Algerian mandole

The Algerian mandole (mandol, mondol) is a steel-string fretted instrument resembling an elongated mandolin, widely used in Algerian music such as Chaabi, Kabyle music and Nuubaat (Andalusian classical music).[1][2][3]

Algerian mandole
man playing a mandole
Lounès Matoub in 1975 with an Algerian mandole. His mandole has oval and not the characteristic diamond sound hole.
String instrument
Other namesmandole, mondol
Classification string
Hornbostel–Sachs classificationList of musical instruments by Hornbostel-Sachs number: 321.322 (flat-backed)
(Chordophone with permanently attached resonator and neck, sounded by fingers or plectrum)
Inventor(s)Jean Bélido and El Hadj M'Hamed El Anka
Developed1930s in Algeria in tradition of mandola and mandolin
Related instruments
More articles or information
Music of Algeria, Chaabi music, Music of Kabyle people, Andalusian classical music, Andalusi nubah, Nuubaat

The name can cause confusion, as "mandole" is a French word for mandola, the instrument from which the Algerian mandole developed. The Algerian mandole is not however a mandola, but a mandocello sized instrument.

The instrument has also been called a "mandoluth" when describing the instrument played by the Algerian-French musician, Hakim Hamadouche.[4] However, the luthier for one of Hakim's instruments describes it as a mondole.[5]


Different styles of sound hole
Mandola (left) and an Algerian mandole. The mandole has characteristic diamond sound hole.
Algerian mandole from the side.
Cheb Medhy performing with his 5 course/10 string mandole at Roubaix on October 19, 2012 as part of the French group HK & Les Saltimbanks.

The Algerian mandole is a stringed instrument, with an almond shaped body, built in a box like a guitar, but almond shaped like the mandola with a flat back, raised fingerboard, and wide neck (as a guitar's).[2] It can have eight, ten, or twelve strings in doubled courses, and may have additional frets between frets to provide quarter tones.[2][6] A variation is to have the thickest strings be single strings instead of double courses.[7] The sound hole is typically diamond shaped, but can be round, and sometimes covered by a rosette.[2]

Instruments have been created with a scale length of 25.5 inches (650mm), but also as long as 27 inches.[2][3] Overall instrument length is approximately 990mm (about 39 inches).[2] Width 340mm (about 13.4 inches), depth 75mm (about 3 inches).[2]

The scale length puts the mandole in the baritone or bass range of instruments, such as the mando-cello.[2] The instrument can be tuned as a guitar, oud or mandocello, depending on the music it will be used to play and player preference. When tuning it as a guitar the strings will be tuned (E2) (E2) A2 A2 D3 D3 G3 G3 B3 B3 (E4) (E4).[8] Strings in parenthesis are dropped for a five or four course instrument. Using a common Arabic oud tuning D2 D2 G2 G2 A2 A2 D3 D3 (G3) (G3) (C4) (C4).[9] For a mandocello tuning using fifths C2 C2 G2 G2 D3 D3 A3 A3 (E4) (E4).[10]


The mandole was the European mandola, reborn in Algeria.[11] The North African variant was made in 1932 by the Italian luthier Jean Bélido, following the design, conception and recommendations made by Algerian musician El Hadj M'Hamed El Anka.[11]

El Anka, who is known for his contributions to Chaabi music, had learned to play the mandola while young.[11] He found the mandolas used in Andalusian orchestras to be "too sharp and little amplified".[12]

Bélido, a music teacher and luthier in Bab El Oued, changed the size of the "demi-mandole" then being played, increasing it, and changing the soundboard structure, case thickness and strings.[11][12] The instrument he created is closest to the mando-cello in the mandolin family.


Karim Tizouiar with a mandole. His music helps to preserve and revive the Berber languages and its heritage. Performed with Agraw Boudjemâa (article on the French Wikipedia).
  • Abderrahmane Abdelli modern style Algerian mandole player. He often incorporate instruments such as the cajón (Peru), the tormento, the quena (Chilean), and the bandura (Ukrainian).
  • Amar Ezzahi[6] skilled mandole player, was the figurehead of the Châabi music in Algiers.
  • Boudjemaa El Ankis[6] famous performer of Châabi music, who also played the mandole. He was known in Algeria for his more than 300 songs and for being imprisoned by the French from 1957-1960 during the Algerian War.
  • Cheikh El Hasnaoui[13] born in Béni-Zmenzer (Tizi Ouzou) famous bilingual Châabi singer.
  • Dahmane El Harrachi most translated Châabi artist for his very famous song Ya Rayah.
  • El Hachemi Guerouabi,[6] born in Algiers, Master of the Châabi music.
  • Lounès Matoub[13][6] Born in Tizi Ouzou, famous Châabi singer. He used music as a political tool until killed.
  • Mohamed Abdennour (also known as P'tit Moh)[13] Virtuoso of the Algerian mandole.
  • Mohammed Rouane, (also spelled Rowan and Rawan by translation software) Algerian musician, former guitarist of the flamenco group Mediterraneo and pioneer of Casbah Jazz.[13][6]
  • Moh Alileche, born in Tizi Ouzou, 10-silk-stringed mandole performer (also known as agember in tamazight) in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA
  • Takfarinas[6] plays electric mandole that has two necks.[13]
  • Project Coast - Algerian mandole player from Wales, UK.[14] Creates music on a mandole made by French luthier, François Baudemont.


  • Rachid Chaffa, mandole maker for artists Guerrouabi, Amar Ezzahi, Boudjemaa El Ankis, Takfarinas and Maatoub Lounas.[15]


  1. ^ Marie Korpe (September 2004). Shoot the singer!: music censorship today. Zed Books. pp. 114–. ISBN 978-1-84277-505-9. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "mondol". Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b Marshall, Andy (2 February 2013). "Re: Algerian Mandole". Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  4. ^ "CARTE BLANCHE TO HAKIM HAMADOUCHE (21/01/2016) 20:30". Retrieved 10 August 2017. (from concert poster): Hakim Hamadouche mandoluth, voix
  5. ^ "Images tagged "jearc-hakim-hamadouche"". Jearc Lutherie. Retrieved 10 August 2017. (caption with photo of instrument): Mandole HH
  6. ^ a b c d e f g MnarviDZ (2014). "The Algerian Mandole". Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Mandole/Mondole Algérien fait 100% a la main par ASSIREM en Kabylie". Retrieved 29 July 2017. Le mandole a 9 cordons, 4 en double et un tout seul.
  8. ^ Richards, Tobe A. The Musician's Workbook VI, Fretted Instrument Octave Designation Diagram & Charts (PDF). p. 4. Guitar - Standard Tuning E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4
  9. ^ Parfitt, David. "Arab tuning". Archived from the original on 20 April 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Thomann Algerian Mondol 10 Standard". Archived from the original on 2017-07-29. Retrieved 29 July 2017. tuning: C - G - D - A - E, lower width ca. 35,2cm, body length ca. 54,2cm, total length thomann ca. 104,5cm, height incl. bridge ca. 13cm, height of the sides ca. 10cm, width upper nut ca. 4,4cm, scale length 32,4cm.
  11. ^ a b c d Bendamèche, Abdelkader (25 July 2014). "Mr Abdelkader Bendamèche répond à l'APS au sujet du mandole (Translation: Mr Abdelkader Bendamèche responds to the APS about the mandola)". Retrieved 25 July 2017. ABDELKADER BENDAMECHE President of the National Council Arts and Letters, Algiers, 21 July 2014
  12. ^ a b "La mandole". Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Musique algérienne traditionnelle Chers instruments !". Le Soir d'Algérie. 9 April 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  14. ^ "ProjectCoast - YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  15. ^ MnarviDZ (2014). "The Algerian Mandole". Retrieved 7 August 2017. blog "Patriots on Fire"

External linksEdit

Hakim Hamadouche playing a 10 string electric mondole in Marseilles.