View Full Version : bluestar

May-16-2005, 8:06pm
Does anyone out there have anything to say about Bluestar Mandolins.

May-16-2005, 10:11pm
Why, sure. I own a 5 string Bluestar Mandoblaster. It plays well, has a fairly loud output from the lipstick pickup, and is a solid feeling player's mando. Good sustain. In my humble opinion, it's probably the cheapest emando that you can buy and just play without having to do any major mods to. It's a solid wood body with some kind of resin (phenolic) coating, and a maple neck. Mine has a purple applique dazzle finish. I own 4 or 5 emandos, and I usually pull out the Bluestar when I go jam, even though I own better ones, because I don't worry so much about dropping it, or spilling something on it, even though I have never dropped a mando, or spilled something on it. The other nice thing about it is that it plays in tune and stays in tune, if you have decent strings on it.
Are you thinking of buying one? Ask more specific questions and we'll try to give you answers. Do a search on "bluestar" or "mandoblaster" in the message body and read other comments about these Michigan-made instruments. And welcome to the Mandolin Cafe!

May-17-2005, 12:26pm
Mikeomando summed up the Bluestar quite well. They frequently appear used at Elderly. I haven't played the elusive Mandobird but I've played many other less expensive emando's and the Bluestar really is an excellent value. It plays very well and the pickup is very acceptable. The body is kinda funky, but rugged. Not that I need a rugged mandolin as I have never dropped one or spilled beer or lighter fluid on it, nor left it in a freezing or boiling hot car, no burn marks, or slash marks from knives or broken bottles, or pock marks from BB's or .22 slugs. Maybe I've been lucky or something. Oh yes, and welcome to the Mandolin cafe!!

May-23-2005, 10:47pm
They frequently appear used at Elderly.
No personal experience with Bluestar, but there happens to be 9 new ones on sale at Elderly right now...

Check it out: http://www.elderly.com/brand/90N_blue%20star.html

Jun-02-2005, 6:09pm
It's a little known fact that Mr. Bluestar; I think his name is Bruce Herron, has built custom emando's. #I played the one owned by the mandolinist for Roy Clark's band. Anyway the neck looked right off a stock Bluestar but the body was carved wood and extremely beautiful.

Jun-04-2005, 9:10am
i have a used mandoblaster i got off ebay from a cafe member for a very reasonable price. it is an early 90's one, but it has a birdseye maple neck. very sweet sounding and just what i wanted for those occassions that i play electric. it also came with the hard case. a great buy for someone just wanting to start out on emando.

Apr-12-2006, 8:54pm
Where did you get the purple one?http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Apr-12-2006, 8:57pm
Ok, that icon was not supposed to be there.

Apr-12-2006, 11:58pm
When I bought my mandoblaster from Elderly, it was the only 5 string they had in stock. The 'dazzle' color on all non-custom mandoblasters is an adhesive-backed applique. If you have your heart set on purple, I have been thinking of selling this emando. I have 5 or 6 others.

Apr-13-2006, 12:52am
Really? How much would you sell it for?

Apr-13-2006, 5:26am
Received my Mandoblaster from Bruce on Monday; it's a "limited edition, one of a kind" special which appeared on ebay a couple of weeks ago. Has a humbucker with coil tap switch - sounds wonderful, with good sustain and plenty of tonal variation. Mine has a natural satin finish over a one piece 20 year old MI soft maple body and MI hard maple neck - looks beautiful; fit and finish is immaculate and it came with a nice case too!

Apr-13-2006, 9:45am
Does anyone know what the body of the standard mandoblaster is made of?

Apr-13-2006, 10:37am
Nice custom there, mandelect. The first Bluestar custom I've ever seen.
johnrhaupert, I'd sell mine for $570, delivered in the U.S.
Gowanus, I have no idea. The whole slab is covered. It's definitely not balsa wood.

Apr-13-2006, 3:44pm
$570 with a case and shipping or without? What condition is it in?

Apr-13-2006, 7:13pm
Johnrhaupert: $570 with case and shipping. Remember it's a 5 string, all stock. The emando is in near mint condition, except for the bubble in the purple applique. maybe you should pm me if you are serious, and I'll email you some pix. The thing it does is stay in tune and play well. Most of the low end emandos don't without some professional work.

May-12-2006, 7:01pm
AHH! So, I bought a mandoblaster online and they sent me a 4-string by mistake. Then they shipped out a 5-string and I got it today. The problem is that there is a very bad intonation problem with the C string. The octave C is pretty sharp and the chords I play using the C string sound pretty out of tune. I thought that these instruments were supposed to be playable without any mods. What should I do?

May-12-2006, 10:22pm
First, don't panic. Then panic (joke). Is the C string playing the octave harmonic directly over the 12th fret? (use a tuner to check) If not, you may have to adjust the bridge, because maybe you are set up for different gauge strings. If it is playing the harmonic directly over the 12th fret, it's time to look at your technique. It's really easy to fret pretty true on tight double courses, like on an acoustic, because the string tensions make you really have to push (or pull) to bend a fretted note out of tune. Single courses are much easier to accidently bend out of tune, and a loose C string is the easiest of all. When I first started playing 5 string I had to really focus on pushing straight down on the C string, so I didn't push every note sharp. If you really can't handle the floppy C string, you could try tuning it up to D. DGDAE. This actually simplifies a bunch of chord forms. I love having the low C, so I don't do this very often. Good luck, and let us know what's happening.

May-12-2006, 10:24pm
Oh yeah, mods are different than adjusting your set up. You shouldn't have to shim the neck or mess around with the frets. Depending on the strings you use, you might have to adjust the scale length at the bridge, as well as the string height at the bridge.

May-14-2006, 5:01pm
The harmonic on the 12th fret is in tune and when I tuned it up to D, I was able to play in tune. So it is my technique. I am trying to make it better but it is super hard. Any other tips? Thanks!

May-14-2006, 5:06pm
Why is it so hard? I never have trouble playing the low E on the guitar in tune...

May-14-2006, 9:40pm
Shorter scale length means less tension on the low notes. Now you have to experiment with string thicknesses. If I remember correctly, I use a .052 for my C string, but I have experimented with .048, .049, .050, and .051 as well.
At least it is playable without any mods, assuming you fret true. Try fretting the C string alone and see how easy it is to bend, then see if you can find the feel of fretting without bending. Compare this to a guitar, where the longer scale length takes more bend to sound obviously out of tune. You'll get it. Or you won't. You can always take off the C string, or tune it up to D. I also fret the C string with my left thumb sometimes. Maybe that will be a workaround.

May-14-2006, 11:35pm
I dont want to take it off or tune it up because I would really like to play a real 5 string. So, I am gonna keep trying it out. Thanks for all the advice.

May-15-2006, 5:35pm
Mandelect, nice custom Bluestar. Several years ago I saw one very similar built for the mandolin player in Roy Clark's band. I was an usher for that show working the pit, and when I saw the roadie bring it out on stage I yelled up to him and he brought out their mandolin player who let me pick a little on it. (No, not plugged in.) I have a MandoBlaster and the custom was certainly quite nice. I'd consider a custom Mandoblaster in a second if I was in the market.

May-16-2006, 5:09am
Lee, I'm really pleased with my Bluestar. It was a spur of the moment Ebay bid, a few weeks ago. Nobody else seemed interested so I managed to get it for a good price - not too dissimilar to what the standard 'blasters go for!

I am thinking of getting it refretted with chunkier frets; I'm not too keen on standard mandolin fretwire for electrics - but of course that's a personal preference. Bruce offered to refret for a very good price, but shipping from the UK to the States (and back) would bump the price up considerably. Bruce seems a really nice guy and was very helpful throughout the deal.

BTW the Ebay listing stated that mine was the first of a limited series of instruments ... so watch "that" space if you're in the market for one!

May-18-2006, 10:01pm
mikeomando, what string thickness would make it easiest to play in tune?

May-19-2006, 8:33am
You don't have to post questions directed only at me, lots of guys out here have 5 strings. Generally speaking, the thicker the string the higher the tension tuned to the same note for the same scale length. See my post above from May 14. If your E string is too tight and you're using a .011, try a .0105 or a .010.
If your C string is too loose, figure out what it is and go a little bigger. I think I have a .051 or a .052 on mine. Easiest to play in tune depends on how much you are bending the notes. Individual guitar strings are pretty cheap. Buy .048, .049, .050, .051, and .052, and try them. play single notes on the C string with a tuner and see if you can fret them true. Then try playing barre chords (2245x from low to high is a D chord) and see if you can play them in tune. Then try playing more complex chords (20023 is the classic G Chord with a D on the bottom) and really make sure that you are fretting the D cleanly.
You have to find your own trade-off. If you, for example, tried putting a string from an electric bass on your emando C string to make it less floppy, it would be so big that it would feel funny and respond differently to all the other strings. You have to find a string that is thick enough to create enough tension that you can fret it close to in tune, but that also responds and feels like your other strings. After you figure out what gauge you like, you still have to really work on fretting cleanly. You can push really hard on an 8 sting mando, and not play out of tune. You can push kind of hard on a 4 string mando, and still get away with it. You just can't get away with it on the low strings of a 5 string emandola-mandolin.

Jul-27-2006, 3:28pm
Ok, so I have another question. Is it easier to play 5 strings with the extended necks (5 extra frets) in terms of string bending?

Jul-27-2006, 3:41pm
Probably, but it still depends mostly on the string gauges.

Aug-08-2006, 4:42pm
I checked two large guitar stores in my area and I could only come across a .052. Where do you get your single strings?

Aug-08-2006, 5:16pm
Some people get 'em from me. I sell three different sets at emando.com.

Aug-08-2006, 6:19pm
Would you be willing to just sell me the C strings?

Aug-08-2006, 6:41pm
Where do you get your single strings?
You can get them here:

Aug-09-2006, 12:48am
John, e-mail me off the board ... I can probably get you a better price than JustStrings for a .48 and a .50. Those are the C gauges I have in stock.