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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mandolin - PART II

There are two basic variations in the original form of the Mandolin - the acoustic and the electric.

The Mandolin in its original form is an acoustic stringed instrument about 2 ft long with deeply vaulted ribs and a table slanted downward at the lower end. It has a neck-cum-peghead attached to a hollow oval shaped sound box. It has four pairs of loop-ended double rib fastened metal strings secured to hooks on the body on one end, and passed across a low bridge (on the sound box) and a nut (on the finger board) to the pegs inserted into a rectangular peg-box. There are five, even six-string versions of the Mandolin, but they are not as popular as the four-strings (pairs) version. A small flexible plectrum is used to vibrate the strings. A feature of Mandolin playing is the constant reiterations of all long pitches, which counteracts its weak sustaining power.

Solid block versions of the Mandolin are also available in more or less the same form as the original Mandolin. The names of the parts of the electric Mandolin are similar to those of the acoustic Mandolin. The major difference between an acoustic Mandolin and the electric Mandolin lies in the way sound is produced and amplified in each. On the acoustic Mandolin, when a string is plucked, its vibrations resonate in the hollow sound box and audible sound is thereby generated. In the case of an electric Mandolin, there is no sound box; the vibrations of the strings are picked up by a device called "pickup" (which, in basic form, consists of a magnet placed at the centre with very thin copper wire coiled around it a few hundred-thousand turns), which converts the vibrations into very low electrical signals. Through volume, tone and other controls, these signals are fed into an amplifier which then feeds it to the speaker. Thus audible sound is produced.

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