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Thread: Mandobird revisited

  1. #1
    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
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    Default Mandobird revisited

    Back when these had been out about a year or two and production was ramping down, some big box retailers were selling Mandobirds on the cheap. The sea foam green and the sparkly gold were not leaving stock as fast as the black and the tobacco burst.

    So on a whim I nabbed a sparkly gold one. The sea foam greens were gone.

    It has all the problems a cheaply made instrument has. Poor quality parts and a bad set up leading to weak tone, especially on the e string. Plus the strings don't all pass over the centre of the pole on the pickup.

    So I experimented with strings and tuned it to mandola (CGDA). Later I had Gary Vessel put a bone nut on it and set it up for me. The bridge just barely accommodates the length required to intonate a C string properly.

    It stayed a toy for a while. Then I played it in a band with a friend for a little while. Then it hit storage and I moved to England, then to France, then to a second house in France.

    Just a couple days ago I was unpacking things up here on the second floor under the roof, and I decided to pull the mando(la)bird out.

    You know what? It's not bad really. The wood is pretty good quality, it's rather resonant. The neck is shaped well, and it has stayed straight for the last 8 or so years without being touched. Yes, the electronics are rubbish. But after Christmas I think I'll order something from Pete Malinson and have Etienne van Hove install it.

    I'm thinking bigger frets might be a little more comfortable too.

    My kids (5 and 7) saw it for the first time yesterday and love the sparkly gold finish. So now I'm tempted to gig with it again.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Mandobird revisited

    I had one of those sparkly ones too. I bought it just because I was stuck in Japan for a week with no instrument, and it did the job nicely.

    Not bad for the price, definitely more playable (wider neck) than the model Epiphone first came out with. Still, it couldn't compete with the other electrics I had at the time, and it never got used publicly. No idea where it ended up.

    Interested to follow your instrument's upgrade adventure!

  3. #3
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Sep 2002

    Default Re: Mandobird revisited

    Heh. I just missed one on Craigslist in Indiana that had been upgraded with a pair of Bartolinis! More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

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  4. #4
    Registered User
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    Mar 2008
    Duluth Mn.

    Default Re: Mandobird revisited

    Yeah, I had one of the gold sparkly ones also. It was certainly one of the coolest looking mandolins I ever owned, but I could never get a decent tone out of it. I didn't think it was worth investing in new pickups in it, so I moved it along to a new owner. Sometimes I wished I would've kept it- but I say that about just about every mandolin that I've moved along to a new owner. Like they say- you can't keep them all.
    Chief. Way up North. Gibson 1917 A model with pickup. JL Smith 5 string electric. 1929 National Triolian resonator mandolin with pickup. National RM 1 with pickup. Ovation Applause. Fender FM- 60 E 5 string electric (with juiced pickups). 1950's Gibson EM-200 electric mandolin. 1954 Gibson EM-150 electric mandolin. Custom made "Jett Pink" 5 string electric- Bo Diddley slab style. Jay Roberts Tiny Moore model 5 string electric.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Mandobird revisited

    I owned a gold Mandobird IV about 15 years ago. Ended up selling it when I moved.
    Saw a sunburst Mandobird IV on CL about 6 months ago and bought it. It had been well setup and upgraded with better pots. A few weeks ago I installed an Almuse PhatBird 4 and it really sings now!

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