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Thread: Review of Blue Star 5 string Mandoblaster

  1. #1
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    Default Review of Blue Star 5 string Mandoblaster

    First off, I'm not a luthier, professional musician, or technician, just an amateur with basic knowledge of setup etc. When looking for a 5 string, only two new instruments fell into my price range, the Gold Tone and the Mandoblaster, and only the Mandoblaster was sold by a reputable dealer, to my knowledge. I did purchase a Fender FM60E used from a big box retailer at a great price, however, upon receipt found the neck to be bent slightly upward where the neck joins the body making it impossible to set the intonation and string height. It was reluctantly returned for a refund, however, was sold to someone else almost immediately, though they had complete knowledge of the flaw. I still covet a J.L. Smith or Mann 5 string, but that will have to wait until I thin the herd currently hanging on my wall.

    The fit of my Mandoblaster was perfect with the finish unremarkable as expected. It has a funky top with flat black back and sides. Though it seemingly was untouched by the dealer, once tuned, intonated, and the string height was adjusted, was absolutely dead on. The nut was perfectly set up right out of the box. The low C string adjusted perfectly and sounds fine.

    The tuners are fine, operate smoothly without play and hold tune well...even the C.

    The neck is more of a D shape and is comfortable even after long periods of play. The neck finish is much like you would expect from a speed neck and feels much the same.

    The fret board is flat with normal sized frets. Setup with extremely low action, playing is effortless.

    The voice of the instrument (pickup) is very mellow, yet still clear, with no harshness. Think of it as a Mel Torme as opposed to a Steven Tyler. Bluegrass would not be its forte, however, seems well suited for jazz, classical, or contemporary. Corded pieces, especially when using the low C can take your breath away. The Fender Mandostrat is much brighter and (for lack of a better word) more nasal.

    My only major gripe is with the controls. The volume knob is easily struck by my pinky and is often reduced during play. As a result I've altered my play style which now makes switching back to my Fender Mandostrat occasionally a pain. The tone knob has only a small effect on the sound, unlike the Fender which has a great effect. The input jack is too far forward and can easily tangle with your feet, however, is easily rectified by clipping the cable to the strap pulling it away.

    As with every e mando I've tried, there was static buildup from my pinky brushing across the pick guard. I have found a solution to that, which works well, by placing a piece of clear plastic sheeting, such as you would use to protect an iPad or iPhone screen, where your finger strikes the pick guard. Not only does it stop static buildup, but it protects the surface from scratches, is nearly invisible, and is easily replaced.

    Overall I am satisfied with my purchase and it will certainly be satisfactory until I can afford my tricked out dream e mando from J.L. Smith or one of the other fine custom builders. I hope my comments are of use to someone thinking of stepping up to a 5 string.

    I welcome any additional comments or disagreements based on your own experiences.

    (I should add a disclaimer. I have no affiliation or personal or financial relationship with the Blue Star Guitar Company. These opinions do not reflect the policy of this station. Always unplug the instrument before showering or bathing. Keep out reach of angry or vindictive spouses). (Considering the experience of the late, great Bill Monroe, Gibson should consider using the last part.)

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Review of Blue Star 5 string Mandoblaster

    I failed to mention one important fact. Unlike my Mandostrat with a weak e string. All five strings seem even in strength.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Review of Blue Star 5 string Mandoblaster

    I have both a Fender Mandostrat and the Blue Star 5 string Mandoblaster. And I really like them both.

    The Blue Star set up was fine right out of the box, though as I get better I may develop some preferences. Every note sounds great, intonation is great, and the clean sound is wonderful.

    All the issues I have with the Blue Star are entirely because it is my first five course instrument, CGDAE, and it takes a bit of getting used to. The bottom ain't the bottom and the top ain't the top. Its just an adjustment. And I would have the same issues with any five course - acoustic or electric.

    So Kenny, I thought I had a weak e string on the Mandostrat also, but it turned out the problem was this: The amp I was using was an acoustic amp, used for amplifying with fidelity the input from a microphone (which it does amazingly well). I took the instrument to a music place I frequent, and they plugged it into all kinds of amps specifically made for electric guitars, and <<poof>> no e string problems. Everything just fine. I ended up buying a Fender Mustang I modelling amp, and the journey began.

    When I bought the Blue Star, I already had the amp, so I never experienced any issues with it.

    I still go back forth between the two electric mandolins, and I find each does really well.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Review of Blue Star 5 string Mandoblaster

    Thanks for your thoughts, Jeff. I've tried several amps and the weak e is evident on all of them. I think changing the pickup is my only solution. The amp I favor most is a Roland cube and I have a Roland Mobil cube for outside work. I've been playing the Blue Star for about 4 months now and never tire of that incredible unique sound it produces. I have no regrets of my purchase.

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    Default Re: Review of Blue Star 5 string Mandoblaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny A View Post
    These opinions do not reflect the policy of this station. Always unplug the instrument before showering or bathing. Keep out reach of angry or vindictive spouses).
    Bravo!
    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

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