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Thread: Weber octar

  1. #1
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Weber octar

    My first ever octave mandolin arrived yesterday. It’s a 2016 Weber Gallatin octar:

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    I purchased this from Bernunzio’s where it showed up on the store’s New Arrivals listing last Monday as a “Weber Gallatin Irish Bouzuki (2016)”. The photos were beautiful (I’ve always appreciated the Gallatin aesthetic), and having wanted an octave for some time, and being familiar with the quality of Weber builds (I have a 2013 Yellowstone mandocello), I sprang for it. It arrived yesterday and I tuned it up this morning.

    My online search for information brought out the fact that this was marketed in its day as an “octar”. It’s serial number, 1613807, tells me (according to earlier Cafe postings re octars and Weber serial numbers) that it was the 138th octar built as a Weber. Bruce, responding to my query, emailed me to say that it was one of the last — built in late 2016 by TOH after Bruce had left and was signed by his son, Bruce J. Weber.

    It is a formidable machine. The instrument is in nearly pristine condition. It is built with a carved tonebar braced Sitka spruce top and mahogany carved back, rim, and neck. Its scale length of 23 ˝ inches will take some getting used to … fingering will be like a tenor guitar or tenor banjo. I can’t say exactly what the strings are, except that they are thick and will cause me to grow deep and profound calluses. The sound is rich and clear (as long as I fret properly) and with its 4 ˝ inch deep body, it rings with a sustain that does carry on — the former owner had rubber grommets both below the bridge and above the nut.

    Whatever will I do with this beast? In the short term, it will let me strum chords comfortably in old time jams. Further down the road, I hope to explore using it in a classical vein … but exactly which vein I’m not sure.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    Very cool. Is it called "Octar" just because of the guitar shape? - I am assuming its coursed GDAE, the 23 1/2 inch scale is the same as my Eastwood octave, a little stretchy for me compared to my 22 inch octaves but doable.
    Seems like more and more octaves and cellos are using that standard archtop guitar body these days.
    Nice snag!
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  5. #3
    Registered User Mandolin Deep Cuts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    Looks handsome! I’d love to hear it. I recommend the Bach Cello suites to scratch that classical itch. Mel Bay has a nice octave mandolin book that I really liked. https://www.melbay.comhttps//www.mel...-mandolin.aspx
    Mandolins: Labraid Grand Concert Jazz, Collings MF, Mowry Octave Mandolin
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    My first ever octave mandolin arrived yesterday. It’s a 2016 Weber Gallatin octar:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Untitled-3_071febi.jpg 
Views:	69 
Size:	1.02 MB 
ID:	204298

    I purchased this from Bernunzio’s where it showed up on the store’s New Arrivals listing last Monday as a “Weber Gallatin Irish Bouzuki (2016)”. The photos were beautiful (I’ve always appreciated the Gallatin aesthetic), and having wanted an octave for some time, and being familiar with the quality of Weber builds (I have a 2013 Yellowstone mandocello), I sprang for it. It arrived yesterday and I tuned it up this morning.

    My online search for information brought out the fact that this was marketed in its day as an “octar”. It’s serial number, 1613807, tells me (according to earlier Cafe postings re octars and Weber serial numbers) that it was the 138th octar built as a Weber. Bruce, responding to my query, emailed me to say that it was one of the last — built in late 2016 by TOH after Bruce had left and was signed by his son, Bruce J. Weber.

    It is a formidable machine. The instrument is in nearly pristine condition. It is built with a carved tonebar braced Sitka spruce top and mahogany carved back, rim, and neck. Its scale length of 23 ˝ inches will take some getting used to … fingering will be like a tenor guitar or tenor banjo. I can’t say exactly what the strings are, except that they are thick and will cause me to grow deep and profound calluses. The sound is rich and clear (as long as I fret properly) and with its 4 ˝ inch deep body, it rings with a sustain that does carry on — the former owner had rubber grommets both below the bridge and above the nut.

    Whatever will I do with this beast? In the short term, it will let me strum chords comfortably in old time jams. Further down the road, I hope to explore using it in a classical vein … but exactly which vein I’m not sure.
    Congratulations mate. The specs are solid and will make a fine instrument.Cheers!

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  9. #5
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    "Further down the road, I hope to explore using it in a classical vein … but exactly which vein I’m not sure."

    Hi Joe,

    Congrats on the new instrument!

    As to what to use it for in the classical idiom, an instrument like yours would be suited to an ensemble setting, such as romantic quartet (M1, M2, "mandola in G" (aka octave), classical guitar). There is a vast amount of high quality repertoire for this instrumentation. I've used my Kulhman liuto -- which, with 5 courses, combines the octave and a mandocello -- to play mandola in G parts with the New American Mandolin Ensemble and, on occasion (although not recently) with the Providence Mandolin Orchestra; the Kuhlman has a 24 inch scale, so just slightly longer than yours. Obviously I haven't played your instrument, but at the given scale length it likely has a very powerful G string, also useful in an ensemble setting. As another respondent mentioned you can also play the Bach cello suites; I would add that the Goichberg etudes for mandocello (sounding up a fifth, as the Bach) also will work.
    Robert A. Margo

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  11. #6
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    Whatever will I do with this beast? In the short term, it will let me strum chords comfortably in old time jams. Further down the road, I hope to explore using it in a classical vein … but exactly which vein I’m not sure.
    Congrats from another Weber OM owner! (Yellowstone F) That's a beauty.

    On the "what to do?" question, I use my OM on the slower tempo Irish and Scottish trad tunes where I can milk the long sustain. Metered airs, marches, "slow reels" and so forth. The OM doesn't "speak" as quickly as my mandolin with the longer scale and heavier strings, and the tremendous sustain can actually get in the way when trying to play fast tunes. So I save the faster tunes like jigs and reels for mandolin. My OM really shines on the slower stuff though.

    Don't be afraid to capo for tunes that benefit from it. I play some B dorian tunes with capo on the 2nd fret, and G dorian tunes with capo 3rd fret. Not just to ease the fingering on my 22" scale OM, but to have open strings available for double stops and drones.

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  13. #7
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    Thanks for your responses! Yes, mandolin deep cuts, the octar welcomes Bach ... arranged by the late and very missed John Goodin in his Baroque Sampler for Octave Mandolin. (Later on, I’ll compare John’s arrangement with an arrangement of the cello suites for violin.)

    Thanks, margora, for your romantic quartet suggestion. Perhaps this will prompt me to initiate something like that in my area. I do have the Goichberg studies and, despite having a mandocello, have yet to approach these challenging pieces.

    And, folded-path, your take on the octave is spot on re playing tunes of Irish or any other ilk. This is why my first impression was to use this for chordal accompaniment in an old-timey setting. I’m wondering if the sound would be more “direct” if I install the rubber grommets found in the case pocket? As for the capo, what a goof! Not being a guitar player (yet), I’ve never dealt with a capo. Something more to explore …

    I did pull out a wonderful piece by Machaut arranged with variations by Victor Kioulaphides called “Douce dame jolie variations” offered by Victor on the Cafe last year. Enjoyable on mandolin, the deep-voiced octar gives a new dimension to the piece. It’s a very medieval sounding piece that, at points, evokes memories of a droning hurdy-gurdy. I’d like to put my hands on more music in this vein (not to mention an actual hurdy-gurdy … )

    Thanks, again, everyone, for your encouragement and suggestions!

  14. #8
    Registered User vwfye's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    Wow!
    2022 SRC Electric Octave Mandolin
    Crafter Acoustic/Electric Mandolin
    Surf City Octave Acoustic Mando
    Epiphone Les Paul Ukulele
    Epiphone 1924 Recording A Tenor Banjo
    Paramount 1929 Artcraft Tenor Banjo


  15. #9
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    Awesome instrument, but the scale length is a deal breaker for me. I have a 20 inch Bitterroot Weber OM that fits just right…

    The Octars are awesome sounding beasts, though, so I’m sure you’ll have a great time figuring out how best to apply its strengths!
    Chuck

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  17. #10
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    information that octave mandolins are only for "playing slow tunes" is demonstrably false. many youtube videos of fast playing. outside of the usual suspects, check Olga Egorova for clean&fast&big on a short-scale octave. true, it does require more raw physical strength (compared to playing a uke), and better technique, and careful preparation, but IMO the result is worth the effort.

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  19. #11
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    mandocello8, thanks for introducing me to Olga Egorova. The first video I watched turned out to be another piece by Victor Kioulaphides. There are no accidents! She's a great player. Lots to learn from her.

  20. #12
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weber octar

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocello8 View Post
    information that octave mandolins are only for "playing slow tunes" is demonstrably false. many youtube videos of fast playing. outside of the usual suspects, check Olga Egorova for clean&fast&big on a short-scale octave. true, it does require more raw physical strength (compared to playing a uke), and better technique, and careful preparation, but IMO the result is worth the effort.
    I don't believe I ever said that OMs are only for playing slow tunes. As a personal preference, I just find mandolin works better for me when playing dance tempo jigs and reels, where I'm playing a single-note melody line and throwing in just a few doublestops here and there.

    On the OM I use more of a chord-melody approach, more harmony with full chords and sustaining drones, and that works best for me with slower to medium tempo tunes where you have a chance to hear the harmony, and the notes aren't flying past at reel dance tempos. Just personal preference.

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