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Thread: Risa mando-solid ii

  1. #1
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    I had to take a business trip this week with only carry on luggage. So between my suitcase and my computer case, I could not bring my travel mando that I nearly always go with. I have been curious, but very skeptical, about the Risa Mando-Solid II that Elderly sells. (linked below) It would fit in a carry on suitcase and I know at least one person I have corresponded with on the Cafe' has one and likes it. So I took the plunge.

    I just got it today and it is a hoot! I'm having a blast with it. I'm not claiming it is some serious instrument, but as purely a practice device and a "toy" it is a lot of fun!

    Pros: It is small, even smaller than it looks on the Elderly site. It is also very, very light. It seems quite rugged, although only time will tell. It has a crisp, clean sound through an amp, a kind of a bell-like, sweet sound, not what I expected. It is extremely easy to play. The string tension on those nylon stings is so low, you really can kick in some speed. It also encourages you to lighten up on your grip, which is always good. It has a nice gig bag and the strap on the bag doubles as a strap for the instrument. This arrangement is well done. For what the instrument is, the fit and finish are flawless. The "set up" is impressive, with a low, buzz free action out of the box. Intonation is acceptable. Two strings were right on at the 12th fret. the other two were a bit sharp, but not so much I can't tolerate it. There does not appear to be a way to tweak this like you could on a regular mando.

    It comes tuned like a mandola, but you can restring it like a mandolin, which I have already done. You take the GDA strings at 1, 2 and 3 and move them to 2, 3 and 4. Then you use 4mm monofilament fishing line for the E 1st string. I got 330 yards of the stuff for about $8.95. It sounds great and at 20 pound test, I don't think it will ever break on me.

    Cons: It is tricky to string the first time you do it, but once you get the hang of it, it is actually pretty easy. The worst thing is that it is the devil to get in tune. I think this will get better as I get used to it. It has Grover friction tuners and you have to play with the set screws to get the right amount of tension. Also, those short nylon stings are very tension sensitive. If you play a "bend" on one, it can go flat. I think this will take some getting used to. I also think an electronic tuner will be a must.

    Overall, I am satisfied. Tomorrow I will go looking for a portable headphone amp. I am looking at the Epiphone "Ear-Plug," because it is so small and all this is about packing for me. I will update the tread as I get more experience and I would welcome questions and other opinions.

    http://elderly.com/new_ins....SII.htm




  2. #2
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Well, I could not put the Risa down all weekend! I'm sure it was the "new gadget effect," but I am having a blast with it. I'm getting it to stay in tune a lot better. It takes some tweaking of the friction screws and the strings just have to "stretch in" for a couple of days after you put them on. Even then, tuning is slightly more of a challenge than with a regular mando. I determined that it will be essential to travel with some kind of a medium-small Phillips screwdriver in my "accessories kit" for the friction screws and also a clip-on electronic tuner.

    I tried multiple brands of tuners. The Seiko clip-on was way too big and did not stay on well. The Intelli was just the right size, but also did not stay on the "stump" at the end of the Risa's neck very well. I wound up buying an Intelli anyway, however, just because I liked it! But the Intellitouch, which I already had, fits more securely on the Risa and I will use that.

    I tried the Epiphone "Ear-Plug" headphone amp, but I passed on it. It was tiny, but it had no volume control, so it was very loud with no way to control it. This weekend, I am going to get up enough courage to brave the torture of going to a Guitar Center to try the Risa with a C Tech Pocket Rock-it Pro headphone amp. I think that box will do the trick. The other Risa owner I corresponded with has one and likes it. I also considered going high end with a Korg Pandora Acoustic box, but for now, that is more than I want to spend for this project.

    I am looking forward to my first trip with the Risa. My goal is to always be able to play a mando of some kind every day, regardless of where I am or what I'm doing. This should give me a very decent "worst case option" for that.

  3. #3
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    I've had my Risa Mando-solid for about six months now, like you I couldn't put it down when I first got it. #Now that the new gadget effect has worn off it still gets a lot of use. Because it so small and robust I'm happy to leave it lying around on my desk at home so that I can pick it up and put it down whenever I feel like a bit of noodleing.

    I already had a Korg Pandora and it does go very well with the Risa. #Iíve just had a look at the specs for the Pocket Rock-It, the biggest advantages that the Pandora has is that it that it has a chromatic tuner and built in rhythm and bass patterns. When you make the trip to Guitar World it might be worth having a go of playing along to the rhythm patterns on the Pandora just in case you really like them. #

    Patrick

  4. #4
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Well, I went to Guitar Hell, oops I mean Guitar Center, and tried both. I just don't get that place. Anytime I go in there, and I mean anytime day or night, there is some 'tard teenager indulging in musical self-abuse on an electric guitar at over 100 decibels. So why does the place have piped-in rock music? But I digress.

    I tried the Pandora acoustic. It is a really neat idea, but I think they may have missed the mark having an acoustic version. I didn't think the acoustic sound was all that good. Also, I found it hard to operate. Even the guy helping me, who owns an earlier Pandora, couldn't completely figure it out. Also, I couldn't get it to generate enough volume. Of course, I was desperately trying to drown out all the noise in the store, so that may not have been fair! Anyhow, it was nice, but I just didn't find it worth $170.

    I settled on the Pocket Rock-it for $40. It is a neat little package. It will work well with my Mandobird also. Interesting thing, though, when I got it home, I tried it with about a dozen headsets and ear-buds and it with every one except the headset it came with, it had a hiss that was independent of volume. But with the supplied headset, nothing but clean sound.

    So I am already to pack the Risa in my suitcase, along with my "accessories" kit. I have the Pocket Rock-it, the headset, an Intelli tuner (changed my mind on that one), extra strings, picks and a phillips mini-screwdriver for the tension screws all packed in an old cordura hard drive case. A pretty tidy little package. We'll see how it travels!

  5. #5
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    There's another accessory that I use. I found acoustically my plectrums made more noise than the strings, so I got some Wedgie rubber picks (which donít click) so that I can practice acoustically in a (very) quiet room.

    It means that I can leave the Risa lying around on my desk, then pick it up and play a few notes while I wait for a page to load etc. without bothering with headphones.

    Patrick

  6. #6
    Registered User jerrymartin's Avatar
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    I have a special need that the Mando-stick answers nicely. I get motion sickness easily, especially if I try reading while traveling. On plane flights long enough for jet lag to be an issue, I may need to stay awake the whole flight, in order to keep from trashing my sleep cycle: so if I can't read and can't nap, and if there's an inflight movie I'll get sick from *that* if there's any turbulence at all, so... what do I do to pass the time? Answer: noodle endlessly with the Mando-stick! The normal jet engine noise completely masks the picking of the strings, the earbuds let me be alone with my music, and the fact that there's no peghead means that I don't poke the person sitting on my left. What a life-saver - and, it's an excuse to sit and pick for hours on end!

    Jerry M.




  7. #7

    Default Re: Risa mando-solid ii

    I know this is an old thread. I too have a Risa (got it as a Christmas present a couple of years ago.) I used to noodle on it all the time while watching TV, and then packed it away one day, and forgot about it. I recently got diagnosed with tendinitis, and have found that the Risa actually still lets me play [wrist brace and all].

    Now down to my question: what are you folks using for strings? I've noticed that Risa no longer sells this mando, or the strings for it.

    So I'm looking for ideas -- anyone?

    And by the way, {for anyone still reading} the Danelectro Honeytone amp is a great - tiny battery powered amp to throw in the suitcase with the Risa.
    Sheryl --- Me

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