We were overjoyed when Bill Collings decided to expand the Collings line to include a mandola. We were even happier when Collings began to offer a mandola in the less-expensive "MT" version. We ordered this MT mandola dressed up a bit, with ivoroid binding on the face (for more contrast at the edge). Of course diehard mandolin fans probably already know that a mandola is just a larger version of the mandolin, but without the high E string and instead with a lower 4th string (a C, just like a viola). The Collings MT Mandola not only has a great, throaty tone, it's also very playable thanks to a 15 7/8" scale length. With a little practice, you can even play your favorite fiddle tunes on it, and revel in those great low tones you just can't get from a mandolin. Mandolas are great for backing up a vocalist, as the mandola's range is much closer to the human voice, making simple fills and runs a welcome addition. And of course if you play with other mandolinists, you can avoid stepping on your partner's parts and instead offer enticing deep-throated harmonies. Even when you're playing the same notes you could play on a mandolin, the larger body and slightly heavier strings give a meatier tone.