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Old 12-30-2020, 01:58 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Staten Island, NY - for now
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Originally Posted by jwhelan56 View Post
... I am a guitar player, and have not owned a mandolin (or other variants mentioned in the thread subject).

I know mandolins are tuned G-D-A-E. The mandola I have coming is tuned C-G-D-A. Obviously I will have some learning curve for chords on this mandola vs. guitar chords. Neither of these tunings mimic guitar tuning.

Any advice on getting acclimated to this new instrument?...
The late LA Wrecking Crew member Tommy Tedesco built a lucrative 40+ year career on being able to play virtually any stringed instrument called for at a given session - his secret being that all of them were in some variation of guitar tuning. If you don't want to master a whole new set of fingerings, focus on the most-used range of a given instrument and, with an appropriately-gauged set of strings, set it up in a guitar-related tuning; FWIW there's a century-old precedent - 1920's guitarists switching over to tenor/plectrum banjo would set them up in DGBE "Chicago" tuning, uke players would use drop-G tuning on their tenor banjos (a trick I learned from Chuck Romanoff of Schooner Fare) - and IME most of the audience will never know the difference ...

Here's some tunings I've heard of and/or use myself (Note: since there's no formal lexicon most names are my own):
  • Soprano uke-o-lin: DGBE, an octave above baritone uke (emphasizes middle/upper registers of mandolin, first-choice "cheater" tuning)
  • Alto uke-o-lin: GCEA drop-G tenor uke tuning (emphasizes low/middle registers of mandolin, also good mid/high register mandola tuning with lighter string gauges and a new nut)
  • "Chicag-ola": DGBE baritone uke tuning covers the bulk of the mandola's customary range
  • Piccolo bass: EADG, like the lowest four strings of a guitar - this electric-derived tuning (most often associated with Stanley Clarke and his purpose-built instruments) is a great alternative for long-scale octave mando or (even better, thanks to the larger/deeper body) mandocello
  • Contrabass uke: DGBE, an octave below baritone uke - this one's strictly for mandocello, and makes an interesting alternative to baritone guitar in an ensemble arrangement
  • "Highgrass": One of the better-known "cheater" banjo tunings - if you're thinking of doubling on 5-string (and your shrink can't talk you out of it ) this variation on "Chicago" tenor/plectrum (gDGBE) virtually eliminates the left-hand learning curve and, if you're a proficient fingerpicker, retuning/fretting that high-G string allows for up-the-neck chromatic chord voicings impossible to achieve otherwise
  • "North Chicago": The GCEA drop-G tenor-uke tuning adapted for tenor banjo - extremely versatile, I've used it for neo-trad folk, Irish (far better lead instrument than GDAE tenor IME), chanteys, Dixieland/vaudeville, and even fingerstyle (pair this one with GCEA mandola for a night of Irish/Celtic music - use the mando for the ballads, the banjo for the drinking/Rebel songs)
Hope this helps...
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