Electric Mandolin

Strings, picks, tuners, amps, cases, tailpieces, mics, etc plus related discussion.

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Electric Mandolin

Postby Richie » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:41 pm

I just bought an Epiphone Mandobird (Gibson Firebird shape). Although quite inexpensive at £160 it is a great little instrument and very well made. The only thing that lets it down is the pick up, which is adequate but a bit weak on the E string.

I did some Googling and found a UK company called Almuse who make hand- made pick ups as a direct replacement. The pick up was easy to fit and my Mandobird is transformed into a really top notch instrument.

Does anyone out there have a Mandobird? I am now looking forward to its first gig in a weeks time.
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Electric mandolin

Postby Barry » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:59 am

I don't have Mandobird but I started on one of these.

http://www.eccleshallguitars.co.uk/electric_mandolin.html

Still the best mandolin to play.

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Postby Gary Nava » Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:52 pm

I really like that Eccleshaw, Barry.
I keep toying with the idea of building an electric mandolin, but I can't make my mind up on 4, 5 or 8 strings!
Any thoughts?
Cheers Gary
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Postby Richie » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:17 pm

A friend of mine had one of those and sold it - a big mistake I think.
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Electric mandolin

Postby Barry » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:02 am

I think an 8 string would be more natural, but I have never really looked at 4 or 5 stringed electric mandolins before, would need converting.
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Postby Dave Hanson » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:54 pm

I must agree with Barry, the most salient feature of mandolins is having 8 strings.

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Postby Daniel » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:28 pm

Gary,
I have one of each and I'm happiest with the 8 string.

The 5 string seems to have a scale length issue that can only be solved by making the instrument fan fretted. That is giving the lower pitched strings a longer scale length than the higher pitched strings while maintaining a single neck length.

The 4 string instruments usually have issues with the e string (the Mandobird is not unique in this and changing the pickup usually does not help). It's usually too light at it's roughly 14" scale length to have an arc wide enough to fully excite the magnetic field on a standard passive pickup. JBovier, in the states, have sussed this our with a very nice pick up system. It works well, but it has a very fat sound, like a Les Paul. I'd rather have a Fender tone. Even my 8 string, a Fender, has issues with volume on the e course, but the doubled course helps a bit.

I got around the weak e string issue with the Mandobird by getting rid of the e string. I intonated the thing to tenor mandolin tuning, CGDA. Works great, but now I have that same issue on the C string that the 5 string has.

I think the best I can do given what I have tried, is to put the JBovier pick ups on an 8 string. I have asked Jeff Cowherd about this, but he says he has no plans to make an 8 string emando.

Would be happy to come by with the toys and do some show and tell.

Daniel
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Postby Gary Nava » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:55 pm

Hi Daniel,
Those are really interesting observations and have certainly given me some food for thought. I’ve built quite a few electric guitars but not a solid mandolin yet. I’m currently toying with the idea of one rail style pick-up mounted at the end of the fingerboard- this will be very much a prototype!
Cheers Gary
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Postby Daniel » Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:09 pm

Gary,
A rail pickup is an excellent place to start. I'd also think seriously about extending the scale length a tiny bit. Most mandolins are 13 7/8" (35.24cm). You could increase the length a bit without sacrificing playability and get a bigger arc out of the excited e string.

Have a chat with a builder in the US named Jonathan Mann. He makes beautiful electrics and is willing to discuss his choices and experiences.

Daniel
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Postby Gary Nava » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:53 pm

Now here's a question! Loop or ball ended strings?
I can see that ball-ended would allow a greater choice.
Cheers Gary
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Postby tom » Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:34 pm

I would go for ball end nickel wound and through the body like a tele.

Do you know if there such a thing as an "off the peg" bridge for these or would it be a build it your self job.
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Postby Daniel » Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:41 pm

I think Pete at Almuse sells parts as well as pickups and complete mandolins.

http://www.almuse.co.uk/

Daniel
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Postby tom » Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:35 pm

Thanks. I will give them a call.

I have an 8 string tele-mando built by Dave Gregory in York. Been sitting on the shelf for years waiting for a bridge and pickups.
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Postby Gary Nava » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:58 pm

Allparts do a 4 string tele style bridge/tailpiece.

http://www.allparts.uk.com/online-shop/ ... 16396.html
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