Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 46

Thread: Do I need a mandola?

  1. #1

    Default Do I need a mandola?

    Hello all,

    Been playing my latest find lately (Harmony Shutt style) and I wanted to pick up a teens Gibson A mandolin. However I don't like the ultra narrow nuts that a lot of the A's have. Plus between the Harmony, my Mid Missouri wide neck and my old Epiphone, I think I'm covered with mandolins. However, I don't have a mandola and I like that they have a wider nut width. I've never played a mandola but I assume I should treat it like a mandolin, just a longer scale and different key, or am I missing something?

    Thank you,
    Sam

  2. #2
    Pittsburgh Bill
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    968
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    I believe a mandola is a nice addition to an arsenal of instruments. I like mine for playing tunes that often are sung in a lower register (i.e. Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, e.t.c.), and for solo play. I'm not a singer but many people like the mandola for voice synchronization. I also used mine in the mandola section of an orchestra. It does not get played as frequently as my mandolins, but it does have it's place.
    When playing with others you will need to have a grasp for transposing keys if you use the same note and chord fingering as your mandolins. Don't let that turn you off as it just takes a little thought. When I first got a mandola I frequently referenced "The Circle Of Fifths) for help.
    Last edited by Pittsburgh Bill; Sep-30-2022 at 12:55pm.
    Stiver A style custom #388-5-20
    Big Muddy EM8 solid body (Mike Dulak's final EM8 build)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool & emergency canoe paddle)

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Pittsburgh Bill For This Useful Post:


  4. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    1,498

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    "Do I need a mandola?" is a rhetorical question, (do I need 6 mandolas is a different story- still struggling through that one).
    If its just a wider nut you are looking for, a wide nut mandolin may be what you seek.
    My 1920 Gibson F4 has a very wide nut (wider than 1 3/8) and I just picked up a sweet Collings wide nut, love it!.
    I know Northfield generally produces some wide nut mandolins, the NFSWN generally run under 4K new and there are few out there in the classified or on Reverb.
    The Gibson Black Night at the Mandolin Store is wide nut but its a bit pricey.
    Standard nut is 1 1/8", wide nut is 1 3/8", those 2 extra 8th of an inch make a big difference.
    Weber and others made wide nuts, they are on the rare side, but that generally does not raise the price as wide nut is not really in high demand.
    Or by all means try a mandola!
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  5. The following members say thank you to tmsweeney for this post:


  6. #4

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    "Do I need a mandola?" is a rhetorical question, (do I need 6 mandolas is a different story- still struggling through that one).
    If its just a wider nut you are looking for, a wide nut mandolin may be what you seek.
    My 1920 Gibson F4 has a very wide nut (wider than 1 3/8) and I just picked up a sweet Collings wide nut, love it!.
    I know Northfield generally produces some wide nut mandolins, the NFSWN generally run under 4K new and there are few out there in the classified or on Reverb.
    The Gibson Black Night at the Mandolin Store is wide nut but its a bit pricey.
    Standard nut is 1 1/8", wide nut is 1 3/8", those 2 extra 8th of an inch make a big difference.
    Weber and others made wide nuts, they are on the rare side, but that generally does not raise the price as wide nut is not really in high demand.
    Or by all means try a mandola!
    My wife often asks me if I need another guitar, the answer is usually yes :D

    I do have a wider nut mandolin, which I play a lot, however I love the sound of an older instrument like the Harmony. I've seen a few older Gibson mandolins with a wider nut, but I like the idea of having something a little different. I might just have to pick up a mandola after all

  7. #5
    small instrument, big fun
    Join Date
    Aug 2022
    Location
    Nashua NH
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    I didn’t read the thread, and I know nothing about OP or his situation.


    Yes, OP, you need a mandola. Your need is both great and immediate. You may, in fact, need TWO mandolas.

  8. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Dan in NH For This Useful Post:


  9. #6
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    6,022

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    If you want a wider nut and a different voice but don't want to deal with a different tuning, consider an octave mandolin. Lots of choices. Or just get a mandola.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  10. #7

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?


  11. #8
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    KC MO
    Posts
    612

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    I didn’t think I needed a mandola till I “accidentally” played an Eastman MDA315 at the store. The deep voice really grabbed me and I called my wife and asked if she wanted to buy it for my Christmas present, lol. I do like it every time I play it, BUT I don’t play it often. The need to rethink my chords makes it a bit harder to just jump into songs, and if I want to play fiddle tunes in the traditional keys, I either have to play part of the tune down an octave (which I don’t like), or play up the neck. Up the neck is easy on my mandolin, but less so on the mandola since I don’t practice it enough. Maybe I’ll have more time to devote to mandola when I retire in a couple of years. (I also have the problem of enjoying learning/playing too many instruments, so that makes it harder to give any particular instrument the time it needs.)

    An energetic percussive style on the lower pitched strings does sound good and is fun, though, so that’s one thing you’ll get versus a regular mandolin.

    So, to answer your question - YES, if you think you’ll have the time this instrument deserves. And YES, if the money isn’t an issue, even if you don’t have the time but just want to expand your horizons a bit.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315, some guitars, banjos, and fiddles

  12. The following members say thank you to Doug Brock for this post:


  13. #9
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    1,487

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    I got my mandola (99 Mid Mo M-15) very soon after my first mandolin. It took some thinking to figure out how they are related, because I was only just starting to figure out how the mandolin works (and definitely not there yet on either). But it's so very cool and I love how it sounds and feels in my hands. Someday I think (I'm pretty sure) I want a 5 course instrument that can be both at the same time. It might be sooner than later because life's too short not to try 'em all

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    If you want a wider nut and a different voice but don't want to deal with a different tuning, consider an octave mandolin. Lots of choices. Or just get a mandola.
    Or both .... life's too short ..
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

  14. The following members say thank you to Sue Rieter for this post:


  15. #10
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,609

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in NH View Post
    Yes, OP, you need a mandola. Your need is both great and immediate. You may, in fact, need TWO mandolas.
    Can confirm. And I secretly want an oval.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  16. The following members say thank you to pheffernan for this post:


  17. #11
    Registered User webber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2021
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Here's another vote for trying a mandola. The resonance and sustain is addictive... I pick up my Big Muddy more often than even my pricier instruments!
    1913 Gibson F2 (Blacktop)
    2022 Big Muddy Mandola (M-16, Ziricote back and sides, Adirondack top)
    2022 Kentucky KM-120 (Elevated fretboard conversion)
    1940s Kay Banjolin
    1930s Martin Style 0 Ukulele
    1920s Vega Senator Plectrum Banjo (GDAE octave mando tuning)

  18. The following members say thank you to webber for this post:


  19. #12

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    there is also the big uke, its like a tenor guitar, you can string it in 5ths, nice low tone , nylon strings , very nice change and sound with the same fingerings but longer sting length

  20. The following members say thank you to kjbllc for this post:


  21. #13
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    South of France
    Posts
    1,949

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Take any old guitar:
    Put the G string where the B string was. Tune it to A (or buy a slightly lighter G string).
    Put the D string where the G string was, no change in tuning
    Put the A string where the D string was, tune to G. (Or buy a slightly heavier A string)
    Put a spare old G string where the A string was.
    Put a spare old G string where the low E string was.

    Now it’s capo-time. Fifth fret.

    You’ve got yourself a sweet mandola-like instrument.

  22. The following members say thank you to Simon DS for this post:


  23. #14
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    17,376

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Mandola is a wonderful addition to any mandolinist's toolbox. I found the difference in scale lengths is not so large to make an entirely different fingering strategy necessary -- contrast with octave mandolin or mandocello. The mandola's "alto" voice provides a lot of opportunities for harmonies and counter-melodies, and also provides a pleasing range of vocal accompaniments. The tonal range meshes nicely with guitar, and pacifies those listeners who consider the mandolin "shrill" (I don't, but there are those who do).

    I have an old Stahl (Larson brothers) mandola that's now the instrument I usually take to sing-arounds, jams etc. Only trouble I found in taking up the instrument, was doing "head transposition" of chord fingerings: yeah, the tune's in the key of D, but on mandola I'm using "A" chords -- or they would be "A" chords if I were still playing mandolin...

    There are now a decent range of available affordable mandolas, from flat-tops like the Trinity College instruments, to carved-top Eastmans, etc. I currently stock three mandolas, the Stahl, a Washburn bowl-back, and a Sobell, and find them useful and often-played.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  24. The following members say thank you to allenhopkins for this post:


  25. #15
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    12,827

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Everyone needs a mandola.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  26. The following members say thank you to mrmando for this post:


  27. #16
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    South of France
    Posts
    1,949

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    One way to get around the chord transposition issues with mandolas is to learn all major and minor chords as five string chords (cittern).
    Then you just shift any mandolin full, five course chords you have in mind up by one course towards the sky.
    Similar with melodies by learning the adjacent course keys each time and shifting.

    For example you have a tune in G on the mandolin? You learn it (by position) in it’s fourth, C on the mandolin too. Now you play it in C as it were, but on the mandola and you’re playing in the same key (G major) as all the other people who don’t have a beautiful mandola.

    Great practice, not a lot of extra work once you are solid in G major on the third and fourth strings of mandolin, and has huge benefits.

    (I’m not getting a mandola because I’m spoilt for deep tone while using my octave with a capo).

  28. The following members say thank you to Simon DS for this post:


  29. #17
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    1,487

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Can confirm. And I secretly want an oval.
    Your secret is out
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

  30. The following members say thank you to Sue Rieter for this post:


  31. #18
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,609

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    Your secret is out
    This is the one I want (or more accurately a modern tribute): https://mandolincafe.com/forum/threa...ad-H-2-mandola
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  32. The following members say thank you to pheffernan for this post:


  33. #19
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Key West
    Posts
    14,506
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Do you need a mandola? Probably not. Do you want a mandola? Apparently. Embrace the desire.

    I did need a mandola at one point. I'd written a song that had a distinctive fingering pattern for its chord progression, but was so not in a good key for my voice. It was quite a good song (if I say so myself - well, someone has to, while I languish in obscurity), and demanded and deserved to be performed correctly. There just happened to be a really nice 1916 Gibson H-2 hanging on the wall at my luthier's when I visited one day. It was for sale on consignment by someone I knew, who had to come up with cash quickly to keep his house from getting sold out from under him. That meant selling a few instruments, including this - the better of the two he owned, but the other one was part of a mandolin-mandola-mandocello set with matching finishes, and he didn't want to break that up. My good fortune (for once), and it came just after I'd gotten my tax return. So a deal was struck. I'd been wanting one for some time, but this was a case of needing one, in order to solve the voicing/voice discordance. And I've been ever so grateful I stepped up so many times since. It's the first instrument I owned that qualified as being a real true fine vintage instrument. It has a deep, rich, warm, resonant, full sound, and is always still ringing when I put it in the case. This comports with what webber said. Yes, doing the transpositions in your head when playing with guitarists is a bit of a challenge, but you'll get used to it. Indeed, it is keyed to C the way a mandolin is keyed to G, so for songs in certain keys it may even be preferable.

    Life is short. Buy and play instruments!

    Epilogue: Last year I received a bit of a windfall, and used that to acquire a 1916 A-4, which just happened to have the same finish as the mandola. So I suddenly found myself with a matched set. Not looking to add a mandocello, but maybe someday ... who knows?

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	H2-A4.jpg 
Views:	28 
Size:	481.0 KB 
ID:	203581
    Last edited by journeybear; Oct-01-2022 at 3:59pm. Reason: just one more thing ...
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
    Gibson Mandolins Social Group
    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

    Celebrating her birthday 10/1 and her surviving Hurricane Ian: The lovely Miss Dagmar in her prime, captivating all in attendance - muse, inspiration, friend - a true avatar

  34. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to journeybear For This Useful Post:


  35. #20
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    16,946

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    A Quartet needs at least one.
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  36. The following members say thank you to mandroid for this post:


  37. #21
    Registered User Toycona's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    429

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    I play mine as my main gigging instrument, then flip to mandolin for fiddle tunes. Lots of sonic fun!
    ma dh'fheumas tu tarraing, dθan sin gu socair



    Instruments

    Mann 2 Point - 2011
    Girouard Mandola - 2013
    Pava A5 - 2019

  38. The following members say thank you to Toycona for this post:


  39. #22
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Way out there
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    I often ask my wife "Do you WANT (a piece of cake, a ride somewhere, help carrying something, et cetera), and she will often respond "Oh, I don't NEED it", leaving me frustrated with my specific and divergent definitions of the two words "want" and "need". No one NEEDS a mandola, but if ya want one, f'cryinoutloud, get you one.
    too many strings

  40. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to musicofanatic For This Useful Post:


  41. #23
    Registered User Strabo's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    FloridaColorado
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    I like playing JSBach and the mandola is perfect for that. The low C string provides depth and sustain that propels the music.

    For other music, the mandola’s range is nice — it’s something like a more rational guitar. I find that fingering differences are no big deal. I suspect that the transposing challenge is not that difficult, but mando-fiddle is already using most of my available mental resources, haha.

    Strabo

  42. The following members say thank you to Strabo for this post:


  43. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    1,498

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by musicofanatic View Post
    No one NEEDS a mandola.
    I can't believe the processor actually allowed that text be rendered on this page, blasphemy blasphemy!
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  44. The following members say thank you to tmsweeney for this post:


  45. #25
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    South of France
    Posts
    1,949

    Default Re: Do I need a mandola?

    Yes, the statement, ‘No one needs a mandola’ would probably make a music therapist laugh.

    Estimates on the number of people (in millions) who NEED to learn a musical instrument, anyone?

  46. The following members say thank you to Simon DS for this post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •