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  #1  
Old 11-01-2018, 02:07 PM
norseman norseman is offline
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Default Octave Mandolin

Anyone here in this section of the AGF have experience with an octave mandolin? How did you pursue this whim when you first got interested? Any suggestions/cautions for me? After playing six string and twelve string guitar over the last 60 years, I wanted to branch out a bit. So I have messed with mandolin, tenor guitar, tenor banjo and uke over the last 12 months. The variety of tunings has me confused so it may be a mistake to think an octave mandolin will help me see the light. I have chord books and instructional books, but so far they only add to my confusion. Maybe I'm too old to learn new tricks! Thanks for your thoughts. Larry
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  #2  
Old 11-01-2018, 02:43 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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I play a Kay body converted to octave by adding a 23-1/2" Taylor GS Mini neck.
You'll have a few folks here that play octave, but you'll have a lot more input if you hop over to Mando Cafe.

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  #3  
Old 11-02-2018, 12:30 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I may get in trouble for this but there is a whole sub-forum on octave mandolins, mandola, citterns, bouzouki, mandocello, etc. over on mandolin cafe.

I'll share my experience: I wanted to get into octave mando and bought a Michael Kelly Octave plus. Not a great instrument. I later bought an octave from Tom TJ Jessen that I love and play often. He makes truly great A and F style OM's. I've played Webers, Clarks, Mowry's, Herb Taylor - and they are great. But one of TJ's will sound awesome for 1/2 to 1/3 the price. Joe Mendel also builds some great octaves.

Many other people are quite happy with Trinity College octaves as well.
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  #4  
Old 11-03-2018, 07:16 AM
norseman norseman is offline
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Default Mandolin Cafe

Thanks to those who responded to my post. I hope to hear from others as well. I want to acknowledge the reference to the Mandolin Cafe website. I am a member. It's a great resource I've used in the past. I also follow the Banjo Hangout website. My experience is that both of these websites are better suited to experienced/more advanced players than to beginners, but that may simply reflect my own insecurities. The learning curve feels a bit overwhelming whereas I've played guitar long enough to feel at home here on the AGF. Mandolins come in so many different forms and have so many tuning options that my head spins. Guitars can be equally confusing to a newbee, no doubt, so I'll keep that in mind as a plunge ahead in this new domain. Thanks again for the responses. Larry
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Applegate SJ; Froggy Bottom H-14Koa; Rockbridge 000BZ; Northwood BR80 12-00; Martin J-40; 000-17 WS;000-35, D-15S Cree; Collings 02h-12; Breedlove King Koa; Taylor 614ce, T5-C1; Gibson J-45, TG-25-N; Guild F112; Blueridge 40T; Wechter/Scheerhorn Reso; Alvarez APA 1965; Pre-war Regal parlor; Rainsong CO-OM 1000; 1896 Zoeller BZ Parlor; Trinity College OM; Pono TMD 30 SB
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Old 11-03-2018, 08:57 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Had an acoustic trio in the early-90's that wanted to experiment with some of the then-novel string sounds that were appearing on the market, bought a Bozeman-made Flatiron 3MC octave mando - not the best one out there but a well-made, good-sounding/playing instrument that allowed us to explore some Celtic and neo-folk material (including an arrangement we had of Dan Ungar's well-known "Ashokan Farewell" that used all double-strung instruments - mando, octave, and 12-string guitar); a few things I learned:
  • My/our needs would have been better served with either a mandocello or a then-new baritone guitar - not enough low-end extension or volume (especially given the small/thin body) to provide a solid foundation, too much overlap with the guitar's range, and can easily get lost when things get cranking at a seisiun (Irish tenor banjo covers the same range with considerably more volume) or other high-energy acoustic setting;
  • IME it's a niche instrument as best, and as previously suggested somewhat limited in scope - you need to buy a good one to obtain any kind of real tone, and that at the risk of it becoming merely an expensive toy (remember the sitar craze of the mid/late-60's? )
  • Frankly, mine hasn't left its case in close to a decade (no joke), and since it's extremely hard to sell/trade/consign I've considered having the bridge and nut recut/replaced, and converting it for Greek-style bouzouki in the interest of continued utility: far more practical for my needs, the body size is more appropriate tone/volume-wise for the higher tuning (I'll be using DGBE, a step higher than traditional Greek CFAD), and it makes an interesting visual statement on stage - only drawback is that the neck is a little wide for its intended purpose...
You live and learn and, knowing what I know now, if I had it to do over again I'd never buy an octave mando - YMMV...
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:57 AM
norseman norseman is offline
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Default Very helpful

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Thanks, Steve. I’m more than willing to be steered in a different direction. My interest in an octave mandolin is mostly about enhancing my limited knowledge of the various mandolin family tunings in the hope I’ll finally understand how they differ and how they overlap with guitar (and uke). My frame of reference is not band or group related so the “blend” with other instruments is not a big issue for me; it’s more about expanding the musical world in my own head. I’m happy to learn from the experience of others who have walked this road before me. Anyone else have a personal disappointment with an octave mandolin? Is a mandocello (or possibly a mandola) a better choice for me? What comes closest to building on my guitar experience? Thanks. Larry
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Applegate SJ; Froggy Bottom H-14Koa; Rockbridge 000BZ; Northwood BR80 12-00; Martin J-40; 000-17 WS;000-35, D-15S Cree; Collings 02h-12; Breedlove King Koa; Taylor 614ce, T5-C1; Gibson J-45, TG-25-N; Guild F112; Blueridge 40T; Wechter/Scheerhorn Reso; Alvarez APA 1965; Pre-war Regal parlor; Rainsong CO-OM 1000; 1896 Zoeller BZ Parlor; Trinity College OM; Pono TMD 30 SB

Last edited by norseman; 11-03-2018 at 10:29 AM.
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  #7  
Old 11-04-2018, 07:20 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norseman View Post
What comes closest to building on my guitar experience?
A 12 string guitar.
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  #8  
Old 11-04-2018, 09:15 AM
norseman norseman is offline
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Default True

Yes, I'm sure that is true. I have played 12 string guitar for quite a few years. In this case I was asking about the mandolin family so I should have made my question more specific. Sorry.
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Applegate SJ; Froggy Bottom H-14Koa; Rockbridge 000BZ; Northwood BR80 12-00; Martin J-40; 000-17 WS;000-35, D-15S Cree; Collings 02h-12; Breedlove King Koa; Taylor 614ce, T5-C1; Gibson J-45, TG-25-N; Guild F112; Blueridge 40T; Wechter/Scheerhorn Reso; Alvarez APA 1965; Pre-war Regal parlor; Rainsong CO-OM 1000; 1896 Zoeller BZ Parlor; Trinity College OM; Pono TMD 30 SB
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  #9  
Old 11-04-2018, 10:07 AM
gabriel_bc gabriel_bc is offline
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You could try find a Trinity College one - not too much $, and enough to see if it's going to work for you. I have a Hora Irish bouzouki and it was inexpensive enough to try out, and I do enjoy playing it. I tune it to octave mandolin tuning so I can use all of my mandolin chords on it.

It can mess with your head, though - the scale length tricks my mind into thinking "guitar" when I should be thinking "mandolin". More than once I've mindlessly switched to guitar chords while playing it. It ain't pretty.
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  #10  
Old 11-05-2018, 08:00 AM
norseman norseman is offline
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Default Found a Trinity College octave mandolin

My quest has ended successfully, at least for the moment. I now own a used Trinity College octave mandolin. This will give me an opportunity if try my hand with an instrument larger than a mandolin - something I hope will broaden my musical horizon.
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Applegate SJ; Froggy Bottom H-14Koa; Rockbridge 000BZ; Northwood BR80 12-00; Martin J-40; 000-17 WS;000-35, D-15S Cree; Collings 02h-12; Breedlove King Koa; Taylor 614ce, T5-C1; Gibson J-45, TG-25-N; Guild F112; Blueridge 40T; Wechter/Scheerhorn Reso; Alvarez APA 1965; Pre-war Regal parlor; Rainsong CO-OM 1000; 1896 Zoeller BZ Parlor; Trinity College OM; Pono TMD 30 SB
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  #11  
Old 11-05-2018, 08:07 PM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
I play a Kay body converted to octave by adding a 23-1/2" Taylor GS Mini neck.
You'll have a few folks here that play octave, but you'll have a lot more input if you hop over to Mando Cafe.

Where was the body from? How hard was the conversion?
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:47 PM
midwinter midwinter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gabriel_bc View Post
You could try find a Trinity College one - not too much $, and enough to see if it's going to work for you. I have a Hora Irish bouzouki and it was inexpensive enough to try out, and I do enjoy playing it. I tune it to octave mandolin tuning so I can use all of my mandolin chords on it.

It can mess with your head, though - the scale length tricks my mind into thinking "guitar" when I should be thinking "mandolin". More than once I've mindlessly switched to guitar chords while playing it. It ain't pretty.
^ This. I bought a cheapie first to make sure it was something I might find useful.

I eventually splurged and commissioned one from Phil Crump. It's a super interesting instrument that I don't use often enough simply because I don't want to haul it out.
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  #13  
Old 11-06-2018, 05:36 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
Where was the body from? How hard was the conversion?
The body was the result of me accidentally breaking the headstock off my dad's guitar in my early teen years. I sawed the neck off at the body and carried this around for something like 50 years before discovering that it wanted to be an octave mandolin. I've seen many of these old archtops on e-bay, sometimes just the body.

It was a pretty easy conversion for me, but I do a lot of instrument construction so I'm pretty used to doing the type of stuff necessary for successful conversion.

The full details of the project are on the web archive of my old personal website. The photos are not archived there, but all the text for the conversion article is intact.

http://web.archive.org/web/201603281...pageMando.html
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Old 11-08-2018, 11:20 AM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudy4 View Post
The body was the result of me accidentally breaking the headstock off my dad's guitar in my early teen years. I sawed the neck off at the body and carried this around for something like 50 years before discovering that it wanted to be an octave mandolin. I've seen many of these old archtops on e-bay, sometimes just the body.

It was a pretty easy conversion for me, but I do a lot of instrument construction so I'm pretty used to doing the type of stuff necessary for successful conversion.

The full details of the project are on the web archive of my old personal website. The photos are not archived there, but all the text for the conversion article is intact.

http://web.archive.org/web/201603281...pageMando.html
Thanks for the info. Probably a bit beyond my current ability given I don't have a proper shop to work in. I've been a bi enamored with guitar-bodied octave Mandolins ever since I heard Sarah Jarosz playing one a few years ago at Wintergrass. Can't quite afford the one that she has, though. <G>

Thanks again.
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Old 11-08-2018, 11:37 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
Thanks for the info. Probably a bit beyond my current ability given I don't have a proper shop to work in. I've been a bi enamored with guitar-bodied octave Mandolins ever since I heard Sarah Jarosz playing one a few years ago at Wintergrass. Can't quite afford the one that she has, though. <G>

Thanks again.
and don't forget Eli West :



and Tim O'Brien

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