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Thread: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    I need a new amp to go with my four-string Kentucky e300 with a Bill Lawrence hotrail pickup (-- yes this is more like the proverbial "little electric guitar"). I had a small Vox modeling amp but I didn't like the basic clean sound. I'm looking for more of a straight-away guitar-type amp, but I'm wondering if a small tube amp with a smaller speaker or pair is the way to go given the higher tone of a mandolin. I don't want a modeling amp with all the effects unless I can get a solid clean and crunch out each of two foot-switched channels with reverb. Too many small amps hide bad sound with layers of effects.
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  2. #2
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    There are a lot of nice, small tube amps out there, that have grown popular. Something in the 15-25 watt range will get the job done. They are voiced quite differently from one another, so the best approach is to try a range of them to find out what sound you like. There are a couple of distinct sounds from Fenders amps, clean amps that are more or less like a twin reverb, and amps more reminiscent of a fender bassman. Marshall and Vox amps (AC15/AC30) are the British flavors, and the two are quite different. Mesa has a range of different amp sounds as well. Maybe try one of the Roland JC series solid state amps, they have a classic clean sound.

    For me, there was an electric guitar sound I always heard in my head, but couldn't get. It turns out, it was a vintage marshall sound, which I would never have guessed , at least not until I plugged into a friends marshall cause nothing else was available. Not what I expected at all, the clean sound was better than I expected and the distortion was what I'd been hearing in my head all those years. These days I use a two channel mesa head (Mesa TA 15 or TA 30) that is voiced to produce that marshall sound, and a vox AC 15 type sound on the other channel, using tubes, not an emulator or digital modeling. I messed with a lot of amps to figure that out.

    Run your mando through a bunch of different styles of tube amp, then figure out the amp in that sonic group that suits your volume needs and your wallet. If you find that a fender twin is the sound you want (as an example), you can figure out what smaller amp delivers the same kinda tone, with less weight and power. Easiest way to do this is go to a well stocked music store at a slow time to day and plug into a bunch of different amps. Guitar centers tend to have a lot of different amps around, they are a kinda a resource for this kinda experimentation. I try to buy some strings or something from them on the way out, if I look at a lot of things.

    One problem you do run into is that when you play live, some of the sounds that are wonderful playing solo at home, just don't work in a live band setting. That's a tough thing to sort out.

    Have fun, go play a bunch of different amps.
    -Dave
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  4. #3
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    You don’t have more highs than an electric guitar, but you do have less low end, so a small cab is fine. (I like 6.5” woofers.)

    I played through a Quilter and was really impressed. It was a discontinued model with 8” speaker and open back. The current MicroPro is a fine amp, and Pete Martin here can talk about it.

    Otherwise, any regular guitar amp you feel like carrying will serve. whether Fender, Vox, or Mesa, etc.

    I use a custom rig, a compact bass head for light weight and high power, an overdrive pedal to trim the peaks and add a bit of sizzle, and small cabinets with neodynium-magnet woofers, again for light weight.
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  6. #4

    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    Be sure to check out the Fender Blues Junior during your search.

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  8. #5
    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    Check out a polytone mini brute, it's what I use on mine and it screams. Bought it new in the early 1980's. They can be had on Ebay.
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  10. #6
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    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    Most small amps work and sound good for mandolin, but too small and it distorts too quickly. As was previously said 15-25 watts would be great and 6.5-8" speaker is perfect.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  12. #7
    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    Thanks. I guess I have to get out there and hear a few.
    Eastman 605 and Kentucky 300e mandolins.
    Member, Long Island Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra
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    (Formerly known on the Cafe as Santiago)

  13. #8
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    The amp is big part of the sound with electrics, trying a bunch is the way to go. Good advice on the polytone and the blues jr, they are distinct voices as well.
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
    Way too many other instruments

  14. #9
    john homer
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    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    I also use a Quilter, a mini 101, with a 12 inch celestion 85 watt open back cab. I also run a few pedals and my instrument is a Fender mando strat with an up graded Almuse pick up. The cleans are out standing! All the volume you could ever need, yet you can also use head phones for practice. And it sounds very tube like to my ears, despite being class D solid state. I've gigged with it for years and my 1968 Fender Princeton reverb never even gets played anymore. It sounds like hype, until you here what it sounds like! No financial interest, I just like people to know about smart, practical, and inexpensive, gear.
    john homer

  15. #10

    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    I have a Quilter micropro 8 and absolutely love it. You can get a footswitch with it to control any of the onboard effects. It's all analog rather than digital modeling, I can't pretend to understand it, but it sounds great!

    Thanks,
    Baron
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  16. #11

    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    I wanted clean and that meant Fender clean, 6L6 or 6V6 power tubes. On guitar I used a Fender Twin Reverb (4 6L6's) for decades. It's too loud and too heavy for me to use now. I picked up a couple of 10 watt Ampex 2010 (2) 6V6 amps with 8" JBL full range speakers. These were originally paired with Ampex monaural tape recorders. I think of them as my mini Fender Twins. Cranked, I love the compressed clean. Then I discovered that the smooth and creamy distortion I always wanted but could never find, as well as the most vibrant Fender clean, was there in the 12 watt (2) 6V6 Fender Tweed Deluxe. I found one of the many clones used for $525, the most I've ever paid for an amp. (the twin was bought in the 70's) All of the amps which I love for electric guitar I also love for electric mandolin.
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  17. #12
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need an Amp for my solid-body four-string electric mandolin

    My recommendation is for an amp that easily moves between a lead and clean sound. A built in boost on the lead makes it all the better. A good reverb in this mix really makes most pedals moot. If you insist on a delay, consider a good fx loop.

    A 1x12 is a lot easier to lug than the 2x12. Is a head & cab rig an option?

    I say all that to come down to these suggestions:

    1. the Katana 100 head, with the given you will want to do a deep dive into the settings for the mando's sweet spots.

    2. Jet City JCA22H and a good 112 cab. Find one used on Reverb.

    3. A Rivera 1x12 Clubster Royale. I have the recording head version on top of a Rivera R212. The El34 50w will more than do what you want and it is a bargain used under a grand.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Shiro F-5, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
    Boards: Acoustic Electric
    Amps: Fishman Loudbox 100; Rivera Clubster Royale Recording Head; Laney Cub 10 & Cab, Peavey Studio Pro

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