View Full Version : what are we paying for?
this may seem an odd or obvious question to those more familiar with electric instruments but what, exactly, does one pay for when buying one?
aside from beauty - a universal premium - i understand that with acoustic instruments it's the quality of wood and craftsmanship that count - plus, it would appear, the brand name - but what criteria is used when buying an electric?
- beginner bill
One still pays for playability, craftsmanship and quality of materials, they're just measured in different ways with electric instruments. Building an electric instrument that will last for years while sounding good requires different skills than building an acoustic that will do the same. I know that when I started playing (acoustic) mandolin, I couldn't tell the difference in tone between a $250 Korean instrument and a quality Weber, but I've since upgraded to a Breedlove becuase I couldn't take it any more. The same thing will probably happen to you with electrics: they'll all sound the same at first, but After you have a chance to play a few you'll start to notice the very real differences between pickups, woods, how they're arranged on the body of your instrument, the sounds that different wiring schemes make possible, etc. Good luck!
I second what Taboot said. You'd think it would be easy to crank out a quality emando... but it isn't, judging by how many out there aren't. Many emandos with similar scale lengths can't play evenly across the strings: some strings are louder or softer than others when played with the exact same pick attack. Some emandos can't get close to proper intonation. Many can't manage to stay in tune. Plenty have trouble with the string tension across strings being all over the map.
Some just don't balance and feel right. Then you play a good one, and suddenly you're not fighting the design anymore.
thank you both for that - crystal clear and understood. so far, for me, the crafter has all the positive aspects you mention and none of the negative - hope it stays that way.
many thanks - bill
Bill, I wouldn't go so far as to call a Crafter an "electric mandolin". I know it's merely semantics, but in my mind the term electric mandolin is reserved for a solid-body with a magnetic pick-up; affectionally known as the emando.
I'd categorize the Crafter as an acoustic instrument with a pick-up.
you mean ... you mean ...
i should leave !?! ...
(jus' choking wiz' you.)
it's really an acoustic instrument with a pick-up ... how about "guitar-mandolin?"
I've got an old Harmony Bat-wing. It's hollow body, but sounds ###### unplugged. Plug, it's very nice. I'd consider it "electric."
Wow, I didn't think I used a word there that had to be bleeped! It was not a word that rhymes with "ditty," but rhmes with "snappy." Didn't expect to get ######!
You're also paying for good electronics; a good pickup optimized for mandolin frequencies rather than some old bass pickup and neat, clean wiring and jacks. The latter may sound trivial but there's a lot of cheap electric guitars that are almost unplayable due to spotty connections.
Hey, don't get me wrong, I liked the Crafter's I've played very much. Plugged straight into a vintage Fender Champ there was no pingy or boomey sound; often the case with electronics not designed for mandolin voice.
now that's an interesting point. i'm not burdened with a tremendous choice of amplifiers out here in paradise. i thought an amp. designed for acoustic instruments would be best - wasn't aware there were ones specifically geared for the mandolin.
it would probably work well for the charango (the other love of my life) as they're both treble instruments.
graziemille! - bill
If you're playing an electric instrument with magnetic pickups, you want a tube amp designed for guitar or maybe bass, not an acoustic amp. They're voiced very differently... There are lots of discussions around these boards related to amping your mandolin.
If acoustic combo amps are voiced, theyre [numbers, target market sales volume] voiced for acoustic guitars, not mandolins.
a tube head, perhaps, and a 2 speaker cabinet with crossover for the 2 specialized #ranges of response of each speaker . tweet and woof.
EQ in between. more bands the merrier.
unlike everyone else, it seems, the older i get the less i know - i haven't a clue about what mandroid has just written.
i tried putting "amp" in the site's search engine but nothing obvious popped up.
if i were looking for a small amplifier for my crafter mandolin, what should i look for? at some point i'll probably stump up for a solid body electric - something like a mandocaster - so i'll need an amp suitable for both. in a local music shop i've seen a "marshall" amp - other than the brand name and its diminutive size, i know absolutely nothing.
sincerely - bill
I would get something small and cheap to start with. I have a Crate 15 Watt amplifier that sounds pretty good, plays plenty loud, and has a bunch of on-board digital effects. I bought it on sale at Guitar Center for $85 a couple of years ago. This amp is light enough to haul around when I'm jamming electrically. Is it the greatest amp ever built? No, but I have played through it enough to know that it works well.
Check out the Guitar Research Amps at Sam Ash. They have a tube pre-amp and sound great for the money. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif
The concept of the tube amp being best is true if you have the "turn it up to eleven" mentality......mine sounds great through an old Fender Tweed cabinet that I use...but from my experience you only get THAT tone once you crank it up.....I usually plug straight in to the PA and my effects do a pretty good job of creating some nice tone, so we can blend the sound together without blowing out the windows in the studio
I think there's something to be said for the difference between the tone of a tube amp clean at low-volume levels and a solid state amp in the same settings, especially for mandolins. #It's so much warmer to my ears, really helps make up for the sometimes brittle nature of these little beasts. #Of course, when you do get to crank it, and get that natural break-up, you'll starting needing a cold shower between sets ;)
Bill - If you want your crafter to sound like a loud acoustic mandolin, look into acoustic amps. #Crate makes some good ones, the Roland AC-30 (I think that's the model) is a nice little portable thing, Marshall has a unit or two. #Play a bunch until you find a sound you like. #If you want to sound like an *electric* mandolin (more like a guitarist,) plug into some guitar tube amps at the music store, start with something like a Peavey Classic 30, or the Fender Blues Jr. #Choosing an amp is like choosing a mandolin, when you plug into the one that's right, you're going to *know*. #
Try a Fender Blues Jr., or Pro Jr., or for cleaner tones the 30-watt Peavey Classic 30, or Delta Blues.
Easily available used, and they'll hold a decent re-sale value.