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Thread: Tuning a Mexican vihuela in fifths?

  1. #1
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Sep 2002

    Default Tuning a Mexican vihuela in fifths?

    This here eBay ad got me thinking:

    That is quite clearly a Mexican vihuela, not a mandolin; it even says so on the label. The vihuela has 5 strings and provides harmony to the lead guitar in mariachi music. It is typically tuned ADGBE, but in a re-entrant tuning so the A, D, and G strings are an octave higher than they would be on a guitar.

    It looks OK for the money, although it would be nice to have a few more frets. I wonder about tuning one FCGDA and playing it as a 5-string tenor. But maybe that's a silly idea. More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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  3. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    Westchester, NY

    Default Re: Tuning a Mexican vihuela in fifths?

    The four frets it does have look like they slant a bit. You may want to completely refret it. Unless you can get it for less though it might not be worth it. Our local big box music store, Sam Ash, carries one line of Mexican instruments. They seem pretty decently made and are reasonably priced. They have a guitarron that is pretty cool. I remember being at Galax in the 1980s and some friends got on stage with their old time band and used a guitarron as their bass.

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    Last edited by Jim Garber; Feb-04-2020 at 12:36pm.

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  5. #3
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Oct 2014
    North CA

    Default Re: Tuning a Mexican vihuela in fifths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    The four frets it does have look like they slant a bit. You may want to completely refret it.
    Maybe, but the frets may just need to be re-adjusted if they are still tight enough to hold.

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