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Thread: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

  1. #26
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    I'll try to find time to take a look at the six FM60Es currently sitting in the barn, as well as archive photos, and see if I can discern anything useful about when truss rods appeared.

    First two digits of the serial number are the production year, if I'm not mistaken. Most of them made between 1999 and 2001.

    The best-sounding FM60Es I've come across have something in common: they had replacement pickups.

    I agree with Kenny that the flatwounds make a difference.
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Thanks, Martin.

    In the meantime, I successfully scored a Mando-Strat reissue from eBay for a smidge under 300 -- not too shabs. Unfortunately, I won't have it before NYC gets hit with a blizzard tonight, but I'm stoked to check it out.

    So, I wound up with a 4-stringer after all. This'll help me determine whether or not a snazzy jazzy 5-string is in my future.
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    That's a decent instrument to start off with, digitalshrub. It will give you a great idea if electric is the way you want to go or not without breaking the bank. I'm still messing around with the Fender fm60e and undecided if I want to upgrade it or let it go toward a custom piece from one of the small builders her on the cafe. Good luck to you. Ken

  5. #29
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Congrats on the score. FWIW, the stock bridge on those are underwhelming. Andrew Jerman, a builder and cafe member, used to have replacement bridges available for the mando strats at one time. It's worth asking him! NFI on my part, just a fan of Andrew and his work. That said, have fun building your rig!


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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Greenspoon View Post
    Congrats on the score. FWIW, the stock bridge on those are underwhelming. Andrew Jerman, a builder and cafe member, used to have replacement bridges available for the mando strats at one time. It's worth asking him! NFI on my part, just a fan of Andrew and his work. That said, have fun building your rig!
    Thanks, Dave! Indeed, in my scouring of old threads on here, I gathered that the bridges on these reissues (and the originals) leave quite a bit to be desired. In fact, I imagine I would have eventually picked y'all's brains about upgrading...so thanks for mentioning Mr. Jerman, I'll be sure to reach out to him!
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny A View Post
    I'm still messing around with the Fender fm60e and undecided if I want to upgrade it or let it go toward a custom piece from one of the small builders her on the cafe. Good luck to you. Ken
    I'll be interested to hear how that shakes out for you, Ken. I've upgraded the pickups in almost every electric guitar I've owned (the notable exceptions being the aforementioned Gibson Marauder with those crazy Bill Lawrence pups, and my Baja Telecaster), and it felt like an improvement each time. Emando tone -- perhaps by virtue of there being fewer players and fewer examples in popular music -- seems to be a more elusive thing, with fewer "rules" or "norms", and therefore less consensus about how to improve pickup tone. At any rate, I'm looking forward to messing around with my Mando-Strat when it comes in, and further geeking out with you guys about the virtues of various 5-string builders (those J.L. Smith models are starting to tempt me...).
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  9. #32
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Penta Systems P5, Steve Ryder slimmed down the baseball bat like neck, to be more like his 5 strings,

    then replaced the 5 bridge pieces with RMC piezo divided pickups and a 2nd jack to hook up to guitar synths..

    I liked my CGDA 4 string.. found the Roland guitar synth has nothing above the highest note on an electric guitar,

    Which is not that far up on the E string on a Mandolin.. (i expect adding a piano synth will go higher )




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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Penta Systems P5, Steve Ryder slimmed down the baseball bat like neck, to be more like his 5 strings,

    then replaced the 5 bridge pieces with RMC piezo divided pickups and a 2nd jack to hook up to guitar synths..

    That sounds pretty wild, mandroid. I like the look of some of those Ryders, esp because they don't resemble toy guitars. Doubt I'd have much use for MIDI application and such, but it is nice to see an emando maker who's forging new technological territory.

    My Mando-strat/caster is scheduled for delivery tomorrow, I'll be sure to report on our honeymoon.
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  11. #34
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    Smile Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    The dual source is 'useful' too.. Bridge & Magnetic, the builder put 29 frets in the neck

    so only room for 1 5 pole pickup

    piezo pieces in the bridge are another pickup.

    "Useful" in someones hands I mostly play my acoustic with other people in community Jam circles ..


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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Hey all -- got my Mando-Strat in the mail last night. Proceeded to play it till I fell asleep with it on the couch, so I guess that's a good sign.

    I have a few predictable quibbles with it, but I think I may just start a new thread to increase potential feedback from y'all. Seems like most of the Mando-Strat/'caster threads are from a couple years ago, so maybe revisiting the subject won't be met with too many "but there are so many Mandocaster threads already!" responses.

    Thanks all!
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  13. #36

    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Love my Mandostrat reissue.
    Got the moongazermusic.com 4 saddle bridge.

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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    I thought I would give the op, digitalshrub, an update on the Fender FM60e I've been fussing with for the last month or so, fwiw. I ordered a set of bridge saddles off eBay for the for the princely sum of $3.56, airmail shipping included from China. (go figure. I couldn't ship a box across the street for $3.56 much less actually include something inside the box.). Anyhow, I digress. The new saddles, with slight modification solved the string height issue. The strings could now lay right down on the fretboard if so desired. It's much more enjoyable to play with the lower action. Some of the tinny twang disappeared as the new strings settled in and with the addition ff a compressor sustainer pedal the tone seemed to improve. I got a price from Steve Ryder to build two new pickups for $150 dollars, shipping included but am holding off with that mod until I give it time for the new sound to grow on me or not. I give it more playing time each day now (about 2 hours a day) with an equal amount of time on the BlueStar. I will probably keep the instrument for now and, who knows, it may end up as my go to instrument. At 70 change don't come easy! Hope your enjoying the new Mandostrat, digitalshrub. Good luck to you. Ken

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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Kenny, glad to hear your FM60e has been working out well with those mods. What kind of replacement saddles/bridge did you order?

    Unfortunately, the replacement bridge I ordered from Moongazer got lost in the mail, and I doubt I'll spend another 60 bucks to get another one.

    I've been working out of town for a few weeks, and playing my Mandostrat thru a little Vox AC4TV that I shipped to my hotel. The instrument has grown on me quite a bit (at least its clean tone), though the intonation issues that start around the 10th fret (and on the open A string) keep it from being giggable without further setup work.
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    The saddles were standard guitar string saddles. I opted not to modify the originals just in case I screwed something up.

    For what it's worth, digitalshrub, I had the same intonation problem on my fender Mandostrat and when I sent it out for a setup, the luthier merely replaced the original barrels with offset ones similar to what is used on a telecaster, I believe. In any case, it solved the problem with basically no cost. I still have the original bridge with just a slight mod.

    I picked up a little Vox AC30 to use with my electrics when using an an amp isn't' feasible. It's used with headphones. It has reverb, chorus and delay built into it. It really sounds fantastic!

    Too bad about the loss of the bridge. Too bad the shipper didn't opt for tracking. Good luck to you, my friend. Ken

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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Kenny, that's funny that you mention the Vox AC30 Amplug, I've been considering getting one of those. How is the clean tone on it? I was concerned that despite all those effects, it might only have a rock sound. Vox is supposedly releasing several new Amplugs this spring, including one specifically called 'Clean' so I was thinking of holding out till then.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    I suspect the market numbers are biggest on rock guitar.. & they want distortion...




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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    The VoxAC30 is a nice clean sound with no distortion. The effects can be added to the clean sound. Ken

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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    I have 2 of the older ones - the Lead and Twin. I tried most of them and settled on these.

    The Lead has a nice delay and absolutely gobs of gain but it cleans up really nicely. This is my fave with my FM60E. I liked the Satriani high-gain model as well, but there's still noise in the signal even when on low gain settings. I went with the Lead since it has almost as much gain/tone and no noise.

    The Twin has a name reminiscent of the Fender Twin but it is actually meant to be like the Roland Jazz Chorus the jazz folks love. It has a cool chorus effect and about as much gain as the AC30 model, IIRC. It also cleans up nicely. I like this one with my jazz guitars and bass.

    I know Vox has some new models, which I can't speak to, but I highly recommend the ones I've got. I use rechargeable batteries - I have a few sets that I rotate through a set of Sennheiser wireless headphones for it's charging station. Since its always on, batteries are always charged right up when needed.
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Good to know, Verne and Kenny! Sounds like I'd better demo a bunch of Amplugs in person with my Mandocaster. My main axe these days is a Tele with a recessed input jack, which I've heard doesn't work with the Amplugs, so I'll have to test that hearsay as well. I do (pretend to) play a lot of jazz lately, so maybe that Twin is a good match.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Soldering up a jack and plug .. to plug into that recessed input jack plate is pretty simple.


    Then an Innie is turned into an Outie..



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    Default Re: Flirting with the 5-string mandolin (again)

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Soldering up a jack and plug .. to plug into that recessed input jack plate is pretty simple.


    Then an Innie is turned into an Outie..
    I ended up getting the AC30 version of the Vox Amplug yesterday. Works great with the Mandocaster, and just fine with the Tele too, in spite of the recessed input jack.

    Doubt I'll use the effects much, but reverb is nice to have. Thanks for your input, everyone!
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