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Thread: Mandobird pickup upgrades

  1. #1
    Registered User Ausdoerrt's Avatar
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    Default Mandobird pickup upgrades

    Hey folks,

    I've been really getting into the Mandobird recently, but as we all know the stock pickup could be better, to put it mildly. So, as I like the look and feel of the stick itself, I thought an upgrade is in order.

    The big questions is - which one? Almuse seems to offer a whopping 4 choices, and as someone with no experience in electric guitar, I have no idea what the descriptions say. And naturally, there aren't proper demonstrations of them either.

    So, have any of you tried these? Which one would you recommend? Which sounds best? Which is easiest to install? Looking forward to yall's advice!
    Mandolins: The Loar LM-220; Lyon & Healy Special A #103; Epiphone Mandobird VIII
    Violins: 19th century German Steiner copy; NS Design WAV 4; NS Design WAV 5; Reiter Alien II 7-string
    Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/Ausdoerrt

  2. #2
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    I used the Almuse MB4-8L Mandobird upgrade when I replaced the original pu in my Mandobird VIII. There are a few other options now, like the Almuse "PhatBird" which has piqued my interest...

    The MB4-8L was a direct replacement on my 'bird, pretty easy install. I turned in the core slugs (screws) for the G, D and A and turned out the screw for the E. Also used .011's on the E's. This gives it a better balance. The original pu and string gagesgave a very weak E string.

  3. #3
    Registered User Ausdoerrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    Yeah, the weak E (and the overly strong A) is the primary reason I'm thinking of changing it. I've EQ'd the living heck out of it for the time being, but it's a half-measure for sure.

    I don't think I'd like the "PhatBird" as I want a more "folky" tone available. Thinking of going for the 'bucker, but it's almost twice the price...
    Mandolins: The Loar LM-220; Lyon & Healy Special A #103; Epiphone Mandobird VIII
    Violins: 19th century German Steiner copy; NS Design WAV 4; NS Design WAV 5; Reiter Alien II 7-string
    Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/Ausdoerrt

  4. #4
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    Mass and High Pitch are why they are so different, thin E at pitch has a small amplitude It does not vibrate very far,
    and it's the motion over the magnetic Pole that makes the electric signal..
    A of course has more steel in it.

    stringing heavier, 4, and tuning CGDA eliminating the E. is one easy Cure..

    I dont wind Pickups.. seems adding another single Pole pickup so there are 2,
    just on the E string May help.

    an adjustable pole pickup will let you bring the screw, that is magnetized, up closer to the string.
    writing about music
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  6. #5
    Créateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    My personal favourite for the Mandobird (and I`ve tried `em all obviously

    ...Vacancy for a good demonstrator!

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  8. #6
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    do you include the switch for the cts?
    Kala tenor ukulele, Mandobird, Godin A8, Dobro Mandolin, Gold Tone mandola, Gold Tone OM, S'oarsey mandocello, Gold Tone Irish tenor banjo, Gold Tone M bass, Taylor 214 CE Koa, La Patrie Concert CW, Fender Strat powered by Roland, Yamaha TRBX174 bass, Epiphone ES-339 with GK1

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    Créateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Wilson View Post
    do you include the switch for the cts?
    Not generally (although I can supply them)........some people use a push pull pot but obviously, drilling a hole is necessary for a toggle switch.

  10. #8

    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    I have four different Almuse pickups: AFM61L, FMC4, MS4, and MB4CTS. And I like the MB4CTS most. It feels most versatile with two different resistances and it is used with a push pull potentiometer. But I am not sure that I would find the MB8CTS to be the optimal solution for an 8-stringer. I mean I have not tested it.

  11. #9
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    I seem to recall a thread years back that suggested swapping out the pots is the real answer to the "weak e-string" issue. That said, I love my Almuse Aggressor that Andrew out on Stealie.


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  12. #10
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by Soundfarmer Pete View Post
    Not generally (although I can supply them)........some people use a push pull pot but obviously, drilling a hole is necessary for a toggle switch.
    I asked my music store about your pickups but they don't "carry" them. I'll send a pm
    Kala tenor ukulele, Mandobird, Godin A8, Dobro Mandolin, Gold Tone mandola, Gold Tone OM, S'oarsey mandocello, Gold Tone Irish tenor banjo, Gold Tone M bass, Taylor 214 CE Koa, La Patrie Concert CW, Fender Strat powered by Roland, Yamaha TRBX174 bass, Epiphone ES-339 with GK1

  13. #11
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    I just ordered a cts and push pull pot. I will let you know how that goes. I will do a before and after video
    Kala tenor ukulele, Mandobird, Godin A8, Dobro Mandolin, Gold Tone mandola, Gold Tone OM, S'oarsey mandocello, Gold Tone Irish tenor banjo, Gold Tone M bass, Taylor 214 CE Koa, La Patrie Concert CW, Fender Strat powered by Roland, Yamaha TRBX174 bass, Epiphone ES-339 with GK1

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  15. #12
    Registered User Ausdoerrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by Soundfarmer Pete View Post
    My personal favourite for the Mandobird (and I`ve tried `em all obviously

    ...Vacancy for a good demonstrator!
    Nice vid, thanks! (I sort of forgot about this thread, ugh, sorry!)

    How does the humbucker compare? I generally like the sound in your vid, but I don't need the switch as I use a dedicated boost pedal. Or should I just get the single-coil MB4? I'm looking primarily for clarity and a folky sort of tone - plus a more or less even volume across 4 strings. Right now G, D are even, A is overly loud, and E is almost nonexistent...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Greenspoon View Post
    I seem to recall a thread years back that suggested swapping out the pots is the real answer to the "weak e-string" issue. That said, I love my Almuse Aggressor that Andrew out on Stealie.
    Well, I'm going to have all the electronics replaced eventually anyway, because I bought my MB used from a buy who kept it out of case in a humid area. Poor thing!
    Mandolins: The Loar LM-220; Lyon & Healy Special A #103; Epiphone Mandobird VIII
    Violins: 19th century German Steiner copy; NS Design WAV 4; NS Design WAV 5; Reiter Alien II 7-string
    Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/Ausdoerrt

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  17. #13
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    My CTS arrived today. pretty fast considering distance travelled. It is pretty hefty and looks great. Even included the allen wrench to adjust the poles. I will start taking it apart tomorrow to wire it in. If I can finish it in one night I might just take it this weekend to play. Saturday I am dong 5 hrs so the easier on hands Mandobird might help
    Kala tenor ukulele, Mandobird, Godin A8, Dobro Mandolin, Gold Tone mandola, Gold Tone OM, S'oarsey mandocello, Gold Tone Irish tenor banjo, Gold Tone M bass, Taylor 214 CE Koa, La Patrie Concert CW, Fender Strat powered by Roland, Yamaha TRBX174 bass, Epiphone ES-339 with GK1

  18. #14

    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Wilson View Post
    My CTS arrived today. pretty fast considering distance travelled. It is pretty hefty and looks great. Even included the allen wrench to adjust the poles. I will start taking it apart tomorrow to wire it in. If I can finish it in one night I might just take it this weekend to play. Saturday I am dong 5 hrs so the easier on hands Mandobird might help
    Hope you'll do a before and after video.

  19. #15
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    I'll do that. I had other stuff to get ready tonight. I booked another gig for Sunday so had to prepare. I was looking at the wiring diagrams and will have to solder a bit but it's pretty straight forward. I don't expect it to sound acoustic. I just want a less shrill sound, smoother.

    tomorrow afternoon when I get home I will hook up the little roland micro cube and do a video. I will use the same strings as these are quite new. same settings. my camera is a canon with hd quality and stereo mics
    Kala tenor ukulele, Mandobird, Godin A8, Dobro Mandolin, Gold Tone mandola, Gold Tone OM, S'oarsey mandocello, Gold Tone Irish tenor banjo, Gold Tone M bass, Taylor 214 CE Koa, La Patrie Concert CW, Fender Strat powered by Roland, Yamaha TRBX174 bass, Epiphone ES-339 with GK1

  20. #16
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    Looking forward to hearing it.
    And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

    C.S. Lewis

  21. #17
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    I wired mine up wrong. I have a friend that repairs amps and such and visited him Friday night and dropped the bird off. He's going to play around with it for a while too. This was certainly a lesson that I either need to finally replace my glasses or get the lazer surgery done. Sorry
    Kala tenor ukulele, Mandobird, Godin A8, Dobro Mandolin, Gold Tone mandola, Gold Tone OM, S'oarsey mandocello, Gold Tone Irish tenor banjo, Gold Tone M bass, Taylor 214 CE Koa, La Patrie Concert CW, Fender Strat powered by Roland, Yamaha TRBX174 bass, Epiphone ES-339 with GK1

  22. #18
    Registered User Ausdoerrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandobird pickup upgrades

    I should probably write in to say that I did finally make the transition - I ended up installing the Humbucker with parallel/series push-pull switch. It's a good sound most resembling an electric guitar and getting closer to actual mandolin with tone and volume maxxed out and some equalization done. So I'm actually quite happy with the switch, totally worth it and highly recommended to anyone playing this instrument.

    The replacement bridge is kind of hit-and-miss though - it did help lower the action to make the instrument play easier, but I must be doing sth wrong, because

    1) The spacing on the bridge and the instrument doesn't match
    2) The strings won't stay in the grooves and occasionally pop out
    3) The holes for the strings are at the bottom of the plate, so that they can actually scratch the finish
    4) The screws are in the way of the strings when you try to string the instrument

    Not sure whether I should just switch back to the default bridge at this point


    If any of you have any of the same experiences and/or solutions, do let me know!
    Mandolins: The Loar LM-220; Lyon & Healy Special A #103; Epiphone Mandobird VIII
    Violins: 19th century German Steiner copy; NS Design WAV 4; NS Design WAV 5; Reiter Alien II 7-string
    Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/Ausdoerrt

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