The Unwound Third > Gitfiddles, Harps, Washboards & Kazoos

Blues on a Tiple

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I'm a blues guitarist and mandolin player, getting interested in buying and learning to play the tiple, but there's precious little out there that I can find, to listen to or read - any tips?  Who are the tiple players I should be looking out for?  I'm only aware of it as a footnote on string band records.  I also play blues and old time country on a Puerto -Rican cuatro, which is an interesting sound - I only got it as a stop gap while looking for a tiple.  I still haven't got one, but in the mean time the cuatro is a good substitute.

Hi Vandeller, welcome to weeniecampbell.

Are you looking to play a South American tiple?  Or the tiple produced by Martin? - which is basically a 10 string ukulele...

Big Boy Teddy Edwards recorded a few blues on which he accompanied himself with a tiple, both solo and with a band.  All of his recordings are on Document CD 5440.

uncle bud:
Dj beat me to it on Teddy Edwards. I really like Teddy Edwards, though he is frankly much more fun as a singer than a tiple player, and better with a band.

Parlor Picker:
One of the finest tiple players around is Pete Mason of the Hokum Hotshots from Newcastle, UK.  He plays a fanastic hand-made instrument crafted by York-based luthier, Ralph Brown.

A few years ago I bought a Harmony tiple on eBay, which is basically that company's take on the Martin design with 10 strings in four courses - 2 / 3 / 3 / 2. Rick Sellens aka rick218 repaired it for me, but to my great regret I could not get on with it. Whenever I played it, I got pains in the wrist (I don't get that from playing guitar or tenor ukulele). Anyway, Rick liked it, so we did a swap - I had a Regal mandolin he wasn't playing (to be fair I don't really play it myself much either) and he had the tiple, which he tells me still needs some work on the intonation.

I find the sound of the tiple somehow more appealing than that of a mandolin, which is a sound I really like.

A second-hand Martin tiple will cost you upwards of ?600 (c. $1000) here in the UK - if you can find one that is.  Rick and I did find one in a good guitar shop in Brighton some time ago, but I did not have the money to buy it - and was wary of the aforementioned wrist pains. That shop also had a beautiful Ralph Brown tiple, but I seem to remember it carried a price tag of at least twice the above.

You do see cheaper South American 12-string tiples on eBay, but I have no idea what they are like.

Let us know if you get a tiple and what you think of it.


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