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Thread: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

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    Default A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    I dont get the point of electric mandolins. They dont sound like mandolins to me. If I didnt know someone was playing one Id just assume Im hearing an electric guitar. Id like to hear others thoughts on the subject

  2. #2
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Why do I play electric mandolin?

    Like any other instrument. Because I can*.

    I originally got mine for quiet practice but it gives me a palette of sounds that I can’t get from a guitar or acoustic mandolin. And, to my ears at least, the sound is as far away from an electric guitar as a mandolin is from an acoustic guitar.

    *for the avoidance of doubt “can” in this context means because I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford one rather than indicating a level of competence.

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Mandolin-family instruments give us lots of options for different genres, venues, moods. I am glad we have all the choices we have be they flat or arched, A or F, oval-holed or f-holed, long scale or short scale, wide or narrow nuts, acoustic or electric, and so on. Choose what works for you and have fun.

    Maybe a mandolinist wants to rock out a bit and this instrument gives her/him the voice that's desire. Maybe someone wants it as as a quiet night-time practice instrument unplugged. Maybe someone wants the string-bending opportunities a four-string offers with the volume an electric can provide. Maybe someone is playing in a rowdy club setting where tone matters less than volume and, shall we say durability. Maybe this is the gateway drug for a punk rocker exploring mandolin.

    I don't have a solid-body electric yet, but one never knows what the future holds. I am open to the possibilities. The problem is, a thread like this is likely to get me wanting one! I fact, I may have just talked myself into it!
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    You know Bob, I think you'd look really good with a solid-body electric mandolin! You should get yourself one.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    You could say exactly the same thing about guitars. Just substitute “guitar” for “mandolin” in your post. And yet the popularity of electric guitars far outpaces acoustic guitars in terms of units sold. And does anyone think an electric guitar sounds like an acoustic? Of course not. It can’t. But electric guitars can give you volume, as much as you want, enough to fill a stadium, without feedback if properly used. And another thing that electric guitars can give you is the flexibility to apply special effects to the ultimate tone via pedals. Reverb, distortion, overdrive, compression, phaser, delay, and on and on, seemingly to infinity. There are hundreds of boutique pedal companies and thousands of effects pedals to choose from, to sculpt your tone to your liking. Most guitarists use multiple pedals. And I would imagine you can use any or all of those just as easily on an electric mandolin. No, you wouldn’t play bluegrass with it. Bill would think it ain’t part of nothin’. But for jazz, blues, rock, pop, and a bunch of other genres, that kind of flexibility would be mighty handy.
    Don

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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Because of the short scale and nature of an emag-pickup electric instrument, an electric mandolin is never going to have the tonal complexity of an acoustic mandolin. Electric guitars have a longer scale length and work better, in my opinion, as electric instruments, than mandolins do.

    They're cool and interesting, and give a lot of different possibilities, but I don't think they'll ever be as popular or ultimately as rich a musical tool as acoustic mandolins (or semi-acoustic instruments which blend some of the acoustic properties into the signal).

    Electric mandocellos, on the other hand... are pretty magnificent beasts. I think they might work better than acoustic mandocelli, if you consider tonal possibilities as well as ergonomics, since the air volume problem is no longer an issue.

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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    For that Tiny Moore tone,

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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    You know, I don’t get the point in Appalachian dulcimers - the bridge is fixed to a lump of wood rather than the top so their design defies “luthieran” logic - but each to their own!

  12. #9

    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    So, you think the only point of getting an electric mandolin when you already have an acoustic mandolin is to have two instruments which sound very similar?

    My main reason was to have the same scale and tuning in an instrument that sounds very different. Quiet practice was a plus as well.
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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    To play an electric guitar as a mandolin. Electric guitars are welcome in more places than mandolins might be, and you can sneak it in without people knowing they've been mandolined!
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    So you can do this......





    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    You know Bob, I think you'd look really good with a solid-body electric mandolin! You should get yourself one.
    That settles it. Now I need one. Maybe an electric mandola, too. I think my one in-one out policy just bit the dust!
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    That settles it. Now I need one. Maybe an electric mandola, too. I think my one in-one out policy just bit the dust!
    You sir are my hero!
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    or maybe this

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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    So you can do this......





    Oh yeah! Dude that's just cool!
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

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    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Different strokes for different folks. For me, electric gives me an opportunity to explore sounds more applicable to certain genres than strait up acoustic.
    Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher standard of living is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. -- Aldo Leopold

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    Because of the short scale and nature of an emag-pickup electric instrument, an electric mandolin is never going to have the tonal complexity of an acoustic mandolin. Electric guitars have a longer scale length and work better, in my opinion, as electric instruments, than mandolins do.
    At the risk of offending all the e-mando players here, I agree on both counts. Plus, the longer scale of an electric guitar makes it much easier to use deep string bends and vibrato for expression.

    I wonder if musicians who played electric guitars for years before starting on mandolin have a different take on this, compared to mandolin players who never played guitar at all. Maybe the electric mandolin looks more exciting from that perspective?

    My one experiment in this area was buying a 4-string acoustic electric mandola, a Breedlove custom "Radim Zenkl" model. It was designed for fingerstyle playing, with a humbucker at the end of the fretboard, and otherwise a standard Breedlove hollowbody mandola. I played it for a couple of years, not through distortion but treating it more like a 5ths tuned instrument for electric Jazz and Blues. It didn't stick though; I finally sold it because the sound just wasn't much different from the thinline archtop electric guitar I had at the time.

    I know that's not the same thing as wild distortion fun, but I've done that on guitar too, back in my Blues Band days. I just don't see a reason to use a mandolin for that if you already play electric guitar. If your main chops are on mandolin and not guitar, I can see the attraction, however I still think a guitar is the better machine for messing around with electric tones and distortion. I admit that may be cultural conditioning. I grew up on classic Rock and Electric Blues music.

  26. #18

    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    At the risk of offending all the e-mando players here, I agree on both counts. (short scale and nature of an emag-pickup electric instrument) Plus, the longer scale of an electric guitar makes it much easier to use deep string bends and vibrato for expression.
    I'm not offended and disagree on both counts. The richness of tone statement could apply just as well to acoustic v electric guitars and the short scale doesn't seem to be an issue for electric violins. That said, I do like longer scale hollow body electric mandolins, although they are quite scarce. I'm looking for that fat jazz tone, not a telecaster sound, so the 'wild distortion fun' isn't part of the equation either.

    Wouldn't hurt to sound like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVwfkbCMdz4
    Play it like you mean it.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Nice
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  28. #20

    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by mandos&turtles View Post
    I dont get the point of electric mandolins. They dont sound like mandolins to me. If I didnt know someone was playing one Id just assume Im hearing an electric guitar. Id like to hear others thoughts on the subject
    It's okay. A lot more musicians chose guitar as having more variety and complexity of tone and playing possibilities than the pipsqueeky mandolin, so you also are allowed to not get the point of an instrument.

    ----

    For my part, I use a tenor guitar/mandola-tuned electric instrument to play through synth and ambient effects. The pickup gives me a purer fundamental tone, so tracking is better.

  29. #21

    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    I play in several bands. Oval hole Collings MT2-O for my gypsy/swing jazz band. Afanti F-5 for my bluegrass band. Mandobird 4 solid-body electric with Almuse Phatbird pickup for my Alt-Bluegrass/punk-metal band.
    Best, Stevo

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    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Without my electric mandolin,life would be impossible.When I get up in the morning I play an acoustic,by the end of the day Im plugging in.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    You know, I don’t get the point in Appalachian dulcimers - the bridge is fixed to a lump of wood rather than the top so their design defies “luthieran” logic - but each to their own!
    Just wait till you hear an electric dulcimer!
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    If a Godin A8 qualify's as an E mando, than I think the OP is wrong on the sound part, playing the A8 with a 5 piece band through a Fishman LB the tone/sound that comes through the mix isn't much different than when I play my acoustic with K&K PU through the LB. I play the A8 because no feedback, has volume control, plug & play set up in a few minutes & it sounds like a mandolin.
    Lou

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    Default Re: A likely contentious opinion on electric mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg P. Stone View Post
    So, you think the only point of getting an electric mandolin when you already have an acoustic mandolin is to have two instruments which sound very similar?My main reason was to have the same scale and tuning in an instrument that sounds very different. Quiet practice was a plus aswell.
    OP said it didn't sound like a mandolin similar to electric guitar. I agree 100% as far as that goes I wouldn't walk across the street to hear either one, love the sound of wires on wood not electric or synthesized unreasonable facsimile

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