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Thread: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

  1. #1

    Default Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    Reviewers have noted (and I've now confirmed) that the pickup for the E strings seem weak. After adjusting the pickup height to spec and listening, I found that you could also think of the problem as excessively hot pickups for the D & A strings.

    After playing around a bit, I settled on snipping out a couple bits of ductwork metal and letting them magnetically stick to the two ea. humbucker poles for both D and A. The result is a much more even response across all strings. I don't know enough to attribute it to shorting across the humbucker poles or simple magnetic shielding. But it worked!

    I added a couple drops of Seal-All under the metal tabs to secure them against clicking if the pick hits them.

    /Users/gpowell/Desktop/Eastman PU.jpeg

  2. #2

    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    I can't upload the picture for some reason, sorry

  3. #3
    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    The thin gauge of the mandolin e-string can be problematic to pickup with a magnet. Dead E is a common issue with emandos. There are replacement pickups available on the market that may do a better job here, but I don't know how much would be involved in customizing this hollow-body Eastman jazz model. It might be a more effective fix than hobbling the pickup of two good (thick) strings, however.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    I solve weak e sting situation by having it strung & tuned CGDA. ,, just adding the C moving the other 3 over..
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    Quote Originally Posted by gpowell View Post
    Reviewers have noted (and I've now confirmed) that the pickup for the E strings seem weak. After adjusting the pickup height to spec and listening, I found that you could also think of the problem as excessively hot pickups for the D & A strings.

    After playing around a bit, I settled on snipping out a couple bits of ductwork metal and letting them magnetically stick to the two ea. humbucker poles for both D and A. The result is a much more even response across all strings. I don't know enough to attribute it to shorting across the humbucker poles or simple magnetic shielding. But it worked!

    I added a couple drops of Seal-All under the metal tabs to secure them against clicking if the pick hits them.

    /Users/gpowell/Desktop/Eastman PU.jpeg

    interesting..i haven't had that issue with My El Rey mando..everything seems even across the stings..but thanks for this info..i and heard of issue before.

  6. #6
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of the Eastmans don't have the weak E problem, although the demo instrument certainly did. I've even had people accuse me of lying about it in my Fretboard Journal review even though there were two other people in the room when I tried out the instrument and I demonstrated the weak E to both of them.

    The pickup is a custom mandolin pickup designed by Jason Lollar; when you are custom designing a pickup you should be able to account for E string response by setting the height of the pole under the E. There is no reason anyone should have to add bits of metal to a custom pickup to make it sound right. Perhaps there are quality control issues I don't know, but I think that if you run into this problem you should try to find out if it's covered under warranty.

    My 1930s National Silvo electric tenor guitar had a weak A problem when I got it; I eventually solved that by filing down the shaft of a nail and super-gluing it to the pickup element.
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    Hmmm, well, fortunately for me my Eastman El Ray plays perfectly with even volume across all strings. It's the best e-mando I have played.

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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    I have tried several of these fixes with a Fender electric mandolin to no avail. I finally ordered an Almuse pickup and solved the problem. I also put a resister/capacitor network on the volume control to keep the highs when you turn down the volume.
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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    If your tone setting at the amp is bright and trebly the E may be fine but I have usually had to compensate in order get a fat tone across all strings.

    I get the aesthetic appeal of identical pole pieces at equal heights, but to have some freedom to use different gauges and tone settings, adjustment is essential. Gibson always had screw adjusters on its pickups. I had to dismount and push up or down the pole pieces in my Ryder single-coil pickups to suppress the powerful A and enhance the weak E. His side-by-side can't be adjusted that way due to a bottom plate. I will guess the El Rey has a similar design on its humbucker.
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    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    I've had the same issue with weak e string response on my first two emandos, an Eastman Ricky & a Kentucky KM300. I have Almuse pickups in my Mandobird & Jermans, both 4 & 8 strings, with very even response across the string. I also have an 8 string OM from Jonathan Mann with a DiMarzio blade in the neck position with a pretty even response. I got a blade pup to test that theory in the other weak ones but haven't gotten around to it swapping it out yet. I dig the OP's creative perspective & solution but am interested to see if my mental picture matches the result.
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  12. #11

    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    There was quite a bit of noise about this issue when the mandolin was first released - basically its only design flaw.

    For the sake of a few screws Lollar could easily provide adjustable pole-pieces and let users set the pickup to their tastes. I asked them in an email if they would provide custom versions of the pickup and they said no.

    I tried an El Rey in a store and admit to not finding any string-to-string balance issues, and I was specifically listening for them. This was a year or so after the release so it was probably a later build. I could suggest that since Lollar is making these pickups in small custom batches there may have been some design changes along the way to account for the discrepancies. If you got a bum one I'd try contacting Eastman and see about a pickup swap or look to other pickup makers
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    For the sake of a few screws Lollar could easily provide adjustable pole-pieces and let users set the pickup to their tastes. I asked them in an email if they would provide custom versions of the pickup and they said no.
    Yeah, somebody told me they had also contacted Eastman, who said the equivalent of "Weak E string? What weak E string?"
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    Registered User Sevelos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    I had a similar problem on my bouzouki with the Bass string being too loud (through the magnetic pickup). I replaced the nickel string with phosphor bronze (which is much less responsive to magnetism), and it solved the problem.

  15. #14
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    Yea, then the pickup only 'sees' the steel core wire ,, winding there for mass is non magnetic..
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  16. #15

    Default Re: Eastman El Rey 'weak E pickup' hack

    To clarify, did you place the metal strips D to D and A to A, or across both D to A's?

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