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Thread: Octave Mandolin - capo question

  1. #1

    Default Octave Mandolin - capo question

    Forgive my ignorance but with a Octave Mandolin tuned to GDAE, if i want to make it a mando, do i capo at the 12th fret? That just seems way too far.

    I think i saw someone on the 5th fret but then aren't the strings CGDA?

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    It's an octave lower than a normal mandolin. Putting the capo at 5 would give you the same tuning as a mandola. 12 would be right but that doesn't mean you can play your octave mandolin up there.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    It's an octave lower than a normal mandolin. Putting the capo at 5 would give you the same tuning as a mandola. 12 would be right but that doesn't mean you can play your octave mandolin up there.

    Why you would buy an octave mandolin, then want to make it sound like a mandolin? I do love playing mine capoed at the fifth fret. As Mike says, CGDA.

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buesseler View Post
    Why you would buy an octave mandolin, then want to make it sound like a mandolin? I do love playing mine capoed at the fifth fret. As Mike says, CGDA.
    For variety.

    You know like maybe generally speaking you like the sound of an octave mandolin but for a particular tune or 2, the mandolin sounds nicer.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    For variety.

    You know like maybe generally speaking you like the sound of an octave mandolin but for a particular tune or 2, the mandolin sounds nicer.
    -what if you really like the octave but occasionally you think the whistle sounds nicer, how are you going to capo the octave then?

  7. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    Recording artists like Leo Kottke have been capoing 12 string guitars high for decades to make them sound like mandolins. If you can capo at 12 and actually play up there have at it. I understand the concept but not knowing your particular instrument I can't tell you if you can actually play up there. I'm of the school of whatever works for you is fine.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    Capo-ing that high often involves a lot of retuning to get to concert pitch, and then re-re-tuning when the capo comes off. At least that's been my experience. A lot depends on how tight you have to make the capo (the looser the better, as long as the strings don't buzz).

    Worth a try, anyway.
    Allen Hopkins
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  9. #8

    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    I have three main capo positions on my octave.

    Fret 2 gets that lovely capo tone but isn't too close to the nut that it’ll affect tuning (so much). It also has the nice long finger stretches and lower pitches.

    Fret 5, my favourite, nice ‘boing’ sounding beautiful rich tone, reactive string tension, fret size is optimal for my hands and tuning is CGDA. So you can play tunes that don’t stray too much onto the e string if you were playing mandolin.

    Fret 7 about the same scale length as the mando, DAEB tuning, not so good because with the wide neck then fingers have to go perpendicular to fretboard for the 3rd and 4th strings, so guitar shaped rather than mando angled fingering. Makes the feeling a bit clumsy. But the big plus is that you can play many fiddle tunes as long as they don’t stray onto the G string of the mando (and even then you can improvise). Nice bounce of the pick on the strings, you can play MUCH faster and cleaner but doesn’t take advantage of what an octave can do, acoustically speaking.

    Above fret 7 I guess it’s sometimes ok for open strumming of chords but for me that’s about it.

    Yes definitely try the capo, and remember that some people will not like you doing that. Just apologize nicely.

    -and remember that in some ways they are right.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Sep-16-2020 at 5:05am.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    From the 12th fret I prefer to play mandolin!

    BUT I do really like the sound of my Sobell octave capoed up at the 8th fret, which I use for songs or tunes in F. It's not like I can't play in the key of F, especially on mandolin, but it sounds like a quite different instrument and is very effective.

    I'll maybe put up a clip of it so you can hear what I mean.
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    From the 12th fret I prefer to play mandolin!

    BUT I do really like the sound of my Sobell octave capoed up at the 8th fret, which I use for songs or tunes in F. It's not like I can't play in the key of F, especially on mandolin, but it sounds like a quite different instrument and is very effective.

    I'll maybe put up a clip of it so you can hear what I mean.
    Here we are. John Grieve's Strathspey and The New Brig O' Ayr.

    https://linksharing.samsungcloud.com...7957518C225CyI
    David A. Gordon

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  13. #11

    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    Well played and that’s a cracking tune Dagger, John Grieve’s Strathspey.

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  15. #12
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin - capo question

    Whilst you might end up with mandolin tuning by capoing at the 12th fret, assuming you still have room to play the thing, it simply won’t feel right because (1) the scale length will likely be shorter than that found on a mandolin (OMs don’t usually have twice the scale length) and (2) the strings will be far heavier than those on a mandolin.

    Even if you have a good quality OM you’re likely to get a far better “mandolin” sound out of a relatively cheap mandolin.

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