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Thread: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

  1. #1
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    I知 waiting for [a href="https://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_hbma500_sb.htm?sid=197c2666ae67ec599 7f3757230f97be5"]Harley Benton MA-500 VS[/a] to be delivered.  It値l be my first electric instrument. Planning to mainly play through headphones using an iRig. 

    It it has two single coil pickups and a 3 way switch. I assume the switch allows me to have the output from either or both pickups?

    Is there anything I need to know or is it plug in and go? Can I use the same strings as on my acoustic mandolin? Newtone Phosphor Bronze.

    If I wanted to use an amplifier any recommendations for a low cost option? The objective of this instrument is to have a generally quiet instrument that doesn稚 disturb the family but may want to play it out loud from time to time. I like the idea for the 田ute factor of the [a href="https://www.gear4music.com/Guitar-and-Bass/Marshall-MS-2-Micro-Amp-White/19FO"]Marshall MS2[/a] but is that just a toy?

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    Registered User Martin Ohrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Welcome on the electric side ;-)
    Yes, the switch should indeed be a pickup selector.
    I would look out for a small tube amp, maybe also one from Thomann? Or check out ebay. Sometimes a Fender Bronco tweed amp appears, these are solid state amps, but great little things! Of course, there are many different options. I've seen people rockin' a Marshall Mini Amp, but of course these are rather toys - OTOH, that's not a bad thing to be ;-)

    Hope that helps ;-)

    After all, the most important thing to know about electrics: Once you got the instrument, you will buy amps and pedals - AAS and PAS will join in with MAS
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    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Can I use the same strings as on my acoustic mandolin? Newtone Phosphor Bronze.
    The electric pickups require a string that will create current when it passes through the magentic field created by the pickup. Bronze will generate a signal, but it will be lower and unbalanced across the strings.
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...on-an-electric
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...s-Nickel-Wound

    You need nickel or stainless steel based strings.
    Example: https://www.amazon.co.uk/DAddario-EJ.../dp/B00QZEC7A6

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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    You are in for such fun once you get to play loud. Take your time getting there and practice quietly for now. Also, learn how to do a decent setup to start off. Ask me how I know Mine is a Morgan Monroe brand but essentially the same instrument. And definitely, you will have to use strings intended for electric instruments i.e. nickel or steel strings, even if you have to make up custom sets from electric guitar strings. PB strings won't cut it sound wise with magnetic pickups. I had the pickup and control cavities shielded with copper foil and properly grounded which helps cut down on electrical noise from various sources. When you're set up to play loud, crank your amp and play some slide mandolin

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Len B.
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    Last edited by lenf12; Jun-19-2018 at 5:28pm.

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Thanks I suspected I wouldn’t be able to use the same strings. Fortunately Newtone do a nickel steel option and will make up custom sets.

    I’m pretty much expecting to have to do a setup especially at that price point but it looks simpler than on an acoustic instrument. I’ll just swap the sandpaper for a screwdriver

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    Emando lover David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Pretty much regarding set up. I love solidbodies. Check out some of the great players.

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    Emando lover David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Also line 6 make good amps for your purposes.

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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Thanks I suspected I wouldn’t be able to use the same strings. Fortunately Newtone do a nickel steel option and will make up custom sets.
    D'Addario do a nickel wound set, and their FW74 chrome flatwounds are nice for electrics too.

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    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    This is pretty important. Strings you need will not only be a nickel alloy of some kind, but ball-end. Don't buy loop-end strings, and probably gauging lighter than on your acoustic.

    Ted Eschliman
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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Thanks. Why lighter if I may ask? I already prefer a lighter gauge on my acoustic.

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    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Regarding Ted's Most Excellent Advice about ball-end strings, I find that Cafe sponsor Just Strings is an awesome company and a easy, quality source for them for my Crafter.

    The question about amps is in part a question about the sound you want. Will basic COSM (effects modeling on the amp) work for you? Are you looking to add effects via a pedal board or a multifx solution? Is connectivity likely to be important for you? Until you figure that out, take a look at the Roland Micro Cube. Note the phones jack on the back. It's around $150 or less new on the street. ;-)
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Paul Newson custom blonde SCW "Feivel", Eastman 515, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
    Boards: Acoustic Electric
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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Is there anything I need to know or is it plug in and go? Can I use the same strings as on my acoustic mandolin? Newtone Phosphor Bronze.
    With Single Coil pickups, you need magnetic strings, not phosphor bronze, although certain pickups are designed to use acoustic strings.

    Most magnetic pickups work best with a steel string:

    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...SABEgLoIfD_BwE

    http://www.juststrings.com/ghs-e250....iABEgKd8vD_BwE

    http://www.juststrings.com/dad-j67.h...SABEgLZUvD_BwE

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  22. #13
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Let me introduce Judas



    Just done a setup and spent a few minutes playing. First impressions are good but:

    • The E string is a lot quieter than the others. Seems to happen on eitehr pickup. Does that indicate a fault or do I need to adjust pickup height?
    • I'm using iRig with AmpliTube and can't get a clean sound. Some of that goes with the territory with an electric but any tips? or is there another app that I could use that might give a cleaner sound?
    Last edited by OneChordTrick; Jun-21-2018 at 9:00am.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    In terms of learning my way around the electric world, I benefited greatly by getting an modeling amp. I can digitally dial in any effect in the universe, many I didn't know much about. I have since figured out what is what and boiled it all down, but its fun to have that many options with no additional cost.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Registered User Bauzl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    In terms of learning my way around the electric world, I benefited greatly by getting an modeling amp. I can digitally dial in any effect in the universe, many I didn't know much about. I have since figured out what is what and boiled it all down, but its fun to have that many options with no additional cost.
    +1

    That said, be aware that electrics open the door for another disease besides MAS: GAS = gear acquisition syndrome...

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    Registered User Bauzl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Let me introduce Judas
    ...
    • The E string is a lot quieter than the others. Seems to happen on eitehr pickup. Does that indicate a fault or do I need to adjust pickup height?
    • I'm using iRig with AmpliTube and can't get a clean sound. Some of that goes with the territory with an electric but any tips? or is there another app that I could use that might give a cleaner sound?
    Some pickups have adjustable poles for the individual courses. This way you can fix differences in loudness. Without these poles you can still try to get the treble side of the PUs closer to the strings. Funny: on my electric mandola the unwound highest strings are the loudest and need the biggest distance. The unwounds are plain steel the others pure nickel. I got me a replacement PU from Almuse, which has these adjustable poles. (Remeber: we are now subject to GAS as well).

    I tried the iRig as well but sent it back within the 30 days money back period. It did not convince me at all. My intention was to use it as an audio interface for a Raspberry Pi with the amp simulator SW Guitarrix on it. This was never stable enough. The Raspberry is simply not designed for high enough low latency USB performance. So maybe neither the iRig nor the Pi is really to blame. Your millage with AmpliTube might be better?

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    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Thanks. Why lighter if I may ask? I already prefer a lighter gauge on my acoustic.
    The electric affords more sustain and sonic power, so thick strings can be overkill when all you have to do is twist your knob for volume. Lighter strings can give you more left finger finesse, but this could just be personal preference based on what you want out of the instrument.
    Ted Eschliman
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    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    I have a 4 string. with such, it's more like playing electric guitar which I never did so I sound like $&$&@.
    It also feels a lot different without a neck angle and strings not breaking over the bridge. I wouldn't be playing any fiddle tunes on mine for sure.

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  33. #19

    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post

    • The E string is a lot quieter than the others. Seems to happen on eitehr pickup. Does that indicate a fault or do I need to adjust pickup height?
    Welcome to the world of basic single coil pickups. I have the same issue on my Mandobird. The E in such a short course just can't create enough vibration to drive the volume like the other strings. Similar to what can happen in acoustics. I used to own a The Loar and the E strings we no match for the thick carved top and bulletproof gloss finish so they were much quieter than the A and D courses (the G's had their own issues).

    The only true remedy is to upgrade to a quality pickup with adjustable poles, which I intend to do eventually, but by raising that side of the pickup and using a good EQ you can get some semblance of balance. The tone will likely suffer though so you'll have to keep tweaking to find an acceptable middle ground.

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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom C View Post
    I have a 4 string. with such, it's more like playing electric guitar which I never did so I sound like $&$&@.
    It also feels a lot different without a neck angle and strings not breaking over the bridge. I wouldn't be playing any fiddle tunes on mine for sure.
    I play fiddle tunes and classical music on my Mandobird IV not infrequently, with lots of distortion and some reverb It's fun to play with!

    Lighter strings on these also allow you to string bend more easily, though with an 8 stringer you probably won't be doing that as much as one can on a 4 or five stringer.

    I have a Fender Mini-Mustang that's a good quiet practice amp, and I've heard some Pig Nose amps that sound pretty decent. My Roland Cube-30 has a "2 Watt" conversion button for quiet practice, but I feel like I lose a tone of tone with that feature, so I don't use it. Both of mine have quite a few modeling/effects settings and I don't play electric in public very much, so I've thus far managed to avoid PAS, but I do have one overdrive pedal I like a lot. Someday I'll get a nice tube amp, and then the pedal experimentation will begin. Someday...
    Chuck

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    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    I got so tired of the weak E on my Epi mandobird (4 string), that I set it up for and restrung it as a mandola.

    The little pick-up Epi used is really quite nice, but it is a bit weak so it needs to get pushed by good heft in the strings. And the only way to do that was to get heavier strings. (I suspect it's half a split bass pick-up without any modification!)

    My JBovier EMC-5 does not have the same problem. Jeff Cowherd used a pickup system designed to get as much out of the E string as possible. The tone is less interesting, but the amperage is better.

    :-)
    Daniel

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  39. #22
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Managed to find some time to play and adjust it today. Got the string volume better balanced but still some work to do and the A string is now lounder than the rest!

    Can’t really comment on the sound yet: the iRig is great fun for playing with the effects but I can’t get a clean sound on it. I’ve got a Traveler Guitar TGA-1A headphone amplifier arriving tomorrow which was recommended as giving a cleaner sound.

    But it does the job, which was to serve a silent practice mandolin, as I haven’t any complaints from the family. However I’ve already got upgrade plans, been looking at a new pickup already!

  40. #23
    Cr饌teur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Ahhh....the old weak E problem.........someone mentioned my pickups further up the thread so I`ll leave it there.
    Re. strings, to get a decent break angle and adjustability with those compensated bar bridges, when you come to change strings, unless you`re really lucky, shimming the neck is worthwhile (same goes for Mandobirds).....usually, the bridge is about as low as it will go.
    People say they have trouble getting the intonation right (and hunt out bridge assemblies with individual saddles but I`ve found that using D`Addario nickel wound guitar strings (bought singly) 0.010", 0.014", 0.024" and 0.036" work perfectly with this type of bridge.

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  42. #24
    Registered User Bob Visentin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    You need nickel or stainless steel based strings.

    FYI Stainless steel is no the same as steel. Stainless is not magnetic and will not work.

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    Cr饌teur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Electric - what do I need to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Visentin View Post
    You need nickel or stainless steel based strings.

    FYI Stainless steel is no the same as steel. Stainless is not magnetic and will not work.
    Wrong....a common misconception. There are quite a few types of stainless steel, the two main types being Ferritic and Austenitic. Ferritic works, Austenitic doesn`t (which is why string makers use Ferritic ..... eg. D`Addario Chromes).

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