Name: Mandobass.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.6
Tunings: G / D / A / E
Country: Many.
Region: United States & Europe.

Description: The mandobass is the largest and least common of the mandolin family. It is sometimes used as the bass instrument in mandolin orchestras. This instrument is so large it does not hold in the lap. Rather it balances itself by a spike on the bottom of the instrument. And the musician holding it in balance when it is played.

History: During the 1910s the mandolin family of instruments in the United States had no true-bass member. Mandolin orchestras that were organized in numbers were reluctant to adapt the double-bass as a bass member of the mandolin family as they saw its bowed action in conflict with what they were trying to achieve.

The downfall was before the advent of electric-amplification the mandobass was too quiet. Furthermore, they didn’t get the deep bass notes of the contrabass. For those reasons, most mandolin orchestras preferred to use the ordinary contrabass, rather than a specialized mandolin family instrument. The bow not only helps with volume for forte sections of music, but the contra-bass has deeper notes available.

Construction: The scale length of the neck on a full size mandobass is about 43″ [110 cm] is similar to that of an orchestral double bass. Similar in concept to the other members of the mandolin family, the mandocello, mandola and mandolin. It has a fretted neck and a head box having geared tuning machines. It has a large body, often not always-shaped like that of other mandolins.


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