View Full Version : Improvements to cheap mandos
I have an inexpensive enty-level mando (Bean Blossom) that I'm learning on. I'm happy with it for now. However, are there things that can be done to improve it's sound, in addition to different strings? I won't be upgrading for a while, so I thought I might as well get the most from it that I can.
congrats on your first mando. the first thing i replaced on my first mando (kentucky 250s) was the tuners. i was so frustrated that the dang thing wouldn't stay in tune, and they really made a difference. you could go to your local luthier and opt for a new nut and bridge and set up as well. all told, those would cost you about what the mando did, but you'll be much happier.
My first mando was an Epiphone MM-30 A style. Sounded like ####, but I didn't know that until I really started listening to mandolins. It was structurally sound and the neck was straight, so I opted to upgrade the mando as much as possible to get the years out of it I needed to save up for a new mandolin.
I replaced the tuners with standard Schallers; I replaced the bridge with a regular ebony bridge from Stew-Mac. Total parts outlay ~$50.00, but I had a luthier do a set up and fit the bridge to the top too.
Finally I bit the bullet and bought a cast tailpiece from Randy Allen. Bingo! Sounded like a mandolin finally! The exceedingly cheap hardware was absorbing so much string energy that the lows were disappearing before they got to the bridge.
Moral of the story: replace ALL the metal parts on your low-end mandos. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
I'd replace the bridge with a good Loar copy and the nut with real bone. I'd do the tuners if it wouldn't stay in tune. Maybe the tailpiece too, but I'd try the bridge and nut first.