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Acoustic 8-string (octave)?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MaskedJackal, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. Does such a thing exist? Obviously I think it's easy to assume the neckdive would be extreme if all eight tuners were at the headstock but nonetheless, anyone ever heard of such a bass existing?
  2. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Guess I'll dig this thread up from the dead... I've often thought that adding octave strings would be a good way to give ABGs more volume and presence.

    The closest existing instruments of which I am aware would be the bajo sexto (basically a 12-string guitar tuned an octave below std.), bajo quinto (same as the bajo sexto minus the low E course - which is traditionally never used in Norteno music anyway) and mandolone (HUGE mandolin tuned ADGC, courses normally tuned in unison not octaves). I've seen a chitarrone moderno (a DB-sized guitar-shaped bass) with eight tuners pass through Ebay but it was not in playable shape.

    I'm happy playing DB and occasionally pulling out a BG or EUB when I need it but I'll admit to having GAS for a mandolone... also a bass banjo, a contrabass banjo and a Knuckle Quake...

    Here's a modern Japanese mandolone:
  3. As far as I know, the closest you'll come is something like the Chaparral 'acoustic look' 8-String and 12-String Basses Hamer makes, or a 'semi-acoustic' like Tennessee makes.



    The extra tension pull of a full scale length 8 or 12er might be too much for true acoustic bass construction - I would think it would pull the bridge and sound board right off the top. But I am no luthier, so who knows! I will keep my eyes open for one.
  4. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    There is someone here with an amazing fretless 8 string octave Turner Renaissance bass.

    Is there one mass produced? Nope. Can you get one if you are willing to spend the $$$? Yep.
  5. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    You can have anything custom made. After I get my Alis baritone acoustic guitar, I'm going back for a four string ABG and likely an 8 string to go with it.
  6. AlisGuitars

    AlisGuitars Commercial User

    Apr 2, 2008
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Owner, Alis Guitars
    I'll dredge this one up. I found it to be a pretty interesting idea.
    I don't want to be a nagative nelly, but can see a lot of inherent problems with the 8 strings for an ABG.
    Neck dive, of course. Some mini tuning machines would be a must, but the added weight of the neck material to fit all the strings on the FB would be a LOT.
    Great sounding acoustic guitars are usually built so light that they are on the verge of collapse or implosion. Thats a bit of a stretch, but thats the idea. Take away as much material and bracing as possible to make it light, reactive, resonant, etc. without sacrificing the structural integrity to the point of failure. Adding this much tension to the top would mean having to build it really heavy, thereby taking away the ability to react to a light touch.
    Then there's tone. Highly related to the structural thing above. Even the low b string on a 5 string is almost non-functional if you're in any sort of a room with ambient noise, let alone a guitar. Have you guys notices how hard it is to hear that one? For the guitar to REALLY carry that note, the body is going to have to be a LOT bigger than the typical Michael Kelly that you'll find at GC. Then add another 3 strings after that? No way the low notes are getting heard without amplification. That's ok, but the purist type guys will razz you about it.
    Rick Turner does make some amazing things. I was searching for the instrument mentioned above and can't find any images. That'd be pretty cool to see.
    I'm not saying it wouldn't be cool to try building an 8 string, but its fairly risky.

    My biggest question is: What strings would you use for it, size and note-wise?

  7. richnota

    richnota Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2005
    Santa Cruz
    My fretless Turner Renaissance 8 is close.

  8. Human Bass

    Human Bass

    Aug 26, 2005

  9. bigcatJC


    Jul 9, 2004
    Would a mandocello work? It'd be short scale, and I'm sure you'd have to re-string it and probably get the nut replaced and re-cut, but it's an option. I'm sure Ovation made a mandocello a few years ago, pretty good quality as I recall.
  10. AlisGuitars

    AlisGuitars Commercial User

    Apr 2, 2008
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Owner, Alis Guitars
    Thats sweet. I now see the mention of "(octave" in the original subject line. Now it makes sense. I'll have to ask Rick about that and get some more info.
    What scale is yours and what strings do you use on your fretless? To make it worthy of being unplugged, there's some work to be done, but probably not much more than a 12 string. Its probably doable. I'd love to see some specs on string spacing and fretboard width at the nut and 14th fret. If anyone has info like that, feel free to pass it along.
    Thanks for posting that photo.
  11. AlisGuitars

    AlisGuitars Commercial User

    Apr 2, 2008
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Owner, Alis Guitars
    It may. Like you said, it would take some work to recut some of the bone items and get the bridge pin string channels cut, but it MIGHT work with the right strings, but it would be around a 25.25-25.5 scale most likely. An interesting idea. Ever seen any on the used market? I don't recall them being much more than $1200 off the shelf. My first choice would be to make one at full scale, but if an experiment could be done cheaply, then hey, why not?
  12. richnota

    richnota Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2005
    Santa Cruz
    The Turner is a 35" scale (Rick Turner based it on his 5 string neck--he built it for very little premium over one of his stock basses)

    Its scale is a bit long for an 8 string. The biggest challenge is the intonation. He carved the bridge but my hunch is seperate saddles would be better.

    Its strung with thomastik nylon core strings--built out of a six string set. The G is not an ocatave but doubled. I experimented with an octave g from a Labella nylon piccolo bass set--worked well but I've come to like doubling effect.

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