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Thread: 18" scale length-Help with options

  1. #1

    Default 18" scale length-Help with options

    I have built an 18 inch scale length instrument and would like to know what the best string gauges are to get the best from it.
    Also, forgive my ignorance but could this also be strung as an octave mandolin and I'd yes what string gauges would be suitable.
    Thanks in advance for any suggestions offered
    Regards
    Brian

  2. #2

    Default Re: 18" scale length-Help with options

    I'd suggest stringing that as a mandola.
    CGDA (a 5th lower than mandolin)
    Daddario EJ76
    https://www.daddario.com/products/gu...-medium-15-52/

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  4. #3

    Default Re: 18" scale length-Help with options

    I think that stringing it as an octave mandolin would probably be borderline workable at best. The G string would need to be pretty heavy - maybe a .50 or thereabouts - and I expect the tone would probably be pretty thuddy. As Stevojack suggests, stringing it for CGDA would be a good option.

    Another option would be to string it for DAEB. If you're playing Irish music or other music that's mostly in keys like D,G, Em, Am, and A, that tuning allows you to use the same fingerings as you would on a mandolin or octave mandolin, just shifted over a course. I have a Weber mandola that's justly slightly shorter scale than yours (17.25, I believe) which I tune that way, using guages of .40, .26, .15, and .11. (The D and A are wound, the E and B are plain.) For your slightly longer scale, you'd probably want to go just slightly lighter than that, at least as a starting point.

  5. #4

    Default Re: 18" scale length-Help with options

    Thanks pyrite
    I like the sound of your second suggestion tuning DAEB and that would suit the music I play.. I'm not familiar with string gauges and tensions, any idea how much lighter I would need to go?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks ptritz
    I like the sound of your second suggestion tuning DAEB and that would suit the music I play.. I'm not familiar with string gauges and tensions, any idea how much lighter I would need to go?

  6. #5

    Default Re: 18" scale length-Help with options

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian D View Post
    Thanks ptritz
    I like the sound of your second suggestion tuning DAEB and that would suit the music I play.. I'm not familiar with string gauges and tensions, any idea how much lighter I would need to go?
    It sounds like he's recommending a regular set of medium gauge mandolin strings "using gauges of .40, .26, .15, and .11".

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  7. #6

    Default Re: 18" scale length-Help with options

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian D View Post
    Thanks pyrite
    I like the sound of your second suggestion tuning DAEB and that would suit the music I play.. I'm not familiar with string gauges and tensions, any idea how much lighter I would need to go?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks ptritz
    I like the sound of your second suggestion tuning DAEB and that would suit the music I play.. I'm not familiar with string gauges and tensions, any idea how much lighter I would need to go?

    Graham MacDonald has a very useful string tension calculator on his website. Here's the link: https://www.mcdonaldstrings.com/stringxxiii.html Using that calculator, gauges of .38, .24, .016, .011 would give you tensions of about 21 lb. on each string. Something in that range is generally a pretty good starting point.

  8. #7
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: 18" scale length-Help with options

    Hi Brian,

    I have a custom-made 18.5" scale-length arch-top Weber. The top plate is mandola-size and the sides (ribs) are OM depth. It works very well as an OM (GDAE) or as a mandola (CGDA). I have had it for many years now and played it in a number of settings. I often play it for Renaissance era music in my mandolin/guitar duo. Most of the time it is strung GDAE, not CGDA, but either works well. I have also played it in larger ensemble settings.

    Attached is a table I have shared on the Cafe before. It lists five string sets I have had success with. For each, I list construction, gauge, tension, manufacturer's numbers and Just Strings numbers. This should provide a starting point for you, as any of these that work on an 18.5" instrument should work pretty similarly on an 18" scale. Use a string tension calculator such as Graham MacDonald's or D'Addario's to check the tensions for your instrument. Instead of trying the strings I have used, you may want to try others based on string tension.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Even if the attachment looks dark, open it and it should be fine.

    Best wishes,

    Bob
    Purr more, hiss less.

  9. #8

    Default Re: 18" scale length-Help with options

    Around 20 years ago a friend of mine made a small Guitar for each of his twin boys with an 18 inch scale. I liked the look of it so I asked him to make me one with 8 strings.

    It never got played much, then five years ago I took up Mandolin and tuned it CGDA. I still didn't play it much as I have a good Mandolin & it fits in better at Sessions.

    A few months ago I restrung it, 36, 24, 16, 12. It sounded good but a bit floppy, so on a whim I tuned it to DAEB and it just came alive.

    It's an incredibly usefiul instrument. I take it to a pub Session and it's great for backing songs or playing low D parts on traditional tunes. If we get into jigs/reels etc the Capo on five gives me a Mandolin. It's a flat top with a spruce top and Maple everywhere else.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #9

    Default Re: 18" scale length-Help with options

    Thanks to all of you for the suggestions made. I have enough now to try a few options.
    Best wishes to all

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