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17 Jan 07
Mandolin blues
Today, my mandolin broke. I had just invested in two sets of new strings. Why two? Well, my mandolin was special because it was a 12-string. Not many mandolins are. Normally, mandolins have four pair of strings, tuned (from high to low) to E-A-D-G. So, instead of string pairs, I had three strings per not.

Admittedly, it felt as if the third string hardly made the tone any different. So I thought I'd couple two of the strings with a thinner string and tune it to the higher octave, like you do with the four lower strings on a 12-string guitar. Of course, getting the octaves to the higher two notes would be impossible, or at least very impractical, but D and G seemed like a reasonable choice. So I took to strings from the second set (E and A respectively), making them into a D and G, thus lowering their tension a bit. Then I left the higher strings in pairs, like on a normal mandolin.

So, when I was done, it looked like this:

G4 G3 G3 D5 D4 D4 A4 A4 E5 E5

Now, I thought that the tension would be lower with this setup. I've removed two strings altogheter and replacing two heavier strings with down-tuned thin strings. So perhaps it was not the tension that broke it.

Instead, it think the cheap "bridge" (a thin piece of metal with hooks, screwed into the body of the guitar) gave up the ghost just for the sake of it, tearing the poor laminated wood apart. It was a stupid construction, by the way, putting all the stress on three small screws in the bottom of the body.

But let's not get sentimental. It was a cheap Landola mandolin, clumsily handicrafted in Jakobstad, probably. But it sounded okay, especially with those new strings, which it could only bear for two days.

So, I'm now officially looking for a new one. Any tips?
written by Mattias
The sum of 4 and 3