I've tried several different amps over several years, trying to get some good sounds out of my long gone Gibson electric, and now my Godin A8. I have finally concluded that the speakers in just about all guitar amps are optimized for the midrange of an electric guitar. You can do OK if you have some extra EQ and maybe add some combination of compressor and delay to sharpen up and lengthen the tone, but that solution tends to make the sound a bit too clunky for what i seek.
Right now I'm doing OK, using an LR Baggs para-DI which really lets me optimize the balance of frequencies on an individual instrument. The EQd tone then gets fed straight into a board for a very clean sound. Unfortunately, I still like to add effects, and this solution is definitely not optimal for doing that. #Too much junk onstage.
My latest experiment is using Native Instrument's Guitar Rig software on a mac, which then #gets fed directly into the board. The possibilities for tone are almost infinite with this software, and I have 8 or 10 very cool mandolin presets, including one that actually feeds in an octave splitter on half #the delay. The downside is that you have to have macbook set up on stage which is not easy to do in a crowded room, and hard to concentrate on while you are playing, even with the stomp box to trigger presets that comes with GR.
I recently heard Chris Thile in concert, and was wondering how he achieves his gorgeous amplified tone. Sure he has a great mandolin to start with, but I don't think that means as much as some other people think it means, given the volume his band plays at. His tone is #nothing like a Grisman or a bluegrass tone, which is clean clean clean, and amplified through a PA with great headroom, and always a bit muddy when amplified into an imperfect hall. Thile sounds as if he has something electronic going on to get #the sound he does at high volume. Otherwise, whatever great tone he has acoustically, is always going to get seriously mangled in the amp stage, UNLESS he adds something to essentially emulate the original tone. I can hear the effect of parametric EQ, but it's almost as if there's something boosting the transients as well. Maybe it's the same studio effect i use to boost the drum transients in a mix.
So... I guess I'm writing here, to ask what other solutions mandolin players have come up with to create good mandolin tone in a world with no dedicated mandolin amps. #