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Thread: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

  1. #1

    Default A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Thanks for all the help. This one is ready for the finish shop
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  3. #2
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Nice! I'm just about to start one myself, I'm curious, what machine heads are you using?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    And I am curious what scale length and sting gauges you are using to avoid low string droop or high strung break.
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  5. #4

    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    Nice! I'm just about to start one myself, I'm curious, what machine heads are you using?
    f

    https://www.rubnertuners.com/

    He has 10 string tuners. But overall, all of his tuners are some of the best stuff out there.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    And I am curious what scale length and sting gauges you are using to avoid low string droop or high strung break.
    This is my first mandolin. I'm not up on all the lingo regarding droop and such. With such a high post count, I'm guessing you would have more answers than questions. My main build gig are guitars (harp guitars too). But if you are being serious, I'll dig into it.

    13-7/8" scale.

    Mike

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike OMelia View Post
    This is my first mandolin. I'm not up on all the lingo regarding droop and such. With such a high post count, I'm guessing you would have more answers than questions. My main build gig are guitars (harp guitars too). But if you are being serious, I'll dig into it.

    13-7/8" scale.

    Mike
    The range of two octaves plus a major third, between low C and high E, is an issue. At that string length, a normal mandolin set works fine, with a .052 or similar for the C. Because they are doubled courses and the total tension load is higher than a 4-course mandolin, going a bit lighter is nice for the top and neck.
    I would recommend .010, .015, .024, .036, .050 or .052.
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  9. #7

    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    The range of two octaves plus a major third, between low C and high E, is an issue. At that string length, a normal mandolin set works fine, with a .052 or similar for the C. Because they are doubled courses and the total tension load is higher than a 4-course mandolin, going a bit lighter is nice for the top and neck.
    I would recommend .010, .015, .024, .036, .050 or .052.
    Thank you so much. I have been looking for that advice.

    Mike

  10. #8
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    I have a 10 string mandola built by TJ at Cricket Fiddle several years ago. I'm not at home now to double check but I think it's 16-1/2" scale (hey I play it, I don't sit around measuring it).

    A style, oval hole, 12th fret body join. Carved top and back. I use standard mandola strings from Curt Mangan with a pair of .010 E's on top. Allen cast tailpiece that takes loop or ball end strings.

    Originally I think the tuning machines were off a 12 string guitar (6 on a plate) with one roller snipped off. I replaced them with individual Grover mini Rotomatic's.

    It's probably my favorite all-around instrument. Great tone, volume and sustain. Covers the range of a mandolin and mandola. Wide fretboard (1-3/4" nut) so it's easy to chord and finger pick.

    And I've never seen anything else quite like it.

  11. #9

    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I have a 10 string mandola built by TJ at Cricket Fiddle several years ago. I'm not at home now to double check but I think it's 16-1/2" scale (hey I play it, I don't sit around measuring it).

    A style, oval hole, 12th fret body join. Carved top and back. I use standard mandola strings from Curt Mangan with a pair of .010 E's on top. Allen cast tailpiece that takes loop or ball end strings.

    Originally I think the tuning machines were off a 12 string guitar (6 on a plate) with one roller snipped off. I replaced them with individual Grover mini Rotomatic's.

    It's probably my favorite all-around instrument. Great tone, volume and sustain. Covers the range of a mandolin and mandola. Wide fretboard (1-3/4" nut) so it's easy to chord and finger pick.

    And I've never seen anything else quite like it.
    When you get a chance, measure the distance from the nut to the 12th fret, multiply by 2. That's your scale length assuming normal octave spacing rules. If its 16 1/2" that means your body and neck are a bit bigger. Alto? Curious to know. Check out Rubners 5 on a side. Highly unlikely they will fit though. Thank you!

  12. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike OMelia View Post
    This is my first mandolin. I'm not up on all the lingo regarding droop and such. With such a high post count, I'm guessing you would have more answers than questions. My main build gig are guitars (harp guitars too). But if you are being serious, I'll dig into it.

    13-7/8" scale.

    Mike
    Those are more my terms. At that standard mandolin scale length you have chosen you may have to have some relatively heavy C course gauges. Tom Wright gave you a valid starting point but essentially those are ultra-light gauges. I don’t know if you have every seen those fan fret instruments but they are designed to remedy the problem with variable scale lengths. They looks sort of odd but I am told they work well. Check out this thread or one made by an excellent luthier: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...et-10-String-5
    Jim

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  13. #11
    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    I had one of these made by Marty Jacobson. Even with fanned frets, it was hard to get a real resonant sound out of the C string. Marty is converting it to an 8 string now.
    I had a lovely pair of Rubner tuners on this. If you're interested in how Marty obtained those, you might email him.
    I think getting the C string to sound really good at that scale length will be really hard.
    Bill
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  14. #12
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by billhay4 View Post
    I had one of these made by Marty Jacobson. Even with fanned frets, it was hard to get a real resonant sound out of the C string....I think getting the C string to sound really good at that scale length will be really hard.
    Bill
    The way to a big sound on the C is a larger body. Buchanan's 10-strings have 50% more air volume, and a much wider top. Scale length only slightly longer, at 14.25".

    I get plenty of compliments using my Buchanan at contra dances and English Country Dance.
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  15. #13
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike OMelia View Post
    When you get a chance, measure the distance from the nut to the 12th fret, multiply by 2. That's your scale length assuming normal octave spacing rules. If its 16 1/2" that means your body and neck are a bit bigger. Alto? Curious to know. Check out Rubners 5 on a side. Highly unlikely they will fit though. Thank you!
    I just measure from the nut to the bridge saddle for scale length, since that's what the term actually means.

    Rubner makes good tuners - I put a set on an F5 I bought (also built by TJ). They still work just fine.
    That was a few years ago. Ever since then when I've checked their site most everything is out of stock/unavailable. I know they had a fire a while ago and of course supply chain struggles like everyone.

    When you're dealing with an already existing instrument I find it easier to find what fits with the least amount of modification.

    I've put Rubner, Schaller, Waverly and Stew Mac Golden Age on various instruments. I've got others with Gotoh and Grover. I've got to say the Grover Rotomatic sets I've installed are probably the smoothest of any of them, and because they're individual tuning machines vs 3, 4, 5 or 6 on a plate they adapt better on specialty or custom instruments with non-standard roller spacing.

  16. #14

    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Those are more my terms. At that standard mandolin scale length you have chosen you may have to have some relatively heavy C course gauges. Tom Wright gave you a valid starting point but essentially those are ultra-light gauges. I donít know if you have every seen those fan fret instruments but they are designed to remedy the problem with variable scale lengths. They looks sort of odd but I am told they work well. Check out this thread or one made by an excellent luthier: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...et-10-String-5
    I am going to be happy to get past this one as is. Client is very easy to deal with. Fan frets have always looked odd to me. More of a niche market. If you have a string gage to suggest, my ears are open. tnx!

    mike

  17. #15
    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    The way to a big sound on the C is a larger body. Buchanan's 10-strings have 50% more air volume, and a much wider top. Scale length only slightly longer, at 14.25".

    I get plenty of compliments using my Buchanan at contra dances and English Country Dance.
    I agree.
    Bill
    IM(NS)HO

  18. #16

    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by billhay4 View Post
    I agree.
    Bill
    I don't disagree with any of this. Makes sense. I'm kind of in the category of "I don't know what I don't know". I just agreed to the client's requests. Now, I am at the finish line. Got to figure out how to make a bridge for this thing that looks as good as what's available out there for 8 strings. Nobody seems to make them. I'll have time later to reflect on this and do better. I just never saw all of this coming when I took this on.

  19. #17

    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    The range of two octaves plus a major third, between low C and high E, is an issue. At that string length, a normal mandolin set works fine, with a .052 or similar for the C. Because they are doubled courses and the total tension load is higher than a 4-course mandolin, going a bit lighter is nice for the top and neck.
    I would recommend .010, .015, .024, .036, .050 or .052.
    tuning? CGDEA?

  20. #18

    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    OK, now I understand droop. Ugh. Gonna try a lighter gauge string for low course

  21. #19
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike OMelia View Post
    tuning? CGDEA?
    CGDAE, methinks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike OMelia View Post
    OK, now I understand droop. Ugh. Gonna try a lighter gauge string for low course
    and I think a heavier gauge would do here. You may have to experiment until you get the workable gauge.
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  22. #20

    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    Thatís quite a short scale length for a C course. Iíd be inclined to use a single string instead of a pair. And it will have to be quite heavy.
    Last edited by Patrick Toole; Apr-23-2023 at 10:12am. Reason: Adding information

  23. #21
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    I have a 10-string (which I call my mandolinola) that I ordered from Lawrence Nyberg a few years ago. He put two Rubner 5-tuner strips on it, which work great!

    Its scale length is 15", basically in the middle of the mandolin and mandola scale lengths. Lawrence strung it with .009, .016, .022, .032, and .046 and I've used those gauges when I replace the strings. That .009 is very nervewracking to deal with as I tune it up to pitch, so I'd be hesitant to go with a .010 there. Also, with those gauges, the low-high balance of the tone is excellent all the way. However, since your 10-string's scale length is 1 1/8" shorter than mine, Tom's recommendations would probably work better for it than what I listed here.

    I share the concern about how that low C is going to sound on a 13 7/8"-scale instrument. You might ask your customer to consider tuning the low string to D instead, which would give that Celtic D-G-D sound to the lower half of the instrument.
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  24. #22
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    I agree with Marcus CA about tuning up the lowest course to D however it sounds like the OP has built this to the customer’s specs so I imagine the customer might just have to experiment for optimum strings and set up depending on what this player intends to play on this instrument.
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  25. #23
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Style Mandolin, 10 string

    I've built four 10-string mandolas.

    Even if you've built 100 & can offer definitive evidence that the scale is wrong, there will still be plenty of people who insist they know better than you and then the same people will be mad when it does not sound like the unicorns and fairy dust they dreamed up in their head....

    The one pictured in my avatar reflects my opinion of how useless a short scale is!
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