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The mandolin is the an instrument that belongs to the lute family. In effect it just means that it can be strummed or plucked. This musical instrument is descended from the Mandore. It is essentially oval in its shape and can come with several holes of different shapes or just one single hole.
The body of the instrument is usually crated from wood and also typically hollow with it’s neck much longer comprising of a fretted finger board.
The mandolin’s design originated in Italy towards the end of the 18th century. The original design of the mandolin had six courses of gut strings and the tuning was done in a similar manner as the lutes of the time.
It was intended that the strings were to be plucked using the fingertips. However the modern mandolin has a total of eight modern strings and is plucked and played using a plectrum.
Let’s Talk About Mandolins
A mandolin is a small stringed instrument with tabs and fingerboard that resembles a small guitar. It has eight strings that are tuned in pairs just like a violin. There is no specific record as to who invented this instrument although a notably similar instrument known as the gittern was first seen in some areas in Europe during the Medieval era. Its shape is exactly the shape of the mandolin we use today, although some mandolins now have four or five strings instead of the traditional eight.
There is another similar-looking instrument called the octave mandolin. It is tuned one octave below the conventional mandolin.
Types of Mandolins
There are several types of mandolins and what you use shall depend on the type of music you wish to play. There’s a mandolin for bluegrass music, Celtic, orchestral and classical, and jazz. The instrument’s shape also varies. There’s the flat, the bowl back, and the carved arch top and back. The latter is further divided into teardrop A style, curly bluegrass F style, and one which is based on the old Lyon and Healy design that has two points.
The archtop mandolins are considered to be the most popular. Its F model is heavier and more expensive than the teardrop A model. It has a chunky sound while the latter is more robust. The two-point mandolin is somewhere in between these two and carries a jazzy tone.
Mandolins and the Kinds of Music They Play
If you play bluegrass, you are more likely to appreciate the F style mandolin. This was the type used by bluegrass icon Bill Monroe. It has the ability to produce great-popping chops for the chords of the rhythm, as well as supports single-string lead lines.
An A type mandolin with an oval hole, on the other hand, may be preferred by old time and Celtic musicians. The genre does not need a strong rhythm support but a less percussive “chop” and a richer midrange instead.
Blues and jazz players go for two-point F and oval hole models because they produce fat and projecting sound. They also have a wide dynamic range essential in both genres.
Oval hole of F hole?
An F hole archtop type of mandolin produces strong and focused projecting punches while an oval hole sustains more and has a lush character. If you want a clear and crisp tone, you must use an F hole, but if you want a supple and warm tone, go for the oval hole. Isn’t it interesting how even the most mundane holes make a big difference when it comes to choosing the type of mandolins?
The quality of the mandolin depends on its materials, design, and construction. Aficionados have the tendency to measure quality on the type of wood used in making the instrument, its adherence to the traditional materials and designs, as well as the execution.
Another factor which affects the quality of the mandolin is the type of glue used. A glue may act as a barrier to the vibration of the instrument. A good one creates an acoustically transparent joint.
Thirdly, the finish is also very important. One that is thin and soft is the best. If the finish is thick, the richness of the bass may get affected. On the other hand, raw wood can pick up dust and moist which eventually will make a soggy-sounding instrument.
Some mandolin enthusiasts are in constant search of vintage mandolins. They are quite hard to find but when one is found, the buyer can surely enjoy the classic sound and style he or she rarely finds in any modern-day mandolin. A vintage one may cost a lot, but you have to remember that it’s not only the name and the make you are paying for, but the history too. Besides, its unique sound can surely give back your money’s worth.
Time has evolved and so did mandolins of course. There are now electric mandolins which are amplified similarly as the sound of electric guitars are amplified. They have designed pickups which convert the string vibrations into electrical audio signals. They are perfect when laying jazz, country, blues, and western swing.,p>
We have also included resources which I do hope will be of extreme help to you. They range from more information on the mandolin, mandolin tuning, mandolin tabs, the history of the mandolin, mandolin chords, electric mandolin and lastly mandolin for beginners.
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