Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: Mandocello Envy

  1. #1
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    south florida
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Mandocello Envy

    It's no secret that I've had the malady, however I also knew that a true mandocello was out of the range of my physical capabilities. I've also had the desire to play fingerstyle for some time, hence my acquisition of some ukuleles, which I immediately strung for fifths tuning.

    But my joy was not complete until I had commissioned and received a very special build that satisfied both of these longings at once. The maker, John Weisberg (who also made me my most treasured mandola some years back, pictured below for size comparison), labeled it a "Mandocello-Thing". I had suggested "5-String CelloMandoUkeThing", but I guess the label wasn't big enough!

    It's not a double-course instrument, but has 5 nylon strings tuned CGDAE. The sound is mellow and intimate, and I love playing it! Here are some more specs:

    Top - western red cedar
    Back and sides - figured ovangkol with central padauk strip
    Inlaid double-helix rosette
    Fan bracing
    Neck - mahogany
    Nut width 1.5"
    Fretboard, "slightly radiused" - black ebony
    Headstock overlay & heel cap - black ebony
    Bridge - fixed 10-hole tie bridge - black ebony
    BWB Purfling and dyed pearwood binding
    Frets - 20, stainless steel
    Tuners - Gotoh UPTL planetary
    Scale - 20" (Yesss!)
    Measurements - total length 32", body length 15.5", width 14", depth 3"

    Oh, and the case fits like a glove, because I bought it first (it's a Gold Tone Irish tenor large resonator banjo case) and asked John to make the instrument to fit it, and he delivered on that perfectly. It pays to plan ahead!

    I had never played on a 5-string instrument of any kind before, only 4 (or 4 courses), so that was my biggest challenge. I underestimated just how much that could mess with one's right hand "muscle memory", and even to this day, accidentally hitting a wrong middle string (confusing the 3rd for the 4th, or vice-versa) is my most common error. But it's met and exceeded all of my hopes and expectations. I've had the new "baby" since last fall, but finally decided to post the happy news and make the formal introduction!

    bratsche
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mandola and CelloMandoUke 2.jpg 
Views:	88 
Size:	116.6 KB 
ID:	186420   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	CelloMandoUke in case 2.jpg 
Views:	81 
Size:	157.0 KB 
ID:	186419   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	CelloMandoUke head and soundhole.jpg 
Views:	86 
Size:	147.1 KB 
ID:	186418  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	CelloMandoUke back detail.jpg 
Views:	67 
Size:	138.1 KB 
ID:	186417  
    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!
    MandolaViola's YouTube Channel

  2. The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to bratsche For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Southeast Iowa, U.S.A.
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    That's a beautiful... thing! It sounds like you are off on a new adventure; enjoy the journey!
    “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.” -- Aldo Leopold

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to trodgers For This Useful Post:


  5. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,896

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Oh, man, that’s a really, really cool concept. I had a Weber Yellowstone ‘Cello, but couldn’t handle the scale, at least not enough to make me want to play it for more than a1/2 hour or so. It became a 20 inch OM, which I’m really, really liking, but I do miss that low end thump. I’d pretty much resigned to just play base when I needed that rumble, but now you’ve got me thinking...
    Chuck

  6. The following members say thank you to CES for this post:

    MrMoe 

  7. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    888

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    congrats - very cool! - in the future -you will hand it down to some one in one way or the other, and they will have a post on a message forum, "what is this"
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  8. The following members say thank you to tmsweeney for this post:

    MrMoe 

  9. #5
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    south florida
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    Oh, man, that’s a really, really cool concept. I had a Weber Yellowstone ‘Cello, but couldn’t handle the scale, at least not enough to make me want to play it for more than a1/2 hour or so. It became a 20 inch OM, which I’m really, really liking, but I do miss that low end thump. I’d pretty much resigned to just play base when I needed that rumble, but now you’ve got me thinking...
    It was actually this old thread (Thank you, Ondrej) that first got the wheels turning for me on this. I didn't actually try stringing up my baritone uke as a mandocello, but seeing and hearing that it could be done began my conceptualization of this new hybrid. I figured that having a larger body cavity would help the C string's timbre, and of course having the E string on top gives me both the m'cello and octave mando tunings together in one instrument, as well. So I can play cello suite and violin partita movements in their original keys, not to mention arranging music so as to take advantage of the entire 5-string range!

    bratsche
    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!
    MandolaViola's YouTube Channel

  10. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to bratsche For This Useful Post:

    MrMoeondrej 

  11. #6
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    south florida
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    congrats - very cool! - in the future -you will hand it down to some one in one way or the other, and they will have a post on a message forum, "what is this"
    Haha, funny, but as I mentioned, it does say "Mandocello-thing" on the label...

    bratsche
    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!
    MandolaViola's YouTube Channel

  12. The following members say thank you to bratsche for this post:

    MrMoe 

  13. #7

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Quote Originally Posted by bratsche View Post
    …(O)f course having the E string on top gives me both the m'cello and octave mando tunings together in one instrument, as well. So I can play cello suite and violin partita movements in their original keys, not to mention arranging music so as to take advantage of the entire 5-string range!
    Let me warn you, as someone who plays a five-course... you will come to a point where you will have to make the conscious choice to curtain your arrangements and chording in order to keep your four-course instruments in the rotation. At this point, I often work out source material on my five-course in the initial run-through, but then have to decide if it can be done on something smaller.

    Incidentally, if you really want a thorough grounding on that mando-thing, here's a page with links to download all four volumes of the Calace Method for Liuto Cantabile, which is a five-course fifth-tuned instrument.

    http://www.federmandolino.it/wp/spartiti-music-scores/

    Tremolo, reading, duo-style... and additional virtuosic pieces elsewhere on the page to push things even further.

    Congratulations on your new instrument!

  14. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Explorer For This Useful Post:


  15. #8
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    492

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    It's gorgeous! How does it sound?

  16. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Louise NM For This Useful Post:


  17. #9
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    south florida
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Here is a video. This piece was inspired by the Mandocello-thing, and started out as something I made up to help accustom myself to picking accurately across five strings; like an etude, if you will. The parts for the accompanying bowed strings were added after I had been playing it for a while, and imagined them in my head.

    This is the first time I've ever actually composed anything "from scratch", but I had fun doing it, and hope it's not just a one-off. Enjoy!

    bratsche

    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!
    MandolaViola's YouTube Channel

  18. The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to bratsche For This Useful Post:


  19. #10

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Very clever, and I really like the intentional attachment of the tuner, too!

  20. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Marty Jacobson For This Useful Post:


  21. #11
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States
    Posts
    13,922
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    It looks great and I like the voice a lot! Congratulations.

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

    + Give Blood, Save a Life +

  22. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JEStanek For This Useful Post:


  23. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Indepndence OR
    Posts
    344

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Nice meditative piece, and the quiet but steady 5 string motion is beautiful.

  24. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Jim Imhoff For This Useful Post:


  25. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    888

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    My thought was "Celtic harp" sounding , very nice piece.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  26. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to tmsweeney For This Useful Post:


  27. #14
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    south florida
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    Very clever, and I really like the intentional attachment of the tuner, too!
    Yeah, with those things, I always ditch the silly clip, lop off the nub it attaches to, and just use my trusty double-sided foam tape. Makes it too much of a pain to remove for photos, though,

    bratsche
    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!
    MandolaViola's YouTube Channel

  28. The following members say thank you to bratsche for this post:

    MrMoe 

  29. #15
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    492

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    The Thing has a lovely sound, very clear. If that's your first composition, I can't wait to hear your fifth or tenth!

  30. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Louise NM For This Useful Post:


  31. #16
    Registered User MrMoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Agreed, lovely playing, lovely tone, Reminiscent of some of Rob MacKillop`s pieces. Congratulations

  32. The following members say thank you to MrMoe for this post:


  33. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,896

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Very, very nicely done!
    Chuck

  34. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to CES For This Useful Post:


  35. #18
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,914

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    My thought was "Celtic harp" sounding , very nice piece.
    I had a different acoustic deja-vu, and I think I know what Bratsche's next challenge is going to be...
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  36. The following members say thank you to Bertram Henze for this post:

    MrMoe 

  37. #19
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    1,447
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    One of the most satisfying aspects of the project is in the design for your needs. I just ordered a violin bow and I have similar feelings of excitement of getting something 'just right'. Others on Mandolin Cafe have made nylon strung instruments and I would like to know how you 'all are doing with them. Some have done this a while back and probably have some great insights.
    Do you plan to play with others with this instrument? How does the sound blend with steel string instruments? I'm sure it has a wonderful deep and mellow tone.
    And that middle string tuning peg! That's a new one.
    Send more about this instrument and the builder, what music you are playing and planning to play.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  38. The following members say thank you to DougC for this post:

    MrMoe 

  39. #20
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,914

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    I would have called it a mandukulello.
    But the center tuner feels weird in my mirror neurons.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  40. The following members say thank you to Bertram Henze for this post:

    MrMoe 

  41. #21
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    south florida
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Thank you all for the kind comments!

    Because I lacked anything in this voicing and was drawn to the lower tones, I wanted this for the solitary pursuits of playing alone and helping me in arranging music. I hope to learn very soon how it blends with steel string instruments in future arrangements and recordings; but the partners in these endeavors will just be "me, myself, and I" again, unless circumstances drastically change. The other people with whom I play almost always require my bowed instruments over anything else.

    John is a local self-taught and adventurous luthier who can build or repair almost any kind of box with strings, but mostly likes to make classical guitars and violins. (He's also an accomplished oboist, of all things!) He has made a diverse variety one-off builds just for the challenge and learning aspects of the experience. Here's a link to the thread about the mandola he made me. That instrument, like this one, was one of a kind.

    Bertram - I do greatly enjoy the sound of a theorbo! But I don't aspire to own one, alas, as it's not tunable in fifths, and also, I'd need a home with higher ceilings (not to mention more storage space, which is quickly being maxed out)!

    Oh, and I love the center tuner - that, to me, is the only perfect solution! I can't claim credit for the idea, though. I got it from somebody's custom 5-string build on the uke forum. The moment I saw it, I made a note that when I get my 5-stringer, that's the only way to go! It appealed greatly to my almost obsessive preference for symmetry - the 3 and 2 (or 2 and 3, or 5 on one side) configurations just didn't do it for me, but rather set my teeth on edge and raised the hair on the back of my neck. LOL

    bratsche
    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!
    MandolaViola's YouTube Channel

  42. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to bratsche For This Useful Post:

    DougCMrMoe 

  43. #22
    Registered User MrMoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    The planetary tuners and their layout are a very nice touch. We listened to mediation on 5 several more times and found our teeth very relaxed. Thanks again, Maurice

  44. The following members say thank you to MrMoe for this post:


  45. #23
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Northern Indiana
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Nice instrument! Looks great and I love the sound.
    Ironically, I just happened to listen to the “Meditation” last night. I’ve had a pulled neck muscle For about the last month and a half and haven’t been sleeping well at all. I finally received relief from the physician yesterday So last night I was enjoying reading through the forum without feeling like my head was gonna fall off. The absence of pain and general fatigue blended with that piece of music that you wrote and it was like taking a sleeping pill: I actually fell asleep about halfway through the piece it was so relaxing. I woke up when It ended And immediately dragged myself off to bed . It was a very well done piece .thanks for sharing it. I hope you write something else in a similar vein soon

    Garry

    DISCLAIMER:typos and mistakes in My posts are purely the responsibility of my iPad. It is the master of my fate ,the captain of my soul and I am nothing but its hands

  46. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Sittius For This Useful Post:


  47. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Chicagoland north
    Posts
    94

    Default Re: Mandocello Envy

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful instrument, composition and playing with us! I really liked that piece, and the instrument sounds great.

  48. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Alfons For This Useful Post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •