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  #1  
Old 12-11-2021, 06:13 AM
TiffanyGuitar TiffanyGuitar is offline
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Default Mandocello Players

Any mandocello players out there? I have often wanted to learn at least the basics of another instrument, even though I will always be working on the guitar, as that journey is never over.
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Old 12-11-2021, 06:57 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I've been playing mandocello for several years. My current is my 10 string custom F4, redwood top and maple back, sides and neck. Octave pairs on the C, G and D courses.

I flat pick and finger pick it.
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Old 12-11-2021, 08:04 AM
TiffanyGuitar TiffanyGuitar is offline
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I know this is a difficult question to answer since you don't know me - how difficult would you rank the learning curve from guitar to the mandocello? 1 to 10 - 1 being easy and 10 being really difficult.
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Old 12-11-2021, 08:35 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I'm not the best judge of difficulty. I started on violin when I was 10 and guitar when I was 13. I started mandolin in my 40's. Mandolin is tuned just like a violin, in 5ths GDAE. Mandocello is an octave and 5th lower CGDA (just llike a cello).

Because I played violin and was used to picking guitar, I was instantly playing mandolin from the moment I picked it up. When I decided to play octave mandolin (just a whole octave below mandolin) the only adjustment was a 21" scale vs 15". When I added mandocello the scale expanded to 25" and I added a low C and dropped the E.

So it was an evolutionary progression for me.

Going from guitar to mandocello, the first thing is the extra stretch. On guitar the 5th fret on one string brings you to the next open string. On the mandocello its the 7th fret. Chords are completely different. You can do a lot with just 3 or even 2 course chords. Lots of moveable shapes too. And the 5ths tuning is intuitive and symetric - a C chord on the A and D strings becomes an F when shifted down (lower) to the G and D. Move it down to the C and G and its a Bb.

To answer your question - if going from guitar to ukulele is a 4, I would rate going from guitar to mandocello an 8.

You'll find uses for your pinky you never needed on guitar.

Also, tenor guitars are often tuned CGDA like a mandocello.

Last edited by Mandobart; 12-11-2021 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 12-11-2021, 09:13 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Here are a few examples. The first one is my Eastman MDC 805 being strummed:



This is my custom 10 stringer also in strum mode:


And this is the same 'cello fingerstyle:
(the embedded youtube tag wouldn't work for this one, so it's just a regular link)
Moe' Uhane
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Old 12-14-2021, 03:00 PM
Br1ck Br1ck is offline
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The mandocellos I played just seemed too long a scale length for me. Octaves are the biggest I'd want, but I have small hands. I'd forget relating any fretting hand work to guitar and tackle it as a unique new instrument. If you flatpick already, you'll be worlds ahead.

If you take up mandolin, your avenues for playing with others will be greater IMHO.
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Old 12-15-2021, 04:14 PM
catt catt is offline
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I like the rich voice of the cello (or m-cello), but I think strumming them 'folk-style' is a little muddy sounding.. cello a supreme ensemble or "classical" instrument; deep, resonant contrapuntalism, harmony lines, and melody playing. If you don't do this type of playing on guitar, you might be inclined to it on the (easier) 5ths-tuned mandoin-family instrument, as many folks tend to find.

Last edited by catt; 12-16-2021 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 12-18-2021, 08:19 PM
FingahPickah FingahPickah is offline
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I had a local luthier convert a Yamaha FS800T to a mandocello for me 2 years ago. I love it. Deep, rich tone (more so than arch-tops I've played) and great playability. Blends in beautifully in Celtic Folk music.
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Old 12-19-2021, 02:40 PM
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Teleplucker Teleplucker is offline
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I bought a used Eastman mandocello on a whim from Eldery Instruments. I do not play mandolin. I tried it for a few months and found it to be more trouble than it was worth to me. I eventually sent it back and sold it on consignment. YMMV
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Old 12-20-2021, 05:34 PM
guitarman68 guitarman68 is offline
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Playing mandolin since 1990 I purchased a vintage Gibson K1 in 1998. Sold it to a friend to collect some funds for a Gibson K4 which I purchased in 2002 and still own. To be sincere it does not get the use it deserves, but it's the crown of my collection so I do not sell it.

Back to the OP's initial question: I find it pretty easy to do some stuff on the mandocello like two course or three course chords, bass lines, ... so 4 in scale up to ten.
If you listen and watch Mike Marshall play, it would be 100 in scale up to 10. To me he did to the mandocello what Jerry Douglas did to the dobro and Chris Thile did to the mandolin: Showing the world what that box with strings can be !
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Old 12-20-2021, 08:06 PM
ceciltguitar ceciltguitar is offline
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Sort of an aside: I plucked one of these instruments at a guitar show a few years ago. It had a beautiful sound!


https://dammanninstruments.com/mandocellos-shop
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Old 12-21-2021, 11:28 AM
TiffanyGuitar TiffanyGuitar is offline
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I think I am going to pick up an Eastman MD315 mandolin at the start of the year and get to work learning to play it. Since my first post, I have read all of these great comments, and listening to several videos of mandocellos. In many of the videos (granted it could be the sound quality) often it seems like the mandocello sounds muddy or muted. It also tends to sound very much like a guitar. So, leaning toward something distinct from a guitar - and I have always enjoyed the sound of a mandolin - it seems to make sense to start with one of those.
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Old 12-21-2021, 11:48 AM
FingahPickah FingahPickah is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiffanyGuitar View Post
I think I am going to pick up an Eastman MD315 mandolin at the start of the year and get to work learning to play it. Since my first post, I have read all of these great comments, and listening to several videos of mandocellos. In many of the videos (granted it could be the sound quality) often it seems like the mandocello sounds muddy or muted. It also tends to sound very much like a guitar. So, leaning toward something distinct from a guitar - and I have always enjoyed the sound of a mandolin - it seems to make sense to start with one of those.
Just a thought -
I own two Eastman mandolins (MD305 and MD314). Love them. If you are considering an MD315 you might want to also check out/compare the MD314. The shorter neck, repositioned bridge and oval sound hole provide a more guitar-like sustain as well as a deeper, rounder voice well suited for Folk and Celtic music.

MD314 at 4:30 in video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXGWMle3TwY
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Old 12-21-2021, 12:05 PM
Paul Roberts Paul Roberts is offline
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I've had my Gibson K1 mandocello for over 40 years. What attracted me to it was the timbre, which to me sounds oud-like. I got it when I was backing up belly dancers at Renaissance festivals. It has a wonderful Middle Eastern tone and shape, which fit that mood and blended perfectly with doumbek, violin, flute, and oboe. Later, I incorporated the mandocello in a multicultural, multi-instrumental show I performed at elementary schools and fine arts concerts.

I have two 5-course citterns that incorporate both octave mandolin and mandocello ranges, each with very different timbres from each other and from the old Gibson, which has its own unique growling voice.
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Old 01-16-2022, 12:03 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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My first encounter with mandocellos was when I was in an Irish music duo in Chicago in 1979. My musical partner was a mandolin guy, and he picked up a 1916 Gibson mandocello in excellent playing condition at an instrument swapfest for $600! We both played it on several songs in our act, and it had a great sound, filling in the low end in a really fat way.

Eventually he and I went our separate ways, and naturally he took the mandocello with him.

Flash forward to several decades later. One of the things I did along the way was pick up an acoustic baritone guitar, which I played (and play) a lot.

A few years after that Weber started making mandocellos, and there was a guy here in Anchorage named Joe Heersink dealing them out of his house. He told me heíd sell me a mandocello for cost, so I couldnít pass that up. (Joe has since passed away, which is the only reason I shared his name. Donít try to look him up to get as good a deal!)

I got the mandocello and used it for a few years, but what I discovered was that the fifth interval tuning made for a lot of racing around the fretboard. Anything I could play on mandocello I could play three times more easily on baritone guitar with its fourth interval tuning.

So when I wanted to play in a lower register I gradually played the mandocello less and less. Then someone wanted to buy it from me, and off it went to a mandolin orchestra in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

So thatís my experience with the mandocello, for what itís worth.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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