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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Location: Central New Jersey

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.
Chris Reed
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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.
Clay Schaeffer
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