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Thread: Octave pairings?

  1. #1
    Registered User THart's Avatar
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    Default Octave pairings?

    I'm interested in trying octave pairings. If my G & D are .046 & .032 respectively, what gauges should I look to pair them with?

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    This is dead simple, two ways.

    1. To tune an octave higher, halve the diameter. So your octave G would be .023 and the octave D is .016.

    2. Even easier, use a spare A tuned to an octave G. Use a spare E tuned to an octave D.

    I've used both methods many many times over the past 12 years.

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    Registered User THart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    Well, that makes perfect sense. Thank you!

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    Registered User THart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    Secondary question. All octave mandolin string sets I find are phosphor bronze. If I want to try something different should I just look form guitar strings in the gauges I want?

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    Quote Originally Posted by THart View Post
    Secondary question. All octave mandolin string sets I find are phosphor bronze. If I want to try something different should I just look form guitar strings in the gauges I want?
    That's what I do. My OM has an Allen tailpiece that takes ball end strings, and I use octave pairs on the G, D and A courses. I make up custom sets from individual guitar strings. I've got flat wound chrome strings on it now, but I've also tried monel, phosphor bronze and 80/20 bronze.

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    Registered User THart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    Yep, mine has an Allen that takes either too so that's not a problem.

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    Registered User MB-Octo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    Also consider placing the octaves in "ascending" pitch like a Rickenbacker 12-string. Having them in the "traditional" 12-string guitar pairing seems to obscure the fundamentals from the low end. To my ear, placing the octaves on the far side "seasons" the instrument's voice in a more subtle manner.
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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    To my ear, "ascending pitch" mutes and negates the 12-string sound. Had my Rickenbackers modified to the "traditional" 12-string guitar pairing. IMO, the octave string should ring above the lower octave. Try both configurations and see what your ear says to you. Different strokes...
    Last edited by Jacob; Aug-26-2020 at 12:24am.

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  12. #9
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    Quote Originally Posted by MB-Octo View Post
    Also consider placing the octaves in "ascending" pitch like a Rickenbacker 12-string. Having them in the "traditional" 12-string guitar pairing seems to obscure the fundamentals from the low end. To my ear, placing the octaves on the far side "seasons" the instrument's voice in a more subtle manner.
    I didn't know that term for it but its also how I've strung my 10 string mandola, OM and 10 string mandocello. These instruments I have all use a zero fret so the nut slots can accomodate a variety of string gages. I first heard a Herb Taylor OM strung that way and really prefer it. When playing melodies or runs between chords it sounds more coherent to me.

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    Registered User MB-Octo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I didn't know that term for it but its also how I've strung my 10 string mandola, OM and 10 string mandocello. These instruments I have all use a zero fret so the nut slots can accomodate a variety of string gages. I first heard a Herb Taylor OM strung that way and really prefer it. When playing melodies or runs between chords it sounds more coherent to me.
    Heh heh ... the term is just my attempt to describe what I hear on a down-stroke of those pairs. I use it on one OM, while another is unison-paired. Your comment about melodies and runs is a good point; phrasing just seems more natural.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Octave pairings?

    Irish Zouk has used octave Gg & Dd..A & E unisons..

    these are banjo length necks ...

    a follows g & e follows d



    Last edited by mandroid; Aug-28-2020 at 3:47pm.
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    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave pairings?

    FYI: the Rickenbacker configuration for octave pairs is based on using flatwounds, not roundwounds, so the higher pitched string is a bit brighter comparatively.
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