Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

Hi All - can anyone suggest some good youtube clips or other resources to compare the sound of various members of the mandolin family and how they work in ITRAD music? I am a guitar player who wants to start trying to play the tunes…but the stretch on the guitar is a bit much for me, so I would like to explore shorter scaled instruments.

I would also be interested in hearing different builders - Fylde, Moon, Stuart, Buchanan, etc.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

Octave Mandolin will have a pretty good stretch in the first position, It is comparable to a guitar, really

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

My quick answer is that the longer the scale for a given note, the better the sound.
So, IMHO, I would say go for a bouzouki. I do know you said about stretch, but on a ‘zouk you are not normally trying to play more than one note, or one string, at a time, so you just move your hand about if needed, for a B on the top string, for instance.
Otherwise, you only need to be able to fret between the 2nd and 5th frets anyway. Is that too much of a stretch ? And after all, if a lead guitarist needs a high note, he doesn’t say “My fingers can’t reach that far! “, he just goes up the neck, moves the whole hand. No problem.
Mandolas and OMs must,by nature of their pitch and scale length, have heavier stringing, and a less satisfying sound, IMHO.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

I play tenor banjo at sessions, but fool around with a Sound to Earth (i.e., Weber) OM and a Joe Foley Bouzouki at home or with smaller groups of musicians.

The Weber OM is this one: http://www.soundtoearth.com/instruments.php?inst=95
but with an oval soundhole to look more “authentically celtic.” I love it, and it sounds better and better the more it is played. It has a slight arch top so is weighted a little more towards cut than resonance.

The Foley zouk is a fairly early model cedar-top I bought second-hand. It is definitely more challenging in terms of stretch than the OM and, to be honest, I’m not sure it’s tone is really any better for melody playing. Where it shines is in GDAD-tuned accompaniment (because of the greater resonance), something that I’ve found little time to work on.

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Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

I prefer to play mandolin where it can be heard, and for practice.
Stretching is not much of an issue, and you may find it more rewarding in the short term.
For long-term variety and audibility, also consider a tenor banjo,
tuned down to GDAE with heavier strings.
I have a very nice octave mandolin, but seldom play it at the moment. It is really effective for a combination of melody and backing, both tunes and songs.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

For melodies, I’d say mandolin or tenor banjo. Unless it’s a slow piece, on the bigger instruments, the double strings can have too much drag, and could sound muddy.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

Especially for you irishrhythm here’s me playing ‘The Humours of Ballyloughlin’ on a Weber Octave Mandolin.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGMQMmSOJX4


Done in one take without much warm up so please forgive the ‘muddy’ mistakes 😉

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Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

irishrhythm, I note that you are already playing bouzouki, and are playing in a band, so I suggest that you try a short-scale tenor banjo. There is nothing like it in a band, and you can keep it under wraps until you are ready to play in public; as you are already playing other instruments, I presume you are not in a hurry.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

I didn’t look at your biog first - serves me right after complaining about people who don’t have one !
I would advise, don’t buy a tenor banjo under any circumstances, unless your desire is to be the loudest person in the session. If you want to blend in, rather than lead, stick with what you have, or only go to the OM. Any shorter and you lose a lot of tone.
I will cheerfully admit to being prejudiced against tenor banjos, and piano accordions too.
Must have been some bad experiences I had in the past.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

tenor banjo doesn’t have to be loud. But if it is OM or zouk that you appeals to you then you would be better going for them.

I would tend to agree with the suggestions above that melody playing for the faster dance tunes at least is generally better (or perhaps just easier to do) on a mandolin or tenor banjo. The larger instruments sound very nice, but i think are bettre played with a sparser feel in terms of ornaments, maybe using drones or partial cords to fill out the sound rather than lots of triplets.

To be honest I think even madolins don’t sound at their best when played using the tenor banjo approach with many triplets.

OM/Zouk is unbeatable for that lovely countermelody accomp style, I love hearing them at sessions.

- chris

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

Hi fnarr, just caught your video. That is a good idea of the kind of approach to zouk/om that i think works well. It is very different from how most people would play the same tune on the tenor banjo.

OTOH Transferring tenor banjo styles to zouk/OM just sounds muddy.

Well palyes.

Cheers - chris

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

that’s “well played”

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

irishrhythm, it looks like you could pack a sandwich and head over to the Weber shop in Logan, MT. They make great instruments…

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Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

All - thanks for the comments so far…but only one sound clip to date. BTW, I updated my profile - several noted that I played bouzouki…well, I sold that to fund another purchase, so am looking to move back to a melody instrument in my future.

Cheers,
Dave

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

BTW, thanks to fnarr….the clip is wonderful. That Weber has a nice sound….how does it do in a session?

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

I have a lovely Davy Stuart cittern, 21“ scale tuned GDADA which is great for tunes and punches through a small to medium sized session without a problem. The sound is rich and loud but I don’t have a clip yet. Davy Stuart Really first class instrument at a very reasonable price.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

“…..tenor banjo doesn’t have to be loud…….”
Well, I know one young man I just wish you’ld tell that too, that’s all I can say.
It’s scarred me for life, those jangly experiences.
Yet I can happily live with my wife gently frailing on my 5-string…

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

Is that what you call it in the Channel Islands?

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Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

Well, I haven’t lived there since I was 18, so what they call it in the islands nowadays I’ve no idea….
…..what they call WHAT ?
I meant “….the SOUNDS of my wife gently frailing….”.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

Still no clips for comparison—can anyone provide links to performances on CGDA mandola, octave mandolin, and bouzouki for comparison of the sound? So far the only link in this thread is to an octave mandolin.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

There are plenty of clips on You Tube showing mandolins, OMs, citterns etc.

http://www.folkofthewood.com/page2522.htm links to video clips of different makes of mandola, click on the picture of the mandolin along the top to see that selection.

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Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

I play guitar, mando and OM. I sold my zouk because it is too much of a stretch, and/or too many position changes. I now have a short-scale OM which is awesome. The zouk IMHO is for backing (where it really shines).

Mandola is great…but the tuning is a pain in the butt. If you want to play melody, get an OM.

Re: Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin sound comparisons

After a bit or google search, I found a great site with a lot of mandolin clips with Irish and Scottish music - some have the instruments used listed, but most do not. Regardless, every clip seems worth listening to…enjoy.

http://music.paythereckoning.com/mandolin.html

Dave