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Thread: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

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    Default Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    I enjoyed seeing someone play a bouzouki recently and it intrigued me because it has more neck but can be tuned like a mandolin. I decided to try tuning my mandolin like a bouzouki or a 12-string guitar, with the two low string pairs tuned an actave apart.

    Keep the typical mandolin tuning GG DD AA EE

    Remove the second G and D strings and replace with an A and E string respectively from another set.

    Tune GG* DD* AA EE with the strings marked with an asterisk being smaller diameter but an octave higher.

    It sounds great and gives some extra treble to chords and new sounds to your melodies and finger picking. It works great in jam sessions because it doesn't change your fingering. I don't believe this will put extra stress on the instrument but some expert opinions would be appreciated. Does anyone else use this technique?

  2. #2
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    Mike Compton used to string his A Junior this way. It should actually reduce the overall string tension on the instrument by a few pounds.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    Cool, there HAVE to be lots of folks doing it since it's simple. I thought I would try it for fun and then return to default but I just can't see going back. I need to post the name and location of the luthier for my acoustic mandolin. It sounds great and shows no signs of coming apart but just doesn't look well jointed in some places.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    Cool, there HAVE to be lots of folks doing it since it's simple
    were it true the string sets would be on the shelf like that

    Irish Zouks are long scale so the strings are thinner [than OM]
    maybe just using them
    and cutting off the extra length, will be Fine.
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    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    That does sound interesting. No intonation challenges or problems with the nut slots being too wide?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    Rocky, no, I haven't had intonation issues but I have noticed you have to be careful to apply enough pressure to the fret so you fully depress the smaller diameter string with the heavier wound sting next to it. Mandoid's solution might help with that. I also thought it might be worth the time to try putting the lighter string ahead of the heavier string.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    This works well for ragtime!
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    Back in the 80's I had the pleasure of taking a workshop with Howard Armstrong and that is how he tuned his mandolin. You can hear it on the Martin Bogan and Armstrong recordings.
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    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Registered User Londy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    What about the opposite if you wanted a little more low end?
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    Registered User Jim Yates's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    I had one of my mandolins high-strung for a few years, but didn't use it enough to justify leaving it that way. It's fairly common among jug band or blues players.
    I used an extra A string for the high G and an extra E for the high D.
    Last edited by Jim Yates; Jan-07-2013 at 5:43pm. Reason: additional info
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    Default Re: Alternate Stringing for a Mandolin

    I have used it, and like it. While some tunes might have an awkward moment, I find the added color is interesting. Even bluegrass tunes don't seem to mind, most of the time. On a mando I am having made, I am having the primary nut and saddle made for octave tuning.


    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMandocaster View Post
    I decided to try tuning my mandolin... with the two low string pairs tuned an octave apart.
    Does anyone else use this technique?

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