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 Post subject: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 9:20 pm 
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Anyone know much about mandolin-violins?

I've got one in pieces I plan on turning into a fiddle.

In particular, anyone familiar with the style of bracing? I've seen pictures of old violin bracing like that, but not mandolins.

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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 11:16 pm 
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I've never seen anything like that. But I can't quite see how you'd turn that into a fiddle. For a start, for it to be a fiddle, you'd have to replace the fingerboard with a curved fingerboard. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to bow individual strings. The other thing is that the fingerboard would be way too low, so you'd have t build it up a lot - really, a lot. Once you did that, all the stresses on the instrument would be changed from what it was designed for, and any bracing, if it has any, would be incorrect for the modified instrument. It also looks like it's designed for double courses. I imagine that's possible on a bowed instrument, but it seems weird ...

Wouldn't it be better to restore it to how it looks like it was meant to be? That is, a mandolin.

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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 8:47 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
I've never seen anything like that. But I can't quite see how you'd turn that into a fiddle. For a start, for it to be a fiddle, you'd have to replace the fingerboard with a curved fingerboard. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to bow individual strings. The other thing is that the fingerboard would be way too low, so you'd have t build it up a lot - really, a lot. Once you did that, all the stresses on the instrument would be changed from what it was designed for, and any bracing, if it has any, would be incorrect for the modified instrument. It also looks like it's designed for double courses. I imagine that's possible on a bowed instrument, but it seems weird ...

Wouldn't it be better to restore it to how it looks like it was meant to be? That is, a mandolin.


Thing is, it's already built like a violin, so there shouldn't be any problems in that regard. Swapping the fingerboard & making a wedge is part of the plan. Like an old style violin, where the neck was less angled & the fingerboard more wedge shaped.

And yes, double courses! The plan is to double string it, resulting in a double strung violin.

And the nice thing is: if it doesn't work out, I just take off the violin fingerboard, put the mandolin board back on and hey presto! Instant mandolin!

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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 8:52 am 
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I'll tell you what - I'd be very interested to see it once you've done it! Good luck to you.

I never got on with the wedge-shaped fingerboards. Then again, I've never imagined playing a double coursed fiddle. I'm guessing you'd want a lower than normal bridge, as well as raising the fingerboard. I'm still sceptical about the different stresses caused by altering the height of the fingerboard and bridge. But it's your project, so have at it!

Seriously, however long it takes, post some 'after' pictures, will you? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 10:23 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
I'll tell you what - I'd be very interested to see it once you've done it! Good luck to you.

I never got on with the wedge-shaped fingerboards. Then again, I've never imagined playing a double coursed fiddle. I'm guessing you'd want a lower than normal bridge, as well as raising the fingerboard. I'm still sceptical about the different stresses caused by altering the height of the fingerboard and bridge. But it's your project, so have at it!

Seriously, however long it takes, post some 'after' pictures, will you? :)


Will do!

And you could well be right about the stresses! This could well become an explosively educational project! :shock:

Double strung fiddle.

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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 10:31 am 
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whistlecollector wrote:

Thanks. The sound of it does seem peculiarly suited to a sort of Klezmer style, doesn't it?

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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 11:59 am 
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Twice the opportunity to be out of tune!

Seems like a cool experiment. I was going to say the same thing--neck angle is all wrong, bracing pattern is unlikely to be the same, what about a soundpost, but it looks like your mandolin was braced more like a violin from the start.


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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 1:57 pm 
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There is a facebook page called Violin Identification. I tends to lean towards instruments used in classical music, but it is viewed an commented on my experts. Someone might have an interesting take on this. It seems like it was intended to be a mandolin in the first place, given the flat fingerboard... But who knows.


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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 5:20 pm 
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Is the point of it just to get a violin with double strings? Or a violin with frets? Is there something about it that would be different from the sound of a violin if bowed or a mandolin if plucked?

Also, is my hearing off? On one of his videos someone asks in the comments how it is tuned, and the reply is that it is just double-strung and not octave-strung, but I hear octaves that don't appear (from watching his hands) to be played as traditional octave double-stops? Am I just hearing overtones (or, hearing things in general...)?


benhall.1 wrote:
whistlecollector wrote:

Thanks. The sound of it does seem peculiarly suited to a sort of Klezmer style, doesn't it?

Possibly, though it would be interesting to hear it used in other styles of music, as I would think it could suit those too, we just don't hear an example.

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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 8:27 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
Twice the opportunity to be out of tune!

Seems like a cool experiment. I was going to say the same thing--neck angle is all wrong, bracing pattern is unlikely to be the same, what about a soundpost, but it looks like your mandolin was braced more like a violin from the start.


One thing I learned recently is that neck angles have changed considerably since the 18th century. Baroque era violins had nearly straight necks & wedge shaped fingerboards; newer violins have rather angled necks and flatter fingerboards.

A recent Ebay find, interestingly enough, is a home made violin from the 1960s with an almost horizontal neck and wedge shaped fingerboard!

As far as bracing goes, violins aren't braced at all! They have a bass bar, but no cross bracing. I have heard of violins braced like this, though.

As for sound post, it's just a matter of either trial & error or sorting out a way to measure the post height. Then, once put together, insert the post!

Katharine wrote:
Is the point of it just to get a violin with double strings? Or a violin with frets? Is there something about it that would be different from the sound of a violin if bowed or a mandolin if plucked?

Also, is my hearing off? On one of his videos someone asks in the comments how it is tuned, and the reply is that it is just double-strung and not octave-strung, but I hear octaves that don't appear (from watching his hands) to be played as traditional octave double-stops? Am I just hearing overtones (or, hearing things in general...)?


Your hearing is fine! I believe it's tuned Gg-Dd-Aa-ee, with only the e strings in unison. Don't know if I saw that in the clip comments or in comments in another clip.

To answer your question, the point(s) are a) to mess around with double strings and b) to challenge myself with this sort of project. It's not my first go round!

A fiddle with frets (a fretting fiddle?) -- I'd just look into a used gamba.

Or tie some frets on a regular violin. . .hmm, there's an idea!

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 Post subject: Re: Mandolin~Violin
PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 12:27 am 
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whistlecollector wrote:
I believe it's tuned Gg-Dd-Aa-ee, with only the e strings in unison. Don't know if I saw that in the clip comments or in comments in another clip.

It's in the comments to the vid that you linked to up near the start of this thread. It's a reply from Daniel Hoffman himself, so he should know! The other comment (saying they were all in unison) on one of the other videos is from somebody else, who perhaps just didn't know.

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