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Ukulele Jim
07-10-2010, 08:27 AM
I picked up a mandolin the other day, not knowing how to play it, figuring that maybe I could try some ukulele chord shapes on it. But noooooo... uke chords sounded awful.

Can a mandolin be tuned GCEA like a uke or DGBE like a baritone? And would it be worth doing?

buddhuu
07-10-2010, 08:37 AM
Hi Jim,

With the right string gauges you could probably tune a mando to the notes you asked about. If you Google "string gauge calculator" you should find facilities that can help you with that. Tip: mandolin scale length is around 14".

That said, why not learn to play mandolin in its native tuning, which is GDAE in ascending 5ths? It's a great tuning - espcially for tunes in the keys of G and D major. Mandolin shines more as a melody instrument than as a strummed chord accompaniment instrument.

Mandolin is a great instrument in its own right. Sure you can tune it to Chicago or uke tuning, but you'd be missing out. ;)

ukulelearp
07-10-2010, 10:25 AM
I have a mandolin, but my only obstacle to learning is that there's a huge lack of resources on the internet, compared to ukulele. I'm progressing slowly, though.

smithpaul60
07-10-2010, 11:36 AM
My Mandolin is tuned to GCEA, and I haven't had any trouble with it.

Stackabones
07-10-2010, 02:15 PM
I think if you don't tune it to standard mandolin tuning, then you'll be playing mandolyin'. ;)

nighthunte29
01-11-2013, 11:20 PM
Reviving an old thread a bit, but better than starting a new one I guess.

I was looking to buy an 8 string uke, but lack the funds. Would it be possible to convert a mandolin to a gGcCEEAA?

Just to specify, I am looking at the Brunswick MDL25.

anthonyg
01-11-2013, 11:52 PM
One significant difference between a ukulele and a mandolin which you may not have noticed is that ukuleles have nice wide necks and mandolins have tiny little narrow necks. Very hard to finger. I don't know how they do it. Try one in your own hands first.

Anthony

nighthunte29
01-12-2013, 12:10 AM
Thanks, I noticed this, it will personally probably be better for me to be honest! I will have to try it out first though.

I guess buying strings will be tough too. I imagine a combination of mandolin strings and ukulele strings would work.

fernandogardinali
01-12-2013, 01:34 AM
Hello,

My girlfriend has a eletric mandolin that belonged to her grandfather and neither one of us has the time to learn the mandolin, since we are busy with the university and her studying drums and me learning CGBD plectrum banjo, so using that mandolin in a already known tuning by the both of us is the way to go.

I already calculated the gauges and recently bought single strings on Strings By Mail. I made a set based on the tensions of a light mandolin D'addario set.

The gauges are: .038w .028w .022w .016p (GCEA Low G). Theorically it is suposed to work because the tensions are even, but I'm not sure it will sound OK, as this set have 3 courses of wound strings and the other mando sets have only 2.

If you wait I can keep you posted if I have success or failure, but I really don't when it will arrive. International First Class Mail may take some time, usually 1 month or so, and probably the holidays delayed it.

Plainsong
01-12-2013, 03:30 AM
One significant difference between a ukulele and a mandolin which you may not have noticed is that ukuleles have nice wide necks and mandolins have tiny little narrow necks. Very hard to finger. I don't know how they do it. Try one in your own hands first.

Anthony

This was something both my husband and his guitar virtuoso little brother wondered about. Their dad has a mandolin, and all their biases against uke were due to this mandolin. When I got my first uke, my husband saw the sense of the design.. Finally a neck made for human hands! When his little brother saw my tenor Fluke, same reaction. It was, hey this is PLAYABLE by human beings! He bought it off me that day.

If you play mandolin and love it, more power to you.

Nickie
01-12-2013, 03:42 AM
Just wondering, why do you want to do that?

FiL
01-12-2013, 05:32 AM
I've tried mando in uke tuning, and in my opinion, the neck is just too think to comfortable play uke chord fingerings. On the other hand, in regular mando tuning I can play basic mando chords just fine on it.

You can get an Oscar Schmidt 8-string uke for under $100 with free shipping (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Oscar+Schmidt+-+8-String+Full-Size+Tenor+Ukulele/6439549.p?id=1218737498256&skuId=6439549).

- FiL

Fuzzy
01-12-2013, 07:03 AM
Another thing to take in to account is string tension; if you plan to tune it GCEA with mando strings, they'll be a lot harder to deal with than uke strings, as they are steel and the tension is fierce! I'm having a really hard time trying to learn to play the mandolin after dealing with nice soft uke strings for so long. If you use uke strings, why not just stick with a uke?

As was said in another post, why not just learn to play the mando? Another weapon in your arsenal!

Hiddencross
01-12-2013, 08:26 AM
I think if you don't tune it to standard mandolin tuning, then you'll be playing mandolyin'. ;)

Uke'ould say that. ;)

hawaii 50
01-12-2013, 08:42 AM
I have not read the entire thread..but why would you want to tune a mandolin like a uke..why not just play and tune a uke like a uke..

i have never played a mandolin..but just wondering what you are thinking..

nighthunte29
01-12-2013, 08:49 AM
Basically I want an 8 string uke but have no money.
I was planning on swapping all the strings out for nylon too, of appropriate gauge, so tension/steel wouldn't be a problem.
Also, I live in UK so the Oscar Schmidt is out of the picture due to import and postage fee's.
I was thinking my best option would be a wooden flat bodied mandolin!

hawaii 50
01-12-2013, 08:54 AM
Basically I want an 8 string uke but have no money.
I was planning on swapping all the strings out for nylon too, of appropriate gauge, so tension/steel wouldn't be a problem.
Also, I live in UK so the Oscar Schmidt is out of the picture due to import and postage fee's.
I was thinking my best option would be a wooden flat bodied mandolin!



right on..that makes sense i think?? Haha

i hope i can meet people like you who have the passion to play the ukulele..if you were in my area i would of been glad to let you try/borrow one of mine..although i don't have or really see many 8 strings
good luck keep on strumming!

itsme
01-12-2013, 09:36 AM
I was planning on swapping all the strings out for nylon too, of appropriate gauge, so tension/steel wouldn't be a problem.
Yes, you will have a problem.

Mandos are built for the higher tension of steel strings, with a thicker top and heavier bracing. Nylon strings will not have enough "oomph" to power the top and the sound will be quiet and weak.

Putting nylon strings on an instrument built for steel, however, will not damage the instrument like putting steel strings on an instrument built for nylon. In the latter case, the extra tension can warp the neck, lift the bridge off and/or cause the top to cave in.

Fuzzy
01-12-2013, 10:47 AM
Give it a try and let us know how it turns out. I'm interested. If you can get a cheap mando, then why not? If it doesn't work, you can always learn to play the mandolin!

Sanagi
01-13-2013, 01:47 PM
I don't know how mandolin players can stand those thin necks combined with doubled strings. I got an Eastwood electric mandola and it's a cool little instrument but I had to give up because the awkwardness of it holds me back from playing it half as well as a uke.

Mandolin tuning is a lot of fun, though. Aquila fifths strings let you try it out on a uke. It's not so good for strumming chords but it's perfect for melody lines.

Jake Wildwood
01-13-2013, 03:29 PM
One significant difference between a ukulele and a mandolin which you may not have noticed is that ukuleles have nice wide necks and mandolins have tiny little narrow necks. Very hard to finger. I don't know how they do it. Try one in your own hands first.

Anthony

Fifths chord shapes facilitate the narrower necks and the narrower necks are more suited to what a mandolin does best -- melody.

AT ANY RATE, both tunings will work fine.

Low GCEA for mando gauges would be: 32-34w G, 22w to 24w C, 18w or 17/16 plain for the E, 12-14 plain for the A.

DGBE tuning would be: 24w for the D, 17/16 plain for the G, 11-12 for the B, 9-10 for the E.

The gauges listed by Fernando are actually quite on the heavy side and wouldn't be suitable, really, for flattop instruments. Archtops -- maybe.

TheCraftedCow
01-13-2013, 09:26 PM
Their proper nomenclature is a muke...kinda like a mutt dog. To the hardcore mando player you will have manadalized it. How about a 1929 genuine Dobro walnut body single cone mando strung Gg Cc ee AA -- a 1920s banjo mandolin withan 11 1/2 head and a 13 1/2 reflector tuned GG CC EE AA -- a 1930s oval hole collegiate Regal tuned g C E A -- a 1940s Sterling mando tuned d G B e (cuatro tuning)-- a 11 1/2 banjo mando like the one mentioned above, but this one has the fretboard and the headstock and fretboard covered with Mother of Toilet seat. I have one mando strung as mando because I do not care for bowl backs strung with nylon strings...--just got a very nice Rover A model, it will wind up d G B e....again, cuatro tuning. It can be done. I sell Aquila strings for ukuleles 4-6 - 8 in DGBE or GCEA, concert or baritone or tenor. The charango set even has a high E so , an eight string can be octaved all across the fret board . Oh=== I forgot the Martin mandolin is Dd Gg BB EE is also strung with Aquila baritone strings.

nighthunte29
01-13-2013, 11:13 PM
Interesting, I will bear you in mind when I need the strings!

I just found out mandolin's have hooks on the tailpiece and you need strings with hoops at the tip, is there some sort of knot you can tie or something to fit them?

TheCraftedCow
01-14-2013, 08:47 PM
Yes, mandos have small hooks.No you do NOT need wire ended strings. At a hobby store one can buy .050 bellcrank wire. | V V V V V V V V | is an end-on view of the tailpiece. Cut off a piece of the wire so it extends about 1/8th beyond the outside edge of the two outer Vs. With a small screwdriver, pry up a bit on each of them so the wire will rest under them. Using the looped knot, attach ever how many strings you are going to use 8 - 6 -4 to the wire. For eight, the #1 string is the only one not secured on both sides by a V== . For less than 8, spread 'em out.
If you want to see pictures of mine, let me know. thecraftedcow@comcast.net

osogris
01-16-2013, 03:05 PM
I am a little late to this thread, but for whatever it is worth, I tuned an (archtop) mandolin in fourths, key of G (DGBE), and while chords do sound nice, there are two issues: one, as noted here, the neck is too narrow to comfortably play uke chords. Your fingers are just too close together. The chord forms for playing in fifths are more difficult, but they do leave your fingers far enough apart to play on a narrow neck. Second, you lose five notes when playing in fourths instead of fifths, so the sound has less low end than playing a mandolin in fifths. I don't much care whether mandolins purists look down on playing in fourths on a mandolin; but there are some practical reasons not to do it; the narrow neck being the main reason.

If you are interested in an eight string ukulele, I would just look around for one of those. I have a six string, and love it.


Fifths chord shapes facilitate the narrower necks and the narrower necks are more suited to what a mandolin does best -- melody.

AT ANY RATE, both tunings will work fine.

Low GCEA for mando gauges would be: 32-34w G, 22w to 24w C, 18w or 17/16 plain for the E, 12-14 plain for the A.

DGBE tuning would be: 24w for the D, 17/16 plain for the G, 11-12 for the B, 9-10 for the E.

The gauges listed by Fernando are actually quite on the heavy side and wouldn't be suitable, really, for flattop instruments. Archtops -- maybe.

itsme
01-16-2013, 03:57 PM
Second, you lose five notes when playing in fourths instead of fifths...
How so? There are still the same number of frets on the fretboard. You may just have to finger a given note on a different fret is all.

Bill Mc
01-16-2013, 05:40 PM
I am a little late to this thread, but for whatever it is worth, I tuned an (archtop) mandolin in fourths, key of G (DGBE), and while chords do sound nice, there are two issues: one, as noted here, the neck is too narrow to comfortably play uke chords. Your fingers are just too close together. The chord forms for playing in fifths are more difficult, but they do leave your fingers far enough apart to play on a narrow neck. Second, you lose five notes when playing in fourths instead of fifths, so the sound has less low end than playing a mandolin in fifths. I don't much care whether mandolins purists look down on playing in fourths on a mandolin; but there are some practical reasons not to do it; the narrow neck being the main reason.

If you are interested in an eight string ukulele, I would just look around for one of those. I have a six string, and love it.

My Breedlove mandolin has a 1 3/16" wide neck which is 1/8" wider than most other mandolins. Ukulele chords on the Breedlove mandolin are no problem and I don't find them any more "scrunchy" than some of the mandolin chords. There are easy uke chords and easy mandolin chords and difficult ones on both instruments. Memorizing a whole new set of chords for mandolin is the rub for me. Also finding the right melody note due to tuning in 5ths drives me nuts. But the sound of playing on an instrument tuned in 5ths is quite nice and I would hate to lose that.

pooterduude
03-03-2013, 07:49 AM
I was just thinking about the same thing. I have a mando that I don't play but I play a guitar and little ukelele. I you can tune a mando like a uke and I think it would sound really cool. It would make for some squishy chords because of the narrow neck.

Here's the string gauges I got for GCEA standard tuning
Of course all strings are doubles, as in any Manolin.
Light Weight
Note Dia Tension
A .014 17.47 lbs
E .018 16.22 lbs
C .024 16.73 lbs
G .015 15.93 lbs
G(3).033 17.75 lbs For LOW G
137.7 lbs total tension

Medium Weight

A .015 20.06 lbs
E .020 20.10 lbs
C .026w 19.63 lbs
G .017 20.46 lbs

G3 .035 19.96 LOW G
160.34 lbs total tension.

Light Weight for DGBE tuning is

E5 .010 (or .009)
B4 .013
G4 .016
D4 .022w

Tension per string estimated around 18 lbs.

If you'd like to calculate strings for special tunings you can do this at. Just do a little study for the ranges of tensions for your instrument.

http://wahiduddin.net/calc/calc_guitar_string.htm




I picked up a mandolin the other day, not knowing how to play it, figuring that maybe I could try some ukulele chord shapes on it. But noooooo... uke chords sounded awful.

Can a mandolin be tuned GCEA like a uke or DGBE like a baritone? And would it be worth doing?

jcarlos
03-10-2013, 08:34 PM
I would just like to add that, oscar schmidt makes a wonderfil tenor 8 string for under $150, its more of a jarana than a uke but it will accept 8 string gcea and 8 string dgbe sets, both sound incredible, and it sure beats the thin mando neck when it comes to strumming chords

Skozar
03-11-2013, 05:37 AM
I have a Mandobird that I tuned to classic UKE low G. Had to change out the string gauges as suggested by other posters but it sounds great when played through my Fishman Solo Pro. Had a more difficult time adjusting the bridge to get intonation on the strings to play right all the way up the neck.

PTOEguy
03-11-2013, 05:56 AM
Interesting thing about mandolins - my sister the violinist has occasionally talked about picking up mandolin because the tuning is similar

Ukeananda
03-11-2013, 03:07 PM
Violin and mandolin are tuned the same - GDAE in 5ths. Same left hand fingering... only the violin leaves no room for error! :-) I've played mandolin longer than uke, and love it especially for Celtic tunes. If a mando is set up properly, the string tension is quite manageable, but a poorly set up mando is nearly impossible to play. I dabble in a little classical guitar, too, with its 2" nut and have no trouble switching to the much narrower mandolin fretboard. It's just a matter of getting used to it - and a lot of practice. Don't forget, as with any instrument, you must develop and strengthen your finger and hand muscles to meet the requirements of the instrument. I love each (guitar, uke, mandolin. etc) for it's unique musical character.