Meet the Mandolele
I enjoy playing the ukulele but sometimes wish for a robust sound than I can get out of one, while still maintaining a compact size. So I wandered into the local music store and took a look at this mandolin hooked up on the wall. After strumming it a bit, I turned to the proprietor and asked him if it would be possible to tune it like a ukulele, so I wouldn’t have to learn a whole new set of chords. His response was “if you’re buying it, sure.” And so the mandolin is now tuned like a ukulele, although the G-string on this one is tuned an octave lower than it usually is on a uke. I can make the same chord figures, and the chords sound right, so from my point of view it’s all good.
The mandolin does indeed sound more robust than a typical uke, an artifact of both its steel strings, and the fact there are eight strings on the instrument. To be clear, there are 8-stringed ukuleles out there, but they weren’t in the local music store at the time and I wanted something at that moment and I also wanted to support a local business rather than farm it out to the Internet. Beyond that, I do like the sound of the mandolin. So again, from my point of view this was the right choice.
I don’t know if actual mandolin player would find it heresy to tune a mandolin like a ukulele, but if they do I can live with it, and they don’t have to play my mandolele. Or perhaps “ukeolin”? I think “mandolele” sounds better. “Mandolele” it is.