PDA

View Full Version : What size to use as mandolin practice substitute?



Sepharad
04-07-2016, 03:25 PM
I am a mandolin student who seems to have developed carpal tunnel. I tinkered with my teachers old Martin Soprano, strung GDAE, with Aquila Nylgut. I loved the feel. I think it may be easier on my arms to practice with, plus it looks fun.

Now I am deciding which size, Soprano or Concert, is more practically converted to GDAE tuning, with Nylgut (something about the feel was amazing to me).

Which would more accurately duplicate the play of a Mandolin and not constantly break the E-strings? I am looking at a Mainland Cedar Top to string this way.

Advice on which size would be appreciated.

Sepharad

PhilUSAFRet
04-07-2016, 03:46 PM
If it's for mandolin practice, then getting a uke with a neck and fretboard as close in size to a mando would make sense. Mando's are generally 1 1/8" at the nut. If you are very lucky, you can find a uke with a fretboard around 1 5/16" give or take. Also, some ukes have thick necks, some thin. Lots to consider. Check out this chart: http://ukenut.com/comparison-of-ukulele-nut-widths/

Sepharad
04-07-2016, 04:30 PM
Thank you Phil, I play a Collings with a pretty tapered neck.

Jim Hanks
04-07-2016, 04:38 PM
Scale wise, I'm petty sure soprano uke is closest to mando, but a linear GDAE tuning is going to be a bit tricky. There are threads about low G on soprano so it is possible. As you've seen the hard part is the high 'e' string as you're really asking a lot to tune up a string designed as an 'a' up 7 semitones. One option might be Southcoast's reentrant fifths set located here: http://www.southcoastukes.com/5ths.htm

If you want to try for a linear tuning, I'd start with the
XLL set (http://www.southcoastukes.com/linear.htm) designed for high DGBE to tuning on soprano. You'd take the D string as your 3rd, the B string slacked down to A as your 2nd, and the E as your 1st. For your 4th string, why not start with that G which would make your tuning reentrant. Then you can hunt down a low G string to make it linear.

Sepharad
04-07-2016, 04:47 PM
My Collings has a 1 1/8 nut width A Mainland seems to have a 1 3/8 width. I suspect the contour is much plainer than the Collings. The strings seem to be the thing. I will search Low G, that was a term I am not familiar with. Im learning by the day.

Thanks Jim.

Jim Hanks
04-07-2016, 04:47 PM
Editing my last response with alternate suggestion

Jim Hanks
04-07-2016, 04:52 PM
Oh and on the nut width issue, I don't think you're going to find a uke neck skinnier than 1-3/8" unless you go custom

Jim Hanks
04-07-2016, 04:56 PM
Wait, wait, I'm stupid. You like the feel of the Nylguts? Done: http://www.stringsandbeyond.com/aq30unysofit.html

bnolsen
04-07-2016, 05:13 PM
Oh and on the nut width issue, I don't think you're going to find a uke neck skinnier than 1-3/8" unless you go custom

the nut van always be replaced with another with narrower slot spacing.

Sepharad
04-07-2016, 05:36 PM
I positively loved the feel of the Nylgut. I'm not trying to be weird but I loved just touching them and I found the sound enchanting. I am a fairly lame musician and believe that staying with GDAE I wont have to cope with different fingering. I have seen references to both soprano's and concerts set up GDAE with nylgut and was wondering which works better? I am just ignorant enough to be dangerous, but would prefer to buy the best size for my task.

Jim Hanks
04-07-2016, 05:45 PM
You saw my last link right? This is the ready made "Aquila 30U Nylgut Soprano Fifths Tuning GDAE Ukulele Strings" set. Slap those on a soprano uke and you're there. You mentioned Mainland Cedar - hard to go wrong with that. Let us know how it works out. :cool:

Sepharad
04-07-2016, 05:49 PM
Thank you all, it looks like the Soprano with Aquila U30's will be my experiment. I appreciate all of your kind responses.

Sepharad

kypfer
04-07-2016, 08:57 PM
I use a Mahalo "pineapple" soprano with the previously mentioned Aquila "5th's" strings. My experience indicated that a conventionally shaped soprano ukulele didn't quite have the bass response to do the wound G justice ... YMMV ;)

Camsuke
04-07-2016, 09:25 PM
I came across this today, it sounds pretty cool.

http://youtu.be/f7FNZ00cMHY

SteveZ
04-08-2016, 02:48 AM
Have been experimenting with ukes as "suitcase mandos" for a long time. What I've found over the years is:

1. The soprano scale works, but strings can be a minor problem. The Aquila 30U set provides an E5 string which snaps (to me, anyway) fairly easy. Have replaced the Aquila E5 with 20-pound test monifilament fishing line which can take the ncssary tension without snapping - tone us acceotable, too.

2. The sopranino scale is the closest fret-spacing-wise to the mando. Recently I set up a Rubin sopranino GDAE with acceptable results. necssary tension without snapping - tone is acceptable, too. The UU thread for this is "Rubin RP-100 Sopranino" in the Ukulele Reviews forum.

Rtnrlfy
04-08-2016, 03:04 AM
Are you planning to use a pick? If so, you'll want to go as light as possible (I've tried the felt ones and I just don't care for them myself). I have a soprano strung with the Aquila GDAE and I use a Dunlop .60mm pick (gently) without problems. I've seen others comment on string breakage with the high E but so far - knock wood - I haven't had that happen to me. I do love the sound - it's quite a different sound from the mandolin so it's like getting two varieties of experience for the price of one. :-)

Good luck.

SteveZ
04-08-2016, 03:56 AM
Are you planning to use a pick? If so, you'll want to go as light as possible (I've tried the felt ones and I just don't care for them myself). I have a soprano strung with the Aquila GDAE and I use a Dunlop .60mm pick (gently) without problems. I've seen others comment on string breakage with the high E but so far - knock wood - I haven't had that happen to me. I do love the sound - it's quite a different sound from the mandolin so it's like getting two varieties of experience for the price of one. :-)

Good luck.

Agree!

As it's a "travel mando" for me, I use picks all the time. A light pick really makes a difference. The sopranino with its much-smaller body responds a lot more mando-like (to my tin ear) at the higher pitched E5 than the soprano which seens designed to go no higher than A4.

Sepharad
04-08-2016, 08:36 AM
I had not thought about a pick. Normally I use a Dawg, but there is nothing "normal" about this experiment. If I have breakage problems I will have the fishline method as a backup. Have others played with body shape like Kypfer?