Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vox Mando Guitar

In my post about Barney Kessel's guitars, I mentioned he had a luthier build a short scale twelve string neck that was attached to a mandolin body.

This got me thinking about the Vox Mando Guitar.

A mandolin-guitar is an instrument that allows you to play mandolin music while playing the left-hand fingerings like a guitar.

The very first instrument in recorded history that fits the mandolin-guitar definition is the mandolino Genovese, or Genoese mandolin, popular in the 1700's and 1800's in and around Genoa, Italy.

During that era in Italy, mandolins were all the rage. Different regions developed their own variations of mandolin, with a differing array of strings.

The Genoese mandolin was tuned like a guitar and had six courses of strings.  This meant each string was doubled and tuned the same, unlike a twelve string guitar in which the lower four strings are an octave apart.  The Genoese mandolin was tuned an octave higher than the guitar. 

In 1965 Vox Musical Instruments created the Vox Mando Guitar.  Like it's predecessor, the Vox instrument had a short scale neck with 17 frets, however the guitars strings were tuned like a twelve string guitar with the lower four courses doubled an octave apart and the top two strings doubled in unison.  This provided a sound much like you would have if you capo'd a twelve string guitar at the twelfth fret. The body took it's queue from the Teisco May Queen.

The Mando Guitar was manufactured for Vox by Eko Guitars of Italy.  (Makes sense!)

The guitar was not a hit for Vox since no artists of the day used it. Although this advertisment states George Harrison played one.  The only guitarist I have every seen use one is Buddy Miller.  I saw him and Julie at a local club and Buddy used it on one song.

Despite it's lack of popularity, there are currently four companies that manufacturer twelve string mando guitars for sale.

In this video the guitar is tuned to D,G,G,F,A,D.

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