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Thread: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

  1. #51
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    That statement is now 100 years out of date. Electric Mandolins (like the Electric Guitar) generally have easier action & they're easier to strum because they're slightly smaller.

  2. #52

    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    That statement is now 15 & a Half years out of date, it's easier to learn tone production on an Electric instrument due to the easier action & slightly smaller size.
    I guess that depends on what is meant by "tone production". I tend to think of that as the ability to pull sufficiently loud tone from an acoustic instrument that is also pleasing to the ear. Which I don't think one can learn from playing an electric instrument regardless of the size or action, and in fact, I'd go so far as to say learning to play on an electric instrument would hinder ones tone production ability on an acoustic instrument should you decide to switch later. That has been my observation of Electric guitar players learning to play acoustic as well. They're really different playing techniques.


    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    That statement is now 100 years out of date. Electric Mandolins (like the Electric Guitar) generally have easier action & they're easier to strum because they're slightly smaller.
    I think those two properties are not the byproduct of the size of the instrument but rather the nature of it. Lower action is achievable because it doesn't require as aggressive of a right hand technique since the instrument is being amplified externally and not acoustically. Similarly, they're "easier" to strum/play because they can be strung with lighter gauge strings since they do not rely on string mass to produce volume.

    In response to the OP's question, if the player wishes to play an electric instrument, they should buy an electric instrument. If they wish to play an acoustic instrument, they will not benefit from starting on an electric instrument as it requires inherently different techniques to play the two. If you switch from electric to acoustic mandolin after learning to play the former, you'll find that you have technique deficiencies for achieving the desired tone on an acoustic instrument that may require relearning your right hand technique. The same goes the other way around.

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  4. #53
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Yes, you'll need to tune it, just like any fretted instrument.

    I must say, there are some really cool solid-body four-, five-, and eight-string electrics out there.

    And in the hollow-body realm, an old Harmony batwing (a la Yank Rachell) looks so great that who cares how it sounds? (Yank's sounded great.)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    If it's a hollow-body, you don't need to plug it in. Hollow-body electrics have some drawbacks, though. If the pickup is right up at the base of the neck, it can interfere with your picking. I had one, and my pick was always clicking on the pickup. Yug! And feedback can be a problem, as it is with all hollow and semi-hollow electric instruments.

    Bottom line: Get what you want! A friend of mine makes these: Earnest Instruments (And notice the double-neck electric option!)
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; Oct-31-2021 at 10:00pm.
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  5. #54
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by bradeasley View Post
    . . . I'd go so far as to say learning to play on an electric instrument would hinder ones tone production ability on an acoustic instrument should you decide to switch later. That has been my observation of Electric guitar players learning to play acoustic as well. They're really different playing techniques. . . .
    I've played acoustic and electric guitar for over fifty years. I absolutely agree that students should start on acoustic. The reason isn't about tone or technique, though. Acoustic guitars force you to develop much stronger fingers. So switching to electric is a May breeze. People who start on electric often never master acoustic, simply because it's "too hard."

    The sounds of acoustic and electric guitars are so different than a player naturally uses them differently. (Hand me an electric guitar and I'm suddenly belting out Chicago blues.) But the technique remains the same: You put your left fingers behind the frets and press. You hit the strings with your right thumb or fingers or nails or pick or picks. Out comes the sound. And that's what it's all about!
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Just for everyone’s info: this thread was started almost 6 years ago. I am not sure if the OP is active. However… carry on!
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    My thoughts:

    Don't begin with an electric mandolin if your goal is acoustic mandolin.
    No need to start with an acoustic mandolin if your goal is to play an electric mandolin.

    They are different enough instruments that one should go after what one wants to play. It's that simple.
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  10. #57
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Just for everyone’s info: this thread was started almost 6 years ago. I am not sure if the OP is active. However… carry on!
    Ugh! Caught me again. When, oh, when will I ever learn?

    Thanks, Jim!
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Just for everyone’s info: this thread was started almost 6 years ago. I am not sure if the OP is active. However… carry on!
    I have always thought it would be cool if posts over a year old turned yellow, and posts over five years old turned brown.
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  13. #59

    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Now I really want an electric mandolin that never needs to be tuned.

  14. #60

    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    Now I really want an electric mandolin that never needs to be tuned.
    Gibson tried that on their guitars. It did not go so well.

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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    I have two electric solid body mandolins - one 5 string one 8 string. I rarely play the 8 string because it doesn't sound amazing to me. The 5 string however I play all the time. It's a lot of fun - but basically is just an electric guitar tuned like a mandolin with a smaller fretboard size. It's not what I would call a true mandolin in any sense of the word (at least the way I like playing it haha).

    I also have 2 main acoustic mandolins as well. In the bands and venues that I play in, I found trying to be acoustic with a mic was just not feasible (mainly due to either feedback and/or volume issues). I tried personal mics that attached to the mandolin as well - still had issues. To avoid that nightmare and make it easier to play, I have pickups installed after market in both. I use the pickups pretty much any time I play out and have a pedal board designed to help get back the acoustic sound as much as I can. I would recommend getting a pickup installed after market on pretty much any acoustic instrument that you plan to play at a venue.

    I would NEVER recommend the electric mandolins with factory installed pickups and the volume / tone knobs built on the instrument. They are always horrible in my experience.
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Hey you know what? Just like the Electric Guitar is easier for beginners than an Acoustic Guitar due to the easier action, gentler strings, etc, the same thing goes for the Electric Mandolin being easier than Acoustic Mandolin, etc. The biggest reason why Electric Mandolins are easier to play is because many of them have half as many strings as single strings, which could actually be easier on the fretting hand. In fact I have a friend who had meningitis that wanted to play Mandolin again so I had him try the Fender Mandocaster IV & he was strumming again. You can actually make your Acoustic instrument feel like an Electric by using thinner strings & lowering the action.

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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    I've played acoustic and electric guitar for over fifty years. I absolutely agree that students should start on acoustic. The reason isn't about tone or technique, though. Acoustic guitars force you to develop much stronger fingers. So switching to electric is a May breeze. People who start on electric often never master acoustic, simply because it's "too hard."

    The sounds of acoustic and electric guitars are so different than a player naturally uses them differently. (Hand me an electric guitar and I'm suddenly belting out Chicago blues.) But the technique remains the same: You put your left fingers behind the frets and press. You hit the strings with your right thumb or fingers or nails or pick or picks. Out comes the sound. And that's what it's all about!
    That statement is now 14.5 years out of date. Electric Guitars are more beginner friendly because of their lighter strings, easier action etc, same for Electric Mandolins, etc. You can make your Acoustic play like an Electric by lowering the action & using thinner strings.

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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    The real reason why Beginners should start w/ Electric Mandolin is because it's a tad bit smaller which makes it easier to hold & chords are alot easier.

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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by luthier88 View Post
    Lots of weird "spam" stuff here...

    I'll say what I tell beginners in the violin world: You can't learn tone production on an electric violin/fiddle, and it is the same with an electric mando vs acoustic.
    That statement is now outdated, Electric Mandolins are fretted which means like Electric Guitars they're easier to play barre Chords on. Now w/ Electric Violins vs Acoustic Violins it's the other way around, I guess.

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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Also Electric Mandolins weigh half as much as Acoustic Mandolins

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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    As far as Barre Chords are concerned, Electric Mandolins are the way to go.

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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by mbruno View Post
    I have two electric solid body mandolins - one 5 string one 8 string. I rarely play the 8 string because it doesn't sound amazing to me. The 5 string however I play all the time. It's a lot of fun - but basically is just an electric guitar tuned like a mandolin with a smaller fretboard size. It's not what I would call a true mandolin in any sense of the word (at least the way I like playing it haha).

    I also have 2 main acoustic mandolins as well. In the bands and venues that I play in, I found trying to be acoustic with a mic was just not feasible (mainly due to either feedback and/or volume issues). I tried personal mics that attached to the mandolin as well - still had issues. To avoid that nightmare and make it easier to play, I have pickups installed after market in both. I use the pickups pretty much any time I play out and have a pedal board designed to help get back the acoustic sound as much as I can. I would recommend getting a pickup installed after market on pretty much any acoustic instrument that you plan to play at a venue.

    I would NEVER recommend the electric mandolins with factory installed pickups and the volume / tone knobs built on the instrument. They are always horrible in my experience.
    Actually Vangoa makes higher quality Beginner Electric Mandolins that you can get, & they're actually Acoustic-Electric Mandolins basically Acoustic Mandolins w/ Single Coil Pickups added to them so you can hook it up to an amp & rock out:https://www.amazon.com/Vangoa-Mandol...091BR1GB2?th=1 so they're a little bit bigger in versatility than a Standard Acoustic Mandolin. These have really light gauge strings & low action to facilitate good playing technique, & the single coil pickup w/ Volume & Tone Knobs is fantastic because they've improved them over the years.

  23. #69
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    Also Electric Mandolins weigh half as much as Acoustic Mandolins
    Highly doubtful. Solibodies weigh more and acoustic electrics add the pickup and electrical components. And anyway why would light weight make an instrument easier to play?
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  25. #70
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    Actually Vangoa makes higher quality Beginner Electric Mandolins that you can get, & they're actually Acoustic-Electric Mandolins basically Acoustic Mandolins w/ Single Coil Pickups added to them so you can hook it up to an amp & rock out:https://www.amazon.com/Vangoa-Mandol...091BR1GB2?th=1 so they're a little bit bigger in versatility than a Standard Acoustic Mandolin. These have really light gauge strings & low action to facilitate good playing technique, & the single coil pickup w/ Volume & Tone Knobs is fantastic because they've improved them over the years.
    It may sound better than it used to, but I highly doubt this thing sounds decent plugged in. Garbage in, garbage out. My gut is "the especially at $140 for the whole mandolin and the package.

    Normally I don't go after posts - but since you're brand new (only posts are on this thread), your username appears system generated, and (perhaps opinion in part) your posts provide demonstrably false information.

    + Electric mandolins are smaller than acoustics? The smallest electric I've seen is the Thunderbird, which is larger (by a hair maybe) than any of my acoustic mandolins.
    + Single Coil pickups are more versatile than an acoustic mandolin with an installed pickup? How exactly?
    + What the hell is a barre chord on a mandolin? In most cases, you'd only play two string courses with one finger. Some more complex chords may require 3 courses with one finger. What chords are you playing? It's not like a guitar man.
    + All my electric mandolins weigh more than any of my acoustics. The Vangoa you posted likely does too - that super versatile single coil isn't a feather.

    If you're not a spam bot or someone that works for the Vangoa company, I don't mean any offense. Just seems really, really suspicious to me.
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  27. #71
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    A favorite clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnKoQbFXemE

    The question really is: when and where and which skills are transferable. Almost always best, IMO, to directly go after that which you want. Its going to be hard regardless, might as well be hard in the direction you are intending.
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    I figured it all out. Electric Guitars are great for beginners due to the easier action, smaller size & thinner strings, so Electric Mandolin might work cause it's easier to play on Lower action.
    Yeahbut -

    Guitar players who start on electric have a really hard time switching to acoustic. Players who start on acoustic switching to electric with ease.
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    Electric Mandolins are easier to make a good sound out of so they're more beginner friendly. I converted one of my Acoustic Mandolins to have no expression like an Electric by filling its body w/ foam.
    Beer foam, I assume . . . .
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  30. #74
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Mobi, you haven't responded to any of this. Let us know if you're reading our posts. Just want to make sure you're still alive.

    Thanks!
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    Default Re: Should a beginner buy electric mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Yeahbut -

    Guitar players who start on electric have a really hard time switching to acoustic. Players who start on acoustic switching to electric with ease.
    Actually that's not always true, Taylor is known for making Acoustic Guitars that feel like Electric Guitars to facilitate switching from Electric to Acoustic w/ ease. They have a skinnier neck, extra light 10 gauge strings (maybe lighter), & easier action along w/ the smaller body. Generally speaking an Electric Guitar is easier to play than an Acoustic due to its slightly smaller size, so that should be true for the Electric Mandolin being easier than Acoustic Mandolin. Also beginners don't have the strength to hold down those really heavy gauge strings, so Electric Guitars w/ their gentle touch help.

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