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Thread: Advice on a Mandola?

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rickker View Post
    Sorry to drift off the topic a bit, but maybe a good time to clear up just what is the difference between a mandola and an ocatave mandolin.

    Am I correct with the following?

    A Mandola is tuned like a viola, CGDA, and has a longer neck and scale length than a mandolin. The notes on the G,D and A strings have the same pitch as those on a mandolin.

    The Octave Madolin is tuned just the same as a regular mandolin, but all strings are tuned one octave lower. Scale length is about 20". The standard bluegrass G chop chord (D-G-B-G) is almost impossible to fret with standard length fingers.

    So, here is my question: If the objective is to get an instrument with lower-pitched notes and more sustain than a mandolin, why would you pick one over the other? Both are tuned in 5ths and use regular mandolin chord shapes. Is there an inherent difference in sound quality or playability?

    I am asking because I am curious and have never had either one in my hands. Thanks.

    ....Rickker
    Transposition is one answer to why you would choose one over the other - it's easier to think and play in the same key but an octave lower, than it is to try to transpose on the fly if you're playing along with something. As to sound, you'll often hear it said that the longer a string is, the better it sounds. Given that I have small hands, I try to find instruments that sound good to me even though they have a shorter scale. At 16" I can pretty much play it like a mandolin. Beyond that I have to start doing things differently because I can't stretch that far.

  2. #27

    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    There is a used Mid Missouri / Big Muddy mandola for sale in the classifieds here.

  3. #28
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    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    I had a Gibson H1 (tenor) mandola years ago. It was a basket-case, so broken up I thought I was buying a mandolin until I got it home. I spent a lot on restoring it but I never liked the tubby sound or the too chunky neck profile so I sold it on. I thought that was it for me on mandolas until I tried a Girouard f-hole tenor mandola in TAMCO in Brighton. I loved the sound but did not buy it. However I recently bought a similar Girouard mandola via the Cafe and I am very pleased with it. In fact, I find the tone so deep and resonant that it makes my mandolins sound thin by comparison and I play little else these days. The ADGC tuning would make me a pariah in Irish pub sessions but, as those are all suspended now, I will keep luxuriating in the deep mandola vibe.
    Anglocelt
    mainly Irish & Scottish but open to all dance-oriented melodic music.
    Mandos: Gibson A2, Mike Black A4, Taran Springwell, Shippey Rosewood; TM and OM by J E Dallas (London) & Davidson.

  4. #29
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    Do you think it would be hard to learn to play a mandola at the same time you are learning mandolin?

  5. #30
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    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    Do you think it would be hard to learn to play a mandola at the same time you are learning mandolin?
    Sue, I think that really depends on the player, how they think and approach things, and to some extent their level of experience with music and playing musical instruments. For some it might just be too much and too confusing. For others it might expand their viewpoint in ways that are beneficial. Sometimes it helps to have a door opened, or to have something tip you off a ledge and send you flying. I remember when I was taking lessons and whining to my teacher that I wasn't making the kind of progress I wanted on some pieces he had me working on - his answer was to hand me three new ones and say "Oh, try working on these too". When I was stuck, he gave me new pathways to find and do something that clicked with where I was at and let me move forward.

    So back to your question, trying to learn both could just the stimulus you need to keep them both going, and trading off on any given day might bring just the inspiration you need to stay interested. I often find that picking up a different instrument takes me someplace I wasn't expecting. Also remember that there's only so much time in a day to study and practice, so you have to allocate it in a way that keeps you satisfied with your progress and having enough fun that you want to do it some more.

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  7. #31
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    Hard thing may be the chords being same shapes but different names..


    Another Octave: Irish Zouk long scale , Fits in a banjo case.
    use tenor banjo chords , transposed.


    friend sings with that zouk rather than guitar self accompaniment..

    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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  9. #32

    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    A new Big Muddy mandola would be in the OP's price range.

    Not a carved top, but the sound and playability of these is very nice from my limited experience.

    Mick
    I have had one for several years. It has a great sound, playability, and is made in the USA.

    I ordered it and had it built to my specs. It's a keeper.

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  11. #33
    Registered User kookaburra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    I believe Big Muddy has cases too.

  12. #34
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    https://www.clarindasmusic.com/

    ^^^ This lady will build you a nice mandola, or mandolin, or guitar for a good price. I was talking with her once about getting a mandola built but changed my mind, not sure how much I would actually play it.
    ...

  13. #35
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    https://www.clarindasmusic.com/

    ^^^ This lady will build you a nice mandola, or mandolin, or guitar for a good price. I was talking with her once about getting a mandola built but changed my mind, not sure how much I would actually play it.
    Wow. Amazing link, thanks.

    Expect the unexpected.

    Mick
    Ever tried, ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again. Fail better.--Samuel Beckett
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  15. #36

    Default Re: Advice on a Mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    Do you think it would be hard to learn to play a mandola at the same time you are learning mandolin?
    I play a 20" octave and though I have largish hands, it was hard work to play using mandolin/fiddle fingering. I use a capo a lot but I’ve learned all the notes on the fretboard so if I put the capo at 3rd fret I still know what notes I’m playing and at the same time remember the relative positions of notes and double stops for whatever tune.

    Mandolin for me is capo fret 7 and I can move quite happily to frets 4 or 5 while my fingers automatically adjust for the different fret spacing. This took a couple of weeks to get used to, but is a technique that’s really well worthwhile adding to your list of techniques. Each technique is another step along that road.

    Haven’t got this one yet but I want to learn how to play my favourite tunes in lots of different keys. I think that helps with ear training too.
    So for me at this stage I think that would be great to learn tunes with one fingering on the mandolin and then another on the mandola.
    In fact already I occasionally start a tune in the ‘wrong’ key and don’t realise til well into the B part where the fingering doesn’t feel as smooth as it should.

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