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Thread: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

  1. #1
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    ...and why?

    Let's go with three categories:
    * Up to $1,000
    * Up to $2,500
    * At any price
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Have a P5/Pentalin Pentula , It cost too much, for as little as I play it
    Not sure where it was built, Fender Custom shop? sort of like a Strat Body
    Shrunken but just as thick ..

    Maybe Martin Knows..

    a short scale at 15" .. I tuned it with heavy strings so an octave down GDAEB
    rather than 2 steps up, as supplied . EABF#C#
    Multiplanar headstock pulls the low "G" down a lot , just past the Nut.
    functions like its angled for the other 4 strings

    IMHO 29 fret fingerboard is a waste, could have made it shorter,
    then room for a 2nd pickup, neck position instead.

    Bought out Alex Gregory's patents, then did little with them.

    maybe the Asian factory they went to ...

    (after fulfilling their agreement, supplying mine, made in the States[?]
    bought, but not paid for,yet, just as the buyout-handover was going on,)

    ... for mass production would not bend to their will..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Mandroid:
    Do you mean the Brian Moore P5.
    Wow. That looks sweet...But 4 Large. Ouch.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    No, he means the PEN5 prototype Pentaula. Unfortunately, it's the prototype for a line of instruments that never got built.

    Bob: I'm pretty sure Alex built that instrument himself. PEN5 bought his designs and did nothing with them.

    Under $1K, I'm pretty happy with the stuff I've seen from John Smith, Terry Bales and Andrew Jerman.

    Midrange, there's a lot to choose from. I play a Bacorn, a Yanuziello, a vintage National, a vintage Roberts, and a vintage Gibson EM150, all of which would be in that range more or less. Mann, Eckhaus, Weber Maverick, old StewMacs, Schwab, vintage Fender, Rono, and many others all have their charms.

    Rigel actually made a handful of E110 "Rigelcasters"... it would be fun to have one of those.

    If money were no object I'd track down a Gregory Pentalin and a Stevens Paul Glasse, maybe a Gibson F12E or F5E, the Bigsbys played by Eschol Cosby, Tiny Moore and Paul Buskirk, and the John Knutson 5/8 doubleneck:


    Surely I'm leaving someone out, unintentionally ... I don't mean to hurt any feelings.
    Last edited by mrmando; Aug-24-2011 at 5:37pm.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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    Donaldson • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Old Wave • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  5. #5

    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    I agree with Martin on the (under $1000) JL Smith Mandolin, Andrew Jermann and Terry Bales, but in fairness to others I've not played any of John Mann's, Kevin Schwab's, or Terry Bales Emando's. I'd also add that in this price range the Fender FM 60E is a nice mandolin with a pick up upgrade
    I have to say, as of today, the Roberts still has the sweetest sound to my ear. There were some things I didn't like about that Electric, but the sound more than made up for it. In fact there's a beauthiful temptrest (Roberts Tiny Moore) for sale on the Emando site right now.

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Thanks for all the informative replies. Keep 'em coming.
    I've been researching the custom builders mentioned here, and the overall quality of the instruments (at all the price points) seems pretty amazing. Looks like someone can get a great custom-built, solid-bodied e-mando for $1,500.
    Oh, I'd love to see pics of that PEN5 prototype Pentaula. I bet that's something else.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    My first 8-string solid electric was by Gerry Collyard. I think I paid $340 or $350 for it. It was a fun little axe, with a great EMG pickup ... a lot of mandolin for the money.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Old Wave • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  8. #8

    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    I meant to add a comment about Steve Ryder's mandolins. His EM 34/35 and EM 54/55 are beautiful instruments, at least in my eyes. I like them so much I'm going to order one. He states on his website the design was inspired by the Gibson 400 archtop guitar. I've always had a fondness for those electric archtop guitars.
    http://sjryder.com/electric_mandolins.htm

    I think we're very fortunate to have access to so many great builders these days.

  9. #9
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Yes, Steve crossed my mind while I was composing my list above, then I forgot to include him. Sorry, Steve ... I was pretty sure I'd left someone out ... looks like I also neglected to mention JBovier and Dave Wendler and Bruce Herron of Blue Star ... argh. And to the list of dream instruments, we must add a mint '58 Mandocaster and the Gibson SG tenor/mandolin doubleneck, not to mention a National New Yorker and a National horseshoe-pickup model, both from the 1930s.
    Last edited by mrmando; Aug-25-2011 at 3:01am.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Old Wave • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Here are a couple of photos of Bob's PEN5. These were taken by Steve Ryder after he installed the MIDI pickup.

    Bob -- I think you said you had misplaced these photos ... I went digging and found my copies of them. I hope you don't mind my posting them here.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Old Wave • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Wow, that's cool!
    I love the reverse and "terraced" peghead.
    I also really like the look of the pick-guard and the figure in the wood.
    Very nice. Thanks for posting.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    It's OK, Martin , saves me digging , gone thru a few heintz 58 computers, since, stuff dies with the hard drives.

    Steve also switched out the string guide for the lowest one , a small strap knob is at least round,
    so tuning pulls the string around it better, a bushing/roller would be even better..

    I noted a picture some where Alex has tarantula fingers ,
    so the Louisville slugger big end of the bat, neck ,
    may have suited him. I had to get it shaved down for my hands..

    sent Martin a picture of the 4 string I had Greg Biller do,
    he could put that up too.
    my first sacrifice to see what a Mando,
    modified to run thru a Guitar synth , sounded like,
    by having the bridge replaced with one with 4 RMC pickups in it.
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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    In The Van Ben Milne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Loving my Bacorn....
    Hereby & forthwith, any instrument with an odd number of strings shall be considered broken. With regard to mix levels, usually the best approach is treating the mandolin the same as a cowbell.

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    ...snip... Eckhaus...snip...
    Has anyone played or heard a Joel Eckhaus (Earnest Instruments) 'Swamp Cat'? If so, thoughts? It sure is an attractive e-mando.



    Unfortunately, I could not find a single YouTube clip featuring one of these. I know clips are imperfect, but it's better than no point of reference at all. Thanks.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

  15. #15

    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    I had my eye on a 5 string swamp cat martin had but never bought it . guess someone else did . but i need a thick and large body to fit all of my modifications in to it successfully . my upgrades cost me close to a grand .

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Has anyone played or heard an "Honest" Ron Lira electric?

    NICE looking Strat-like frame, Seymour Duncan mini-Humbucker, Schaller tuners, and a nice price to boot.

    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    More photos of the PEN5, pre-modification:

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    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Old Wave • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

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    In The Van Ben Milne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    In the any price category, it would be hard to go past one of Andy Manson's creations.
    Hereby & forthwith, any instrument with an odd number of strings shall be considered broken. With regard to mix levels, usually the best approach is treating the mandolin the same as a cowbell.

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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Have owned/played many of the top names, as well as many cheapies. I will say without a doubt that my JL Smith 5 string is the one I keep coming back to. It has the punch, is easy to play, and looks very cool as well. What more could you ask for? Is definately the best buy in an electric mandolin on the market today, in my not so humble opinion.
    Chief. Way up North. Gibson 1917 A model with pickup. JL Smith 5 string electric. 1929 National Triolian resonator mandolin with pickup. National RM 1 with pickup. Ovation Applause. Fender FM- 60 E 5 string electric (with juiced pickups). 1950's Gibson EM-200 electric mandolin. 1954 Gibson EM-150 electric mandolin. Custom made "Jett Pink" 5 string electric- Bo Diddley slab style. Jay Roberts Tiny Moore model 5 string electric.

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    Crιateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Goist View Post
    Has anyone played or heard a Joel Eckhaus (Earnest Instruments) 'Swamp Cat'? If so, thoughts? It sure is an attractive e-mando.



    Unfortunately, I could not find a single YouTube clip featuring one of these. I know clips are imperfect, but it's better than no point of reference at all. Thanks.
    Had a customer who had one of these and he wasn`t too impressed!!!!!!!......(understatement).

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soundfarmer Pete View Post
    Had a customer who had one of these and he wasn`t too impressed!!!!!!!......(understatement).
    Just to be fair, Pete. Don't you think if you post a negative comment you can also post more details? It would also be helpful to those who are interested.

    FWIW: Barry Mitterhoff plays one in his Hot Tuna shows (seen behind him on a stand).

    Jim

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    I heard complaints about one Swamp Cat, probably the same one Pete's talking about ... starting with the color of the custom finish being wrong. There were several other problems; I forget most of them ... clearly that one instrument wasn't up to Joel's usual standard.

    I had one here for a few months; I didn't have any problems with it, and the fellow who bought it emailed me earlier this month just to say how pleased he was. Last January, Jason Anick was in town and I sat him down with the Swamp Cat, a Weber Maverick and a Bacorn. Jason was most concerned about tone, even pickup response, and lack of flop in the C string. He preferred the Bacorn although he didn't buy it. (Ironically, the guy who did buy the Bacorn is a student at Berklee and may well be studying with Jason next year!) IIRC the Swamp Cat was Jason's least favorite of the 3, but it was a nice opportunity to hear a great player put 3 mid-/high-end e-mandos through their paces.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Old Wave • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Goist View Post
    Has anyone played or heard an "Honest" Ron Lira electric?
    I was in touch with a fellow in Tulsa who had one for sale, but I ended up not pulling the trigger, I forget why. I probably got distracted by something else.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Old Wave • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  24. #24
    Crιateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Just to be fair, Pete. Don't you think if you post a negative comment you can also post more details? It would also be helpful to those who are interested.
    Ah....sounds like Martin`s heard about the same instrument........
    The main complaint was that the bridge wasn`t centred and there wasn`t enough play in the neck pocket to align the strings evenly - the customer therefore had to fill, drill and shift the bridge across so the strings lined up correctly. That being done, a new scratchplate was needed (and since he wasn`t happy with the stock items, new pickups which is where I came in).
    In fairness, the colour was supposed to be the same as an old Fender guitar - easy to duplicate the original colours as they were used by car manufacturers......but of course, the original would have been oversprayed with nitrocellulose which would have yellowed over the years - perhaps the customer should have specified a tinted lacquer!!!!!!!!

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    Default Re: Who Are Your Favorite Builders of Solid-Bodied E-Mandos?

    I've enjoyed my custom J.MANN 8 string.

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