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Thread: Mandela to Octave Mandolin

  1. #1
    Dan N
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Mandela to Octave Mandolin

    Just picked up an Eastman Mandola. I have been reading that it can be tuned as an octave mandolin. However, I am not sure if you need to go up or down with the strings. Would going up create too much tension? Maybe I am answering my own question, but going up would just turn it into a mandolin, correct?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions,
    Dan

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    High Peak - UK
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    Default Re: Mandela to Octave Mandolin

    Exactly, if you go up, you’ll end up with a mandolin and probably break something. If you go down, it will tune like an octave mandolin but probably sound terrible due to the shorter scale length. Why not enjoy it for what it is?

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    North Bend OR
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    Default Re: Mandela to Octave Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by fumbling View Post
    Just picked up an Eastman Mandola. I have been reading that it can be tuned as an octave mandolin. However, I am not sure if you need to go up or down with the strings. Would going up create too much tension? Maybe I am answering my own question, but going up would just turn it into a mandolin, correct?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions,
    Dan
    I tried that with a Trinity College mandola, and even with the longer, 17"scale, the results were less than acceptable. I have heard am 18" scale will work, but I haven't personally played an octave with that scale length.

  4. #4
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Mandela to Octave Mandolin

    People claim octave mandolin tuning will work on 19" scale , but I believe you really need 20" minimum to get good harmonics

    The Celtic Star octave/mandolas (19") claim to work at either but I felt the octave tuning was too muddy and loose so tuned mine as mandola

    as of lately I have found many of the Celtic melodies I love work well on mandola, so do many ( but not all) fiddle tunes, for that reason I treat the mandola and mandocello as an octave pair and the mandolin and octave mandolin as the other octave pair.

    For mandola I prefer 17" and for octave I prefer 22"

    mandocello is generally 24-26" 24" being more to my liking.
    "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"

  5. #5

    Default Re: Mandela to Octave Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by fumbling View Post
    Just picked up an Eastman Mandola. I have been reading that it can be tuned as an octave mandolin. However, I am not sure if you need to go up or down with the strings. Would going up create too much tension?
    Hey, Dan!

    It's not just a matter of tuning the strings you have on there to a different pitch. You would need to change those strings to strings which have the tension you like, but at the new pitches. You might also have to widen the notches in the nut for the wider strings, and change the bridge position to correct the intonation for the new tuning.

    As an example...

    I recently (like these past two weeks) took a pancake mandolin which I barely play, but which had good tension/feel at pitch. I would be dropping it a fifth to a mandola tuning.

    I knew the A-D-G courses worked already, so I would have to shift them over one position, with possible adjustments to nut and bridge.

    I used the D'Addario string tension chart to find the tension of the other strings at their pitches, and found a string with a similar tension for the low C.

    I own a full set of nut slot files, since I do a lot of instrument work, but lucked out and didn't need to widen the nut slots.

    ----

    In your case, once you're happy with the feel of your strings, you'll double the gauges of the strings on your A, D and G strings, putting those on the lowest three courses, and then find a string which will tune to E at the same tension as the previous high A. You'll have the nut slots widened if necessary, and the bridge position shifted. If you're not playing up the neck, you can leave worrying about precise intonation until you decide if you're going to keep it that way. If you decide to that, then get the whole set-up done.

    Good luck!

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