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using a mandolin as a piccolo bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by clanner, Feb 21, 2006.


  1. clanner

    clanner Token Black Guy.

    Apr 27, 2005
    ummmmm, marietta GA
    has anyone tried this? I'm going on a church retreatin a few months and would like something to play that i can use in the car. inexpensive and possibly acoustic electric.

    i like the idea, what do you think?
     
  2. Petary791

    Petary791

    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    I hate to come off rude, but have you ever seen a mandolin? The neck is like the size of my hand, and i'm 5'5". :eek:
     
  3. clanner

    clanner Token Black Guy.

    Apr 27, 2005
    ummmmm, marietta GA
    yes i have, i'm talking as a traveling companion where i can't bring a bass and tuning it EADG insted of violin GDAE. bring a couple of picks or finger picks. just to help stave if boredom

    and i'm 6'1 or 2 ish. my hands aren't exactely gigantic. but the thought of a small carry-on sized instument tuned like my bass makes me hopeful.
     
  4. beadgc

    beadgc

    Oct 10, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    I play mandolin a little, and one of the reasons I like it is because it's such a great travelling ax. I play in GDAE tuning, but there's no reason you couldn't tune it in fourths and use is the ultimate piccolo bass. Mando scales vary -- generally from 13 inches to 14 3/4.

    Here are a couple the would fit the bill. The most compact of all, afaik:
    [​IMG]

    One of my faves, bigger, but still tiny for us bassists, is this one:
    [​IMG]

    Elderly instruments has a great selection of mandos of all kinds, and is a great place to do business with, in my experience.
     
  5. Spector_Ray

    Spector_Ray

    Aug 8, 2004
    Texas
    For what you would pay for a mandolin, why not bring along a real bass? Check out the Aria Sinsonido travel bass? You can play it with or without headphones and the body "wings" are removable.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. aquateen

    aquateen

    Apr 14, 2005
    maryland
    I'd go for this
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    That is the most badass mandolin I've ever seen.
     
  8. clanner

    clanner Token Black Guy.

    Apr 27, 2005
    ummmmm, marietta GA
    now if i can find the scratch, maybe after my band plays our next show on march 9th (one of the biggest venues in town, it's closing, but still has a lot of notoriety, the masquerade for those in the atlanta area, come check us out)

    if that goes well i should be able to get a little cash.
     
  9. clanner

    clanner Token Black Guy.

    Apr 27, 2005
    ummmmm, marietta GA
  10. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    You beat me to it. MandoBirds kick A$....
     
  11. clanner

    clanner Token Black Guy.

    Apr 27, 2005
    ummmmm, marietta GA
    i wish i could afford a mando bird right now. the 4 string version would look cool as hell strapped on with a t-bird
     
  12. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    I play mandolin and have thought about tuning it EADG. What guage strings do you think would work best?
     
  13. Standalone

    Standalone

    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    my random mountaintop/ beach/ car axe is a classical nylon string guitar. the string spacing and thickness is right enough, and if you find a nicely made one (that is beat up enough to be cheap), you can get nice full bass tones. Plus you get all the chordal opportunities afforded by EADGBE tuning. Oh, and Elderly instruments is a great company.
     
  14. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I've also considered tuning a mandolin DGBE, like the 4 high strings on a guitar, to make it easier to solo. I play baritone ukulele tuned that way and it is much easier to solo using a tuning I'm familiar with. My only stumbling block for either EADG or DGBE is finding the right strings. The standard guages aren't right for either.
     
  15. beadgc

    beadgc

    Oct 10, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    I don't know. It's a good question. If you were going to tune down to EADG, you'd need to go with heavier strings than the typical mando set (which is usually something like .011, .016,. 026, .041. Same kind of idea as when you use a heavier guage string on if you tune a bass down to D or C. I think you'd have to do some research on string tension, etc., or just get a bunch of single strings and experiment. If you've got a mandolin that takes ball-end strings, you could use single guitar strings. If it's a mando with loop-end strings it would be harder to find single strings in appropriate guages.

    One clue would be the way Irish musicians tune the tenor banjo. (They're 4-string, with a 20-22 inch scale.) The classic tenor banjo tuning is A D G C, with string gauges like 9, 16. 23 30. The Irish guys tune it down to G D A E ( which is an octave below the fiddle or mando) and the typical string set is 11 16 26 41.
     
  16. IotaNet

    IotaNet Supporting Member

    +1

    Great Instrument.
     
  17. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Ok, in the interest of science I sacrificed a set of dobro strings to experiment, and found the right guages to tune EADG. I was using ball end strings on a 4 string mandobird.


    E=.46
    A=.36
    D=.26
    G=.18

    These are guages that came in the set, others in the same range should also work. The string tension seems about right, but I make no gaurantee if you try them on an acoustic mandolin. Try at your own risk.

    I also tuned down farther to DGBE, which worked great but is so low it doesn't sound much like a mandolin. I think maybe for that tuning using very light guages and tuning up an octave might work better. I'll leave that experiment to others.

    At any rate, clanner, you can do what you wanted. It will feel like someone shrunk your bass, but it is doable.
     
  18. beadgc

    beadgc

    Oct 10, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Cool! Thanks for running that expriement!
     
  19. Thought most mandolins had 8 strings? That's what has appealed most to me though, I'll have to check out these 4's. I like the nylon guitar idea though, more possibilities with chords, in addition to the bass stuff you could play on it.
     
  20. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Traditionally mandolins have 8 strings - 4 courses of two each - and pretty much all acoustic mandolins have 8. A lot of solid body electric mandolins have 4 strings. You can even get 5 string mandolins, a friend of mine has one, tuned CGDAE.

    The Epiphone Mandobird comes in either 4 or 8 string. Since I already had a 8 string acoustic I chose to get a 4 string mandobird.