A few questions about the mandolin family

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A few questions about the mandolin family

Postby Mark Wybierala » Mon Aug 20, 2018 11:06 am

1. Is there a reason why the fretboard width is typically quite narrow? The same question would apply to violins. I find it difficult to navigate. Is this just tradition or is there a technical reason for this?

2. I've built a number of electric octave mandolins and mandolas. I typically split the 3rd and 4th string pairs as octaves instead of being a pair in unison and I always like the result. I don't see this being done by others. Is it done by others?

3. Is there a reason that I don't see raduised fretboards on mandolins?
Mark Wybierala
 
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Re: A few questions about the mandolin family

Postby Chris Reed » Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:38 am

1. Tradition. But mandolin and violin are strung at the same pitches, and quite a few players play both, so that might explain the similar neck width.

2. Don't know, but why not?

3. Some mandolins do have radiused fretboards, but on a narrow fretboard the radius makes much less difference to playability. Even on ukuleles, which usually have wider fretboards, radiusing is uncommon but not unknown.
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Re: A few questions about the mandolin family

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:22 pm

1. Another reason may be that mandolins are tuned in fifths, which makes chords "longer", so a narrower fingerboard helps keep the stretches more manageable. Melodic lines played on mandolins are sometimes very fast, so less distance between the notes might be an advantage. But mostly as previously stated the similarity with the violin may be the biggest reason.

2. I build octave mandolins and generally don't split the pairs. I build double strung tenor guitars and usually use octave pairs for the lower three pairs. I am looking for a different sound from the two types of instruments and that is what works for me.

3. I believe Radiusing is done to facilitate barre chords on wider fingerboards, so may not be needed for mandolins.
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Re: A few questions about the mandolin family

Postby Mark Wybierala » Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:33 pm

I fully understand the distance issue as I'm trying to improve my skills by doing on-line mandolin lessons using both my electric mandolas and octave mandolins with the wider string spacing. I've built electric mandolins but they all sell too fast for me to ever manage to keep one for any length of time. Its the fret spacing of 20 to 25.5" scales that really prohibit emulating a lot of the mandolin acrobatics but there's always a way around these things. Using the on-line mandolin lessons is actually working despite the conflicts.
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Location: Central New Jersey

Re: A few questions about the mandolin family

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:41 pm

Hi Mark,
You might enjoy switching off to a tenor banjo occasionally. They are also tuned in fifths with scale lengths of 20 1/2 to 23 1/2 inches. They have a narrower neck and (usually) lower tension strings. They are usually tuned cgda but shorter scales sometimes tuned gdae or gdad (irish tuning)
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