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Thread: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Long-time guitar player here and by now Iíve accumulated a few ó acoustic nylon, acoustic steel, bass, acoustic bass, a number of electric six strings, etc. Iím fairly new to mandolin though (and loving it), but at least for me, despite of course having a lust to acquire one or two more (mostly because theyíre so flipping beautiful), I just canít justify it like I can with guitars, where there are so any more varied sounds and applications and types of music that call for different guitars. That just ainít the case with mandolins, as far as I know. Or maybe Iím totally naive, and the Collings MT that I have should never ever EVER be used in a pop or rock or country song... ().
    Thoughts? What excuses do all you multi-mandolinists have for your MAS? Not that any are really needed...

  2. #2

    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    F-hole vs oval hole is the usual sound contrast among archtops. There are variations amongst both, the the party line goes something like this:
    - f holes have more bark, meaning more aggressive attack, brighter, less sustain. Used for Bluegrass and other genres.
    - oval holes are darker, more sustain, less bark, used for classical (although bowlbacks are the traditional classical instrument), and other styles that require darker tone and more sustain.

    Then there is the flat-top vs archtop thing.
    - archtops are darker and less sustain, somehow the f-hole archtop hits the sweetspot for bluegrass.
    - flattops (almost always oval holes) are brighter with even more sustain than an oval hole archtop, this one will get used for celtic music which likes a bright sound and lots of sustain because it often has more than one string ringing.

    I probably didn't get all of this right, especially the various genres, but I have played on all of the models I describe so the tone is directly IMHO. Let the more experienced with other genres chime in.

    I personally own a few archtop f-holes, an archtop oval hole (which is my favorite as I like to let multiple strings ring and do a little classical), and a flat-top oval hole (which has wonderful sustain but is too bright for my taste).

    And as a last bit of opinion, I think you will find the mandolin family to be as varied as guitar (sans nylon strings), if you include mandolas, OM's, mandocellos, and various forms of tenor guitars, and most of those come in electric (4 and 8 string variations).
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design), TC octave mandolin.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    You must balance your instrument collection Grasshopper. Many more mandolins is the way to enlightenment.

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  5. #4
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    F-style, A-style, two-point. Oval hole, ff holes. A-4s, where the neck is flush with the top, A- or F-5s where it is elevated. Bowl backs, canted-top flat backs. New, old, midcentury. Italian, German, American. Mandolas, octave mandolins, mandocellos.

    Pick one from each category.

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    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Nothing wrong with having more than one.

  8. #6

    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    One reason guitars are so variable is all the different tunings we use with them..and configurations -




    I really dig using different tunings on fiddle too. Here's a nice vid (obviously rel to mndln):

    Last edited by catmandu2; Jan-10-2021 at 12:31am.

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    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by esslewis View Post
    Or maybe Iím totally naive, and the Collings MT that I have should never ever EVER be used in a pop or rock or country song... [/I]
    Pop, rock, country.... yes! The MT is a great choice.

    Classical, Gypsy Jazz, Jazz, Celtic, ITM, American Folk, Old Time, Swing, Choro, Klezmer, Italian, Czech, etc... there may or may not be better mandolin options.

  11. #8

    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Good stuff, Kurt; thank you!

  12. #9

    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    That’s good to hear — I bought it because of the Collings reputation and sheer gorgeousness, and that’s mostly the kind of stuff I’ll be playing with it.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    I have to believe that’s excellent advice.

  14. #11

    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    I’m gonna have to buy more lottery tickets.

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    After a while you realize that sometimes too many mandolins is one too few! When coronavirus lifts, play as many as you can and you will always be able to find one that speaks to you in a way that your others don't. Some of us are serial owners, searching for "the one". I've been guilty of practicing catch & release for a long time.

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  17. #13
    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    I could use a few more...
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    See my signature below. As you will note there are no F-models however each of the mandolins has its own tone color. They are different, but having said that, there are no truly strict rules for using a particular mandolin in a particular genre except for IMHO playing a bowlback in a bluegrass band. You can play classical on any mandolin for instance. I have even played swing jazz on a bowlback though it is possible that some people were laughing at me behind my back.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    And then there's the resonator mandolin---which I am Jonesing for just because it's unique.
    Now, what was I after when I wandered in here?

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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    When I was younger, I felt as the OP and accumulated many guitars. But now that I am older and wiser I’ve forsaken that pursuit and accepted the true pursuit of happiness is found in mandolins.

    Pay no attention to the banjo in the closet.
    Play it like you mean it

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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Well .... for me it's about tone. Different guitars, mandolins fiddles and their shapes sizes woods string types produce a great many tones. So for me the more the merrier.
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  23. #18
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Different models and styles, indeed. AND there is a whole family to pick at; mandola, mandocello and the octave mandolin for different ranges of voice. AND THEN if you are digging pop/rock flavored music, there are a lot of interesting electric mandolin family instruments. Oh, and don't forget the tenor banjo and guitar world just around the corner...

    Welcome to the rabbithole, Alice.
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by esslewis View Post
    Long-time guitar player here and by now I’ve accumulated a few — acoustic nylon, acoustic steel, bass, acoustic bass, a number of electric six strings, etc. I’m fairly new to mandolin though (and loving it), but at least for me, despite of course having a lust to acquire one or two more (mostly because they’re so flipping beautiful), I just can’t justify it like I can with guitars, where there are so any more varied sounds and applications and types of music that call for different guitars. That just ain’t the case with mandolins, as far as I know. Or maybe I’m totally naive, and the Collings MT that I have should never ever EVER be used in a pop or rock or country song... ().
    Thoughts? What excuses do all you multi-mandolinists have for your MAS? Not that any are really needed...
    If you want to equalize your collection you have so take into account that mandolins are smaller than guitars. A good rule of thumb is to buy 3 mandolins for every guitar. Ukuleles count as 3/4 of a mandolin

  25. #20
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    I usually only keep one really nice mandolin and one very good, versatile guitar around the shop, but at times I'm know to own a dozen or more upright basses!

    More perspective: Upright bass strings cost approx. $200 per set but I can get several years out of them with no issues, so I generally spend much more $$$ on guitar and mandolin strings that get replaced all of the time.

    In the last six years I've had 0 paid guitar gigs and 3 paid mandolin gigs, while I probably spent at least $10k on guitar and mandolin equipment.......BUT.......I've made approx. $15k with a bass that I was given to me for free and played approx. 300+ gigs...

  26. #21
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    If you want to equalize your collection you have so take into account that mandolins are smaller than guitars. A good rule of thumb is to buy 3 mandolins for every guitar. Ukuleles count as 3/4 of a mandolin
    I like this rule! Two years ago I had five guitars and one mandolin. I now have one guitar and ten mandolins. If my mathematics are correct I need two more mandolins! Thanks!!!!

  27. #22
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by esslewis View Post
    .... I just can’t justify it like I can with guitars, where there are so any more varied sounds and applications and types of music that call for different guitars. That just ain’t the case with mandolins, as far as I know.
    You are very much mistaken. Guitars can come in 0, 00, 000, parlor, orchestral, dreadnaught and jumbo sizes, but they're all tuned the same. But mandolin family instruments can be mandolinetto, mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello and the elusive mandobass. Different sizes, different tunings. There are wood and metal bodied resonator mandolins, banjolins, carved top, flattop...?

    And musical genres? Mandolins are used in classical, swing, gypsy jazz, folk, blues, bluegrass, country, rock, Nordic, Irish trad, Italian, Greek....

    It will just take time for you to absorb it all.

  28. #23

    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    You are very much mistaken. Guitars can come in 0, 00, 000, parlor, orchestral, dreadnaught and jumbo sizes, but they're all tuned the same. But mandolin family instruments can be mandolinetto, mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello and the elusive mandobass. Different sizes, different tunings. There are wood and metal bodied resonator mandolins, banjolins, carved top, flattop...?

    And musical genres? Mandolins are used in classical, swing, gypsy jazz, folk, blues, bluegrass, country, rock, Nordic, Irish trad, Italian, Greek....

    It will just take time for you to absorb it all.
    You seem to have it turned around. I think it's more the custom to have your mndln-family instruments tuned in 5ths, while guitars are often tuned every which way...(at least mine are).

    If you're referring only to the different ranges - bass through sopranino - the same could be said of guitar-family..

  29. #24
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    You seem to have it turned around. I think it's more the custom to have your mndln-family instruments tuned in 5ths, while guitars are often tuned every which way...(at least mine are).

    If you're referring only to the different ranges - bass through sopranino - the same could be said of guitar-family..
    I don't know what you are thinking. My F5 and F4 mandolins, banjolin, resonator mandolin, electric mandolin, 10 string mandola, F4 and F5 octave mandolins and 10 string F4 mandocello are all tuned in fifths. (So are my violin, octave violin, 5 string viola, 5 string octave viola and 10 string Hardanger viola). But they're not all tuned the same. My F4 OM and mandocello use octave pairs (like a 12 string guitar). The mandola and mandocello are an octave apart. These are the standard tunings for these instruments, but not the only tunings in use by players. The different instruments of the mandolin family have different voices, different ranges.

    In the guitar world, in standard tuning, it doesn't matter what size the guitar is (baby, parlor, 0, 00, etc.) the tuning is still the same; it doesn't go down a fifth or an octave when size increases (until you get to a baritone or bass guitar). So to me there may be a different timbre but certainly not a different range associated with different body sizes. Obviously there are multiple tunings employed by guitar players as well - DADGAD, droo D, double drop D, hundreds of slack key variations. But these are not inherent to the build of the instrument. These can be employed on any guitar body size.

  30. #25

    Default Re: Multiple guitars but just one mandolin

    Hmm, different strokes i guess. For me, gtrs are prbly the most varied - in terms of structure and design, as well as any tuning permutation - stringed instrument on the planet. I think all the experimentation in guitar building over the years speaks for itself - it's prbly the most experimented-upon design in strings..

    <image: Manzer's pikasso, Bhatt's slide, hell doubles, triples, quads...>

    I play flamenco - do you have a nylon or gut "equivalent" in your quiver? Or a dedicated slide or pedal steel build? Or JPJ's slide bass monstrosity..?
    Last edited by catmandu2; Jan-12-2021 at 11:51am.

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