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View Full Version : 8 string tenor vs mandolin?



Ben_H
12-10-2012, 03:19 AM
I have an opportunity to pick up a mandolin very cheaply that needs a bit of a refurb. Thing is I have an 8 string tenor uke on the way and wonder whether they are different enough instruments to make the purchase, delivery and subsequent fettling worth it. What different things would it add to my playing options?

I know that mandolins have a different tuning and therefore new chords and things to learn which as far as I'm concerned not a reason against it.

Any thoughts?

zac987
12-10-2012, 03:51 AM
Well, there are a lot of differing factors. The mandolin has a narrower string spacing, as well as steel strings. New chords, positions, etc to learn. A mandolin is tuned in fifths as opposed to the fourths tuning ukuleles have.

I would say that if you're ready to pick up a new instrument, go for it. But an 8-string ukulele and a mandolin are two completely different beasts, not considering the same amount of strings/courses.

Ben_H
12-10-2012, 04:06 AM
It's only $30 plus postage.

It's going to need new strings, a new tuner and has a crack in the back that I have asked for some more info on. It could be a cheap way of enjoying a new instrumental challenge or it could be a no go.

kissing
12-10-2012, 04:07 AM
yup, zac has explained it well. completely different.
Mandolins are common enough in music stores - go try one out. It's nothing like uke.

Barbablanca
12-10-2012, 05:22 AM
Ben! I thought you said you had your MIAS under control, buddy :rolleyes:

Seriously, as the guys above have said, the two are chalk and cheese - they are both musical instruments and they can both be picked or strummed, but that's where the similarities stop. If you're ready to branch out into a new instrument, go for it! Sounds like a little bit of work and you'll have a playable beginner's instrument. Then, if you get into it, you can always get that beautiful Portuguese Bandolim I mentioned the other day :drool: ;)

OldePhart
12-10-2012, 12:14 PM
They are very different instruments, and not just in the tuning. You will find the steel-string mandolin much more difficult to play (just the physical effort to fret the strings). The voices are also completely different.

Both are great instruments, and if my poor old hands would deal with the high tension I wouldn't have given up mandolin even after I picked up uke, but they are very different animals.

John

frets alot
12-10-2012, 12:22 PM
Two totally different instruments. I play mandolin when I want to play fast fiddle tunes. A whole different style of playing than on uke. But, I love the variety of learning different instruments.

Ben_H
12-10-2012, 11:35 PM
Ben! I thought you said you had your MIAS under control, buddy :rolleyes:

Seriously, as the guys above have said, the two are chalk and cheese - they are both musical instruments and they can both be picked or strummed, but that's where the similarities stop. If you're ready to branch out into a new instrument, go for it! Sounds like a little bit of work and you'll have a playable beginner's instrument. Then, if you get into it, you can always get that beautiful Portuguese Bandolim I mentioned the other day :drool: ;)

Now where did I say that?

Actually the problem is that whilst placing a clarinet for sale on Gumtree to help fund the 8 string I foolishly started browsing the other instruments and came across the mandolin. Photo on the luthier lounge section along with a request for advice on the crack in the back.

Ben

PhilUSAFRet
12-11-2012, 06:04 AM
Have my eye on a Boatpaddle concert sized mandolin tuned as a taropatch.

Rubio MHS
12-11-2012, 08:20 PM
I have an Lanikai 08-E and an early-20th century Stetson mandolin made of Brazilian rosewood that's currently being repaired. Here are a few differences:
The tenor 8-string is tuned gG-cC-EE-AA and the mandolin is tuned GG-DD-AA-EE
The two top strings on the tenor 8-string are tuned in octaves (gG and cC, respectively), making it very difficult to play fingerstyle solos and tunes. I do use my Lanikai to play very basic fingerstyle accompaniment on occasion.
All 4 courses on the mandolin are tuned in unison, making it ideal for tunes.
A mandolin is tuned like a violin, so you have a HUGE library of violin/fiddle tunes to play with.
Playing chords is a lot harder on the mandolin. If I'm going to sightread a song out of a fakebook, I'll use the tenor 8-string.
You can tune a mandolin like a ukulele at GG-CC-EE-AA and have the ease of ukulele chords, but you'll get a truly awful sound. It's nice to have the tenor 8-string around.
Learning the mandolin will allow you to learn the violin, and there are some good e-violins out there for under $200, although most of them come with absolutely terrible strings (I just made a sound with the strings on my Cecilio e-violin and ran to buy new ones).
The mandolin is played with a plectum, and it takes getting used to if you're used to playing with your fingers.
A $30 mandolin isn't likely to stay in tune. I'm getting new tuners put on mine because they're so old.
You can always step up to a better mandolin, and there are very high quality tenor 8-strings out there, but they become cost prohibitive at a certain level, while mandolins are very common instruments.

TheCraftedCow
12-11-2012, 08:50 PM
Perhaps the lateness of the hour has affected my ability to read, but I don't think I saw anyone suggesting that the mandolin can be restrung as a ukulele so the strings and note positions stay the same, but the sound changes. There is no agony of the E - A grooving the fingers. I also do not remember reading if it was A- F or Collegiate model. I have a couple which are tuned with just four strings. Even have one tuned g C E a cuatro style. There are all kinds of six string combinations possible. Prices and value are often not related. $25 to $ 40 can get you some surprising finds