View Full Version : 4 and 8 stringed emandos

Sep-13-2004, 2:15pm
I play an acoustic mandolin and am wondering why both the 4 and 8 stringed mandos are sold as electric mandos.... What is the difference?? and why would one choose one over the other? I could guess but would rather hear an answer from those who have experienced both 4 and 8 stringed emandos.


Baron Collins-Hill
Sep-13-2004, 3:01pm
i have played a 4 string solid body emando that my friend built Here (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=22;t=16893) and i also own a 8-string, acoustic electric fender mando, the fm62se. as emandos go, i think that you would be fine with a four string, as eight stings are mostly for tone and volume on an acoustic, and nicer for tripple picking as well. but i havent really played an eight string solid body, so im not excatly sure.

Sep-13-2004, 3:18pm
I'd say that the 4 and 5 string is used more in conjunction with effects like string bending, slide and various pedal effects. I noticed last weekend that Sam Bush has removed four of his strings off his National and is using a slide on it. I don't remember that from previous shows.

Sep-13-2004, 3:27pm
Phish, really nice tiedye (?) there.

BMAC, Here's something I wrote on a similar question a month or so ago:

I recently bought a used 1960s Kinston 8 string mandola (it has a 16" scale). It's a solid body. It sounded fairly good with 8 strings, but it is an outright killer with just 4 strings.

With 4, it seems to intonate better. The notes are clearer and less like an out-of-tune sitar. You can do some bending with 4 strings (bending sounded terrible with 8 strings, at least on this instrument). Effects -- such as distortion or phaser -- seem to work better. Leads and chords work better for me with 4 strings.

Several years ago, I had an 8 string Rickenbacker electric mandolin. It was well built, sounded good, but was of limited use to me. I never tried it with just 4 strings. In 8 string mode, I found it only good for a song or two in an evening of jamming because it wasn't very versatile for me. I bet it would have been better as a 4 string. Of course, a better player might find it works for them.

Personally, my experience and playing style or lack of style -- requires me to view an electric mandolin family instrument as totally different, requiring a different approach -- hence the 4 string preference.

Oh yea, I really didn't find it a problem simply taking the paired strings off. I have a Ric electric 12 string guitar that I play more often as a six string. It works fine mechanically.

Good luck. Hoyt

Sep-17-2004, 11:42am
What Thistle said is very true. I might add that double courses sound very messy on amps that don't stay absolutely clean. If you're after a rock 'n roll tone from an electric mandolin you'll be playing through an amp / pedals that create some, if not a lot, of distortion.

Sep-17-2004, 11:56am
I'm just a newbie with the emando, but I have to disagree about double courses on a rock-and-roll amp. To me, the drawback of double courses is that unless they're in really close tune, it sounds whiny (and not in a good way either). I crank up the gain all the time when I want to emphasize pick attack. I'll admit it doesn't fit a lot of effects though. With everything right, I think it's a very Rickenbacker sound and really good for the REM-ish and alt-country stuff I like.

Sep-17-2004, 12:05pm
JMKatcher, what emando & amp do you use?
Yes, I agree the double-strings produce a Rickenbacker type sound but I've never associated that with hi-gain distortion. Maybe I've missed something. Do you have a "for instance"?

Sep-17-2004, 4:18pm
Well the difference is obviously one has 4 strings and one has 8. Sorry had to say it. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Sep-17-2004, 4:49pm
Maybe I'm just splitting hairs too fine...:)
I think I was trying to distinguish between pristine, like an acoustic amp, and high gain distortion. There's a middle range that still sounds good with 8-strings, though you're right and I wouldn't push it too far.

I have a Gibson EM200 and a Vox Pathfinder 15R amp (solid-state, but really warm sounding). Another amp is probably my next big purchase...not sure whether to go for a modeler or find a small boutique tube amp.

Sep-17-2004, 7:12pm
I've played and made several 4 string emandos, and I made one 8 stringer just to see what all the fuss was about. It sounded shocking... which of course may be more of a reflection of my building than 8 string emandos in general! :-)

Any variation in tuning of the paired strings sounded like hell, to the point of getting a "beat" happening on the A strings if they weren't spot on. For a nice pseudo 8 string sound try playing your 4 stringer through a chorus pedal... it sounds nice (to me!).

Sep-17-2004, 7:22pm
The A strings are by far the worst, but I notice a similar if less intense effect on acoustic mandolins as well. I just think that it's worth the sometimes annoying effort necessary to keep them in total sync.

Sep-17-2004, 11:20pm
Although I have very limited experience, my teacher described the solid body 8-string as being the worst of both worlds. I've been enjoying fooling around with my 4-string Mandobird, and I don't think you can beat it for the price.

Sep-20-2004, 11:22am
JMKatcher, if you want to do yourself a way huge favor slap a set of Thomastik mediums or lights on that EM-200!
The Fender Deluxe Reverb re-issue is a fine amp. You can always use a pedal to get more gain at lower volumes. Plus the tremelo is cool.

Sep-22-2004, 8:56pm
FM 62 pictured is after all an acoustic with a soundboard pickup,add T &V pots.
Gibson Em150s are acoustics with a single coil magnetic
M'birds and em200 though solid and with mag PU #all different as can be.
Ovation and godin acoustic with bridge piezo, active pre.

One can get a mando confusion syndrome just trying out the electric varietys.

http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blues.gif they look slick, but...
the roland ready 8 string brian moore #13 pin model seems a challenge as #tuning unisons on the same pickup would be a real chore, and GK synths hate #the slightest off pitch signal with just one string per. and the cutoff is at G,[e] 15 fret for programmed signal.

Sep-22-2004, 9:01pm
(Just noticed the posting...)

I've been pretty happy with the J67s that I've been using, even if the EM200 does like to eat D strings. I've also been looking at amps intently, especially the Deluxe Reverb. I'll have to track one down to try, but I'm pretty happy with the Vox (it has decent tremolo and spring reverb of which I only use a touch). It's _such_ a fun instrument to play, almost tempting me to learn electric guitar...

Ken Waltham
Oct-08-2004, 6:36pm
I play a 1959 EM200 through a 1969 Delux Reverb, and have had great success. It's in an REM rock type format, some Band songs, Mellencamp, etc.
It's been terrific, and I haven't experienced any of these troubles about cycling, or sounding bad.
I have never tried an old Fender mandocaster, but would be open to trying. However, I specifically picked the EM200 for the regular mandolin stringing. ie double courses.

Oct-08-2004, 6:43pm
I just purchased a Peavey Delta Blues tube amp and find I like the EM200 sound even better (than on the transistor amp). Even distortion sounds good now.

Oct-11-2004, 11:55pm
I took my old Fender acoustic/elec and stripped it down to 4 strings, and used the Thomastik Heavies, plugged it through a rp2000 digitech, cranked on some comp, gain,reverb,delay,envelope filter, wah pedal, and sent it through my Fender Blues deluxe tweed tube amp....mind boggling how easy it is to play...I just stay away fromn the E string cause it can get a lil tinny sounding