View Full Version : Blaster vs. Bird

Nov-15-2004, 11:19am

Thinking about jumping into electric mando and I am curious as to the degree of difference between the Mandobird and the Mando Blaster. I come from eletric guitar, so I know that sometimes there is not a whole lot of difference between two extreme price points other than finish and possibly eletronics. For example my Mexican Fat Strat plays better and sounds better than the American version (it has an awesome set-up and I replaced the pick-ups...still cost much less than the American version, though I know it does not hold it's resell value).
Just wondering if the price difference between the Bird and Blaster indicates a superior instrument or if it is just a cooler look with more finishes available...
Thanks for your help

Ted Eschliman
Nov-15-2004, 11:33am
Apples & Oranges; probably your biggest concern is availability. (We haven't seen a new mandobird shipped to my stores in seven months, and even that order was 11 months old...) Everytime I ask Epiphone about what they anticipate, they just roll there eyes (yeah, I can hear that over the phone...)
I own a Mandobird & love it. Supercharged a bit, I replaced the pickup with a Seymore Duncan P-bass (thanks John Walser) and warmed up up even more. Though it's not a Schwabb or Earnest, it's a great deal at its price point.
I had a brief chance to play a 'blaster, and this is also a good choice in it's price point. It's a little more guitarlike than the 'bird.
I also think the new Kentucky solidbody is a good third choice. Streetpriced $40 or 50 more than the M'bird, if you can get your hands on one, it's worth the price of admission. It's a little heavier in the body, perhaps louder, but that all depends on your amp.

Nov-15-2004, 2:00pm

How did I figure you'd jump in here...tee hee...thanks for the advice...MF seems to think they'll have some mandobirds in before Christmas or is that just wishful thinking on their part? I'm actually kicking myself for not buying the one I saw in the classified here...How much routing did you have to do to get the pbass pick-up in there?

Nov-15-2004, 2:06pm
Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, CA had a Mandobird when I was in there last month.

Ted Eschliman
Nov-15-2004, 2:51pm
How much routing did you have to do to get the pbass pick-up in there?
I had my tech do it, but I think there was no routing. He finished it in all of 15 minutes (or less).
We actually have one M-Bird in my Omaha store at this moment. (Probably won't when the word gets out...) Email me offline, though; I don't like to do commerce in the Discussion Board.
As far as MF listing their ETAs, don't like to throw stones, but they have been quoting another 2-4 weeks since before Christmas of last year...
(Anybody actually bought one there?)

Nov-15-2004, 3:03pm
Ted, what is your offline email?

Nov-16-2004, 7:45am
Hi just to add my thoughts here...

The only Mandobird I've seen close up here in Oz had what looked to be a clone of the P-Bass pickup, but unfortunately I didn't think to measure it. It may have been wound differently. I guess if someone would like to measure the impedance of a Mandobird pickup and post it here we'd be able to work it out that way, and maybe some overall dimensions (width, length, length overall including the mounting tabs, and maybe even depth overall) would complete the picture.

Now for the fitting bit... P-Bass pickups aren't all the same dimensions. I ordered some for my emandos and routed a heap of bodies accordingly. When I ran out of those pickups I sourced some more of a different brand, and I discovered that the little semicircular tab on the second lot is slightly different to the first ones. Looking at a "real" Fender P-bass it seems the tab is about a third of a diameter on the Fender, whereas it's about half a diameter on the slightly different clones. The length of the "body" was also out by about 1.5mm (1/16"). Some judicious use of a little drum sanding attachment on the Dremel and 10 seconds of light filing at each end fixed the problem, but of course the bodies were already stained and finished so the reworked areas need touching up just a tiny bit.

I'd venture to say that the usual top quality makers' (DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan, EMG, etc.) pickups are probably a perfect replacement fit for the Fender pickups, whereas some of the lesser clones may show that slight variation. Either way it's not a huge issue, easily fixed by a keen handyman with judicious application of a suitable stain or maybe even some nailpolish in a suitable colour to match the body finish.

Nov-18-2004, 6:58am
Hey now! Never seen a Mandoblaster, but have picked up a Mandobird on the classifieds here just recently. While I'm used to acoustic or acoustic-electric hollow or semi-hollow body mandos, I think that the Mandobird will fill in nicely while I wait interminably for my Rono to arrive. The neck on the Mandobird seems just a bit shorter than a standard acoustic mando, which doesn't bother me at all.


Nov-19-2004, 1:16pm
I must admit I've never seen a mandobird. However I've owned both the Kentucky KM-300E and KM-400E. Neither one holds a glass of water to the BlueStar mandoblaster. If you already play guitar you might really appreciate the slightly radiused fingerboard on the 'Blaster and the slightly fatter frets. I really think the little extra money for the 'Blaster is worth it. To do yourself any better than the 'Blaster you're looking at a custom built e-mando.

Nov-19-2004, 1:37pm
I appreciate all the responses...it has been a real education...thanks

Nov-26-2004, 8:31pm
Where does all the extra cost come from in the Blaster? I see it has 5 strings; does that make that big of a difference? Is it in the pickup, finish, overall quality of the instrument? I see that the Bird doesn't have a truss rod... What's up?

Nov-28-2004, 8:46pm
Had my first chance to try the Mandobird out last night. I ran it through the Digitech GX2 and Fender Twin. It's a little monster. For electric sound, I much prefer this Mandobird to either of my eight stringers, the Godin A-8 or the Fender EM.


Nov-29-2004, 3:32pm
YellowMandolin, this mandoblaster is made for you!

Nov-29-2004, 3:52pm
The 5 string thing is kinda wierd for me, but I think the make a 4 string version somewhere.

Nov-29-2004, 10:12pm
Where does the extra cost come from in a mandoblaster? Well, they're made by hand in Michigan, they have a high quality bolt-on maple neck with a truss rod, good tuners, carbon fiber body, good pickup, low adjustable action, you know, all the quality stuff that makes an instrument do things like stay in tune, fret true, and sustain well. I'm not so thrilled with the psychedelic applique finish(mine is purple), but it's a great instrument for the price. If things ever get really bad (and they haven't on mine in 4 years of taking it to jams and bangin the hell out of it), you could remove the neck and shim it, then finish the adjusting on the truss rod. A mandobird is an okay entry instrument, but as you move up the chain, emandos (like everything else) do get better and better. Try an EM200 (that's a $2000 Gibson), or a custom job from any number of builders, and you'll feel the difference.

Dec-01-2004, 7:21pm
That yellow mandoblaster does look pretty cool. Almost as good as purple would. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif Those extra features on the mandoblaster would take it far and above the mandobird, which is still a steal IMHO at $199. I'd probably skip the eight string version. I guess I'll make do with the mandobird until that blessed day that my Rono arrives ..... finally!