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Thread: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

  1. #1
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Emando players: Suppose a boutique amp builder were to try to create an amp specifically to be used with electric mandolins.

    What characteristics would such an amp need?

    (By "characteristics" I don't mean just features; I mean how the amp responds to the tones and frequencies one gets from an electric mandolin, especially when those differ from the sounds produced by an electric guitar.)

    If you have a particular guitar amp that you like with your mandolin, what is it and what do you like about it?

    What components seem to work well with a mando? What would you stay away from?
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    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Hi Martin,

    Great question! I've been trying amps for what seems like years, and I have come to the conclusion that guitar amps are a compromise for emando players, like socks that are warm and comfortable but a bit too large.

    Let me preface this by saying, I'm thinking as an electric player rather than a mandolinist forced to go electric because the rest of the band is too loud for me to mic my F5. I think there are plenty of amplifying options if a mandolinist wants a clean sound with a lot of headroom for an acoustic tone.

    - I'd like a combo amp.
    - I'd like the combo (amp, cab, and speaker(s)) to be voiced for the frequencies in the emando's range.
    - Tone controls that affect the emando's range (include for a 5 string emando, CGDAE)
    - If it's possible, some compensation for the relatively reduced movement of the string through the pickups' magnetic fields would be great.
    - Two channels so that the preamp can be overdriven (I like that Marshall's have 2 gain controls and a Master volume control)
    - Doesn't have to be all tube. Modelling or even solid state is OK as long as the tone is good. In fact light would be very good, so perhaps at most a preamp with tubes, but a solid state power amp?
    - I prefer 10" speakers. 12" speakers seem unnecessary, but if that's what makes everything work best, I'm open to them.
    - Line out (xlr)
    - effects loop
    - speaker cut switch so that the amp can be used as a monitor on stage, or 'silently'.
    - I doesn't need to be particularly loud. Something between a 5w and a 25w tube amp equivalence.
    - Effects: Tremolo or reverb or both would be a bonus.

    The above looks like my Christmas wish list!
    Daniel

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    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Best amp I have found is my Quilter Micropro 8.Xlr output,effects loop,extension speaker jacks,foot pedal,8 inch speaker,or can come with a 10 or 12.Solid state sounds like a tube.Three inputs,two channels.One is xlr/1/4 When I gig I have a electric mandolin,harmonica and acoustic guitar all plugged in with a 12 extension speaker.Or just acoustic mandolin no extension,Schertler pickup and preamp.Use a Baggs preamp on acoustic guitar.

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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Telling an amp manufacturer how to create an amp is way over my head.

    But I always look for warmth and cheap in an amp.
    Last edited by BoxCarJoe; Nov-25-2019 at 7:57am. Reason: spelling

  6. #6
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Hi Martin,

    I won't pretend to know anything about amps because I don't. I can tell you what works for me, though. Please bear in mind that my use is gigs at which I play background music for small gatherings like dinners and wine tastings, not center stage entertainment. No dance music, wedding receptions or the like. That will differ from some who will respond.

    First of all, I want it to make my mandolins sound just like they do, but louder. By that I mean I want my flat top to sound like itself, my arch top to sound like itself, my OM to sound like itself and so on. I don't want them to sound electronic or guitar like. I have a duo partner on guitar and I need to sound different from him. That is why I am on mandolin in the first place.

    Second, I want it to be small and relatively light; easily portable. I am playing in small venues and can't take up a lot of room. I also want pack in, set up and pack it to be quick and simple. A small amp is all I need.

    I want it to work well whether I use my strictly acoustic mandolin-family instruments with my simple Schertler stick-on (which is actually really good), or my Ovation MM68 with onboard preamp, which I am really starting to love.

    I would like two channels.

    My Schertler Giulia fits the bill quite nicely other than that is is only one channel, and for me that is not the end of the world. It gives me very good sound in a small package, matching my main criteria.

    This should be an interesting thread. I look forward to reading other postings.

    Best wishes,

    Bob
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    I'm also a big fan of my Quilter MicroPro 8" combo

    Thanks,
    Baron
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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    I had chance to play through the predecessor to the MicroPro at a jazz jam, using my Almuse in a gaggle of horns. Sweet tone and plenty loud, gentle clipping in the overdrive channel for smoother attacks. Previously I had heard a friend performing with his band, using a Mark Wood violin through a MicroPro. Very nice tone and the fiddler loves his amp. Another time it was a blues guitar playing through a Quilter head and 15” alnico speaker. Great bluesy tone with some speaker distortion.

    I would love a MicroPro but I get by with my rig, which is the Trace Elliot Elf into any cabinet. For conventional jazz I use no pedals, amp has no effects. For my own band gig I used my overdrive pedal and larger cabinet, comprising two 100-watt 6.5” cones.

    I’ve learned a lot about getting sweet tone out of an emando, and much of my previous striving has been eased by better picking technique (angle, location on string, thickness, etc.) and better understanding of the instrument’s best role. My current satisfaction only arrived after I embraced the 10-string, rather than a 5. I hear so much more tone and texture in the 10 I was compelled to convert my Ryder to a 10. The doubled strings make up for the small tone of the short scale (to my ears).

    All that aside, I think there is a lot to like about any Quilter amp, and doubt anyone would be unhappy using one.
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Sold everything else, and kept these two rigs:

    An Orange Tiny Terror, with Jules Potter's mods plus a Mercury Magnetics output transformer (didn't use the power transformer that comes in the kit because I had Jules outfit the amp with a voltage selector – I don't remember what power transformer he used). Goes into a Celestion Blue in a small-as-possible cabinet built by Bob Fusco.

    A Dr Z Carmen Ghia head – had Bob discard the amp head cabinet, and build a small-as-possible combo unit (again, with a Celestion Blue). This also was sent to Jules – he installed a Mercury Magnetics output transformer, and I don't remember what else he did.

    So, what do I want in an amp? A "boutique-quality" clean sound that displays the natural sound of the mando at its best, but will shimmer and grind as the input level increases.

    I certainly understand that an emando is not an amplified acoustic mandolin, but I'm not in the camp of those who say that it's merely a small electric guitar. They have their own unique sound, and (a) showcasing that is why I've chased the "Tone Dragon" for years, and (b) I believe that it's also what everyone else wants to hear – if it's just another electric guitar, who cares?

    I also believe in the Keith Richards philosophy of use the lowest-powered amp for the gig – overdriven power tubes (not just the preamp tubes) have a wonderfully warm sound. If I need more volume than the 15-watt Orange or the 18-watt Dr Z, I run 'em both, using a Lehle P-Split.

    Umm... why do you ask?

  11. #10

    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    I'm looking for a clean, fat jazz tone that can overcome my Mandocaster and 5 string solid body Kentucky inherent 'solidbodyness'. I know that's not really possible, but I have a little Jazzkat Tweed, 2 channels, reverb, 16 effects, and 8" speaker. Light weight. It does a remarkable job in modifying the Mandocaster tone, but I'm looking forward to a real hollow body, magnetic pickup powered electric mandolin.

    So, clean, fat tone, good eq, light weight. Reverb and effects are all available in pedals, but it would nice to have them built in.

    Obviously it all depends on the sound you want and the situations you will need to use and transport the amp.
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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Collins-Hill View Post
    I'm also a big fan of my Quilter MicroPro 8" combo
    This is my choice for gigging. It has a pretty wide range of sounds available, very versatile. I quit bringing tube amps to gigs after a few times when tubes were jostled and damaged, or when tubes went out other ways. Solid state has been way more reliable for me. The Quilter comes pretty close to a tube sound for my uses.

    For sitting around my house playing I plug into my Vintage 47 VA-185G
    http://www.vintage47amps.com/VA-185G/

    I found the pickup made more difference in my sound than the amp. I use a Lollar Charlie Christian pickup.
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    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    The pickup changes everything.I had a Mandostrat and could never get good sound.Even when I put in the Almuse.The JBovier was much better.I had a Godin and thought about putting a humbucker on it with the Mandostrat neck.

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    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    First of all, I want it to make my mandolins sound just like they do, but louder. By that I mean I want my flat top to sound like itself, my arch top to sound like itself, my OM to sound like itself and so on. I don't want them to sound electronic or guitar like.
    ....
    I want it to work well whether I use my strictly acoustic mandolin-family instruments with my simple Schertler stick-on (which is actually really good), or my Ovation MM68 with onboard preamp, which I am really starting to love.
    I think you've misunderstood the topic Bob. This is for solid body instruments with magnetic pickups. Electric mandolins, not amplified acoustic mandolins.

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Quote Originally Posted by jefflester View Post
    I think you've misunderstood the topic Bob. This is for solid body instruments with magnetic pickups. Electric mandolins, not amplified acoustic mandolins.
    Oh well, if that's the biggest mistake I made today, then it was a pretty good day. Thanks for pointing it out.
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    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    I would want an amp that captures the various tonalities of the instruments. Stealie should sound different than the 335 style 8 string.

    Also, I want a versatile voiced amp. Blues should be able take take some grit and phaser, jazz tones should be fat and warm and maybe even a little compressed, more gain for rock and lead.

    So, maybe a mandolin range-specific eq, a great reverb like the lexicon plate on the Polara, fx loop, easy footswitch access to change channels or call up a gain boost, small, powerful, loud, connective, and rugged.
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    If it matters, Don S plays both the Quilter Micropro and a Henriksen JazzAmp. Curiously, Paul Glasses’s Gear section doesn’t list amps.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    I dig the MicroPro too, which I bought on Pete's recommendation. It's pricey; I wonder if a more basic version without all the modeling options might be what I'm looking for. I'm floating the idea to a custom amp builder to see if we can come up with something that could be marketed as an emando amp.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    The least expensive used Henriksen JazzAmp head is $350 at a Guitar center., which has no effects. Adding a speaker and cabinet would be significant. I suspect getting what you pay for comes into play here. Designing and building one for less than $750 might be a challenge, especially in boutique quantities. I heard Jazzkat went under when they got national distribution and couldn’t ramp up production. Small business is tough.
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    Registered User vwfye's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    I have 4 amps, the one my single pick up likes the best is the Univox U45B.
    My twin pick up one likes the Vox 25.

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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    for me the characteristics I need most are a clean sound with ample headroom, a warm tone, power enough to function in all types of ensembles, ease of operation, and portability

    I do use the Quilter MicroPro Mach 2. It has all of the above. Comes in a combo with 12" speaker. I chose a Neodymium speaker for lightness. I had heard that some think that material yields a bright sound, but I didn't care--really wanted the ease of lifting it into the trunk. To my delight when I plugged it in I found it makes a beautiful warm full sound even when set flat, and the eq allows for creating whatever type of tone one wants. I'll be using it on a few tracks of the next CD in a few weeks.

    The Henriksen Jazz Amp that I have has a 10" speaker and all those same desirable characteristics listed above. Very flexible eq, very clean..it's on my most recent CD.

    In more recent times, both companies have made smaller and smaller versions. A student came by with "The Bud" by Henriksen which I think has an 8" speaker..sounded fine! Quilter sells heads in various power levels and sizes, all the way down to the size of an effect pedal, and of course speakers and cabs to go with should you elect to not use your favorite old EV or Celestion. Imagine putting the amp in your pocket and into a speaker that weighs less than the mandolin! Can be done..

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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    The Quilter Tone Block amps might be in line with what you're looking for...

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    I dig the MicroPro too, which I bought on Pete's recommendation. It's pricey; I wonder if a more basic version without all the modeling options might be what I'm looking for. I'm floating the idea to a custom amp builder to see if we can come up with something that could be marketed as an emando amp.

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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
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  25. #23
    john homer
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    I use a Quilter 101 with a Celestion 85 watt speaker, ( sorry for lack of details), for my Mandocaster, (with Almuse upgrade pickup), and it does everything for me! Great cleans, takes any pedal well, keeps up with a drummer no problem! And I can use the Quilter for acoustic instruments, as well.
    john homer

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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    - 200 watt class D power section
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    - spring reverb - solid-state send/receive is fine
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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emando players: What do you want in an amp?

    $1,000 is a lot of money. I'm sure it sounds good. Can you recommend something in a more-affordable model? Thanks.
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