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Thread: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

  1. #1

    Default 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    There have been a couple of threads about instrument conversions, going from a 6- or 12-string guitar to an eight-string mando-family instrument or something similar. For some reason, though, all those threads have dealt with someone either adding or taking away strings.

    Among the possible reasons for that is the idea that one would only want four courses. I personally have been able to avoid playing strings on guitar and on mandolin-family instruments, and most mando players have no problem playing double stops or three courses. I figured that if so many guitar players can play broken chords instead of hitting all six strings, then it must be possible for me to do the same, plucking only a subset of the six strings/courses.

    Another reason might have been that there was no way to tune notes much lower than C2 on a 25.5" scale length instrument without the resulting bad tone. Sticking with that C2 limit would make the top string, at B4 using full fifths tuning, an impossible note to reach. Up until recently, guitar strings would consistently break at G4/G#4. Tuning down instead is possible, but having F1 as the low note didn't matter if the notes were unusable in a musical context. However, strings have been developed which now allow reaching that B4 note on guitar (with the source being listed a bit further on in this post).

    With those two reasons resolved, I felt it was time to actually use an instrument which was actually built to use double-strung courses from the beginning, instead of doing a conversion from six strings to eight.

    ----

    To that end, I’ve now had a 12-string guitar converted to unison-course full fifths tuning (FFT), C2 – G2 – D3 – A3 – E4 – B4. It has the open notes and subtle chorusing of a unison-strung mandocello / cittern / octave mandolin / bouzouki, and, when capoed at the fifth fret, it has the capoed open notes, tone and sound of a mandola and mandolin.

    Even though I’ve now made the change on several six-string instruments, I wasn’t sure that the 12-string conversion experiment was going to work out. I was afraid that the strings would be too close to each other and might rattle, or that the tension might be too much. However, I did the calculations beforehand, and the tension is less now with the current unison FFT than previously with the 12-string set Ovation puts on as standard.

    I had the best guitar tech in the area do it, because I'd rather pay for someone to make it work perfectly than to buy a bunch of files for the nut and saddle, and then grope my way towards that perfect set up, possibly never arriving. The string gaps in the nut had to be widened so the strings could be in unison tuning, the frets evened a bit, the saddle lowered a bit, and the relief adjusted.

    Given that the whole thing has cost less than $800 with instrument, set up and strings included, I am more than pleased.

    ----

    The strings I used to reach B4 on the top course come from Octave 4 Plus.

    http://octave4plus.com/

    The top B4 strings are currently .006”, but I might put on some O4+ .007” strings at some point, if the volume needs to come up a bit. Since the Ovation has a 25.25” string length, the bass course sounds a little better with .053” or .052” strings for the C2.

    ----

    Granted, the string spacing between courses isn’t as close as a mandolin, but it’s definitely usable. Since a decent mandolin would cost at least about $600 (baseline Redline Traveller), to get the use of all the above listed instruments in one is a bargain, and easier to take to a gig. *laugh*

    I’m unsure how this would have worked out with other 12-strings. I’ve owned a few Ovations, and they can get pretty sketchy at the inexpensive end. Having owned some nice ones over the years, though, I just made sure I got a decent one to begin with. Other 12-strings can be just as bad or worse, and I've been looking at instruments for quite a while, waiting for one I felt confident about.

    When I started looking for a 12-string for conversion, I had a list of things which were absolutely necessary, in order to take full advantage of having that mando tuning: a cutaway and at least 20 frets (in order to play mandolin / mandola parts), a shallow body (to avoid boominess in the tone), relatively low action (mine is 1mm on the treble now, and 3mm on the bass side), and level frets (otherwise low action would just mean rattling on any raised frets).

    (On this last point, I know that others like really high action, and some may feel one needs action sufficient upon which to grate cheese. Having had hand problems, I prefer to avoid developing them again. Several threads here have discussed that a well set up mandolin can have great tone and volume while being set up for low action; it’s only when there are issues with the instrument that higher action is needed to avoid the deficiencies built in.)

    ----

    So now, without having to invest the money necessary to buy an Ovation specifically set up as a mandocello, I have all that and more. My mandophone (named to evoke the octafone, which was “eight instruments in one!”) covers the entire spectrum of mandolin-family instruments, and should satisfy my mandolin acquisition syndrome for quite a while….

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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    This is quite a conversion. Thanks for sharing. Any chance you could post a sound sample?
    You can't have just one...

  3. #3

    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    There is not a chance of any sound clips at the moment, as my main computer is down. Given the nature of what took it down (XP-related), and the need to get an image of my BIOS onto a flashdrive to even get the thing to get me to any sort of screen, it might be a while.

    I'll see if I can scare up some kind of sound recording device at work, and then transfer it over.

    (It's times like these that I consider getting one of those little Zoom recorders, just to have the modern equivalent of a cassette deck around....)

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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    TJ,

    Some sound clips would be great when you get a chance. I think I'm about to embark on a 12-string retune soon myself. What model Ovation are you using (timber or composite top?) and what string gauges have you settled on for the low 5 courses? Any mods to the saddle to accommodate the changed pitches/gauges or is intonation pretty good with the "stock" saddle?

  5. #5

    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    The Ovation has a spruce top. The saddle on it is narrow in terms of front-to-back, as opposed to the saddle on my original 1985 limited edition.

    String gauges are:

    B4 - .006 from Octave 4 Plus
    E4 - .010
    A3 - .018 PB wound
    D3 - .030 PB wound
    G2 - .042 PB wound
    C2 - .054 PB wound

    Other than the high B4 string, the other strings are all from juststrings.com, which might be the only source I found for a wound .018 string. (The reason I wanted the .018 was to be able to match the stringing of a mandolin / mandola, with regards to wound/unwound strings.) It works out to be about $18 for a complete 12-string unison FFT string set, or $9 for a six-string FFT set.

    The one criticism some folks have is that the lowest C2 course is light to them. I play really lightly, but some folks are used to having to wrestle the strings down quite a ways, and so they push the string down as hard as they can.

    The lowest strings need to have the saddle changed a bit, to lengthen the string. Changing from E2 to C2 on the bottom string yields a slightly sharp pitch (about 10 cents) when fretted at the 12th fret, compared to the harmonic. This has been true on the double strung Ovation, the single-strung Rainsong, and the original beater guitar on which I first did the tuning conversion.

    Regarding a carbon top, my six-string Rainsong is completely carbon-fiber construction, and works well in this tuning. If I were to specifically go for carbon fiber unison-tuned 12-string, I'd either get a small-bodies Rainsong or an Adamas (the high-end Ovation brand). The Adamas instruments really sound amazing, although unless you own one or live near a place where they might stock one, you will probably never hear one live. I've been considering getting a custom Adamas mandophone with either a full carbon top or the Adamas carbon/spruce sandwich, along with the Adamas top suspension (that curly-edge thing that looks like ribbon decoration around the edge of the Adamas soundboard), but I think it's more likely I'll run across a used 12-string Rainsong before I get to it....

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    Registered User groveland's Avatar
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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Quote Originally Posted by T.J. View Post
    ...as opposed to the saddle on my original 1985 limited edition...
    Limited edition what? Just curious...

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    iii mandolin Geoff B's Avatar
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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    I like how you think! And i'd definitely like to see pictures and hear sound clips when you can! Nice!

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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    By "1985 limited edition," I meant the 1985 Limited Edition Ovation guitar that I bought new so many years ago...

    http://www.ovationguitars.com/?fa=detail2&mid=1227

    ...although that picture makes the finish look really dark. Here's a better illustration of the coloring (thanks, Elderly!).

    http://www.elderly.com/vintage/items/20U-10417.htm

    To be clear, this is not the guitar which I converted... especially since it only has six strings. *laugh* However, I did convert a guitar which has the Adamas-style epaulets.

    (Gee, thinking about that, it means I've been playing for about 30 years. That's a long time in dog years.... *laugh*)

    ----

    I can see I have to get myself together to satisfy the need for details. I'll try to take some decent pics later in the week, although I don't think there's much difference to be seen in the instrument... other than the fact the bass strings match instead of being octave tuned.

    I shouldn't have posted without pics or sounds, no? *laugh* I'll rectify that, I promise!

  9. #9

    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Of course octave stringing would work. It’s just a matter of choosing appropriate strings to maintain the preferred tension at the new pitches.

    The easiest resource to determine the appropriate string would be the D’Addario string tension chart. If you know what you already have on the instrument at the current pitch, just look up the tension for that diameter and pitch, and then choose a string which has that same tension at the desired pitch.

    http://www.daddario.com/upload/tension_chart_13934.pdf

    For the higher notes not listed in the chart, one can choose a note an octave lower of the same tension, and then divide the resulting string gauge by 2. If the note is higher than F4 for a 25.5” guitar scale length, then you should get an Octave 4 Plus string.

    http://octave4plus.com/

    I don't have any specific recommendations regarding string gauges, as everyone has different tastes in terms of stringing. The general guidelines I provide should get any player to what works for them.

    ----

    Regarding why I personally didn’t go with octave stringing…

    My own aims were different than just Celtic-style playing. I want to be able to do melodic work throughout the range of the instrument, as well as more complex chords, should I so choose; having octave stringing and a jangly tone would make both Bach and rock sound a little odd. (I do like the thickening and chorusing of the tone with the unison stringing, which is why I didn’t just stick with the FFT six-string guitars.) Because of my wish to be able to play unambiguous single melodic notes, the nut and bridge work were necessary. Others may not wish to do such melodic work, and so they could save themselves the trouble.

    Since I also want to be able to play ranges corresponding to mandola and mandolin as well, if I had used octave stringing on the lowest four courses, then the mandolin section (top four courses) and mandola section (middle four courses) would have had octave stringing, and wouldn’t have sounded like a mandolin or mandola, defeating one of the main purposes of the mandophone.

    Most mandocellos, octave mandolins, mandolas and mandolins that I’ve played don’t have octave stringing on the lower courses, and I’m following in that vein. There’s nothing wrong with others wanting to go that route, of course….

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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    TJ, thanks for the string info. I had made some initial guesses using existing guitar and zouk string sets and looks like they were in the ballpark.

    Re octave pairs - same conclusion for me. Octave pairs sound great for chordal accompaniment and if that's all I had in mind would just keep using a 12-stringer as-is. However, melodies sound just a little too weird jumping between octave and unison pairs, so unison it is!

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    Registered User groveland's Avatar
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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom A View Post
    ...Octave pairs sound great for chordal accompaniment and if that's all I had in mind would just keep using a 12-stringer as-is...
    Beyond the consonant fifths, triads, and open chords, closed voicings of extensions and altered chords very often clash between the higher voices and the low/high octave voices of the lower strings. You really have to be super careful. And then if the intonation on those octave courses isn't right, it can get really ugly!

  12. #12

    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    I've run into that issue on 12-string guitar. Even though the instrument made it incredibly easy to make a thick, rich sound, Steely Dan pieces and other things which required tasteful chordal playing would rapidly turn to mush...

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    M@d| - M@dce|| Keith Erickson's Avatar
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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Quote Originally Posted by solarbean View Post
    This is quite a conversion. Thanks for sharing. Any chance you could post a sound sample?
    Agreed!!! Would you happen to have any pictures?

    Thanks
    Keith Erickson
    Benevolent Organizer of The Mandocello Enthusiast

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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Erickson View Post
    Agreed!!! Would you happen to have any pictures?
    Wouldn't it look just like a 12 string guitar?

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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Quote Originally Posted by T.J. View Post
    By "1985 limited edition," I meant the 1985 Limited Edition Ovation guitar that I bought new so many years ago...
    I have a 1986 Limited Edition 6-string Ovation (Kamen signature inside) that is most likely destined for FFT. I'll stick with 6 strings - Frankly, I don't know if I could wrestle 12 o' dem babies to the fretboard!

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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Behold!



    Er... it just looks like a 12-string. *laugh*

    The side picture gives an idea of the depth of the shallow body, which isn't like the incredibly deep bodies of the original Ovations. If they hadn't started offering this option, I never would have bought one.

    Groveland, the 1986 edition is the pretty white one, right? I sometimes think about picking one of those up. I thought they were beautiful, especially compared to the opaque Kraft-caramel-colored edges of the 1985's burst. *laugh*

    The 1986 is still around the time, though, that I first attempted FFT on my 1985. The shallow body Ovation is also the instrument Fripp started ordering for his GC students for the crippled fifths tuning, and the instruments held up pretty well under the extremes.

    As far as how hard it is to press down the doubled strings, for the most part my guitars are very lightly strung, and have very low action (1mm treble/3mm bass at the 12th fret). The 12-string is even more lightly strung, as it uses the same gauge strings but its scale length is .25" shorter than the normal acoustic. However, since I have a couple of six-strings in FFT, I can't argue that having that purity of tone is great, especially if one then applies any effects to the sound. I'm thinking of running through a talkbox, a la Roger Troutman/Zapp.

    "Git-git-git-git-git-git on the da-ance flo-or! More bounce to the ounce!" *laugh*

    More seriously, I can't wait to get the eight-string electric for FFT, strung from Ab0 through A4, because with the single strings and the humbucker in the neck position, I'll be able to draw all kinds of great bowed and wind instrument tones out of it with my eBow. That would be hard to do on a double-strung acoustic...

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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Way too cool!!!
    Keith Erickson
    Benevolent Organizer of The Mandocello Enthusiast

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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Erickson View Post
    Way too cool!!!
    Tuning in 5ths is so amazing to me. Coming from a guitar background with standard guitar tuning for so long. I almost want to tune low to hgh FCGDAE, But I think a low unison F would be nuts. It would be awesome to do this for a single coursed instrument though.


    Back to your guitar. Why didn't you go heavier on your low strings? I know a guitar is usually 25.5" scale and mandocello around 24.75". so you can go a little lighter. I would probably try .068 for the low C .044 for the G etc... Here is a set of mandocello strings:


  19. #19

    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    I did go a little thicker on the Ovation. That quarter inch of difference (25.25" as opposed to the norm of 25.5") affected the lowest course enough that I needed a little more tension on it.

    The current stringings are:

    Six string
    B4 - .007 from Octave 4 Plus
    E4 - .010
    A3 - .018 PB wound
    D3 - .030 PB wound
    G2 - .042 PB wound
    C2 - .054 PB wound

    12-string
    B4 - .006 from Octave 4 Plus
    E4 - .010
    A3 - .018 PB wound
    D3 - .030 PB wound
    G2 - .042 PB wound
    C2 - .056 PB wound

    As to why I didn't go thicker still, I'm not a fan of instruments where I have to put a huge amount of effort into being able to effectively fret. My instruments have low action compared to what a lot of people play. The Ovation has a twelfth fret height of 2mm and 3mm (high/low side), and it does what I need to do.

    Soundboards can vibrate less if there is more tension on the strings; conversely, the less tension on the strings, the easier for the soundboard to vibrate. Classical guitars typically have much less tension on them than steel-string guitars, and can blow the steel-strings away in terms of volume. (There are tradeoffs between stiffness, lightness and weight for structural reasons. There are also limits on how light strings can go on a given instrument, of course, as if one has a really thick, inflexible top, then one might need those heavier strings to drive it.) There have been threads here where it has been noted that some instruments really wake up when lighter strings are put on, and the soundboard is no longer being choked away from its vibrational limits.

    With all that being said, if anyone is planning to convert a 12-string to a mandophone, remember to look at what strings already work best on it. You know all those horror stories about how 12-strings are strung heavy (as some have suggested on this thread), and how it has to be tuned a half-step down and capoed at the first fret? I want my instruments be strung so that they have the perfect tension when tuned at the nut.

    To that end, I looked at the strings put on by Ovation, and figured out the lightest normal tension 12-string set which would work. Then I worked out which unison stringing would be of the same approximate tension. The gauges I've given work out to be close to D'Addario extra-light strings. I can work my way through the "Getting into Jazz Mandolin" book at the fifth fret without having to strain my hands. I can use the whole fretboard equally easily.

    I'm not saying that someone else wouldn't be happier with heavier stringing. However, I've seen enough older 12-strings to know that I want an instrument that will last me for quite a while, without the action slowly getting higher and higher because of the strings being too strong for the instrument's top.

    Incidentally, I recently changed my Flatiron mandola's stringing to be 13 to 16 lbs. high to low, and the second course is now a plain string, instead of the typical wound string (.0095 - .015 - .026PB - .038PB). I can easily play the same "Jazz Mando" exercises at the seventh fret that I can on at the first fret on a mandolin. This stringing is MUCH lower than the one recommended in the instrument (.012 - .021 - .032 - .049 printed on the inside label), and much less strain on the instrument (55 lbs. less tension total).

    I hate to say that going from a .056 pair to a unison-strung .068 (more than 10 lbs. more tension per string x 2 = at least 21 lbs. additional) shouldn't be done. If I had decided to stick to the beaten path, I'd still be saving money towards my dream custom 6-course, instead of doing something which was apparently untried to that point. By all means, try what you want to try... but be smart about it, and don't implode your instrument.

    Here's one more thought: The Crafty guys have been using the bottom five strings of Full Fifths Tuning on guitar for about 20 years. They don't go for such heavy gauges, and don't feel the need for it. Why is that, and why do you need such a heavy stringing?

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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    One of the more amazing strings (no pun intended) on the Mandolin Cafe I'd say -- very impressive all around!

    All kinds of new ideas and thoughts like this one:

    TJ: Soundboards can vibrate less if there is more tension on the strings; conversely, the less tension on the strings, the easier for the soundboard to vibrate. Classical guitars typically have much less tension on them than steel-string guitars, and can blow the steel-strings away in terms of volume.
    It sounds logical -- but then you have the traditional view of folks who raise the bridge heigth in order to increase the string angle hence make MORE pressure to increase the projection on a mandolin. Is there some contradiction there or is there another competing principle in play here as well?
    Do we have a carved versus flattop difference?
    Bernie
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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Quote Originally Posted by T.J. View Post
    Why is that, and why do you need such a heavy stringing?

    First, thank you for such an in depth explanation. I bet your mandophone is a cool and unique instrument just the way it is. For me, I've just been toying with the idea of making a true mandocello that extends the top strings into octave mando range. When I play the low 4 courses, I will have an actual mandocello, which has the really heavy strings. You can see from the D'Addario pic above. Btw, Is that what a cittern is? there seems to be more definition of a cittern.

    And then there is my idea of taking a Fender Bass VI, keeping it single coursed, and tuning a half step above an electric bass then in 5ths. Making it FCGDAE. That's inspired by Robert Fripp, but keeping it totally in 5ths. And a string lower.

    I really just need to win lotto.

  22. #22

    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    It sounds logical -- but then you have the traditional view of folks who raise the bridge heigth in order to increase the string angle hence make MORE pressure to increase the projection on a mandolin. Is there some contradiction there or is there another competing principle in play here as well? Do we have a carved versus flattop difference?
    It’s not so much competing principles, but to what kind of specs an instrument is built.

    The soundbox of acoustic stringed instruments functions as a mechanical loudspeaker. Just as with speakers which use lightweight materials to get more volume with less power, a stiff, ultralight top will be able to put out more sound with less mechanical input. Unlike a speaker, though, the top has to be able to withstand either the string tension (with the strings’ terminal point being at the bridge) or the downward pressure (with the strings being attached to the frame at the butt end, and the strings pushing down on the saddle). A classical guitar will eventually fold if strung with heavy steel strings. Classical guitar strings will barely budge the top of a guitar built to steel-string specs, because it was built for strength and not lightness.

    Also unlike a speaker, an instrument’s top has to be both stiff and flexible. Even a resophonic instrument’s cone doesn’t have the flexible interface of a rubber or cloth seal around a loudspeaker’s cone. The top has to be able to flex AND still be stiff and strong.

    As the top gets more heavily loaded, either with the pull of the strings or with the downwards pressure, the flexibility is gradually lost. There is a point of diminishing returns in terms of how much volume you can get out of an instrument.

    (I’ve seen surprising results on acoustic instruments with floating bridges, using the idea of near-zero string deflection. The top is made very light and stiff, and all the tension of the strings is taken by the neck and body frame (not the top). As the top takes almost NONE of the load, and is such an efficient plane, it is surprisingly loud.)

    My recommendation for just about anyone would be to try a set up and lighter strings and see how they feel about the difference. Given the long-term consequences of overstringing an instrument (think of all those 12-strings with monster action), it can’t hurt to go in the other direction and see what happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by kidgloves2 View Post
    First, thank you for such an in depth explanation. I bet your mandophone is a cool and unique instrument just the way it is. For me, I've just been toying with the idea of making a true mandocello that extends the top strings into octave mando range. When I play the low 4 courses, I will have an actual mandocello, which has the really heavy strings. You can see from the D'Addario pic above. Btw, Is that what a cittern is? there seems to be more definition of a cittern.
    You’re so welcome. I’ve pointed out that we all stand on the shoulders of giants, and I’d never have gotten this far if not for the available information.

    Mandocellos generally have a scale length at least a bit shorter than a guitar (22” to 25”). A thicker string would give the same feel as a thinner string at guitar length (25.5”).

    If I were doing a conversion, I’d see what gauges work on an instrument before the conversion, and use the total tension to see what I could get away with. If you’re going to build the m’cello from scratch, though, you’ll have to look at the plans you’re using and see what their expectations are in terms of stringing.

    A cittern has five courses, according to current popular usage.

    One of the other instruments I had considered initially was a Steinberger Transcale six-string, with the integral capo. Capo use was always a consideration when I was working out how to do the full mando six string guitar. Adding that last high course let me get the capoed mandolin.

    Quote Originally Posted by kidgloves2 View Post
    And then there is my idea of taking a Fender Bass VI, keeping it single coursed, and tuning a half step above an electric bass then in 5ths. Making it FCGDAE. That's inspired by Robert Fripp, but keeping it totally in 5ths. And a string lower.
    I’d have a hard time handling anything with a scale length longer than 28.625”. That’s the length of my longest eight-string, and I have to do slides to cover the fretboard and do scales and patterns near the first few frets. I don’t have that problem on any of the 25.5” instruments or shorter.

    I also am too fond of the chordal work available on a higher-pitched instrument. It doesn’t work so well at the lower reaches of the eight-string; I think that good chordal work has to happen at C2 and above.

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    Registered User groveland's Avatar
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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Quote Originally Posted by kidgloves2 View Post
    I almost want to tune low to hgh FCGDAE, But I think a low unison F would be nuts. It would be awesome to do this for a single coursed instrument though.
    I did that FCGDAE as my first attempt at all fifths on guitar. I posted some soundclips here somewhere a couple years ago... Suffice it to say, the F was nuts - I ultimately had a .90, re-balled bass string. It sounded like a dinosaur in the low end, but was clear out of the 'vocal' range I was looking for. Didn't tune real well either at 25.5", very bad overtones. (I moved to CGDAEG, and then to CGDAEB, where I happily live today.)

  24. #24

    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    Hello, friend Groveland! You brought my attention back to something I missed...

    Quote Originally Posted by kidgloves2 View Post
    Tuning in 5ths is so amazing to me. Coming from a guitar background with standard guitar tuning for so long. I almost want to tune low to hgh FCGDAE, But I think a low unison F would be nuts. It would be awesome to do this for a single coursed instrument though.
    There are two experiences which keep me from trying the low F experiment again (I commented on my early 80's full fifths experiments in the NST thread, I believe).

    It is impossible to get the intonation right on the bottom three courses without rerouting the saddle channel.

    Even without worrying about the intonation, the low F1 sounds like cr*p with a standard guitar body instrument.

    Both of those factors made it too expensive to just do a retune on a lark, with the idea of going back to standard if it didn't work out. The fact that I would have had to also cut the nut wider for the bottom strings, and then had to buy some Ernie Ball PB acoustic bass strings, and then done the work on the bridge pin holes and widening the hole in the tuner, just turned it into a project instead of a whacky experiment.

    Incidentally, although it's great to be able to just pick up a mandolin or a mandola when I get home at night, I'm more and more addicted to the full fifths beater guitar. I'm getting spoiled by everything it can do, and by how easily it does it. The other night, I took it out to a music session, along with my ubiquitous Korg PX4A and the tiny Danelectro N10 battery-powered amp, and had a great time. I suppose soon I'll find a smaller, less obvious clean sounding battery amp, so that I can just add the PX4A elements and mando sparkle to the raw sound....

  25. #25
    Registered User OKMike's Avatar
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    Default Re: 12-String Conversion to Mandophone / Mandocello Plus!

    There is a double neck 6/12 string ovation on ebay now if anyone wants to try a conversion. That might be fun.

    Mike

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