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Thread: Alvarez a1-e mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Alvarez a1-e mandolin

    I have an Alvarez A1-E mandolin that has no sound holes, but sounds pretty good acoustically. And if mic'd will have no trouble being heard with the other instruments in the band. But I specifically bought this mandolin to play it plugged in.

    Here's the problem; it sounds terrible plugged in. I have tried different amps, and adjusted tone controls but it still sounds very harsh on the higher frequencies. I have tried an EQ pedal and that doesn't seem to help. From my research, this seems to be a characteristic of the Piezo pickup, and can be improved by using some foot pedals. One that gets pretty good reviews is the Behringer ADl21. I know, I am one who frequently pooh-poohs Behringer equipment, but I have found some of their stuff to be pretty good.

    Has anyone else addressed this same issue with a Piezo pickup and found a solution; doesn't have to be the Behringer unit I mention. At this point I am just interested in improving the amplified sound.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Alvarez a1-e mandolin

    Tonedexter pre amp. There are a few Cafe threads commenting on it. I like mine quite a lot.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Alvarez a1-e mandolin

    Well yes, a Tonedexter would probably do the trick, but the OP may not want to throw money at the problem. So, what kind of amp are you playing through? Does the mandolin have a battery? If that is just a volume control, and you are plugging into a guitar amp, your problem is an impedance mismatch. Piezo pickups need an input impedance of 1 meg ohm to sound their best. The sound you describe is just what this mismatch sounds like. Regular guitar amps are designed for magnetic pickups.

    Do you have an acoustic guitar amplifier you can play through? These are designed for piezos, and most newer mixing boards have a hiZ switch. If you can try either, you should hear a smoother high end, but be aware that a bridge pickup is a compromise, you gain feedback resistance at the cost of brighter, harsher tone.

    If you can determine you have this mismatch, you can solve your problem with something as simple as a DI. Most pre amps for acoustic guitars will incorporate this function plus add gain, EQ, and maybe effects.

    Behringer has been making decent products lately. Not great but not the junk they used to churn out. Just look for a 1 Mohm input impedance.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Alvarez a1-e mandolin

    I do have an acoustic guitar amp, and can't remember if I tried running this mandolin through it, so I'll give it a try. When I bought the Alvarez it was based partly on how good it sounded plugged in at the store. The salesman plugged it into a Fender acoustic amp and made lots of tone adjustments, and it sounded great.

    I am aware that regular guitar amps color the sound, but did not realize there is an actual impedance mismatch possible in this situation. I have also run this mandolin directly into a PA system with no improvement. I have not tried using a preamp or one of my bass amps. It seems to be generally accepted that bass amps are more like acoustic amps in that they don't color the sound.

    That single knob you see in photos of the A1-E is a volume knob and I hesitated buying the unit because there is no tone control. But once I heard the mandolin plugged in I felt that was not a problem. Shortly after buying the Alvarez (a few days) I went back to the store to talk to the salesman about how he got the great connected sound out of this unit. But as luck would have it, he had quit and taken a job somewhere else, plus the amp he connected to had been sold. If they knew where he went (probably a rival store) they would not share that info. It's a small store with only one employee in the guitar and bass section, and I figured the new guy would be hard-pressed to try to duplicate what I originally heard.

    So thanks for the suggestions; I'll do some more testing with equipment I already have before buying anything new.


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