December 9, 2007

An excerpt of the thread from the last post on Guitar-to-Mando Tab Conversion...

The mandolin generally occupies a different role in harmony than the guitar. However, if you have a chord chart for the mandolin, you should be able to just play chord of the same “name” on either the guitar or the mandolin. Because the mandolin’s strings are tuned in ascending 5ths and the guitar’s are tuned in ascending 4ths, you’ll probably end up playing a different inversion of the chord, meaning that the intervals of the notes in the chord will be arranged differently. Example: on the guitar, the notes in a major D chord, in ascending order, are D A D F. On the mandolin, the notes are in ascending order as A D A F. To play a guitar melody on a mandolin, you can just play the same note values. I’ll see if I can translate the first few phrases of your linked song:




This may be wrong. I don't have either my guitar or mandolin in front of me. posted by ijoshua at 7:40 PM on April 3 It *seems* like there should be some easy way to convert between tabs (every note on the guitar has a similar note on the mandolin, more or less), but the problem is that fret x on the guitar does not equal fret x on the mando. As others have explained here, the difference in tunings between guitar and mando means that there are different intervals between strings. Thus, if you tried to "auto convert" a guitar tab you could well end up with fingerings that at best don't make sense, and at worse are impossible to play, on the mandolin. People advising you to just learn the music, or figure it out by ear, are of course offering good advice, but I know that's not what you're looking for. You just want to try and pluck out this tune on your new instrument. (I read music and play several instruments, but the first thing I did when I got my new banjo was pull up some banjo tab so I could start hacking away!) ijoshua has the best advice so far - you'll have to convert the tab yourself. I imagine the best way to do this is to compare the guitar tab to a diagram of the notes on the guitar frets. Write the notes out on the guitar tab. Then look at a map of the notes on the mandolin neck, and mark off the equivalent notes, converting *that* into tab. It won't be easy, but you should learn a bit about the notes on your mandolin. Once you're happily plucking out your tune, you can start thinking about learning chords and scales. posted by Banky_Edwards at 8:02 PM on April 3 Okay dhruva, here's how it would work. Take the first six notes of the guitar tab:
(all on the B string). If you check out the guitar neck at a site like this, you can convert the frets to notes. -B-C#--E-F#-E-F# Then take a peek at the notes on a mandolin. Start on the A string (closest to the B string your guitar piece starts on). That same progression of notes would look like this on mando tab:
You'll just be writing down the fret number of the notes that you converted from the guitar tab. Of course (and here's why an auto-translation wouldn't work), when you hit the E note you don't need to keep going up the neck, you'd move up to the E string. So your mando tab would look like this:
Exactly what ijoshua came up with. Does that make sense? posted by Banky_Edwards at 8:15 PM on April 3 Banky_Edwards summarized my translation technique pretty well. Here’s a shortcut: All the notes on the high E string on the guitar can be played on the same fret on the E string on the mandolin. Moving down one string, you have a B string on the guitar and an A string on the mandolin, so all the guitar notes on this string would need to be transposed by adding 2 frets on the mandolin to achieve the same note value. Down another string, you have a G string on the guitar and a D string on the mandolin. To play the same note on the same string, add 5 frets on the mandolin. Finally, notes on the D string of the guitar can be played on the same frets on the D string of the mandolin, or on the G string of the mandolin by adding 7 frets. As Banky_Edwards mentioned, this direct translation will probably result in some awkward movements up and down the neck. You can fix this by finding the same note on different strings by adding 7 frets and moving up one string, or by subtracting 7 frets and moving down one string. For example, the B note on the 9th fret of the D string is the same pitch as the B on the 2nd fret of the A string. posted by ijoshua at 5:23 AM on April 4 Example: on the guitar, the notes in a major D chord, in ascending order, are D A D F. On the mandolin, the notes are in ascending order as A D A F. Nitpick: that's D minor. D major has an F#. And dhruva, trust me that it will take you much longer to go through some process of converting tab to music to tab than it will for you to learn enough music to figure it out that way. You just need to think of what you're playing in terms of notes or intervals rather than just frets. It's pretty trivial. Every fret is a half-step, on guitar or mandolin. There is a half step between E and F and one between B and C. There is a whole step between all other letter-named notes. So you get C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A#. Alternatively, C# (C sharp) can be written as Db (D flat), and so on. Which is technically correct depends on what key you're in and some other obscure things which you don't need to worry about. So if you know that and the names of the strings you can figure out the pitch of any note on the guitar or mandolin. You can also think in terms of intervals: major seconds, minor thirds, perfect fourths, and so on. Check out the lessons at for an introduction. A given interval will involve a different fingering on the two instruments because of the different tunings, but it will sound the same. Learning a bit of this stuff also provides the benefit of a far easier time communicating and playing with other musicians. posted by ludwig_van at 9:20 AM on April 4

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