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Thread: 8 string solid body playability

  1. #1

    Default 8 string solid body playability

    Hi all,

    Looking to get an 8 string solid electric mando, and would like opinions on neck shape, playability, fret size and such. No local selection, so would have to order. (Not semi solid as I want it very quiet for practicing after the wife goes to bed!)

    I have a Epi mandobird IV, and the neck is fine but frets are a bit rough, and a Godin 8, but the shallow neck and tiny frets make it uncomfortable to play for long.
    I want an emando that feels like a nice acoustic to the left hand.

    While a $400 mando would fit my finances, I would pay more for an instrument that is comfortable to play and set up well, though prices seem to go from $400 to $2000 with not much in between. I could get an Eastwood for $339 on Reverb now, but not confident on quality or playability.


    Not much available used either, as a used Mann might fit the bill.
    What's the neck like on Manndolins?

    Other mandolin recommendations?

    Suggestions welcome!
    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Mandodork; Sep-02-2019 at 9:46am.

  2. #2
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    I’m very happy with my Ashbury https://hobgoblin.com/ashbury-am-240...ctric-mandolin

    Came perfectly set up out of the box and comfortable, to me at least, to play.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandodork View Post
    I could get an Eastwood for $339 on Reverb now, but not confident on quality or playability.
    I'm a big Eastwood fan.
    I have a bass I bought years ago that is is still perfect to me.
    I have their Airline Mandola and I'm really playing that one hard. I love it.

    If I had money I'd fill up my living room with Eastwood instruments.
    I don't know about Reverb's return policy but Eastwood is very good about it.

  4. #4
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Frets can be changed, and all mandolins need a set up from time to time. Solid body emandos are no exception. So don't let the need for a set up or even fret size dissuade you from buying a particular instrument.

    One of the cool things about solid body emandos is that they are essentially little electric guitars. So a set-up guy in a shop who has no experience with proper mandolins has a good shot at doing a good job for you. Just tell him or her to be aware that the shorter scale length means the instrument will be more sensitive to intonate than an electric guitar.

    Things I look for...
    - scale length (I like longer ones)
    - pick up configuration and control locations
    - quality of workmanship
    - How bad is the e string volume mismatch? Can the pickup be adjusted to compensate?
    - How easy or hard will it be to restring? (string tree on the headstock? easy to access bridge?)

    Hope this helps!
    Daniel

  5. #5

    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    In my opinion, paired string instruments with magnetic pickups are problematic on many levels. The instruments on the lower end of the market suffer from a lot of things like inferior electronics, low quality components and poor setup right out of the box. Custom builders have done a much better job overcoming these issues but that comes at a price. I see a lot of people buy an <insert inexpensive mandolin name here> then spend upwards of $300 in upgrades to make it a playable instrument. The typical client wants a single course instrument with a little longer scale so that they can fill the role of a guitar in a band without having to learn guitar. I rarely get asked to build eight strings but I'm building one now for the first time in a long time for a change of pace. Daniel is correct on things to look for when buying one. The only thing I'd add is consideration of the quality of the components. Having had just about every import mandolin in my hands, I'd have to say that the Eastwood is the best bang for your buck unless you can find an 80's or 90's era Kentucky with a tune o matic style bridge in it. Why those don't bring more money is beyond me.

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  7. #6
    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    I had a Godin,Fender,Epiphone and Eastwood.4 and 8 strings.To me this Dillion beats them all.Workmanship and tuners are right on.The bridge works(I donít know how)Neck and frets are good.Pickup could be better,but no weak e string and no noise.Pickup works great with the acoustic simulator.Someday I would like to try the new Eastman but it is beyond my price range.Good luck on your search.I did have a JBovier and wish I still had it but I like 8 strings better.For me itís hard to feel 4 strings on my fingers and I can bend the 8 stringer.
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  9. #7

    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Thanks all,
    Mandolinstew, how loud is the Dillion acoustically? I was avoiding semi-hollow in favor of quiet late-night practicing, but I sure like the look of them.
    My Godin is too loud for that purpose.

  10. #8

    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Buy a solid body with no electronics. That will save you some money. Hmmmm. I wonder if there is a market for such a beast?

  11. #9
    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandodork View Post
    Thanks all,
    Mandolinstew, how loud is the Dillion acoustically? I was avoiding semi-hollow in favor of quiet late-night practicing, but I sure like the look of them.
    My Godin is too loud for that purpose.
    Very low volume,less than the Godin.The nut is 1 3/8Ē and the neck is more like a guitar.Not like an acoustic mandolin,but not like the Godin either.It is thicker and for me comfortable.I like the acoustic better but need the electric to play with my electric band.

  12. #10

    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Eastwood (I own many, but not their 8str mando) seems to favor larger frets, which I like.
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  13. #11
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    2 Fender fm61 .. in this town ,1 bought by the better player, a Pro, his neck set not good.

    Mine who stopped competing for gigs, its been set OK by the workers in the factory . Korea.

    so at basic prices you cannot be assured of top shelf workmanship by brand names who go overseas to cut costs..

    individual builders not under make it fast pressures..







    ....
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  14. #12
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Smile Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Quote Originally Posted by thistle3585 View Post
    Buy a solid body with no electronics. That will save you some money. Hmmmm. I wonder if there is a market for such a beast?
    well in. or under bridge piezo crystal and a wire and a plug is pretty darned simple... electric signal, but no processing electronics/..

    a Practice Plank?
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  15. #13

    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    A Practice Plank. I like that. Could practice at work without alerting boss or annoying coworkers.

    Thanks kurth83, I like larger frets so the Eastwood could be the way to go. Around here a fret job is over $400, so would hate to do that on a $400 mandolin for playability.

    What's the neck shape like on an Eastwood?

  16. #14
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    I'm a huge fan of John Mann instruments. I have a 5 and 8 string Mann - honestly, I like the 5 way better than the 8 - but they are both great. I have a ThunderBird IV as well - mainly that's wall art these days. The sound from that doesn't hold a candle to the Mann's
    www.mattcbruno.com
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    https://shakedownstringband.org

    Mando's in use
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  17. #15
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Godin A8 body has been hollowed out a bit, before gluing a piece of spruce on top..

    It has a bolt on mahogany neck , which aids in its action adjust-ability ..

    even before they adopted an adjustable bridge..







    ...
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    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  18. #16

    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    What you need to do is test drive a lot of instruments. I strongly advise against buying any instrument that isn't absolutely perfect in your hands when you play it. I've been a professional tech and luthier for about twenty years and no two instruments are the same. Of the same instruments coming off the production line, some will have delightful mojo and others will not and this is true for solid body instruments as much as it is for acoustic ones. Even CNC manufacturing, the make and model is described as having a theme rather than a specific exact feel. I often get clients who've purchased something on the internet and expect an hours worth of work to yield the instrument of their dreams. This can happen but sometimes it doesn't. Most of the time, the seller doesn't even know that an instrument is less than it should be. A quality new instrument should need nothing other than a trussrod adjustment to play at its maximum performance. There is room to buy a less quality instrument and have it refined by a talented tech but its always a roll of the dice. If you're looking at an instrument that retails for $899 and its on sale at $329, you should anticipate problems. Something like this recently went across my bench and to get it to a level worthy of the retail price took four hours of fretwork and setup to address problems that your average retail shop owner normally would not notice. The client was a professional musician and understood but to the average player I would anticipate a level of angst and a conflict between the seller and the buyer with me in the middle.

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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    I bought the cheapest emando on eBay (~$130ish) and after a good setup (by me), it's just lovely to play when I need to be quiet in the house. Frets were level out of the box. It arrived w/ the pickguard damaged (gouged), so I buffed that out, but it was cosmetically perfect otherwise. I've had it about a month now and I love it. It largely stays in tune very well and I've not noticed anything weird w/ the electronics, so I've left all that alone for now. I just use a plug-in preamp so I can hear myself w/ earphones. The neck is natural, but is a little more of a v-shape. I guess I could take a rasp to it, but it's similar enough that I can run through scales, chords and work through pieces quite easily. I bought a tenor ukelele soft case to keep it in and it's just a little jewel for me. At the least, it's awesome as a practice unit.

  20. #18

    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Hi There, which acoustic simulator pedal would you recommend for a Harley Benton MA-500 VS Bluegrass Series?
    Cheers.

  21. #19

    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Quote Originally Posted by josielbr View Post
    Hi There, which acoustic simulator pedal would you recommend for a Harley Benton MA-500 VS Bluegrass Series?
    Cheers.
    You might want to start a new thread for that.

  22. #20
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Quote Originally Posted by josielbr View Post
    Hi There, which acoustic simulator pedal would you recommend for a Harley Benton MA-500 VS Bluegrass Series?
    Cheers.
    No, you first... give it a try and report back ... buy from someone willing to let you send it back..

    .I tried something else.. but you are specific.. good luck..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  23. #21

    Default Re: 8 string solid body playability

    Quote Originally Posted by josielbr View Post
    Hi There, which acoustic simulator pedal would you recommend for a Harley Benton MA-500 VS Bluegrass Series?
    Cheers.
    Do you have a recording interface? ToneLib-GFX computer software can be tried for 30 days for free and will let you see if the concept of an acoustic simulator pedal makes sense with your instrument.

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