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Mandobass is the largest member of the mandolin family, sometimes used as bass instruments in mandolin orchestras.
There are three main variants of the mandobass:
- The large four-string mandobass has a much longer neck and is tuned EADG, like a double bass. It was popular in early 20th century European mandolin ensembles. Early examples had very large bodies and were often played in an upright position like a double bass is. Later examples often have smaller bodies and are intended to be played "guitar style".
- The small four-string mandobass is identical but with built on a smaller scale and usually tuned GDAE, two octaves below the mandolin. Although not as resonant as the larger instrument, it was often preferred as being easier to handle and more portable.
- The eight-string mandobass, or tremolo-bass, relatively rare, is built exactly like a mandolin but is much larger and tuned either GDAE, two octaves lower than the mandolin, or CGDA, two octaves below the mandola.
Calace and other Italian makers predating Gibson made mandolin-basses.
Some were made by the Gibson company in the early twentieth century, but appear to have never been very common. Reportedly, most mandolin orchestras preferred to use the ordinary double bass, rather than a specialised mandolin family instrument.
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