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Thread: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

  1. #1
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    Hard to know where to post this…Anyway, would someone care to explain the difference between a genuine Celtic mandolin and a bandolim? They sure look similar to me.

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    A "celtic" mandolin is just a marketing term, so I don't think there is such a thing as a "genuine" celtic mandolin - as an instrument mandolin is a relative newcomer to trad music (20th century) and in the pre-internet world you could expect to see folks playing anything from a bowl back mandolin to a Kentucky with f-holes. Terminology wise it reminds me of how folks in the States will refer to 17 fret tenor banjos as "Irish tenor banjos", when in fact you come across way more 19 fret tenor banjos being played in Ireland.
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    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    But what’s a bandolim then? Just a term?

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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    The bandolim is a Portuguese variant of the mandolin family. Instruments are flat on top and back. Flatback mandolins use a thin sheet of wood with bracing for the back, as a guitar uses, rather than the bowl of the bowlback or the arched top and back of the carved mandolins. It is the style found in Brazil.
    Check out Mandolin Builders in Brazil for examples.

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    The bandolim is a Portuguese variant of the mandolin family. Instruments are flat on top and back. Flatback mandolins use a thin sheet of wood with bracing for the back, as a guitar uses, rather than the bowl of the bowlback or the arched top and back of the carved mandolins. It is the style found in Brazil.
    Check out Mandolin Builders in Brazil for examples.
    Yes there isn’t such a thing, specifically, as an Irish mandolin but these instruments sure do look like ‘Irish mandolins’. I’m wondering if these would sound good in a session? Is there a certain Irish mandolin tone?
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    As Jill says, it is a marketing term and probably helps the sale of some instruments to those seeking out a particular tone or sound. I would say the Irish sound comes from the player and not from the instrument. Listen to the varieties of fiddle styles we Scots have in a geographically tiny country - Shetland, North-east, West Coast, Borders, etc. It is the players and the style (and the way the tunes are written) that create the particular sound. Accordionists too will have a distinctive sound even when using the same model of accordion.

    There are some fine videos on YouTube of violinist Nicola Benedetti in conversation with fiddler Aly Bain discussing the playing of Scottish traditional fiddle tunes. Nicola makes the comment that they both use the same instrument in such different ways! Here is a link to one of the YT videos of the two if them in conversation.

    https://youtu.be/DwyYoUPjRw4
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    Choro bandolims are pretty much following the design of Jacob do Bandolim's two that he had made to his own spec, or so I've read somewhere.
    Looking at pre-Jacob images of bandolims, they don't look that different to what Jacob played. I presume his improvements were mainly to do with volume .

    What generally seems to be described now by makers, buyers and sellers as a "Celtic" mandolin seems to follow styles of Fylde and Sobell that emerged in the 1970s.

    But the first well-known mandolinists I recall seeing playing Irish or Scottish music were using standard American-style mandolins, resembling Gibsons, or the Martin of Rory Gallagher.

    Everyone else was just using whatever they could get their hands on.

    (Pretty much what Johnny Moynihan did with bouzouki, as far as I understand).
    Bren

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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    Actually, Stefan Sobell mandolins do look quite different from (for example) F5 mandolins, and do look a bit like bandolims, especially his large-bodied ten-string ones, so I think it's a fair question. But of course not all 'Celtic' mandolins look like this.

    https://www.sobellguitars.com/large-...ied-mandolins/

    This article written by Nigel Forster (who worked with Sobell for several years) may help.

    https://www.nkforsterguitars.com/blog/celtic-mandolin/
    David A. Gordon

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    ...Is there a certain Irish mandolin tone?
    Most mandolin players doing Irish music that I've seen, seem to use oval-hole instruments, either flat/canted top or carved-top, rather than bowl-backs, f-hole carved-top mandos, resonator instruments, etc. Why this is, I don't know; maybe those types of instruments were more commonly available when Celtic musicians took up mandolin -- a relatively recent addition to the genre, like the guitar and the bouzouki. Clearly, you can play Celtic/Irish music on any style of mandolin; however, when I was in a Celtic band ±40 years ago, I put aside my Gibson F-5 and acquired an F-2, because I thought it sounded more "appropriate."

    I'd also point out the prevalence of larger mandolin-family instruments in current Celtic music: octave mandolins, mandolas, "Irish bouzoukis" which are basically octave mandolins by another name, citterns etc. The tenor banjo tuned GDAE like an octave mandolin is also very common, the so-called "Irish tenor banjo" (see Jill's Post #2 above). Converting a tenor banjo to "Irish" is mostly a question of restringing and retuning.

    When I go to an Irish session I usually take along either a Martin Style A or a Gibson A/N Custom "pancake," both oval-hole instruments. I've been known to sneak in an f-hole Strad-O-Lin, though. And I always have a mandola and/or an octave mandolin.

    Plus a concertina -- but that's another story...
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    One made in Ireland? Look @ the builder's data base , for names & contact info..
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    Actually, Stefan Sobell mandolins do look quite different from (for example) F5 mandolins, and do look a bit like bandolims, especially his large-bodied ten-string ones, so I think it's a fair question.
    The so-called "Celtic" mandolins I have seen are usually much heavier built and strung than the bandolims I have played. yes the body shape is similar but the construction varies.

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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    I've played a Sobell (a long time ago) and while it was a lovely instrument, I remember it as being relatively heavy. My bandolims are pretty lightweight compared with the Sobell. Don't know if that makes much difference, but while I don't actually subscribe to a specific "celtic" mandolin requirement, I do know that bandolims are a thing, like a quattro is a thing or an oud is a thing.
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  17. #13
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    Quote Originally Posted by Randi Gormley View Post
    I've played a Sobell (a long time ago) and while it was a lovely instrument, I remember it as being relatively heavy. My bandolims are pretty lightweight compared with the Sobell. .
    You remember correctly - like I said, the Brazilian bandolim is usually of a lighter build design.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    Is there a certain Irish mandolin tone?
    Depends on the context, I think.

    If you're mostly playing alone at home, then your tonal preference for Irish/Scottish trad might lean towards plenty of harmonics and a "sweet" tone (whatever that means), a quality often associated with oval-hole instruments and flattops.

    On the other hand, if you're playing in a robust Irish pub session with a flock of fiddlers, fluters, concertina players and maybe even a piper or two, you might prefer (as I do) an F-hole archtop instrument with a strong and clear fundamental tone with fewer harmonics; a tone that isn't as easily buried in the mix.

    Of course, volume shouldn't be the only requirement for session playing. A mandolin used in trad sessions should still sound good played solo. Chasing volume leads down the Devil's path to resonator mandolins, and eventually (gasp) the tenor banjo.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Celtic Mando vs Bandolim

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    The so-called "Celtic" mandolins I have seen are usually much heavier built and strung than the bandolims I have played. yes the body shape is similar but the construction varies.
    Also in general the bandolims use very light strings. I am not sure if there is a preference for medium gauge strings for Celtic music. Also more and more these days the top tier bandolim players are opting for 10 string instruments. Not all but many of them.
    Jim

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