentioned above I play electric tenor. Tuned to OM GDAE or zouk tuning eg GDAD
    Mostly because I'm a fingerstyle player I prefer single courses.

    I have a double course one from Tavy and it's a hoot. Is it different? Only inasmuch as different electric guitars are different. If I was doing trem work a lot I'd prefer double strings.
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

    Bouzouki: Paul Shippey Axe
    Tenor Guitars: Acoustic: Mcilroy ASP10T, Martin 0-18t. Electric: Manson, Eastwood
    Mandolins: Davidson f5, A5 "Badgerlin".
    OM: Paul Shippey Tone. Mandola: Davidson 2 point.
    My band's website

  8. #8

    Default Re: Electric Octave Mandolin. 4 vs 8

    There are pros and cons to both. Yes, a solid body electric instrument is a departure from the sweetness of an acoustic mandolin and individual notes are absolutely of an electric guitar flavor. But then dual course strings have the same effect as having a 12-string electric guitar and the result is a night and day difference in tone. For an accomplished electric guitar player, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who's #1 guitar is a 12-string. 12-string guitars tend to be an auxiliary instrument for unique situations.

    Just about every guitar player eventually wants to own a 12-string but most either abandon it or only employ it rarely. There are very few actual good electric 12-string guitars. On my bench, of even the most notable 12-string electric guitar models, more than half miss the mark for having mojo. A few have magic in them and you immediately know it when they do. Its a matter of pushing the limit of guitar design and asking for more than the design can consistently deliver.

    I don't think this is totally the case with octave mandolins despite the parallels. Understand that I'm a guitar maker who has just recently began making electric mandolins from an electric guitar maker's perspective.

    If you're an accomplished mandolin player, I'd suggest getting an inexpensive 4-string, having it setup and refined by a talented tech, and see what you can do to develop your skills. You cannot do all of the same things on a OMando as you can do on a normal scale mandolin. See if it fits into your music. You can buy a chorus pedal to yield a slight flavor of dual course strings. If you get hooked, then buy an 8-string. You'll never not have a need for the 4-string or you can pass it on to someone else.

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