A 5-string mandolin, and a good one, too!

Red HenryA photo just turned up which I'd like to share, since it was from a memorable occasion. This picture was taken at a party in Nashville in early 2002, and it features some remarkable mandolins.

I've blogged about this event before, but I hadn't found this photo at the time. At left are (1) Randy Wood's very first mandolin, and (2) Randy Wood #3, the mandolin which Bill Monroe once owned. At the right is Randy Wood #1281, the mandolin Christopher plays.

And the other mandolin, the one second from the right, is? --- Count those strings! That mandolin is no less than a very special, custom 5-string mandolin which Randy had just made for Vassar Clements. I played it some-- it was a very jazzy instrument with a cool sound.

Randy Wood Mandolins

Most mandolins are double-strung, with two each of the E, A, D, and G strings, but the single-stringing on this mandolin made it sound like someone was flatpicking a fiddle-- which, if you saw Vassar play, you may remember that he liked to do. The added 5th string was the lowest one, a low C note, so that the mandolin was tuned just like a 5-string fiddle. And it definitely sounded cool.

So not you know, even if you didn't know before, that there are not only 5-string banjos and 5-string basses and 5-string dobros and 5-string fiddles in the world, but also 5-string jazz mandolins!

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About Red Henry

Began playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and banjo in 1967-69. I married Murphy in 1974. We led the Red & Murphy bluegrass band, playing professionally, from 1975-87. Since then I've handled the technical side of Murphy Method cassette, videotape, and DVD production. When you call I usually answer the phone, and I'm normally the one who sends out the orders.