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Thread: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

  1. #1
    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    In the latest issue of Mandolin Magazine there is an article about Mann & his electric Mandolins. In the intro McCarty lists players of electrics & acoustics. He lists Jethro with the acoustic players. If there is any player with a foot in each camp it's Jethro.

    Certainly Jethro is an acoustic player par excellence. His trademark acoustic "Red" A-5 is certainly part of his image.
    Yet, in an old Mandolin World News article Jethro claimed to be a big supporter of electric Mandolins, got one as soon as they came out, and bragged his Electric F-5 was one of the best. I can attest it was really cool. I did get to pick on it a couple of times. He used it exclusively on his "Jethro Burns Live" & the Venuti LP. He also used it on a couple of trax on the Jethro Burns LP. I saw him play it live on several occasions.

    Now there are pix of Homer & Jethro using Fenders. Jethro said was an endorsement deal. They got them free so Jethro had a couple around. He said they lost the deal because they had to do a Jimmy Dean Show & they were supposed to walk through the audience which they couldn't do with unamplified Fenders. So they used their regular axes. Fender didn't like it so their relationship went bust. That's the way I remember the story. Regardless, Jethro wasn't crazy about the Fender, not because it was electric,it was the single strings he didn't like. He said he thought it "would ruin his technique." I think there are a couple of trax on "Jazz from the Hills" where he uses the Fender.

    I know there were occasions later where he was playing his Washburn wired up instead of his Electric F-5, but I think that was as much of the endorsement issue as much as anything. That is speculation on my part. I wish he had used his regular electric on the Austin City Limits Mandolin show with Tiny and Gimble. I think the wired up Washburn sounds kinda thin. I would have liked to hear the three of them all electrified.

    Jethro, armed with his Electric F-5, was dangerous. With an acoustic, he was equally a killer.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    Which instrument do you mean by "Electric F-5"? I know he had a custom ASR solidbody electric 8-string by John Montgomery. Are you talking about that instrument, or something else?
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    It was a Gibson Electric F5. On the back of the Venuti record there is a clear shot of him holding it. Also on the back of the Jethro Burns Live, he's standing up playing it.

    I remember an old PBS Soundstage from mid-seventies(?) the Dillards were on. They did a couple of plugged in numbers and I believe Dean Webb was playing one. Before Johnny Carson retired from the Tonight Show one night he had on his old rival Joey Bishop.(Rival? hardly) Bishop was going to do some lame comedy bit with the Tonight show Band where he was going to play his Mandolin and the band would blast over him. I believe it was also an Eletric F5 but he did not have it plugged in.
    I'm really dating myself with these shows.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    Quote Originally Posted by mandopops View Post
    It was a Gibson Electric F5. On the back of the Venuti record there is a clear shot of him holding it. Also on the back of the Jethro Burns Live, he's standing up playing it.
    No such model that I'm aware of. Perhaps it was an F-12E? Or an SPF-5? Was it black, blond or sunburst?

    http://www.emando.com/builders_inactive/Gibson.htm
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    Here's the back of the Venuti record. This is an F-style instrument with an extra-long tailpiece. Is it the one you're talking about?

    There certainly doesn't appear to be a P-90 on this instrument, so whatever pickup it had must have been after-market, I would think. Does anyone know?

    The SPF-5s are from the '30s; the F-12Es are from the '50s, and if Gibson ever did another F-style hollow-body electric with a factory pickup, I sure as heck don't know about it. The instrument pictured here is from the late '60s or the '70s, methinks. The Gibson experts should be able to get closer on the date.

    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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    In The Van Ben Milne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    I was also intrigued by this and did a little googling but couldn't really find much...
    I found a Gruhn listing for the F5 with elongated TP though it clearly shows no mag PU.

    Also Martin - you could upgrade your F-paul listing to include the 8 string version sold a few months back.
    Hereby & forthwith, any instrument with an odd number of strings shall be considered broken. With regard to mix levels, usually the best approach is treating the mandolin the same as a cowbell.

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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    Yea, that's the one. It was a Sunburst. Exactly the number on it(How about an EM-F5 Jethro), I dunno. Jethro called it an Electric F5. As I remember the pick-up was a mini humbuccker. Perhaps it was a custom or proto- type. None-the-less, it was an Electric in a F5 style & Jethro loved it.
    I brought it up as far as the article refering to him as acoustic player. He obviously was fine w/ going Electric too. I remember seeing him a few times with his Jazz combo w/ Bob Hoban on keyboards. He had his electric plugged into a Fender amp (Twin Reverb?). He was jamming above it all. I just loved it.

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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    One more bit if this helps to clarify the Model. I went and pulled out my Jethro mando-method books. There are a couple of pix with him holding an F5 Gibson.

    It's hard to tell if it's the Electric because his arm is across the instrument, but you can read on the truss rod cover it says "Custom". That part I vaguely recall. It would make sense, if it was not a standard model.It looks darker in the photo, but that could be the shadows.
    One of the photos is w/ Homer, so that would help dating it. They are in a dressing room warming-up possibly. They may not be plugged in. Homer's is an Gibson electric Arch-top, so I'm sure Jethro's Mandolin was his electric.

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    Registered User Jailboogie300's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    Jethro with fender Electric mandolin 4 string

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    As I recall; 'Old Red' was an F5 neck(scrolled headstock details) on a 2 point oval hole body.



    But he had a long career so a number of different mandolins over the decades of time.




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    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    Then there's the electric two point that Sam Bush now owns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_0sdCPRwKE
    "it's not in bad taste, if it's funny" - john waters

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  13. #12
    Registered User Jailboogie300's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    I think this mandolin here.

  14. #13
    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    Quote Originally Posted by Jailboogie300 View Post
    I think this mandolin here.
    What's the story with this? I can't make out the text of the letter, or the detail of the pictures. Was this Jethro's?
    "it's not in bad taste, if it's funny" - john waters

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    Default Re: Jethro Electric vs Acoustic

    The e-mando pictured above was made by a great Chicago luthier named John Montgomery. His company name was ASR, seen there on the headstock. This one, made for Jethro, I believe was a prototype. The model became known as the "Mini-Ball".

    The electric two-point that Sam has is a Gibson with F holes and a pickup installed.

    "Red" is an oval-hole A5 Florentine from '59 or '60 I think. Solid red with bindings, block inlay,headstock and other appointments similar to the F-5. Quite possibly a one of a kind, like Jethro was. Used on many famous recordings by Homer and Jethro like Playing It Straight, It Ain't Necessarily Square, also on Steve Goodman albums and the solo masterpiece "Tea for One"...

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