If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

Just curious.

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

Yeah, I’m a bit bored too. Unfortunately though, Carl, I never sorted the multitude of names in that family of stringed instruments. I trust more enlightened string players will provide you details sooner or later. G’ night!

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Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

I have a mandola with a scale length of 17" that I have tuned to GDAE. Does that make it an octave mandolin?

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

I’m pretty sure an octave mandolin is the same octave range as a bouzouki, at least mine are - the difference between the two is the scale length and not the tuning.

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

I’d say no to that. If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD it becomes a "horizontally challenged" ‘zouk.

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

The word "tenor" applied to an instrument is normally used to describe a distinct variant of the general type. Just dropping the high strings of an octave mandolin to D doesn’t do that.

Tenor is also generally used for the higher-pitched variants of a type, as with a tenor guitar or the tenor male singing voice. In this case the string is being lowered in pitch, not raised. I suppose that technically, this puts you 1/4 of the way towards being a tenor mandocello.
🙂

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

‘tenor’ when applied to banjos or mandolas usually indicates CGDA tuning - all you would have is an octave mandolin with a drop high ‘d’. The border between mandolas and zouks is a bit of a grey area, except zouks would normally have octave tuning on the lower 2 courses. I think this subject of double strung zouk/mandola/cittern-ish things has been chewed over considerably in previous discussions.

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

Because a bouzouki has a similar scale length to a guitar and a tenor guitar has a similar scale length to an octave mandolin? No, I don’t think so, as ‘tenor’ does not directly refer to scale length. A tenor guitar is so-called because it is strung and tuned like a tenor banjo. (I am not sure exactly how a tenor banjo came to be named thus – perhaps because it fitted the tenor range in the family of banjos used in banjo orchestras in the 19th Century).

The Irish ‘bouzouki’ is so-called because it resembles the Greek instrument of the same name (which itself is a Greek version of the Turkish bozuk saz); GDAD tuning incorporates the traditional tuning of the 3-course bouzouki and bozuk saz (DAD or equivalent intervals), but it is favoured by Irish bouzouki players primarily because of its usefulness in the accompaniment of Irish tunes (for which purpose the Irish bouzouki is most commonly used), not because it is intrinsic to the identity of the instrument.

For a bouzouki to become a ‘tenor bouzouki’, there would have to be some alteration of tuning (perhaps CGDG, if we are using GDAD as our baseline), irrespective of scale length (although a tuning full-scale bouzouki up a IVth would be impractical, as the high G string would have to be either extraordinarily thin or extraordinarily tight).

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

I would disagree with the statement that most zouks use octave string courses. Almost all of the ones I’ve seen use unison strings throughout. YMMV

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

@Corin Meehan: Yes, I think you are right. Budget Irish bouzoukis sometimes leave the factory with octave stringing on the G and (low) D, but I have come across very few players that use octave tuning.

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

‘Twas all in fun lads. As Ben observed, boredom is becoming a bit of a problem without any active sessions to attend. I had thought I might be snagging a mandola (didn’t happen) with the thought that perhaps it would have been able fill the slot of both bouzouki and mandolin by just re-tuning the one course of strings and then the silly notion of "tenor" bouzouki hit me. Judging from the replies, I was completely incorrect. I hope at least one person laughed.

If and when the world opens up a bit in 2022, I hope to hop on the bus with Dave Curley and Mick Broderick for the tour that was curtailed last year. There should be some opportunity to play alongside them if there any sessions. I could take two instruments as I play zouk and mandolin (not much of a stretch is it?) but I’m not so certain I want to drag Dave’s former Joe Foley mandolin around as it’s a bit delicate. I had thought that the shorter scale mandola might suffice to replace both zouk and mandolin. The mandola slipped through my fingers though so the point is mute.

FWIW: I still want a blarge. My wife still says no…

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

@Corin Meehan - all I can say is we have different experiences, all the zouks I have ever owned, and most of those I have ever seen at sessions, concerts , festivals etc etc have been octave strung. Didnt get YMMV?

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

There’s a wee paradox to get your head around anyway.
"Mandolin" refers to the smallest member of the family, it can’t be a bigger one, so Octave Mandolin is contradictory, or it should refer a tiny instrument an octave up from a regular mandolin!
Octave Mandola doesn’t make sense because a mandola is tuned CGDA like a viola so you’re not an octave away.
Tenor mandola makes a bit of sense because that’s the range it plays in, but "tenor" will confuse people who then expect CGDA tuning.
So you just have to call it whatever you like!
(OK - it’s Friday.)

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

Since it’s Friday and a slow one at that… ""Mandolin" refers to the smallest member of the family, it can’t be a bigger one, so Octave Mandolin is contradictory, or it should refer a tiny instrument an octave up from a regular mandolin!"

No, that would be a soprano mandolin. Or maybe a piccolo mandolin? 🙂 Weber made a soprano mandolin for a while, I think tuned CGDA above the mandolin GDAE?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzmRS6hfXdg&t=11s


With examples both higher and lower in pitch and still referred to as mandolins, I think it’s fair to say the term refers to the general type as well as the most well-known member of the type. Similar to how we refer to the "violin family" of instruments.

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

Conical bore: "… that would be a soprano mandolin. Or maybe a piccolo mandolin …"

The analogous member of the violin family is called a violino piccolo, so I suppose it would be a *mandolino piccolo* – or ‘piccolo mandolin’, if you want to get English(ish) about it.

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

I agree that the tenor label is more about pitch than neck size, for example, the tenor banjo was originally tuned CGDA (like a tenor guitar). Maybe banjos tuned GDAE should be called baritone banjos 🤔 But that’s another debate altogether.

Andy Irvine had a waldzither that he tuned DAEA, and that could be called a tenor bouzouki tuning I suppose, so an octave mandolin or a mandola tuned to DAEA could perhaps be referred to as a tenor bouzouki.

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/threads/119699-Is-a-Tenor-guitar-tuned-to-GDAE-actually-a-Tenor?p=1447807&viewfull=1#post1447807

If you’re feeling lazy & don’t want to click on the link…

"Eh, I think the etymology that led to a ‘tenor’ guitar being called ‘tenor’ comes from the tenor banjo, the origin of which is equally convoluted and hotly disputed among banjo nerds. I think if it’s got four strings tuned in fifths and is played with a pick, you can safely call it a tenor. If you’re playing Irish, you could just call it an Irish banjo and people will know what you mean. Nobody I know plays a soprano or alto banjo."

For what it’s worth I think the pitch range of an instrument identifies what I’m playing (i.e. ~ flute {& fiddle}
are in the soprano range, whistle is piccolo…alto is usually skipped over…) It’s just not typically
how musicians talk about it. That is how I think about it though. Talk is cheap.

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Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

@Corin Meehan, I also have a different experience. Since I began playing Irish bouzouki maybe 35 years ago, I have had the lower courses tuned in octaves. I find that to be the nicest thing about the instrument. The octaves tuning offers a nice chorus effect even when playing melody lines.

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD…If and when the world opens up…

I almost missed the buried bit in your post, Carl. It’s not simple boredom; you have a beautiful dream waiting to happen. "If and when the world opens up a bit in 2022, I hope to hop on the bus with Dave Curley and Mick Broderick for the tour that was curtailed last year. There should be some opportunity to play alongside them if there any sessions." I did not know them before but more power to the world opening up for the lot of you. Keep me posted, please! I want a brilliant opening for music for all of us. Thanks for mentioning Dave & Mick. Much appreciation! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIZc8mIYm5o

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Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

A "tenor bouzouki"? What tuning would you use for a "fiver bouzouki"? (he asked jokingly)

Laurence

Re: If you tune an octave mandolin to GDAD, does it become a tenor bouzouki?

Now I know sessions are coming back. People are practicing their jokes, puns, guffaws…

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