Choosing your Octave Mandolin or Mandola


The Mandola can provide a very interesting and distinct sound to any song, with a full rich texture that can only be achieved with its lower range the mandola is truly a special instrument that should not be overlooked.

Just as a Mandolin is modeled after the Violin with the strings set up being GDAE (from low to high) the mandola is modeled after the viola which replaces the High E string for a low C making it CGDA (from low to high).

The Mandola was developed from the lute as most other string instruments but interestingly came before the mandolin.

Popular modern day Mandola players include Sarah Jarosz and Sierra Hull and Chris Thile who are also very accomplished Mandolinists.

3. The Airline Eastwood Mandola

This is really unique Mandola, it is electric so it can be plugged into any standard guitar amplifier. The added ability of being able to fine tune things such as volume, gain and delay opens up a whole new world of possibilities. You can also use it through your favorite Wah, looper or phasor pedals to really bring out your own personal sound with this new instrument. The solid body and maple neck insure that it has a good strong tone and its Humbucker pickup can range from soft and sweet to aggressive and powerful at a moments notice.

Check out this great demo by benearte and check out his youtube channel when your done he’s a great musican


2. Trinity College TM-275 Standard Mandola

 The Trinity College TM-275 Standard Mandola is an outstanding instrument perfect for mandolin or guitar players wanting to try something new. It’s Solid Sitka spruce top with oval soundhole provides a bell-bright attack and rich sound. With an East Indian rosewood fingerboard that feels as smooth as butter making it incredibly comfortable to play and a Slim mahogany neck and low action so you can play at breakneck speeds with ease! Free case included  from amazon for easy transportation. 

    1. Washburn M226SWK Mandola, Vintage Finish

This is an excellent professional grade/recording Mandola perfect for someone looking for a high quality instrument. Painstakingly crafted Carved Solid Spruce Top, Solid Flame Maple Back and Sides that are held to Washburns extremely high  standards ensure that  this mandola will really take your music to the next level.

Watch the amazing demo by Dylan Grew and check out his incredible youtube channel


Octave Mandolin 

An octave mandolin is another type of mandolin that has a lower register and can be used to accompany a full band or be played as a solo instrument. An octave mandolin is a full octave lower than a standard mandolin which gives it a lower overall pitch and makes it slightly larger than the standard mandolin or mandola. An octave mandolin has a string set up of GDAE (from low to high) but a full octave lower than a normal mandolin. The octave mandolin has a lower pitch than a mandola as well because only the low C is changed, this makes it so that the mandola is only a fifth interval lower than standard rather than a full octave lower.

An octave mandolin is considered to be easier to play by some because of its larger size. Because the mandola and especially the standard mandolin are so small it can make it difficult for beginner player to get used to such a precise fret size. Many people tend to transition from guitar to mandolin as the two instruments have many common similarities, because the frets on a guitar are so much larger many player find it uncomfortable getting used to the much more compact design of a mandolin.

An octave mandolin can be an excellent compromise of both a guitar and mando. Due to the more natural feel of the instrument it can be much easier for guitar players to learn the basics of the instrument while still having the comfort and feel of an average sized acoustic guitar while having the notes (although an octave lower) of a standard mandolin or mandola.

The way that octave mandolin players read music is also much easier for transitioning guitar players. A standard mandolin uses treble clef just as a violin would. Many of the notes especially on the A and E string are very high pitched and show up way above the staff, this might be very common for violin players but for guitar players it can be very jarring. A mandola uses alto cleff which was made to work well with violas so the low C string could be noted more easily. Alto clef would feel very unnatural to guitar players as well because guitar notation is almost never written in this clef. Guitar is most commonly written in treble clef just as the octave mandolin, because they have a similar pitch and use the same clef notation it would probably be much easier for a beginner to start learning how to start reading music with an octave mando. Check out a quick review of some of our personal recommendations here and Mandolin reviews.

Gold Tone GM-6 Octave Mandolin

This gold tone GM-6 octave mandolin is a great instrument to choose as your first octave mandolin. It is essentially a hybrid of a guitar and an octave mando. The Gold tone GM-6 has 6 strings that are tuned the same as a guitar (EADGBE) a standard octave mandolin has 8 pairs of strings that as mentioned before are tuned to GGDDAAEE. This instrument is essentially a normal guitar that has the look and sound of a mandolin while still having the exact same chord shapes, scales and patterns of a standard guitar, only the appearance is different. There is literally no learning curve with this instrument and is perfect for anyone that wants the rich sound of a mandolin for playing/recording without having to actually learn how to play one.

Trinity College TM-325B Standard Celtic Octave Mandolin

The Trinity College TM-325B is a much more traditional octave mandolin, it has 8 pairs of strings set up an octave lower than a standard mandolin. It has a  Solid Sitka spruce top with round soundhole that provides a bell-bright attack and distinctive Celtic sound (although it can be used for any genre of music) and a solid maple back and sides that produce crisp high notes and resonant mid range tones. 

Slim mahogany neck offers fast, easy action and inherently long-lasting stability making it very easy to play. The fretboard had a lot of foucus on it with choice East Indian rosewood fingerboard ensures silky smooth playability and low string action perfect for people who like to play fast.

Check out jbudz1977 youtube channel he’s a very talented and experienced octave Mando player featured below


Gold Tone OM-800+ Octave Mandolin (Mahogany)

This mandolin is a personal favorite of ours here and mandolin reviews. It has a deep powerful sound that steams from its curly maple back and sides that help promote a punchy tone with arched solid spruce top that increases sustain and volume. It has an incredible sounding timbre and is very well inntonated all the way up the neck.

It includes low string action and a thin neck for rapid playing without fret buzz. It has an extended 22 1/2 frets with easy access for playing those sweet high notes. It also has a passive bridge-mounted pickup so it can be used with an amplifier. This mandolin is perfect for gigging, touring, recording or just some back porch pickin’ and is made to insure that each one has a rich and beautiful tone. Hard shell case included for easy transportation and long lasting protection.

Check out this amazing rendition of the Bach cello suite by bbrizzy89 he is an incredibly talented musician and you should all subscribe to his youtube channel

Keeping your new octave mandolin protected should be of utmost importance once you decide to buy one. to insure that your instrument lasts as long as possible we at mandolin reviews highly recommend that you buy a case to keep your new investment safe.

Carrion C-3603 Black Hardshell Octave Mandolin Case

Finding a case that fits your octave mandolin can be a challenge. octave mandolins have a very distinct shape and size that wont fit in a guitar case or standard mandolin or mandola case. We have gone through many different cases and found one that we think will perfectly fit your needs. The Carrion C-3603 Black Hardshell Octave Mandolin Case offers durable black tolex exterior and dense, foam padding lined in black plush ensures a protective fit for your octave mandolin. It also contains a heavy duty multi-ply wood core which gives it superior strength and resiliency for many years to come. Gold-plated brass hardware and lockable latches also provide additional security to an already stellar case. We give this case the mandolin reviews seal of approval to insure your octave mandolin is in safe hands. 

Octave mandolin players 

Some of our favorite octave mandolin players we love to listen to here at mandolin reviews are Sierra Hull and Sarah Jarosz. Sierra Hull is an exceptionally good musician from Byrdstown Tennessee who will regularly use an octave mandolin in her recordings and live performances. Sarah Jarosz is an extremely talented musician from Austin Texas who has been awarded with multiple grammy nominations and awards for songs/albums such as Follow me down, Mansinneedof, and Build me up from Bones. Jarosz is known for playing clawhammer banjo, mandolin, and of course the octave mandolin. 

Final Thoughts 

The mandola and octave mandolin can add a whole new dimension to your playing. Whether you are a seasoned mandolin picker, guitar player or aspiring musician these insruments can provide years of joy and satisfaction to your life.  These instruments are so easy to transition to that learning them will be a fun stress-free experience filled with beautiful music. Their unique sound and look will be the envy of all who hear you play. We at mandolin reviews encourage all to go out and learn how to play these wonderful instruments, you will not be disappointed!