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Thread: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

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    Default Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    Is playing the Mandola similar to playing with the mandolin? Specifically I playing mandolin the index finger frets either the first or second frets. The ring finger frets the third or fourth and so on. Is it the same with the mandola, or is it like a guitar where each finger covers only one fret?
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    Registered User meow-n-dolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    I play the mandola with exactly the same fingering as the mandolin. The only difference is that to make a 7-fret stretch, at least close to the nut, I have to shift my hand position a bit to reach the high fret. It comes pretty easy and naturally with not too much practice. The octave, and especially the bouzouki, take quite a bit more time, since one has to reposition the hand quite a bit more. Chords are a different matter, however: my fingers are simply not long enough for the typical mandolin bluegrass "G chord" closed position on the lower frets, so I use different forms. Again, not a big deal.

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    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    It's pretty similar but I do find I have to use my little finger a lot more when playing things in Cm. The stretch is just a bit too much when playing fast passages.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    Quite a bit depends on the relative scales of the two instruments; the mandola's longer, but how much longer? There's no absolute standard for scale lengths, and the difference may vary from a couple inches, to well over six inches on the Sobell I've put in mandola tuning.

    I find that I may use a few more open strings on the mandola, to avoid the more extreme stretches. And more use of the little finger. "Related, but different," is the way I approach playing both melody and chords.
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    Registered User Colin Braithwaite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    I'm hooked on the mandola for playing Irish session tunes, but I have retuned it D,A,E,B with a custom set of strings. It's an octave lower than the fiddles, but in the same range as the Irish flute. It adds a nice bottom end to the session. My Weber Hyalite mandola has a 17 inch scale, and I'm considering looking for one with a 16 inch scale, just to make the stretches easier. The biggest advantage (to me) is that the very common high B note in Irish tunes, with my old, slightly buggered left land, is now an open string, instead of the seventh fret on the mandolin's high E string. Oh joy!

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Braithwaite View Post
    My Weber Hyalite mandola has a 17 inch scale, and I'm considering looking for one with a 16 inch scale, just to make the stretches easier.
    Who’s making modern mandolas in the Gibson tradition of ~15.75” scale lengths with oval soundholes?
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    I just got my 25 H1 dola back from the Luthier, he did a great job repairing a top crack and some other problems, and its never sounded better, to me anyway - but that has a 16 inch scale, and I can do just about anything I can on the mandolin with index middle and ring. I remember Mike Marshall talking about mandola being the same index, middle, ring as mandolin from a classical perspective. That being said, it can be a bit of a stretch in the 17 inch dola's ( which the rest of mine are 17 inch), while I am trying to train myself away from the pinky ( not exclusively), I still use it where it works.
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Who’s making modern mandolas in the Gibson tradition of ~15.75” scale lengths with oval soundholes?
    There is a Collings 16 inch scale at Music Emporium, so Collings did at one time.
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    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    My Collings has the shorter scale & I play it differently than I did the Webers I used to have. The increased sustain with the 17" scale on the Weber gave it more of a guitar feel to my ear where the Collings plays more like my mandolins.
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by urobouros View Post
    My Collings has the shorter scale & I play it differently than I did the Webers I used to have. The increased sustain with the 17" scale on the Weber gave it more of a guitar feel to my ear where the Collings plays more like my mandolins.
    I wouldn't say my Weber 17inch mandolas sound unlike mandolins and more like guitars, but the Yellowstone does lean towards a "hollow body arch top" sound.
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    Registered User Toycona's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    My mandola/mandolin ratio is probably 75/25, and my reasons are - 1) typically, there are no mandolae in jams 2) my mandola has a rich, full sound, full of sustain, 3) having a little bit more finger room on the fretboard is great. That said, I get shut out of fiddle tunes a fair amount, unless I've learned it on the dola or can transcribe it easily in the moment. As for comparing the two, for me the mandolin is what I play fiddle tunes on or jam with sometimes. The dola is my regular gigging instrument and great for vocal accompaniment. The finger patterns are essentially the same, though I've found some short cuts on the dola for chord positions, etc.
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    Default Re: Tell Me About Playing Mandola Vs. Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Toycona View Post
    My mandola/mandolin ratio is probably 75/25, and my reasons are - 1) typically, there are no mandolae in jams 2) my mandola has a rich, full sound, full of sustain, 3) having a little bit more finger room on the fretboard is great. That said, I get shut out of fiddle tunes a fair amount, unless I've learned it on the dola or can transcribe it easily in the moment.
    This was just like me. I also would capo 2 and drop down a string, putting me an octave below the fiddle, so I could play fiddle tunes with the same fingering as before.

    I would bring both mandolin and mandola to the jams, and eventually was mostly playing mandolin..

    So I sold the mandola, and eventually got a five course mandola-mandolin. Mandola with an E course above, or mandolin with a C course below. Fan frets so the spacing accommodates both the mandola and the mandolin. So now this is my main jammer instrument. I played it like a mandolin with room at the bottom, or doing back up and harmony on the mandola with headroom. Having the mandolin range there so I never feel "shut out", yet when I get bold I can contribute on the mandola range. I have even made progress playing some of my favorites on either side.
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