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Thread: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

  1. #1

    Default Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    Hello all,
    greetings from Australia.
    this is my first time in this forum, so I hope this question doesn't seem too foolish.
    I have ordered a mandola ( the thing one size up from a mandolin) from china custom made because I wanted a slighltly wider neck.
    I already have a tenor ukulele which has been re-strung as per the higher four strings of a guitar, (D G B E,).
    I'd like, for simplicity to have the mandola strung similarly so that I don't have to remember three different sets of finger positions and chord shapes.
    >
    The mandola will come from the factory tuned CGDA (all strings a fifth lower than a standard mandolin.)
    The C string(s) could be tuned up two semitones, I guess, without snapping them. The G string would remain as is.
    The D string(s) could be moved one space closer to the floor and wound up two semitones. This leaves us with D G (space) E.
    We are then missing a B string.
    A mandola is 7 guitar frets shorter than a classical guitar, so an either a D or an E string off a guitar should tune easily to a B taking account of the shorter neck length.
    (I don't know however which ovctave is needed.)
    Does all of this sound right (do-able) to you guys?
    Does anyone have expereince at doing something similar.
    I'll get a guitar shop to assist me when the mandola arrives,
    but is there generally a problem to wind a course up by two semitones?
    Hope some of you can help, please.
    ~ Richard.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    Why not buy a 12 string guitar and a capo?

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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    All the world is not a guitar. Learning to play the mandola -- tuned in fifths, CGDA -- could be a good thing, and expand your musical horizon. Many folks here on the Mandolin Cafe come from a guitar background, but have found that learning to play the mandolin (or mandola), strung and tuned in the usual way, is fun and rewarding, and opens up new vistas. I'd urge you to give it a shot.

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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    From Mark Levesque Mar-15-2010, 4:42pm
    Studio guitar ace Tommy Tedesco used a guitar tuning (EBGD) for mandolin with the string gauges .009, .012, .017 and .024.
    I think you could do .11,.13,.18 and .24 for a slightly thicker sound.
    Stringing a Mandolin in Fourths

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    It's already a common tenor banjo tuning option, aka Chicago tuning..
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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    As a guy that came into the mandolin world after decades of being a guitar player I do understand what you're trying to do. It may end up sounding like a mandolin to you but most likely end up sounding like a guitar capoed up high. Best of luck with your journey.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    Ray, thanks for the reply.
    What are your feelings on the difference in sound between the instruments?
    Are you saying that there is so little difference
    between the sound of a 12 twelve string guitar compared to a mandola
    (or for that matter, a bouzouki) that there is no need for seprate instruments?
    If you heard the three instruments with your eyes closed, would you be able to tell the difference?
    Best wishes. ~ RS

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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    How should I put it? If I wanted the sound of a cheap mandola strung like a guitar, I would pick up the 12 string guitar I bought in 1964; although it must be 30 years since I last played it, but I don’t. I want a mandola to sound like a mandola; which is why I bought a mandola.

    You might get the sound of a mandola but the character of an instrument also derives from the way it’s played and tuned. Personally, I find an instrument tuned in 5ths easier to play throughout the finger-board than guitar as you don’t have the awkward semitone difference between the 3rd and 4th strings. Take some time to learn the basics and a whole new world might open up to you. Feel free to string/tune an instrument however you like but you need to learn the rules before you start to break them.

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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    A lot of the sound of an instrument comes from how it is tuned. Not just the notes played, but the whole timbre of the instrument as open strings ring in the background. Also the kinds of playing made possible by each tuning, the kinds of harmonies easily reached by each kind of tuning, all go into making a mandola a mandola and a guitar a guitar.

    The reality is that you can do what ever you would like, it is yours to enjoy to the fullest, regardless what anyone thinks or says. That said, I distinguish between alternate tunings from other instruments applied to achieve perhaps novel and interesting musical effects, and those tunings applied because it's easier, its what one knows and is familiar with. Not that anyone needs anyone else's permission to do anything they want with their own legally acquired musical instruments.

    And especially if you can tear up the pea patch with it, nobody is going to say boo about how it is tuned.
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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    If you google tenor guitar string gauges you'll find charts that various folks have put together for suggested string gauges, including for Chicago (guitar style) tunings. You should be able to find a suggestion that suits your fancy and double up on those strings. You may want to do some research on the strings tensions as spec'd by various string manufacturers for their intended tunings. Also keep in mind that if you're tuning strings up in pitch, you're raising the tension and on a double course instrument you've got that difference in tension twice over. This can put stress on your instrument that may or may not affect it's health, and there is also research that shows that the relative tensions across your strings can affect how the instrument sounds. You might want to at least hear how it sounds with the tuning it is designed for, so you know if one tuning or the other sounds better or worse to your ear on that particular instrument.

    I also came to mandolin from guitar and as others have said, 5ths tuning just makes so much sense! I also find it more enjoyable to let each instrument be what it is. I want the mandola to sound like a mandola. Sometimes the differences are challenging, and sometimes that's part of the fun. It can also be inspirational because it puts you in a different space.

    Hopefully you will enjoy your mandola in whatever tuning you settle on, and let us know how it goes! Maybe you could post a recording with an A/B comparison of the strings setups you are using.

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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alfons View Post
    If you google tenor guitar string gauges you'll find charts that various folks have put together for suggested string gauges, including for Chicago (guitar style) tunings. You should be able to find a suggestion that suits your fancy and double up on those strings. You may want to do some research on the strings tensions as spec'd by various string manufacturers for their intended tunings. Also keep in mind that if you're tuning strings up in pitch, you're raising the tension and on a double course instrument you've got that difference in tension twice over. This can put stress on your instrument that may or may not affect it's health, and there is also research that shows that the relative tensions across your strings can affect how the instrument sounds. You might want to at least hear how it sounds with the tuning it is designed for, so you know if one tuning or the other sounds better or worse to your ear on that particular instrument.
    Be careful! The advice to look up and use tenor guitar string gauges is mistaken, in my opinion, for Chicago (or any other) tuning! The typical scale length of a mandola is 16.5". The typical scale length of a tenor guitar is longer, at 23". That's over half a foot of difference! You would certainly NOT be advised to use the same gauges and tunings on both instruments.

    If you want to figure out what gauges of strings you need for the required notes on a mandola, you could start with the D'Addario string tension chart, which you can download at: https://www.daddario.com/globalasset...hart_13934.pdf

    And to determine the correct tensions for any strings you choose, use the very useful D'Addario string tension pro tool, found at: http://web.daddario.com/StringTensionPro/. Select "mandolin" for the instrument, and then "mandola" from the drop-down list. Then, use the default scale length (16.5") and change the string notes to the ones that you want for guitar tuning. The calculator will compute the correct gauges to use for you!

    But I would still recommend that you keep your mandola tuned in fifths, as usual, and learn to play it that way. You will reap musical rewards.
    Last edited by sblock; Nov-08-2020 at 1:55pm.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternative stringing: mandola strung as guitar (D G B E)

    there was a 6 string A soprano guitar, Gibson made a few, Gold Tone made More ..

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