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Thread: Four-string acoustic mando

  1. #1

    Default Four-string acoustic mando

    Hi-

    Anyone know if there is such a thing? Ready-made or from a builder?
    Could an 8-string be successfully converted?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    It is called a Ukrainian Domra. 4 strings tuned GDAE

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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Here is a excellent example of the domra:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTiGA...eature=related

  4. #4

    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    A Domra? I had no idea. I guess I've built a Domra. I just call it a 4-string mandolin. It's pretty much the only one I play since I completed it. Takes some getting used to, but by now I definitely like it better than 8-strings. You could convert an 8-string, but I'm not sure how successfully. For one thing, I think the fret board would be overly wide. I've made this one quite a bit more narrow than my 8s. I also carved the top and back thinner to get full response with half as many strings driving them.

    /Magnus
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Thanks. Domra, imagine that. It seems to be bowl back.

    Magnus- Wow! Beautiful. Just what I have in mind.

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    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Ted Eschliman

    Author, Getting Into Jazz Mandolin

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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Ukulele?

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    Mandol'Aisne Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Paul Lestock makes or made them too.

    Daniel

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Mid-Missouri used to make 4-strings. Sometimes you can still find them around.

    An 8-string could definitely be converted. To do it right, you would need a new nut and either a new bridge or some modification of the old one. To make it look good, you would need some work on the headstock to obfuscate the extra tuner holes. but a good luthier could do all that.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Kid-Mo a 4 string flattop, came from Mid Missouri Mandolins , now Big Muddy , and I'll bet he can make one again.
    Last edited by mandroid; May-09-2009 at 9:01pm.
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    Registered User Bill Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    I am building one, or at least I think that is what it is going to be.
    Bill Snyder

  13. #13

    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Thanks everybody. Interesting information.The Arrow website has gone away, so there's no checking on the Jazzbo now. All the pictures that have been sent look wonderful, and I'd be happy to have any of them. Or one like them.

    I have a Draleon that looks like it would convert nicely.
    Last edited by will1; May-09-2009 at 8:58pm. Reason: add information

  14. #14
    Registered User man dough nollij's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    I converted an 8-string to a four string just because the nut slots were cut wrong and it didn't work as an 8-stringer.

    It worked fine, just by leaving four strings off.

    It is rather like playing a cheese slicer, though. Get ready for a whole new level of caluses!

  15. #15
    Registered User David Hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Wow that JP Charles 4 string looks pretty cool. I wouldn't mind adding one of those to my wish list. I've been thinking about a 4 string mandolin since I switched from octave mandolin to tenor guitar. Maybe someday.
    David
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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Heed what Uncle "Pen" Gwin says above, about the cheese slicer effect. It does feel a lot different. That was the first thing I noticed about my 4-string Breedlove/Zenkl acoustic/electric mandola. I dropped down a gauge or two from the strings I thought I'd be using on it. In part, it was so I could use a little more finger vibrato for blues, but it was also so it didn't hurt my fingers so much to play.

    Volume-wise, my four-string mandola isn't all that loud, even though it's a full acoustic carved archtop. It just doesn't have the volume it would have with double courses. On the other hand, four strings and a little more space between strings on the neck is great for fingerstyle playing, if you're into that, but I do think it works best with a pickup of some type. This is basically a dedicated fingerstyle machine:


  17. #17
    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    So the Breedlove electric mandola is a reality, cool.

    It was a number of years ago that they had the black Radim Zenkl one at NAMM and little more has been heard since. I don't see anything about it on their website. Did you custom order it or is it actually a catalog/production instrument?

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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    What is your scale length of your Breedlove mandola?

  19. #19
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    AFAIK, the Breedlove Zenkl mandola is custom order only, through any Breedlove dealer. I ordered this one through Mandolin Brothers and had it drop-shipped direct from the factory, since I'm on the same coast. It took about six months to arrive. Scale length is 16". I have it in standard CGDA mandola tuning, with TI flatwounds.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    I am building flat top instruments and have a wonderful baritone ukulele body design which I am in the midst of building a 4 string octave mando and tenor guitar with the same body design. The instrument intended for the octave mando 4 string will have a typical truss rod vs the carbon fiber truss rod that I have in the bari. It could be a nylon string or steel string instrument.
    I currently have the bari uke setup with Aquila Nylgut strings, but have had D'Addario Silk & Steels on it. It has a tailpiece configuration. It is a drum. Very loud with a full range.

    If you're going to be in Seattle for the Fretboard Journal Anniversary Party on November 4th, I'll have the bari there.
    You can see the bari called teh "Big Bottom Myrtle" amongst the albums on my Facebook page.
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...58169180880042

    Mark

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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Something you may wish to consider if you are going to toy around with converting an 8 string to a 4 string, is that the instrument was built with hopefully appropriate bracing for the tension of eight strings. Almost double what you will be left with when you remove four. It will most likely sound under powered, because it will be over braced at that point.
    You may wish to try to compensate for this with heavier strings, or possibly adjusting the "after string angle" between the saddle and the tailpiece. Of course any of these changes may affect the feel of the strings.

  22. #22
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    I have 4 string conversions of 8 string mandolin banjos , nothing quiet about them .
    kind of fun doubling the Irish tenor banjos, an Octave up.

    Melody banjos seem to be a name applied to some made that way.
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  23. #23

    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Not a four string, but I absolutely love my five string acoustic. It wasn't a conversion, and I don't know if the bracing is any different, but it has great volume and projection. http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ghlight=morici

  24. #24
    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Quote Originally Posted by McMandolin View Post
    Here is a excellent example of the domra:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTiGA...eature=related
    Wow, I hadn't remembered reading this response back when it was first posted..

    There are lots of electric versions of this instrument floating around ebay (one of the first posts in the ebay emando thread I started was about an e-domra) but I (ignorantly) missed the connection that such instruments obviously implied a rich tradition of acoustic playing.

    Here's another great clip:





    One of my students is Ukranian, and when she found out I was researching harp guitars she turned me on to Ukranian bandura music. Maybe she knows something about domras too. Here's a neat pic from harpguitars.net (the tambourine says, "Ukraine")




    Also interesting to note, Dave Apollon was Ukranian. I'm sure he played some domra. Hmm. I wonder if Peter Ostroushko has one laying around somewhere..
    Last edited by delsbrother; Nov-03-2010 at 1:38pm.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Four-string acoustic mando

    Interesting info. I did not make the connection to the domra either. The examples on youtube are quite fascinating. I'd often heard arguments against single course instruments, within the mandolin family, as lacking volume and the difficulty in playing a tremelo but these examples clearly dispel these myths. I wonder how stiff of a pick is being used?

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