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Thread: Eastwood Airline solid electric mandola

  1. #1

    Question Eastwood Airline solid electric mandola

    Mine arrived the other day. I'm an intermediate mando player and just wanted something electric in a lower register so I can practise quietly when the kids are in bed as well as so that I can be heard when jamming with more rock-oriented friends. Just something to mess around with. Don't plan to play out professionally.

    There is a fair amount of buzzing on the C and G strings so I'll have it professionally set up.

    So a few questions.

    1. Does anyone have recommendations for string gauge if I'm likely going to be playing rock (and specifically looking to get as close to surf guitar/garage rock sound?)

    2. I'd seen some posts elsewhere about people just using 4 strings on these. For what I want to use it for what are your thoughts on just stringing it with 4? Pros/Cons?

    Haven't seen much talk on these forums about this instrument. Here is a link.


  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Brooklyn, NY

    Default Re: Eastwood Airline solid electric mandola

    I love mine.
    I've been busking all summer (4 strings) and the feedback (from people) has been great. sells normal, light and extra light gauges.
    Normal sounds the best but hurt my fingers.
    Extra light gives a electric guitar sound.
    Light is a good compromise of tone and play-ability.

    After a lot of back and forth 4 string was right for me.
    You can get jazzy with it and old time stuff works as well.

    Enjoy! It's a really unique sound.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Eastwood Airline solid electric mandola

    That looks like fun and a very cool instrument.
    Here's my spin on the string gauges. Your 18" scale length is very close to a guitar at the 5th fret which by coincidence is an A.
    I base this on the relationship with an electric guitar for an electric guitar "feel"
    A 1st strings: Light, .009, Medium (average) .010, Slightly heavier, .011, and Heavy, .012
    D 2nd strings: Light, .011 Standard, .012, Slightly heavier, .013, Heavy, .014 or .015
    G 3rd strings: Light, .015W if you can find it. Standard,016W or .017W, Slightly heavier and commonly available, .018W, Heavy, .020W
    an octave G-string would be .008 .009 or .010
    C 4th strings: Light, .032, Standard, .034, Slightly heavier .036, Heavy, .038
    an octave would be .011, .012 or .013

  4. #4
    Registered User Jonathan K's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    San Francisco East Bay

    Default Re: Eastwood Airline solid electric mandola

    I enjoyed my Airline mandola until I sold it. I had purchased it specifically to play surf music. I play guitar in a surf band now and regret having sold the mandola.

    To play surf, you must, of course, play flatwounds (and you must only play Fender gear ) I looked through my email and I believe this is what I strung the mandola with:

    D'Addario Electric Chromes Flat Wound .045
    D'Addario Electric Chromes Flat Wound .032
    D'Addario Electric Chromes Flat Wound .020
    D'Addario NYXL Plain .013

    In retrospect, I can't imagine why anyone would not string it with 4 strings. Maybe you need to adjust the pick up height, but I don't think 8 strings provide any benefit on a solid body electric mandolin family instrument.

  5. The following members say thank you to Jonathan K for this post:

  6. #5

    Default Re: Eastwood Airline solid electric mandola

    Thanks for the quick feedback. So perhaps this is a dumb question but when using 4 strings does it matter which of the pairs you would use?

    And another question. Has anyone used Octave tuning on a mandola of this scale length (18)? With my interest in surf music I wonder if the lower register would work even better. And would Jonathon's suggested strings work well at that tuning also?

  7. #6
    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Warwick,New York

    Default Re: Eastwood Airline solid electric mandola

    I was thinking of trying octave tuning on mandola.Let us know if you do.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Eastwood Airline solid electric mandola

    18 inches is a shortish scale for an octave. I've done a lot of experimentation with electric short scales on guitars and basses. Every instrument is different. In the end, there are no firm rules and some instruments tolerate this sort of thing better than others. You'd get a better result using heavier strings and that would most likely require some work on the nut slots which may or may not require a nut replacement if you wanted to go back to mandola strings.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Eastwood Airline solid electric mandola

    I've been down this road, here is what I do, I only use four strings, and like to bend and use vibrato, basically they are electric guitar-like things.

    I have two of them, one strung as a tenor guitar (mandola) CGDA, and one string as an OM (GDAE).

    It is very dark, especially as an OM, I used an effects pedal to brighten things up, I did my own setup, here are the string gauges I used:

    mandola (11P, 15P, 26W, 38W) I like D'Addario NYXL wounds to brighten things a bit, tension is a bit higher on the top string cuz it was a bit weak.
    0.0110 in. 17.43 lbs
    0.0150 in. 14.44 lbs
    0.0260 in. 16.26 lbs NYXL
    0.0380 in. 14.70 lbs NYXL

    OM: (13.5P, 22P, 34W, 52W).

    0.0135 in. 14.73 lbs
    0.0220 in. 14.85 lbs
    0.0340 in. 15.29 lbs NYXL
    0.0520 in. 14.90 lbs NYXL

    As far as which slots to use I found a way I really like (and I've been playing on these heavily all year):
    - near the nut put them in the high slots except the low string which is spaced out more (in the far slot). This makes it easier to reach the low string without touching the next string.
    - on the bridge use all high slots, this avoids too great a string spacing on the low pair of strings as you move up the neck.

    I cut a new nut on one, and regret it, the strategy above really makes for a playable string spacing and you can restring back to 8 strings any time.
    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.

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