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Thread: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

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    Default Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    I have been playing a mandobird at electrified jams for about a year. I am finding that my fretting hand goes numb part way through the jam and suspect that it has something to do with the odd shape and heavy head of the mandobird. I do not have the same problem when playing either my A or F style acoustic mandolins.

    I have been looking at the Mandocaster and wondering if it's more conventional shape might alleviate the problem. I also like the idea of the 2 pickups vs 1. I am thinking I might trade the mandobird in on a mandocaster.

    Has anyone compared the tone of the two side by side?

    Any thoughts on whether one might be better than the other tone-wise. I'm still trying to get a 'mandolin' sound, not a mini-electric guitar sound.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    So you are talking the 8 string 'Bird Viii' and the 8 string Eastwood? [...wasn't clear ]

    as to sound, If the other one feels better , you can always change the sound with a PU swap.

    {my Fender fm61 has a different pickup on it now, I recut a plate of plastic,
    to mount a strat type PU on it, and a better jack too..}

    [&/or you can always get the neck on the 'bird reprofiled to feel right, ... it's only wood]
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    John Faulkinbury Nighttrain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    I have had the same problem for years now when I play my guitars. someone told me that I was using to much pressure on the back of the neck. so far I have not had this problem when I play my mandolins. It will be interesting to see what others have to say.

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    Recipient of medication Cliff D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Hi - Regret I am unable to comment about whether or not the Eastwood headstock is more/less likely to cause numbness, & cannot offer a direct comparison, however when I joined the cafe back in March this year I floated a similar question - Alden v Mandobird (Alden is the European name of the Eastwood, & I have also seen Hutchins). I did subsequently purchase the Alden, & whilst I had to make some modifications of the bridge/tail piece with a power drill [To clean up the intonation of the G course], I have been very pleased with it, & consider it a good purchase value for money wise. Whilst there is not a huge variation in the sound between the two pups, there is some, & I prefer both together. So, if you scroll back to March in the archives (& someone may know how to create a direct link) in this same subject area, you may well find more information that will be of benefit.
    Sorry madam, but we are fresh out of bull-dogs today!

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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Thanks for the info and link-very informative. Interesting about the comments of the weak amplification of E course on Mandobird-I had the same problem but was able to fix it adequately by adjusting the height of pickup on the E side by adjusting the screw. Out of the box it had pretty good intonation after a minor setup at the retailer, Long & Mcquade.

    Re the Alden, did you find the neck a problem re comments of it being overly large and chunky? I have pretty small hands. I hope to give the Eastwood a try at a shop before buying.

    Based on the comments, guess I may save a bit longer so I can buy the Eastwood and keep the Mandobird, in case the Eastwood doesn't solve my numb hand issue.

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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Any suggestions on a reasonably inexpensive effects pedal (multi or set of singles) that one might use with an electric mando?

    I am running through a Genz Benz 150 LT acoustic amp that I use for my acoustic mando, so there is some reverb available thru the amp.

    I looked at a Behringer multi-effects pedal but was told it is plastic and may not stand up, but I liked the price compared to other options. (less than $100 Cdn) It has flanger, chorus, phaser, delay, tremolo, pitch shifter.

    I am enjoying working on blues and wonder if I should get a blues overdrive pedal to go with the multi effects.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated-I'm not techno-savvy.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Injection molded polymers are used for housing lots of stuff, hard to get away from that,
    I bought a Yamaha 'DG stomp' a number of years ago, housed in a metal case , with lots of knobs and buttons , to engage the various effects.
    It has been discontinued , its replacement has a different look and a menu to scroll thru.

    if you can take your instrument to a shop and try stuff out, it's bound to be amusing , perhaps educational.

    Boss/Roland makes good stuff, at a price to match .. higher
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    Registered User mando.player's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    I've got a Digitech RP500, they can be found new for about $250 and cheaper on ebay if you can find one.

    It sounds great and it's built like a tank. All metal construction and very easy to use. It seems that there isn't much in between the plastic and metal effects units.
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    Recipient of medication Cliff D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Hi again Annie: think you are wise to hold onto your mandobird rather than trade it in. I do not find the Alden neck too "clubby" & have a Crafter bowl back which is clubbier, but I did come to mandolin from guitar & found the narrowness of the necks easily compensated for the depth.

    If a slimline neck with easy access to higher frets is what you most covet, may I suggest the RISA viii string. RISAs are basically electric ukuleles although the design has (I believe) been adapted for a mandolin variant (I have a iv string tenor [17" scale] strung as a mandola). The Risa's are a little more pricey than the Eastwood's & the birds, but other than kits there is not a great deal on the market. I was unaware of this option when I purchased the Alden, & would urge you to consider it as a possible option, at least in your research.
    Sorry madam, but we are fresh out of bull-dogs today!

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    Recipient of medication Cliff D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Sorry to be hogging the thread, but I noticed a few other points I felt might be worthy of comment. Regarding amplification much has been said in other threads, but here goes! Amplifiers designed for use with an electric guitar are significantly different from acoustic, key-board or bass amps. So if you plug a Behringer blues overdrive into an acoustic amp you may well be knee deep in white noise & achieve the "wasp in coke-tin" tone - you may like it, but must people don't. This because guitar amps roll off the treble fairly steeply past 9000 khz (I am guessing a little over the frequency!) & a pedal designed for use with a guitar will assume the amp can "clean up". Soooooooo you either go for effects that model sound & present it cleanly to an amplifier that is designed not to colour the input signal significantly (these fx tend to be digital), or go down the guitar amp road. I'm not saying gear designed for acoustic amplification cannot be mixed with gear designed for guitar amplification, but it is that much more difficult to achieve good results by doing so. I think the little Behringer pedals are excellent value for money, but sure would not run any of them thru my bass amp!
    Sorry madam, but we are fresh out of bull-dogs today!

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    That is a consideration, open E string on mandolin is more like the 12th fretted note on a guitar.

    An amp for keyboard would have more treble range capacity

    as would acoustic gear with a 2 way speaker system, a cone speaker and a tweeter.

    When adapting a Guitar synth to mandolin , I found Roland wrote no patches above the high 15th fret G on the mandolin E string,
    I restrung the 4 strings .. 1 heavier , shifted the other 3 , detuned so as to be as mandola , CGDA.
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    Registered User mando.player's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    If an effects unit has amp/cabinet simulation, then running it through a full range/flat response amplifier should sound fine.
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Quote Originally Posted by mando.player View Post
    If an effects unit has amp/cabinet simulation, then running it through a full range/flat response amplifier should sound fine.
    I'm not sure what you mean by this. Would my Genz-benz 150 LT acoustic amp be considered a fullrange/flat response amplifier?

    I was looking at the Digitech and Zoom multi-effects pedals and noticed that most models have up to 40 different amp simulations-is that what you are referring too? (bear in mind my lack of techno-sense;-)

    Also I noticed that Zoom had something a model that referred to 'Acoustic multi-effects' would this type perhaps suit my needs better?

    I know I could ask at the shops, but always like to be pre-armed with a bit of information going in, in case the young guys in the shop see me as just another female who knows little about electronics, and may just try to sell me something that may not suit just to make the sale. (similar problem I have with car mechanics and my lack of knowledge of what's under the hood.)

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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Cliff, thanks for the tip on the RISA VIII. I will do some research on it. Also thanks for the info and tips on the blues pedal and amps. I will definitely keep the mandobird, at least for now, since it looks so pretty hanging on the wall and gets lots of positive comments at electro-jams. It sounds pretty good thru my acoustic amp, just not getting effects other than some reverb. (that's what the lead electric guitar player is for anyway-if he would just show up once in awhile)

    On another topic, in your Mar/08 posts you talked about using a slide on your Alden. I have been curious about learning to play slide mandolin and did a search on the Cafe, but did not come up with much about technique, other than some info on alternate tunings. I have a friend who invented a 'swivel slide' and he has given me a prototype. It fits on your pinky like a ring and you flip your finger to rotate the flat slide side over to slide on the strings, then flip again to flip the slide above your pinky and use your finger to fret a string. I'd love to learn how to use it.

    When you play slide mando, do you use alternate tuning or standard GDAE? If so, what tunings? Also can you refer me to any info on techniques when applying the slide to the fret board?

    thanks-much appreciate all the info.

    Annie

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    Registered User mando.player's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Most "acoustic" amps are FR/FR. I ended up going with a keyboard amp. It was just a better bang for the buck.

    A lot of this depends on the effects you want to use. If you're just looking for a little reverb or delay, then it's not going to make much difference. If you want your electric mando to sound more like an electric guitar, then using an effects unit with amp/cabinet simulation is going to accomplish that.
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    Recipient of medication Cliff D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    I'll keep this response to slide playing, if I may. Your friend's invention sounds very interesting, & if you could post a photo of it, I would be grateful (I think it might be wise to create another thread if you do so - this one is becoming a tad eclectic!). For all I know there may be books & DVDs out there on how to play slide - though I doubt any would be mandolin specific. Whilst I have a Facebook avatar of myself with the Alden on my lap & slide in hand I doubt that I will be videoing lessons for a while yet!

    I tutored myself initially on guitar & experimented with various open tunings, initially trying to master smooth chord progressions. I soon discovered that I could not do this particularly quickly, or do much over a minor chord. I subsequently acquired a lap steel & devised a tuning that suited me, gave me major & minor chords in a straight line & the most useful intervals (ie minor 3rd, major 3rd, 4th & octave) all on various pairs of adjacent strings. This then lead me to the personal discovery that pentatonic scale positions can be applied to intervals. Obviously with lap steel there is no fretting so I have not really developed any hybrid playing style, though I much admire it.

    So, before I ramble on much further I must confess that I have yet to purchase another Alden & set it up for slide, but if I did (forgive me, oh thou other cafe members!) I would probably tune it as a uke, including having the higher G on the bass side.

    I would again observe that mandolin is not the easiest instrument to start learning slide on.
    Sorry madam, but we are fresh out of bull-dogs today!

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    Handle Of Science UnityGain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Sheehy View Post
    The Mandocaster neck is chunky and uncomfortable - IMHO. Might be your style more than the Mandobird neck....
    My god, and I thought the mandobird neck was chunky and uncomfortable, I shutter to think what the mandocaster is like!
    Gotta start sometime, might as well be now...

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    Registered User Frank Russell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Get in touch with Andrew Jerman. I've owned a Mandobird and the Kentucky 300E, or whatever their newer solid body is called, and my Jerman is so much more playable, neck profile much more similar to acoustic mandolins I've owned, and it's not nearly as clunky or heavy as either of those were. He still has pretty competitive prices, even after an increase, and it's been money well spent for me. I got the mini Les Paul style. Frank
    FJ Russell


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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Quote Originally Posted by mandoannie View Post
    Any suggestions on a reasonably inexpensive effects pedal (multi or set of singles) that one might use with an electric mando?

    I am running through a Genz Benz 150 LT acoustic amp that I use for my acoustic mando, so there is some reverb available thru the amp.

    I looked at a Behringer multi-effects pedal but was told it is plastic and may not stand up, but I liked the price compared to other options. (less than $100 Cdn) It has flanger, chorus, phaser, delay, tremolo, pitch shifter.

    I am enjoying working on blues and wonder if I should get a blues overdrive pedal to go with the multi effects.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated-I'm not techno-savvy.
    For more of a mandolin sound, I'd look at the Digitech CF-7 Chorus Factory

  20. #20

    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    I own both of the mandolins in question. Eastwood is better as far as sound, comfort, durability, and intonation, however it can be a tone monster, as it's a bright little critter. Epiphone is a little nastier through the effects pedals, and isn't as painfully bright as the Eastwood can get. The Mandocaster knobs can be twisted in such a way that, even through my big, silly amp rig, I can still almost achieve an acoustic mandolin sound. The best amp for that with either of those 2 mandolins, however, isn't mine. It's my roomie/guitarist's Silvertone. Low output, but great sound. Remember, I said "almost" on the acoustic sound... I reccomend Electro Harmonix pedals, by the way. You can't go wrong with a Big Muff (NYC, not Russian) for an Eastwood or an Epi. I pump both of mine through a Big Muff, a Stereo Pulsar, and a Small stone, and into a 1968 Sunn Solarus 40 watt 2x12 combo, with a Sunn 1x15 sealed back, ported bass cab as an extension. That combination of gear gives me mando sounds when needed, guitar sounds when needed, and all-out freaky psychedelic noise when needed. I'm planning to add even more pedals and emandos to the mix, and I've put a good ol' acoustic or two through the Sunn, as well. With a long enough cable and a big enough stage, not even those will squeal. Sunns will stay clean for days, but if you want 'em dirty, they're ready to roll up their sleeves.
    Last edited by Mandophocles; Jan-25-2009 at 2:12am. Reason: Forgot something!

  21. #21
    Créateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastwood mandocaster vs Mandobird VIII

    Although I haven`t had first hand experience of the Mandobird, I have a couple of comments -
    I`ve had an Eastwood to upgrade recently and although the neck is quite chunky, with a bit of a fret dress / setup, it is quite a nice cheapie and once the action is sorted, is very enjoyable to play.
    Having said that......not quite a cheapie!
    Perhaps there are differences apart from the headstock shape but the Eastwood (£279), Alden (£199), Clearwater (£159) and last but not least Harley Benton (£107) all look as though they have come from the same CNC machine in China!
    Without wishing to deprive your local luthier of business, setting up guitar, mando etc. isn`t rocket science. Once the action is sorted, the neck shape becomes of far less concern - fingers dancing rather than clamping!

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