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Thread: "A" Bender option for electrics

  1. #1

    Default "A" Bender option for electrics

    I have had a couple of inquiries about A-Benders for my mando's. and am looking for some feedback on the subject. I am currently in the process of having one designed, and considering offering them as an option for both my 4 and 5 Stringers.
    Just wondering how many pickers would have an interest in such an animal? From my understanding, there are some well known pickers out there, who just plain have to them.
    Thanks,
    John
    www.jlsmithmandolins.com
    Last edited by jlsmandolin1952; Mar-06-2009 at 1:23pm. Reason: Mistake in wording.

  2. #2

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Someone inspired by the White Bros. article in the latest fretboard journal perhaps?

  3. #3

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Well maybe, but perhaps not?

  4. #4
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    A way of pulling on the end ball of the string was sorted out in those Stew Mac ones , any pictures of how they did it??

    having it revert to A again in some semblance of proper pitch will be a challenge..

    getting these suckers In-tune in the first place is a chore..
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  5. #5

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Here is how StewMac did it. A bit over engineered in my opinion but I guess it worked. I think the best bet is a mini Bigsby style tailpiece.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  6. #6

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    From my understanding, there have been several variations, and some have not been as sucessful, as others. Same being said for the Vibratos on guitars in the past. I don't see any huge problems, if they are built with close tolerances.

  7. #7

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    I suppose what makes the Bender more desireable, is the fact that you bend the string by pushing down on the neck, which is activated by the strap. This gives you more control with your pickin hand, and I believe that you could actually feel the phrasing a bit better in that way. I watched the Skaggs Videos on youtube.com, and it looks like he was really enjoying himself. He has a Glaser, which is one of the more sucessful benders.

  8. #8

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Andrew,
    Thanks for the pics on the Macrostie stewmac version. I have already studied that design, along with others.

  9. #9

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Quote Originally Posted by jlsmandolin1952 View Post
    Andrew,
    Thanks for the pics on the Macrostie stewmac version. I have already studied that design, along with others.

    Not a problem. I've been down this road and I'm glad someone else has taken over the trip. How about getting into the bridge business while you're at it. I'll make you a heck of a deal on my jigs.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    I'd be interested in getting a strap-button-operated one, akin to the Glaser or the old Stew-Mac. The "Bigsby"-type approach wouldn't work for me. -- Ed
    Last edited by EdSherry; Mar-06-2009 at 8:30pm.
    EdSherry

  11. #11

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Ed, I think the strap system would be fairly easy to make although it would be difficult to retro fit to an existing instrument. Since all my instruments are semi hollow, I could easily install one on a new one. I think a cable would be better than a bar.

    Actually, one of the things that makes this process so expensive and long, at least for me, is that I was never a guitarist and am not knowledgeable with the systems on the market. The quickest way to develop a system is by understanding the existing systems and how they work from an engineering and design aspect. Before I started building bridges, I ordered a bunch of hardtail bridges, same as I have done for the tun o matic bridges I am working on, so I could actually hold them in my hands and see how all the components work together. I think the best system for tremolo would be Bigsby type system, where the strings thread through a bar that rotates, integrated into a hard tail bridge. If anyone wants to send me a Bigsby system then I will make them a deal on the first one but right now my dollars are better spent elsewhere.

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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    I added a 'Hipshot' A bender to my Schwab 5 string..it works just fine. Easy and cheap.
    But I also have 2 Teles with B and G benders by Joe Glaser, another Tele with a Parsons B- bender done by Brian Friend, and a D-18 with an acoustic B-Bender done by Gene himself. All great people to deal with.
    And Bill Bores and McVey make great stuff too.
    Maybe I'm lucky, but I've never had a problem with any of 'em!

    I guess you can tell that I like Benders?

  13. #13

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Lots of interesting replies, and all greatly appreciated. RichieK's reply was very interesting to me, when he mentioned the D-18 with an A-Bender. I never knew that Acoustic (I won't say the word Guitars on the Cafe') would accept one, but there are alot of things that I don't know, and alot of things that I wish I never knew. However, I have talked to Gene Parsons, and I believe that he would be very capable of accomplishing that particular task.
    John

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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    I had Gene Parsons put an acoustic bender in a J-200jr:


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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Here's another:


  16. #16
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    mandoalaska -- What manner of K5 is that? And where oh where did you get that red Fender SB-4? That is a hen's tooth, especially outside the UK.

    I think it was Shawn Lane who told me at Wintergrass that he'd known someone with an old Mandocaster that had an A-bender installed. It was sort of a ...



























































































    Fender bender.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson Wood Thormahlen Andersen Old Wave Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Martin, it's a Mowry Octave and the Fender is a '56 I got from Gruhn some years ago. It came with refinished RED body, I didn't do it.

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    Cambridge Mandolinist Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    I saw the mandocaster and wondered about it too. Didn't think it was an SB-4 because of the angle of the pickup. SB-4's are perpendicular to the strings, which is one of the issues with the later mandocasters (SB-4, SB-8/FM-984, FM-988). I guess I just assumed it would be easier to refinish the wood than cut a new pickguard. Not sure that's true now with all these electric mandolin luthiers hanging around.

    Daniel

  19. #19
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Good catch Daniel -- the white pickguard threw me. There are enough red Mandocasters around to suggest that some of them might have come that way from the custom shop.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson Wood Thormahlen Andersen Old Wave Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  20. #20
    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    I thought the neck looked plenty aged enough to not be an SB-4/FM-984.

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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Andrew -- the "tremelo" system (whether Bigsby-based or otherwise) is, IMHO, a whole 'nother concept than a string-bender (like the original Parsons-White or many of the later variants, whether for guitar or the StewMac and Glaser versions for mandolin). A tremelo/vibrato/whammy bar affects all the strings at once; a bender system affects one string at a time, changing its pitch while keeping the other strings unchanged.

    You might be referring to the Bigsby "palm pedal" bender design, which is a palm-operated bender that retrofit onto the top of the guitar. Very different from the commonly-recognized Bigsby "tremelo" system.

    http://www.bigsbypalmpedals.com/

    (NFI.)

    As for cable vs. bar, I'm not familiar with any bender system on the market that uses a cable. If I were to hazard a guess why, I would suspect that there simply would be too much "play" in a cable-based system to ensure that it comes reliably back to pitch when the bender is released.

    RichieK -- I hadn't thought of using a Hipshot on an e-mando, but I'm sure it would work. It's just that I'm not a real fan of the Hipshot design.
    EdSherry

  22. #22

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Ed,
    My idea on the cable was that the actual bender would have a spring mechanism, similar to a take up reel, that would allow you to pull the string sharp and the strings tension would bring it back. So I guess the next question would be whether you are to bend sharp or flat?

    I also thought that if you could have a roller that ran across the back of the hardtail bridge then you could have the option of running all the strings on it or just one.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    The cable ideal makes me think of the squeeze handle to engage the drive wheels on my lawnmower. It is a heavy guage music wire in a sturdy flexible sleeve with a return spring "loaded" ar one end. It's pretty much a self contained system. Maybe something like that could be adapted.
    Last edited by Clif Wayland; Mar-10-2009 at 9:49am. Reason: unfisnished sentence

  24. #24

    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    From my understanding, all benders (not vibrato's) bend sharp, and normally 1 whole note (ie A to B) for mando.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: "A" Bender option for electrics

    Andrew -- All of the stringbender systems I'm familiar with rely on some mechanical system to raise the pitch of the string, and then rely on the combination of (a) releasing the mechanism and (b) the string tension to lower the pitch back to "normal."

    So in theory a cable could work.That said, I'm hard-pressed to envision a cable-based design that would work effectively.

    Maybe part of it is that most benders I'm aware of (the exception is the Parsons acoustic guitar version) are made to be inserted into channels routed in a solid-body instrument, rather than into a hollow-body instrument.
    EdSherry

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