View Full Version : Hilburn #6

Jim Hilburn
Oct-25-2005, 1:36pm
When I built as a hobby, I was able to make whatever I felt like. A friend suggested a 5-string electric and that sounded like fun. Ricky Skaggs was playing his with a b-bender in it, so away I went.
What I didn't know was that if you don't extend the scale, the low C string is like a noodle and you just about have to put a bass string on it to get any tension or it stretches out of tune and just doesn't act right.

Jim Hilburn
Oct-25-2005, 1:39pm
I played it for a while, but I never really took to the 5-string, and it eventually became a closet classic. I stole the pickup for a later electric guitar and it's been in the basement for the last 20 years.

Jim Hilburn
Oct-25-2005, 1:46pm
However, my good friend Drew Horton has been playing a lot of elecric 5-string with the Swing Chicks. He has a Korean Fender that works pretty well, but they have a standard mando scale with all the inherent problems that creates.
I showed this one to Drew, and we hatched the plan to build a new neck with a 14.5" scale.
So I added the pickguard, installed a Carvin pickup which works great and is dead quiet.
If I had a chance, I'd make one with a fan fret neck which I think would work great for a 5-string.
So #6 is back in action. It was first built in '85, so it's nearly vintage.

Darryl Wolfe
Oct-25-2005, 2:47pm
Very nice Jim...that's very cool.

I started with "acoustically challenged slabs 'o wood" too

Jim Hilburn
Oct-25-2005, 3:25pm
Thanks, Darryl.
Actually, my first 3 instruments were F-5's, but then I got into the "now what?' mode.
I found that a Tele is much easier if you tackle mandolins first.

Oct-25-2005, 5:25pm
Very nice, Jim! I love Teles. Boy, the intonation (saddle position) is vastly different on the 5th string, huh?

Oct-25-2005, 7:53pm
Wow, what a gorgeous emando!
I'm interested in this question of 5 string scale length. Is it really necessary to have the longer scale length in order to avoid a sloppy C string? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Oct-25-2005, 9:51pm
yup, 14.5 is definitly needed to help the tension on the C string.

Oct-25-2005, 10:39pm
well damn, that's really nice jim

Jim Hilburn
Oct-25-2005, 11:07pm
You can see how different the intonation is on the C. That's a .060 string. It would probably work well with a 15" scale, but then your putting a ton of tension on the E string. You could put a .009 on it but your fingers would bleed.
A fan fret board would be great for this application, although it is patented. But if you did a 14.2 on the high end and 14.8 on the low, it wouldn't be too drastically fanned and everything should tension out just about right.

Ted Eschliman
Oct-26-2005, 5:52am
In my opinion, the fan fret system is very much underappreciated or misunderstood. This is a very logical solution to the real problem Jim describes, and it takes one all of five minutes to adapt.
Looking at the way the human hand "fans" naturally, this really makes sense.

Darryl Wolfe
Oct-26-2005, 8:51am
I hope I'm not hijackin the thread, but, while we are on this subject. Can anyone recommend an electronics package so that I don't even have to research the issue. I would like to make an interpretation of an EM-200 Gibson psuedo Les Paul E-mando...carved flamed maple cap top ect...with a bit of this Steven Owsley Smith liquifaction mixed in

Oct-26-2005, 12:28pm
Darryl, That is a pretty cool looking mandolin. You can still use a leather strap on it, you just have to lace it through first.

Oct-27-2005, 3:51pm
Steve Ryder makes some of the best emando pickups around... I have two of his stock five-string humbuckers that are going into my own emando (when I finish building it) and they're very well built.

Joel Glassman
Oct-30-2005, 10:24am
>It would probably work well with a 15" scale, but then your
>putting a ton of tension on the E string.
My Hampstercaster has a 15 7/8" scale and I have no problem
with the E string @ .010 (Its featured on the Comando Sessions
CD #1 "Tiny's Bounce") Even at this scale length I'm not totally
pleased with the C string. Its tone is pretty boomy compared to
the others.

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