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Thread: Building the ultimate 10-string?

  1. #1
    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Default Building the ultimate 10-string?

    Without experimenting with fan frets, I was thinking of getting a 10-string built by a cafe luthier based on Hamilton De Holanda's bandolim.

    But there does not seem to be a consensus on the best scale length to get a "non-floppy" low C string and an E string that isn't too shrill.

    I recently measured Ham's 10-string Tercio Ribeiro bandolim, and compared it to my 8-string bandolim and my F-5.

    Here are some numbers:

    Hamilton De Holanda's Bandolim
    Scale Length (Nut to Bridge): 14"
    Nut Width: 1 5/8"
    Body Depth: 2 2/8"
    Body Width: 12"

    Manoel Andrade Bandolim
    Scale Length (Nut to Bridge): 13.75"
    Nut Width: 1.25"
    Body Depth: 2.75"
    Body Width: 11.5"

    Michael Terris F5
    Scale Length (Nut to Bridge): 14"
    Nut Width: 1 3/8"
    Body Depth: 1 7/8"
    Body Width: 9.75"

    So in this quick sampling I see that Ham's 10-string has the same scale length as my F-5, and longer than my 8-string bandolim.

    Do you have any scale length theories or references that might help?

    Thank you, Larry
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  3. #2
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    There are a couple recent re-takes on this, and some related threads. "fanned frets" (longer scale on the low than the high strings, non parallel frets) seems to be one take on it.

    I have a 21" scale Sobell OM that is tuned GDAEA bass to treble, that works great.

    I've had 2 vega cylinder back 10 strings.. one mandolin, one mandola scale.. both CGDAE tuned

    The longer was better, but still a bit shrill on the .009 strings for the top Es

    Anyway, search here for "Fanned frets", and you'll likely find info on Mike Marshall's 10-string made by Lawrence Smart
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    Well Larry while I can be no help I appreciate the info you posted on the instruments. I've been curious about the particulars of those bandolims for a while now, thanks!
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  5. #4
    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    My goal is to come up with a workable scale length as short as possible, but to go with an arch top/back body instead of the traditional bandolim flat or bent top.

    I would make the body depth at least as deep as Ham's.

    The most important thing is the scale length. Maybe string selection plays here too. I read on (Dudu Maia's website that Dudu uses the seventh string of a 7-stringed guitar (C), made of nylon for the fifth pair of strings. He found out that nylon guitar strings work very well as lower strings on a bandolim, especially for recording.

    Not sure where I would get those strings though.

    I'm open to anyone's help on scale length (but not interested in fan frets).

    Dan...when you say "mandola scale" do you mean 20 1/4"?

  6. #5

    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    Larry, I would be more inclined to say that it's not the scale length so much as the guage of strings for that length. While I don't have any experience with bandolims, I've been playing with mandolas and string guages. I have a 3 point with a 16" scale length that uses .060" CC course and works fine. My new H5C has a 15.6" scale, and I just ran out and bought a wide variety of strings around .050's, .040's, .026's and .015's. After testing various combinations, I ended up with .054", .042", .028", and .018". The instrument plays like butter, the CC course is not floppy, and the action is very low.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    Most F5s are 13.875, just a hair under 14. I'd go longer.

  8. #7
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    Quote Originally Posted by larrydata View Post
    Dan...when you say "mandola scale" do you mean 20 1/4"?
    No- shorter.. my Sobell is a sort of hybrid OM/Mandola at 20 3/4" scale. The long scale vega was.. oh heck.. now I can't remember.. I want to say 18" or so, but I'm pulling that out of an unreliable part of memory
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  9. #8

    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    Larry,

    You didn't bring a micrometer to measure Hamilton's string gauges?


  10. #9
    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane View Post
    Larry,

    You didn't bring a micrometer to measure Hamilton's string gauges?

    LOL...I had a fabric ruler so I wouldn't damage the instrument! I wouldn't have had the courage to ask such a geeky question but my French-speaking friend explained everything to Hamilton (which made it much easier).

    Ham is a generous, cool guy. As is Mike Marshall...of course.

  11. #10
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    We recently tried out Darryl Dix's Tercio Ribeiro 10-string bandolim, actually on the same day that we finished our 10-string fan-fret.

    I was convinced, from all the moaning about floppy C strings, that it would be at least 14.5 inches.

    Turned out it was 13.5 inches, shorter than an F-style arched.

    We were still on fairly light-gauge strings on the fan-fret (.041? for the C), and we weren't particularly pleased yet with our 16" C string. But Darryl's bandolim had appropriately gauged strings, and didn't really seem that wobbly at that shorter scale length!

    Hans is right. String gauge is the place to play. We went out and got .048 flat-wound guitar strings for the C, and it's much better. The playing tension is just about right now, and it sounds much better that way, too.

    The shorter scale is probably to get better sound and playability from the E string, which gets really tight- and pinched-sounding at the longer lengths. It seems it's easier to play with the gauges of the lower strings than to ask too much of the E strings.

    I've also heard it said that the shorter scale length on the bandolim is possible because it's easier to drive the flat top than the arched, and that the arched-topped instruments might not respond as well at the shorter scale lengths. I don't have the expertise to really puzzle out why that would be, so I'd take feedback on this assertion from someone who can puzzle it out.
    Last edited by Doug Hoople; Sep-11-2008 at 1:59pm.
    Doug Hoople
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  12. #11
    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    Doug...thanks...everything you said makes perfect sense to me. Maybe flat top would be better. Or bent top like my 8-string bandolim.

    Thanks everyone...things are starting to seem clearer for me!

  13. #12

    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    Larry any idea of the bracing scheme on Hamilton's 10 stringer? I've wonder if most of those were X-braced or what.
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  14. #13
    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    I forgot to check out the bracing. I would expect that there are horizontal braces above and below the sound hole, like my bandolim.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Building the ultimate 10-string?

    cool...thanks for all the info. If I run across anything in my research I'll post it.
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