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Thread: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

  1. #51
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    ALBERT COLLINS playing his 6-string electric "mando"
    (Capoed) Scale lengths (approximate) measured off a strat neck


    11th fret = 13.5" (mandolin)

    9th fret = 15" (Gibson mandola)


    7th fret = 17" (longer scale mandola)

    5th fret = 19" (standard mini-guitar scale)

    But I'm not going to convince anyone who has made their mind up.

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  3. #52
    Emando lover David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Neck width? String spacing? It's the little things that count. All together.

    And to be fair, I don't know mandolas.(i know what they are but I've never played one)

  4. #53

    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I wonder if I had purchased an eight string electric if the tremolo would sound better, and I think it would.

    Double stop tremolo sounds ok, well a little lame with this particular amp setting.

    But again tremolo is not really necessary with so much sustain.
    I don't really think tremolo has much place on an electric amplified instrument unless you're doing the intro to wipeout. It suits the acoustic mandolin, not electric. BUT, the outro solo to comfortably numb sounds much better on an emando than an acoustic.
    Last edited by bayAreaDude; Apr-27-2015 at 6:19pm.

  5. #54

    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    But bluegrass licks on an electric into an amp, especially with some distortion..... sorry, it's an awful sound to my ear (imo).
    I agree bluegrass licks are awful to hear

  6. #55
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Neck width:..... there are narrow necks, wider necks and extra-wide (Radim Zenkl) necks
    (I personally like the slightly wider pre-truss width of my Gibson 1919A a lit bit more than the trussrod F4, but I can play either.

    which helps you get your preference for.....

    String spacing:.... your repairman can adjust this to your taste with a new recut nut. closely spaced courses, wider spaced (if you want to do a lot of string splitting)

    You forgot fretwire thickness/height. (I like Stew-mac banjo wire on my acoustic mandos, but I'll play ones that have guitar wire. Not that big an issue for me. Don't like those teeny original old Gibson mando frets....and the wear down way yoo fast too.)

    There's variety of neck widths and contours in both acoustic and electric guitars too. You can't tell me there isn't a noticeable difference between the feel of a Les Paul, a Tele and Strat.

    Of course, there's an overly pervasive one-neck-size/width fits all attitude in the mando realm which ignores the player's finger length and width/thickness. (Size 9....it's good enough for the politburo, so it's good enough for you.)

    Instruments are like shoes.... you need to find the ones that feet your feet (hands)

  7. #56

    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Just to demonstrate what I mean: at 1:58 I play some tremoloed doublestops on my Kentucky 4-string solidbody electric. Maybe not as smooth as on an 8-string but OK to my ear. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-GcCrOL8gA
    I treat my e-mando like an electric jazz guitar player treats his electric archtop: no distortion, no effects (with the exception of some reverb), no string bending.

  8. #57
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by bayAreaDude View Post
    I don't really think tremolo has much place on an electric amplified instrument.
    I am coming to much the same conclusion.
    Fill your boots, man!

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
    Just to demonstrate what I mean: at 1:58 I play some tremoloed doublestops on my Kentucky 4-string solidbody electric. Maybe not as smooth as on an 8-string but OK to my ear.
    Sounds great. I do a lot of tremolo double stops on acoustic. They are more problematic on electric.

    no distortion, no effects (with the exception of some reverb), no string bending.;
    I may end up there, out of frustration. But I still want to at least try all the angry stuff, if only to see what it does.

    It would help if I were angry I suppose.
    Fill your boots, man!

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  10. #59

    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    But I still want to at least try all the angry stuff, if only to see what it does.
    I put that episode behind me some years ago on my Squier Stratocaster. But I agree: almost everyone seems to have to go through a sound -experimentation phase.To check out the seemingly unlimited possibities. I wish you a lot of fun with yours.

  11. #60
    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Nice pics of the Ice Man. Albert Collins is one of those players whose tone is instantly recognizable...could be the different tension on those strings due to the capo? Or most likely the man himself. His album Truckin' is great....as is his later stuff.

    Other guitar player's I can pick out:

    Garcia
    Willie Nelson
    Santana
    Knopfler
    B.B.
    Muddy

    Mandolin players:
    Dawg
    Monroe
    Compton
    Bush

  12. #61
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
    I put that episode behind me some years ago on my Squier Stratocaster. But I agree: almost everyone seems to have to go through a sound -experimentation phase.To check out the seemingly unlimited possibities. I wish you a lot of fun with yours.
    I suspect its a "phase" as well.

    It may be that this whole electric thing is just a passing phase as well. I am not sure. I had my acoustic out yesterday and I felt like I was back in control. It felt good that everything I needed to control was already in my hands.

    We'll see. Its a lot of fun.
    Fill your boots, man!

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  13. #62

    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    I have a fender 5 string......I have played it off and on. The sound we are after, is better played on a guitar...the electronic stuff available out there is designed for a guitar. I use my acoustic mando(Bulldog)now, it sounds like a mando, but in order to play with others in a band situation, I was forced to amplify. The horrible penetrating squeal, soon led me down the path of reducing the treble, increasing the base control....I now use a stick on piezo pickup(placed at the top of the saddle...an Ibanez base amp...and just one effects pedal..a boss frv-1 reverb. It has taken years to get to this point.

  14. #63
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    I have always thought that what an electric guitar could do was make internal things explicit. So where you may not be sad or angry or frustrated enough to show it on the outside, the electric guitar could show your inside outside.

    I am finding a niche for my electric mandolin in much the same place. Lots of real great old time tunes become anthems when played electric. The trauma and pathos and hard times that are hinted at in a great old time tune is made explicit and underlined when electric.

    I am taking the fiddle tune "Whiteface" and slowing it down and playing it on my electric, and I played it for some folks, a mix of musicians and non musicians, and it was a real head turner. Really got under folks radar right to their hearts.

    It was as if I just stood by and watched the awesome power of a great tune and an electric mandolin.

    Not very guitar like at all, in its sound.
    Fill your boots, man!

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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    I tend to play 2 string chords, mainly the 3rd and 7th notes of the chord.
    Maybe with a moving line against a held note.
    Not a steady 2 or 4 beat sound or chop. That's for the guitarist to do.
    Its helpful to find recordings of 2 guitarists playing rhythm
    in your style of interest. One is probably playing rhythmic fills or figures.
    That's the electric mandolin part. [Playing the main rhythm part is Niles
    Hokkanen territory.] I found it helpful to think of the instrument as a
    guitar. The sound of strings through an amp is the language of electric
    guitar. Guitaristic sounds blend better in styles based on guitar. This is
    a problem with 85 years of solutions. I was unprepared by how difficult
    it was to play R&B etc at jam sessions. Using mandolinistic elements later
    can be interesting and unique. Side note--playing Dixieland Jazz was
    a similar problem. As a swing player, I thought I could improvise a line
    in a polyphonic improv. section on violin. No sir! There's a right way and
    a lot of wrong ways. It generally clashed and sounded bad, even with open
    ears and a whole lot of empathy on my part :^)
    Last edited by Joel Glassman; Jul-15-2015 at 8:19am.

  16. #65
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Not very guitar like at all, in its sound.
    I should correct that. A friend brought over his electric guitar, and note for note there is not much difference. Small differences. What is distinctly not guitar like is the way I play, the notes and double stops I reach for and the intervals I use. Where I go and what I do. Very mandolinny.
    Fill your boots, man!

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  17. #66

    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    What is distinctly not guitar like is the way I play, the notes and double stops I reach for and the intervals I use. Where I go and what I do. Very mandolinny.
    Exactly as it should be Jeff. There may be some cross overs to electric guitar technique, especially with 4 and 5 string mandolins, but with an 8 string electric mandolin you're forced to think and play very "mandolinny". I think that using tremolo in this situation is perfectly valid but as always, let your taste be your guide. Yesterday at our weekly jam we (plugged in Martin CEO7, Telecaster, electric 8 string and electronic drums) played "Pancho and Lefty" and I can't imagine it without tremolo.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    Last edited by lenf12; Oct-25-2015 at 10:48am.

  18. #67
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Brushing off this thread. I have explored the sonic landscape of electric mandolin and determined that I need help. All I am able to do is happen upon cool stuff and write down the settings. I don't know what I am doing or how I am getting to cool stuff, and I don't know what to change to make something lame into something cool. Its purely hit or miss, or do something that worked before.

    This is no way for me to learn.

    I am thinking to get an electric guitar teacher to walk me through things. Use this to get that, use that and this to get here. I want to be able to hear a particular sound - an electric guitar solo, a specific riff, and be able to put the right stuff together to get that tone.

    The French band Malicorn is one of my models.

    The exploration is done, I need some structure, some pathways in the desert.
    Fill your boots, man!

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  19. #68

    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    I know exactly how you feel.
    I have a multi effects pedal which I manage to make worse most of the time when editing settings.
    Youtube would seem to be the place to find this info but sorting through the dross make it tedious.

  20. #69

    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    It may be time to simplify everything, strip it back down to just the essential. Go back to a "clean" sound with just the electric mandolin and the amplifier, perhaps a bit of reverb to sweeten things up and a "dirty" sound with either a distortion pedal or natural overdrive from the amp. The soundscape can get very complicated with so many pedals available and sonic directions you can take, it'll make your brain hurt. The guitarist I play with must have 10 or 12 pedals he uses all the time and he must think I'm not smart enough to want as many choices. Personally, I want clean and dirty and as few pieces of hardware as it takes to get those choices. My mandolin goes into an ART pre-amp to boost the signal and straight into a Fender silver faced Vibro Champ with a bit of reverb and a splash of vibrato. When I want dirty, I turn up the volume on the mandolin. Simple to a fault but satisfies my needs.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    How do you deal with the delay?

    When I play an acoustic the sound is immediate. When I play my electric and I pick, the amplified sound delays ever so slightly the acoustic sound (the sound the emando makes when unplugged.) It is infuriating. I suppose I should just get used to the delay and listen only to the amplified sound. That is, of course, all that anyone outside of five feet away from me will hear. But the instrument is right under me and the net effect of hearing both the acoustic sound and the electric sound an instant later is getting my timing off. Especially on faster pieces.

    To be clear, this is not a delay effect or a reverb effect. No matter what setting, the sound out of the amp comes a moment after I pick, not when I pick.

    Is this just something you get used to after a while.
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  22. #71
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    I am guessing your modeling amp is the culprit. Simple amplification does not cause delay. Dedicated signal processing can be fast but is likely to be sluggish if older design or not professional-grade.

    You may be very good at hearing latency even in a fast system, so maybe it's time to look at a different amp. The basics of overdrive and reverb/echo can be achieved without any major digital activity. I prefer to keep everything discrete--separate overdrive pedal, reverb pedal, amp head, speaker cabinet.
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  24. #72
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    You may be very good at hearing latency even in a fast system, so maybe it's time to look at a different amp. The basics of overdrive and reverb/echo can be achieved without any major digital activity. I prefer to keep everything discrete--separate overdrive pedal, reverb pedal, amp head, speaker cabinet.
    Interesting. So I should bring my emando to the store and try out a lot of amps and compare the delay I hear. Or are you saying it will likely be a characteristic of most of the modeling amps I try, and I should go to an amp amp, and see how that goes?

    Lots to learn.
    Fill your boots, man!

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  25. #73
    Emando lover David Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Interesting. So I should bring my emando to the store and try out a lot of amps and compare the delay I hear. Or are you saying it will likely be a characteristic of most of the modeling amps I try, and I should go to an amp amp, and see how that goes? Lots to learn.
    Simple is best. Multi effects and modelling amps I find complex. I suggest buying an overdrive, a delay and a compressor or a chorus.

    Boss is the one I recommend and all of those (the blues driver) the super chorus and the Cs 3 and the dd7 delay are the ones I use.

    Then experiment with each pedal separately.
    I'll be back for using delay.
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  26. #74
    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    I'm all for going simple -- I figure that most audiences haven't heard an electric mandolin, and want to know what it sounds like unadorned.

    That said, it's electric, and the amplification of it is half of the tonal picture. When I finally realized that, if I plugged into an amp and it sounded boring, then something at the basic level was wrong -- Hendrix, Stevie Ray, Clapton, Richards, they just plug a guitar into an amp and it sounds great -- I spent years (and $$!) trying to find a mando-amp-speaker combo that would be able to sound amazing just by itself. One of the things I eventually learned was to use the right size amp for the gig -- a 15-watt amp on 10 sounds better than a 50-watt amp that's using a master volume to control the distortion/volume ratio ('cuz power tube breakup produces a really lovely warm sound), and way better than cleanly-amplified pedals that are trying to imitate overdriven amplifiers.

    Before I made the big Philly-to-Chile move a couple of years ago, I sold off most of the results of my searches, and winnowed it down to two setups: a Jule Potter-modded Orange Tiny Terror with a Mercury Magnetics output transformer into a Celestion Blue, and a Dr Z Carmen Ghia with (maybe) some of the same mods (I'd have to ask Jule), the same MM transformer, and the same speaker. (The Mercury Magnetics kit comes with a power transformer, but I didn't use them 'cuz I had Jule put in voltage-switchable power transformers, and anyways, he says that the power transformer doesn't really affect the tone.) The Tiny Terror's my go-to rig, but the Dr Z is way-cool too -- I bought just the head and made a combo that's a lot smaller and lighter than theirs. (I also have the philosophy that a small-as-possible cabinet works just fine -- I'm not producing much low end, so the cabinet isn't really affecting the sound much.) I can't say enough about those Celestion Blues -- replacing the driver(s) in any cab/combo with one of 'em would be the single most significant upgrade you could make.

    So, I have a 15-watt rig with some control (it can be switched to 7-watts, and it has a master volume) and an 18-watt rig. If I need more power than either supplies, I run the mando through a Lehle P-Split II into both of 'em.

    The Tiny Terror, at the right settings, will produce a lovely clean sound at "rhythm" levels, and a lovely tube-breakup distorted sound at "lead" levels -- I don't need to touch anything. If all conditions are really perfect (which is kinda rare), I've been lucky enough to surf that edge where I don't even use the instrument's volume knob -- the dynamics of my playing are enough to deliver both the clean and distorted tones.

    (I do have a Fulltone Fat Boost which I rarely use, but it does the job when needed, and it has some eq in it which is handy -- I can roll off the highs for solos.)

    What's my point? Don't use pedals for tone -- find an amp that has the tone(s) that you're looking for. When you've got that going, then ya, if you're into it, add some compression/delay/wacko effects and have some fun, but don't waste your time and money on pedals in an effort to get a good overdriven-tubes sound -- get a good little tube amp and make it work hard. You'll get better results, and you'll have more mojo too.

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  28. #75
    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Mandolin Tips and Tricks

    I should add to the above: Before you do everything else, make sure that you're satisfied with your mando's sound. Listen to it, on headphones, through the most uncolored-sounding setup you have available, like a mixing desk, your stereo, or your computer's soundcard. If it ain't doin' it for you, upgrade your pickup(s), or, well, get a better instrument.

    (An extreme example: While on tour in Nashville, I accompanied my guitarist on a Telecaster-hunting expedition. His first step was to try out a few "unplugged", to see how they sounded acoustically. )

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