The mandolin is the soprano member of the mandolin family, just like the violin is the soprano member of the violin family. Like the violin, the instrument scale length is typically about 13 inches (330 mm).
So what are the various types of mandolin which may be found? Well, below is a list of some of the main type of mandolin:
The mandola (US and Canada), termed the tenor mandola in Europe, Ireland and the UK, which is tuned to a fifth below the normal mandolin, in precisely the same relationship as that of the viola to the violin. Some people also call this tool the”alto mandola.” It’s normally tuned like a viola, which is: C-G-D-A.
The instrument scale length is typically about 20 inches (500 mm), although such instruments with scales as short as 17 inches (430 mm) or as long as 21 inches (530 mm) aren’t unknown.
The mandocello, which is classically tuned to an octave and a fifth below the mandolin, in precisely the exact same relationship as that of the cello to the violin: C-G-D-A. Today, it’s quite frequent that it is restrung for octave mandolin tuning or the Irish bouzouki’s GDAD. The tool scale length is typically about 25 inches (635 mm). Note that a violoncello scale is 27″ (686mm).
The Greek laouto is in fact a mandocello, ordinarily tuned D-G-D-A, with half of each pair of the lower two classes that are being tuned an octave high on a lighter gauge string. Modern laoutos, as played on Crete, have the entire lower course tuned in octaves as well as being tuned a reentrant octave above the expected D. The instrument scale length is typically about 28 inches (712mm).
The mando-bass, has 4 single strings, as opposed to double courses, and it’s tuned like a double bass. These were created by the Gibson company in the early twentieth century, however, appear to have never been common. Most of the mandolin orchestras will prefer using the normal double bass, instead of a specialized mandolin family instrument.
The piccolo or sopranino mandolin is a rare member of the mandolin family, tuned one octave above the tenor mandola and one fourth over the mandolin; the same relation as that of the piccolo or sopranino violin into the violin and viola. The instrument scale length is typically about 9.5 inches (240 mm).
The Irish bouzouki is also considered a member of the mandolin family; although it is derived from the Greek bouzouki, it is constructed like a flat backed mandolin and uses fifth-based tunings (most often GDAD, an octave below the mandolin, occasionally GDAE, ADAD or ADAE) in place of the guitar-like fourths-and-third tunings of the three- and four-course Greek bouzouki. Even though the bouzouki’s bass course pairs are very often tuned in unison, on some instruments one of every pair is replaced with a lighter string and tuned in octaves, in the fashion of this 12-string guitar. Although occupying the same range as the octave mandolin/octave mandola, the Irish bouzouki is different from the former tool by its longer scale length, typically from 22 inches (560 mm) to 24 inches (610 inches), although scales as long as 26 inches (660 mm), that’s the typical Greek bouzouki scale, aren’t unknown.