Hello everyone — I'm a first-time poster! I love this forum.
I had a few questions about how to work with a cheap mandolin without getting the mandolin set up professionally. This has a lot to do with how the setup might cost more than half of what I paid for the mandolin ($70) — because the instrument is so cheap, I thought I might try setting it up myself to see how I can improve the mandolin's sound / playability while learning a bit about the instrument before I decide to go in and upgrade to a better sounding / playing mandolin.
I primarily play guitar, but about three years ago I started playing a friend's mandolin and ended up going to a music store and picked up one of the cheapest mandolins there — a Rover RM-25 with laminate top. I ended up playing a bunch of music with it for about a year, but for the last two years it's been sitting in its case. I recently got back to playing mandolin, but it's frustrating to work with an instrument that's difficult to play.
The action on the mandolin is pretty high and I haven't changed the strings at all since I bought the mandolin (I was thinking that a string change might be in order). Playing barre chords on the first and second frets is difficult without a ton of pressure. And even after tuning, the G strings don't sound in tune with the rest of the strings when I play a scale (they sound pretty flat).
I'm certainly no luthier, and I've never really played around with instruments on a fix-it or take-it-apart level before. I figure that if I change the strings (I'm going to pick up D'Addario J74s) and adjust the action by tweaking the bridge screws, I'll probably have to re-intonate the mandolin (and I'm not sure how difficult re-intonating a mandolin will be, so any advice would be greatly appreciated).
Do any of you have any advice on how to work with this cheap mandolin to get it to play and sound better? It might be best to get a professional setup, but the only instrument place I can think of near me is Guitar Center, and I've read to steer clear of places that don't specialize in mandolins. I figure a DIY approach might be good.
Thanks in advance!