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Thread: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

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    Default Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    I'm looking to move to Montreal to chill for the summer, and since I'll be traveling light I'm thinking to get an Eastwood Airline e-mandola (the run in the mid-US$300s). That way I can practice it quietly unplugged, or can team up with folks in electric groups or whatever, and it'll be slimmer and more durable than an acoustic.

    I've played mandolin and octave-mandolin before, and CGDA mandola seems a good compromise to get a darker sound but still not have a huge fret reach. Though the Airline has a long-ish scale so looks amenable to alternate re-stringings.

    Anyone have any check/hold advice before I buy it? And is there any supplier of this instrument that would be more likely to QC it than a "pull off shelf, chuck in box" general seller? Or do I just have to buy a stock one and take it to a local luthier if it needs tweaking?

    Since it's a solid-body, I'm thinking not to get a case, so I can pack it in my luggage between all the layers or clothes. Just going to pack picks, a capo and strap, a cord, and look into getting a small battery amp in Canada.

    Any last insights before I go through with this?

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    Registered User Seter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    As far as a case for a related anecdote, in middle school/high school going to summer camp I would stuff various assorted clothes around my guitar in its case in order to be able to take a guitar and a small bag with whatever else didn't fit in the guitar case. Depending on what kind of luggage you have I'd still be considered about the neck snapping and such if it isn't in a proper case.

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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    Oh my that Airline e-mandola looks like fun... Danger danger MAS alert!
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    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    I toured with Cirque du Soleil for 14 years, I frequently had an electric mandolin or mandola in a suitcase, and never had any problems.

    I'd get the amp in the US before you go, if I were you -- it'll cost you more in Canada.

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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    I bought one a few months back from Chicago Music Company I believe it was and am very happy with it. It came very nicely set up right out of the box. I picked up a soft case case made by Cordoba for big ukes and it works great. I guess you could pack it in a suitcase but it would have to be a big one. I play mine through an old Gibson Skylark, mostly clean is how I like it. Acoustic sound like you mention is quite pleasant as well. Enjoy!

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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    Good deal, sounds like a plan then!

    And in preference to putting it on my luggage, I'll try to just carry it on as a "musical instrument exemption" since it's pretty small. And from past experience they're even more flexible when something lacks a case because they envision it getting messed-up in the baggage hold.

    As a minor segue, my favorite "instruments and luggage" story was regarding one maker (with a background in sailboats) who made polymer-bodied double-headed mridanga drums for Hare Krishnas. Since the instrument was made of two plastic shells that screw in the middle, the Krishnas would open the drum up and pack their sparse luggage inside it when traveling so as to have only one item to carry.

    Sounds like it's an inexpensive but functional instrument, though if I get one and love it I'll definitely replace the white pickguard since it looks rather tacky...

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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    Got a barely-used floor model off eBay for $300 shipped, about as good as I could hope for from shopping around. Will update folks once I get the critter.

    I would get an amp in the US, but I'm traveling light with just one duffel bag and one backpack, so unless I get a tiny battery amp and have room in my luggage, I might just have to pay Montreal prices.

    Now just gotta get some advice from a musician friend about how to find folks that want a mandola to sit in for their jams/practices and provide a layer. Also gotta get my mando chops back up, and mentally shift my chords by a fifth...

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    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    Just curious: How ya gonna get the amp back to Texas? Or are you going to leave it in Montreal?

    The best, tiniest amp, for my money, is the Orange Crush. It even has a built-in tuner!

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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewVanitas View Post
    ... I'll try to just carry it on as a "musical instrument exemption" since it's pretty small.
    Just a thought: I've flown maybe 6 times, two of them to/from Mexico, with an A-style in hard case INSIDE a 3-racket tennis bag as a carry-on ($40-$60, nicely padded & insulated w/ obvious "Head" graphics on the outside), and have never been stopped or questioned (o/t incoming US customs), even if it's several inches longer than the stated carry-on limit.

    I suspect that your solid-body could use a smaller 1-racket bag as a gig-bag, and that could be further padded w/ clothes and maybe some cardboard for stiffness. If needed, you could still revert to the musical instrument exemption.
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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    I take an electric mando when traveling. I also bring along a Vox Amplug, earbuds and a Sony SRSX5 powered speaker. If I need a bigger amp I either borrow or rent. Long and Mcquade does rentals and has a Montreal store.

    I've found some airlines don't care much if you have an instrument, they go by the number of "bags" you have. Sometimes the best I can get away with is having them agree for me to gate check it, but then I just carry on with it onto the plane and stow it before anyone sees.
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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    I packed my 22 A4 in it's Original wooden case, in amongst clothes in a big duffle bag,
    clothes provided packing padding..

    Duffle went on a back pack frame to simplify ground transport, busses and such..

    (Airport luggage crew Only handled it once at beginning and end of fairly short flight)..

    [But it was before 2001]
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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    Thanks for the good advice! Got my axe last week, and generally really pleased with it for the $300 I paid (practically new). Frets aren't too sharp (still might dress them a bit), action is decent (and quite adjustable), neck feels good. Not keen on the pickguard but that's an easy cosmetic fix if I want later.

    Big question: definitely needs new strings, as the current ones don't feel great, and the C course is rattly even tuned up to C# while the A course is really tight a A. So going to do a full re-string. I'm in Portland OR for another week, tons of music shops here. Should I order a ready-made set from emando.com or would it be just as easy to go buy single-strings from a local shop so I can make sure I get just what I want? I'm overall fine with CGDA for now, but to the degree possible it'd be cool to have enough slack to do DADA or CGCG with usable tension. Flat or round wind? Anyone have any favored gauges for an 18" scale? Some folks on the 'Zouk subforum have apparently strung these as Octave GDAE since the scale is so long.

    So I'll get this strung up decent, maybe play with the cosmetics if I do any shows, and feel it out. After a few months of this, I'll either lose interest and go back to concertina (which I do want to get back into also), but if I dig it I'll get something nicer, and have a firmer idea what scale length, tuning, a 4/5/8/10 strings I want. Though if I get a nice one, I want a more distinctively mando-esque body, either more teardrop or more florentine, but for three bills I'm pretty pleased with this Airline.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    A light set for my .4M scale mandola was 12, 22w, 32w, 44w,so for a longer scale like 18".. that may be a good start,

    maybe even 11, 20, plains.

    for magnetic pickups assemble it from electric guitar spring singles..
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    Default Re: Any advice before I buy an Eastwood Airline electric mandola?

    Going to re-string it tonight; the stock strings are crap, and overall are slack at pitch (the C course is terrible). I think I'll try re-stringing it single-string and see how that feels. I haven't played strings, other than ukulele, in a long while, and I'm having a little hand-pain after playing. Not sure if it's age/wear on me, or out of shape, the higher tension of steel/doubles, or the longer scale length. I'll try single-stringing it, and try playing it capo'ed to mando scale, to see if that feels different.

    Quality seems okay overall, from mucking around and limited playing time plugged-in. Action is really adjustable so I'll play with that. Wood is cheap but serviceable, fretwork decent, it's going out of tune more than I'd like but some of that may be string break-in. It's already got some scratches and dings since two planes made me put it in the overhead bin, but I was already resigned to that. I've been carrying it slung across my back, bard-style, and today the button screw worked loose and it dropped, dinged the peghead a bit but no structural harm, so gotta loctite that in and watch it.


    Not to jump the gun out of enthusiasm, but I used to be a big mando guy back in the 1990s but have drifted in other directions since then, but it's been a delight to fall back on the old fingerings (and I played viola a lot before that, so fifths just feel logical in my lizard-brain). I'm already thinking about what to upgrade to. Just spitballing here, but if I want something simple and functional (and durable!) with no particularly fancy materials, can I get a decent custom one made under $1000? I'm thinking 4 or 5 string solid-body electric (unless I try singles on this and hate it), and I'd like a body shape that is very non-guitar and more mando-style. But a body and head style, and a body material, that can tolerate being dinged around in travel. Is wood still my best option or is there any affordable synthetic material that would be good? And a small crazy part of me wants to go headless and give it Steinberger tuners protected by the body. I'm not trying to make a "travel mandola" where I'm compromising on size and ergonomics, just one that can tolerate being knocked around (either while traveling or playing in grimier venues).

    EDIT: yes, I'm familiar with http://www.emando.com/ and the Makers list, but open to other ideas and mentions of who's affordable/functional. Like the sadly missed Jupiter Guitars of Australia would've been a good choice, but the owner is no longer among us.

    EDIT2: Wow, Emando has a huge list. Could definitely use advice as to who builds full-custom affordably, with simple/crude/gritty being fine so long as it functions well.

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