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Thread: Scottish Mandolins

  1. #1

    Default Scottish Mandolins

    Is the Scottish mandolin any different from the A or F style mandolins, or is it the style of music that makes them Scottish?

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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Its wholly down to style of music. Whilst there are Scottish based luthiers, many Scottish musicians prefer to play non-Scottish built instruments; e.g. Sobel.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    I play mandolin and am Scottish but I really don't think the term 'Scottish Mandolin' would refer to any particular instrument. It may be a term used to hint at the STYLE OF MUSIC having a Scottish flavour. Yes there are a good few Scottish luthiers making mandolins but they are mostly similar to other folky style mandolins, although some do make other styles of mandolins.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Jimmy Moon's work has a very nice astetic that I think of as Scottish.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Thanks, All, for the info. I listened to some guy playin’ a “Scottish” jig that sounded somewhat like bagpipes to me, and I enjoyed it a lot. I just wondered about his mandolin.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Not sure about Scottish mandolins, but anyone for Scottish picks*?

    https://www.amazon.com/Barclay-Plast.../dp/B07QSD7FXY

    * not to be confused with Picts
    Last edited by Ranald; Jul-22-2021 at 7:14pm.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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  8. #7

    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Nice, Ranald, I like it. I have one with the Scottish flag on it, and a few with different plaids.

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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Picking Dick View Post
    Is the Scottish mandolin any different from the A or F style mandolins, or is it the style of music that makes them Scottish?
    Hi Dick,

    I would be interested to see what you have in mind, but I'm pretty sure the answer is that it is the style of music that makes them Scottish.
    There are a number of good Scottish makers such as Moon, Buchanan or Taran (by no means a comprehensive list) but I myself play instruments by Sobell (North of England) and Collings (Texas).

    This is an article which you may find helpful.
    https://www.nkforsterguitars.com/blog/celtic-mandolin/
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    And then there’s Mike Vanden, based deep in the west coast and builds mandolins with an American vibe. He was originally based in South Manchester!

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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    If you want a list of Scottish makers, then that's kind of a different question.
    David A. Gordon

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    As Dagger says, it is not so much the instrument but the tunes and ways of playing them that give the Scottish dimension. We have a rich diversity of musical genres here in Scotland and major influences (certainly in my own case) are tunes from the bagpipe world and from the Gaelic tradition of the west coast and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; add the compositions of the great Scottish fiddle composers such as Milne, Marshall, the Gows, Scott Skinner and others. We try to create a mandolin interpretation of those tunes - have a listen to any of Dagger's recordings or any by Kevin Macleod or other Scottish players to hear how they try to create a personal interpretation of the music.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    There was the Corries' "combolin", built by Roy Williamson himself.

    I didn't notice a lot of takeup by other players though.
    https://youtu.be/MLFfNTjPMuk
    Bren

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  20. #13

    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Yes, John, I guess it’s the the Scottishness of the music that I’m interested in. I’ve been reading the literature of Scotland all my life, and I especially like Robert Burns. I even have a few books of Scottish tunes to play. So now I’ll give some of the mandolin music a listen.

    I love the pipes too. I almost bought a practice chanter to give it a try, but I took pity on my close neighbors.

  21. #14

    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    I sure hope to visit Scottland Again. Doreen had a trip planned that went down the pipe due to covid.

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Quote: "I love the pipes too. I almost bought a practice chanter to give it a try, but I took pity on my close neighbors".

    My two daughters are both pipers, Dick, and as well as the full sets of bagpipes they each have electronic chanters which can be played through headphones, so no extraneous sounds! The instruments can be tuned as Great Highland Bagpipes (with or without the tenor and bass drones) and Scottish small pipes. They can be played through an amplifier as well and can do almost all that the pipes can do. They got them while living in student accommodation so that they could keep playing without disturbing their neighbours.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

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  24. #16

    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    I didn’t know any of that. I have played tin whistles and recorders and different kinds of flutes, including concert flutes at one time or another, so I thought that I might be able to handle the chanter.

    I’m an old man now though, but maybe I’ll check ‘em out. Thanks again for the info.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    All the Scots "outdoor" bagpipes I've heard, have been tuned in B flat. Perhaps an electronic chanter can be tuned to other keys...?

    If you want to play with fiddlers etc. B flat's not the primo key.
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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    You are correct, Allen. The Great Highland Bagpipe does indeed sound in Bb, though pipers always name the nine notes as G, A, B, C# D E, F# G and A - in other words A mixolydian; the three drones, two tenor and one bass, all play A notes, the bass an octave below the tenor drones. The electronic pipes can in fact be tuned as the sounds are midi. By default the model my daughters have, made by Fagerstrom, is in Bb for the GHB and G for the small pipes.

    I remember a few years back we used to attend a monthly folk session open mic evening here at home and one of my daughters was home from university and came to the session with me. We took along her Fagerstrom and a small battery amp which we put beneath her chair and at one point we played a set (we were a trio of accordion, guitar and mandolin and she joined in on the pipes, in small pipes mode). When the set was finished a few folk who were not seated near us asked who had been playing the pipes - I told then it was my daughter, sitting beside me. The Fagerstrom does not have to be blown, being electronic, and she had it held down on her lap, so no one at any distance had any clue that she was actually playing anything, and the sound was coming from under her chair where the amp was sitting. She was asked to play a few more pipe tunes after that.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    All the Scots "outdoor" bagpipes I've heard, have been tuned in B flat. Perhaps an electronic chanter can be tuned to other keys...?

    If you want to play with fiddlers etc. B flat's not the primo key.
    FWIW, the pipers I've played with in mixed Scottish/Cape Breton/Irish sessions use "indoor" pipes -- either Smallpipes, Border pipes, or Reelpipes in the key of D like a flute or whistle. If you ever end up in a session with a piper it's likely to be one of these, so an electronic chanter that can be tuned to D would be a good introduction to that world. The indoor session version of it, anyway. The Irish or Uilleann pipes are also in D.

    Back to the topic, for me a Scottish mandolin is one that's loud enough and punchy enough to be heard in a pub session where there's a piper.


    My F-style Lebeda mandolin does okay in that respect. You can at least hear the "ping" of the attack if not the entire note against the pipes. Smallpipes are quieter. I actually like the tone and pitch of Border pipes better, but those can be pretty loud.

  29. #20

    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    I’ve always loved the pipes and things Scottish. My Dad was part Scottish. Where I live there’s a Scottish festival, and my wife and I have gone to it many times.

    Thanks for the info, foldedpath, but it seems like a shame to quiet the pipes down. Unfortunately though, I’m an apartment dweller, and many of my neighbors are probably a bit less fond of them.

  30. #21
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    If you're interested in going the electronic route for quiet practice, you might want to check out the WARBL Midi instrument: https://warbl.xyz/

    Check out the demo video at that site. It's programmable, and can be played by mouth as a whistle or with a bag like a bagpipe. It's not very expensive, but does need an external Midi sound generator like an app running on an iPad or phone. There are apps specifically for pipe sounds.

    I just ordered a WARBL to fool around with but it hasn't arrived yet, should be here later this week. My Significant Other (a fiddler) has always loved the pipes after getting into Irish/Scottish trad in recent years, and has wanted me to take them on. But at my age there isn't time to climb that initial steep learning curve. Besides, I'm still trying to get decent on "Irish" flute. With the WARBL I can at least fake the tone of some of the pipe tunes she loves, if not the actual finger technique.

  31. #22

    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    I play Irish flutes too. I really enjoy Celtic music in general. That’s why the pipes have always interested me, I guess. I love the literature too, though it’s sometimes difficult for me to read.

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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    The Great Highland Bagpipe sounds in Bb at the current standard of A above Middle C = 440 Hertz.
    Historically they sounded in A in Chorton Pitch where A = 466 Hz, a half step higher than 440.
    Brass instruments that are in Bb and Eb today were pitched in A and D respectively.
    The Treaty of Versailles after WWI contained the first modern attempt to standardize musical pitch.
    It set A = 435 Hz, not 440.
    Today's early music ensembles often tune to A = 415 Hz, a half step lower than 440.

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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Is this flattop uniquely Celtic? I founded this discussion interesting as I have no knowledge of such a type of mandolin. Forgive my ignorance. https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllT...9221628461023/
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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scottish Mandolins

    Hey Dan! “Celtic mandolin” is something of a neologism that conjures up images of a bulb-shaped Sobell, and of course Nigel (who posts frequently in the CBOM and tenor guitar fora) apprenticed under Stefan. That instrument is for sale in the classifieds here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/174409#174409

    And you can find a video of it on YouTube as well:

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