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  1. #1

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    I have 5 Guitars, 3 Ukuleles, an Electric Bass, and a Chicago-tuned Plectrum Banjo. They're all tuned basically like a Guitar or a part thereof. But a few weeks ago, I played a Tenor Banjo, which is tuned in 5ths, and I found the spread out chord voicings quite appealing. So, I started thinking about replacing my Plectrum with a Tenor, but I wasn't sure. Cut to the chase: Last Friday, I bought an Eastman MDA315 F-style Mandola from a local orchestral string instrument dealer. It, like the Tenor Banjo, is tuned like a Viola (C G D A). It doesn't sound anything like anything I have. So far, it's been a gas, but we'll see if an old dog can learn new tricks! Generic photo follows:
    NMD (New Mandola Day)!-my-mda315a-jpg

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Got lotsa curlicues and pointy parts, don’t it?

    Congrats, looks nice!

    I envy people who can play all kinds of string instruments in different tunings.

    I myself have just never been able to deal with different tunings. I play the uke which is the same intervals as the guitar. My brain has a hard time adjusting. Maybe I could train it with some effort.

  4. #3

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    Johnny Gimble used mandola tuning, on a mandolin with only 4 strings and a pickup. Playing an instrument tuned in fifths takes a little practice, but I didn't find it overly difficult after an initial time of getting used to it. I built a couple of solid-body 5-string mandolas, along with several mandolins, and still play them occasionally. I've given up on ever playing one as well as Tiny Moore did, though.

  5. #4

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    Are we going to get to hear that beauty?

    ____________

    BTW

    5ths are upside down 4ths, chord grips are the same as the bottom 4 strings of a guitar but flipped upside down. I saw this on my own but I'm guessing a lot of folks know this.

    Guitar chord grip bottom four strings... 3.2.0.0.

    Same grip on mando (flipped upside down) 0.0.2.3

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Are we going to get to hear that beauty?

    ____________

    BTW

    5ths are upside down 4ths, chord grips are the same as the bottom 4 strings of a guitar but flipped upside down. I saw this on my own but I'm guessing a lot of folks know this.

    Guitar chord grip bottom four strings... 3.2.0.0.

    Same grip on mando (flipped upside down) 0.0.2.3
    Sweet jeebus, you've confused me already. I still can't get my head around a lefty playing a guitar UPSIDE DOWN.

  7. #6

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    I like the low notes so I hanker for a mandocello.


  8. #7

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    Well, BDLH, the open 4th string(s) on the Mandola is the same as the 5th string 3rd fret on a Guitar, but the open 1st string is the same note as the 1st string 5th fret on a Guitar. An open C chord (0 0 2 3) is C G E C - 2 octaves in 4 (8) strings instead of 6!
    Last edited by Tom Karol; 06-08-2021 at 05:57 PM.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Karol
    Well, BDH, the open 4th string(s) on the Mandola is the same as the 5th string 3rd fret on a guitar, but the open 1st string is the same note as the 1st string 5th fret on a guitar. An open C chord (0 0 2 3) is C G E C - 2 octaves in 4 (8) strings instead of 6!
    I could have sworn the range was different -- Mandola Effect?

  10. #9

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    Really cool-looking instrument! Congratulations, and play it in good health!

  11. #10

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    I bought mine last Friday for the then standard price of $875.
    I went on Eastman's website today merely to verify one of the specs.
    They've raised the price to $1095 less than a week after I bought it!
    Talk about timing - I possibly wouldn't have pulled the trigger at the new price!
    Did Eastman just institute a 25% price increase across-the-board?

    Wait - I just checked their website again after entering this post:
    They're not showing prices at all now!

    OK, the prices are back up, but it's still $1095 vs $875; will start a new thread.
    Last edited by Tom Karol; 06-10-2021 at 09:40 AM.

  12. #11

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    I am wondering if I could change string guages and tune it like a guitar but up an octave.

  13. #12

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    Guitar tuning an octave higher would work better on a mandolin. The treble E strings are an octave higher than the guitar, and they're under rather high tension. You would need some very thin strings to do that on a mandola, unless you drop the tuning a few steps. And the range would be very restricted, unless you do away with the double courses and use 6 or 7 single strings. I can tell you it really isn't worth it, better to just learn to play tuned in fifths. It's not that hard.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Guitar tuning an octave higher would work better on a mandolin. The treble E strings are an octave higher than the guitar, and they're under rather high tension. You would need some very thin strings to do that on a mandola, unless you drop the tuning a few steps. And the range would be very restricted, unless you do away with the double courses and use 6 or 7 single strings. I can tell you it really isn't worth it, better to just learn to play tuned in fifths. It's not that hard.
    Isn't the mandola roughly 17" scale, which would make it around half of a Gibson electric scale?

  15. #14

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    I am not interested in really learning the instrument, I just want one for "that sound" for occassional broadway type things that call for it. And once in a while community symphony spots. Been playing an acoustic guitar up an octave with heavy chorus, does a surprisingly nice job mimicking the courses.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Isn't the mandola roughly 17" scale, which would make it around half of a Gibson electric scale?
    Gibson electric scale is not 34", which is double 17". Half of Gibson scale would be a little over 12" (12.375" or 12-3/8" to be precise), which is near mandolin scale.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Gibson electric scale is not 34", which is double 17". Half of Gibson scale would be a little over 12" (12.375" or 12-3/8" to be precise), which is near mandolin scale.
    Yeah you're right, sorry, I was very mixed up. It's the heat wave here, I am not used to dripping sweat. Almost dizzy.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    I am not interested in really learning the instrument, I just want one for "that sound" for occassional broadway type things that call for it. And once in a while community symphony spots. Been playing an acoustic guitar up an octave with heavy chorus, does a surprisingly nice job mimicking the courses.
    Edit... what about a set of guitar strings, tune like a guitar one octave up. The high string on a mando is already at that E.
    Medium gauge mandolin is a 0.11 on the high E string.

    Things will be pretty bunched together, like playing chords on a guitar with a capo on the 12th fret. Would help if you have thin fingers.
    Last edited by fep; 06-28-2021 at 02:05 PM.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Edit... what about a set of guitar strings, tune like a guitar one octave up. The high string on a mando is already at that E.
    Medium gauge mandolin is a 0.11 on the high E string.

    Things will be pretty bunched together, like playing chords on a guitar with a capo on the 12th fret. Would help if you have thin fingers.
    That's why I was thinking a mandola would be a better fit. Will have to figure out some string gauges for -> EBGD.

  20. #19

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    Well I guess an Eastman Mandola is around 16" scale, which equates to roughly the 8th fret on a guitar. Now if I could just find my very nice covid-misplaced G7 capo to try it out. Can I crank up a high e string roughly a Maj 3rd without it snapping? I wonder if a set of 8's would work.

  21. #20

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    Right, it has a 16" scale. Woody, I understand what you're trying to do, and I'm not arguing against it, but be aware that Mandola strings are typically gauged about like this (I switched from the D'Addario stock mediums to lights with good results.):
    EJ72 Mandola Light 14-14-23-23-34-34-49-49;
    EJ76 Mandola Medium 15-15-25-25-35-35-52-52.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Karol
    Right, it has a 16" scale. Woody, I understand what you're trying to do, and I'm not arguing against it, but be aware that Mandola strings are typically gauged about like this (I switched from the D'Addario stock mediums to lights with good results.):
    EJ72 Mandola Light 14-14-23-23-34-34-49-49;
    EJ76 Mandola Medium 15-15-25-25-35-35-52-52.
    Yikes, pretty heavy. Tnx.

  23. #22

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    Addendum - How to build up your calluses:
    Play the Mandola 20 minutes every day!

  24. #23

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    I almost forgot: If anyone gets a Mandola and wants to get a capo for it, get a Ukulele capo - not a Banjo/Mandolin capo.
    The Banjo/Mandolin capo is not long enough; the Uke capo is just right. I actually didn't get one, but I tried the Banjo and Ukulele capos I already had (both D'Addario NS Pro's). You'd think manufacturers and vendors would tell you this!