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Thread: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

  1. #1

    Default Mandocello Amplifier Recommendations

    Hi everyone,

    Just joined, first post. Hi!

    I am primarily a bassist, though also play guitar, and have enjoyed an octave mando for 5-6 years too. My family and bandmates just dropped some cash on me for a birthday, and I decided to take the plunge and get myself a mandocello, a long-time object of desire.

    While i drool over the various high-end mandocellos out there, I have purchased the Gold Tone mandocello. I considered the Eastman's but the 1.75 nut width seemed like a real deal-breaker, for this application, even though i have a few basses with that width. Having the piezo, with the neck humbucker seemed like a good setup too, a little warmth to blend into the piezo.

    So, now I am doing some research (mandocello might be the only subject under-represented on the internet!) and thinking about amplifier options. My goal is to play originals and genre-mixing covers in a trio of drums, piano, mandocello. Rocky/Jazzy/Proggy originals, and a wide range of covers.

    While I am sure I will try my bass amps with it, and my guitar amps, I suspect I will need something different to really give life to this instrument. Something with a full frequency response, and not too much color, and lots of headroom.

    Here are some initial thoughts i'd be interested in hearing folks opinions on, and of course any suggestions more than welcome.

    Roland JC120 (or JC40)
    SWR California Blonde
    Roland AC60 (with a powered sub)
    Peavey Nashville (Pedal Steel Amp)
    A keyboard amp (Peavey, Yamaha... don't know much about this area)

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by Gully Foyle; Sep-04-2020 at 1:50pm.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    Hi congrats I have the Goldtone Mandocello as well and i think its a great instrument, plywoody yes, but decent construction and pretty good unamplifed tone and response, speaking of amplification

    I had the Fishman loudbox mini, 50 watts - but the speaker could not handle the low end and so it rumbled a lot. I purchased a Fender Champion 100XL which can handle it, but its not really an acoustic instrument amp. I had some people ask if the mandocello was a feedbacker and it does if you crank the vol and tone with heavy reverb and gain, but its pretty well behaved in mid vol and tone, I tend to keep the tone low as the high is too bright for me, of course too low and your in a tin can.
    so need something with a heavy large speaker, and enough volume and gain to bring it out front while the instrument volumes and tone are mid way IMHO.
    I am thinking a VOX or one of the larger Fishmans might do the trick, something in the 100Watt area.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    Would that be solid electric bass or acoustic/stand-up bass? You may well be aware of the Acoustic Image Coda - compares in size to my Fender Vibrochamp - but rated at 400 watts and intended for acoustic instruments. Particularly bass but I find that mine copes just as well with acoustic guitar, octave mandolin, mandola, mandolin and my Roland guitar synth.

  4. #4
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    How about a powered PA speaker? They are clean and have a very wide range. Some keyboardists use them, as well as some guitarist who use digital profiles like Kemper, since the PA speakers handle a wide range without much coloration.
    -Dave
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    Way too many other instruments

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  6. #5
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    As Dave Sheets suggested and others mention, I would seriously consider a powered PA speaker or keyboard amp. I have an Eastman MC with an LR Baggs Anthem installed, and used a Carvin AG200 which worked very nicely.

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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    K&K twin pickups on an OM fed into an LR Baggs Venue DI and an older Marshal portable speak. It works great on the bass. Probably only suitable for church or small venues because the speaker is only 50 watts. Mostly, it is played in my den so it doesn’t need much power. ��

  8. #7
    Registered User NotMelloCello's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    I split the signal on mine between a Behringer bass amp with a 12, and a little Marshall. Sounds terrific. A PA speaker is a great choice, get a Yamaha or JBL for best quality sound.
    The difference between death and taxes is that death does not grow worse every time Congress convenes. - Will Rogers

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    Registered User kookaburra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    Another vote for a powered PA speaker.

  10. #9
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    My Carvin AG300 is great for all acoustic instruments, particularly for mandocello and upright bass. Its essentially a 3 way powered speaker. Lots of great features.

    I'm not sure Carvin still makes it as they nearly went out of business a year or two ago.

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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    The idea of a powered PA speaker is fine but you won’t be able to plug an instrument straight into one. A keyboard (with a low impedance/line out socket) maybe but a mandocello pickup will more than likely have a (very) high impedance pickup installed and you will need some way of matching this to the PA speaker input in order to get any useable sound out of it.

    Acoustic instrument amplifiers such as the Acoustic Image I mentioned earlier or the Carvin, Mandobart suggests, are basically a PA system in a convenient box

  12. #11
    Registered User NotMelloCello's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    The idea of a powered PA speaker is fine but you won’t be able to plug an instrument straight into one. A keyboard (with a low impedance/line out socket) maybe but a mandocello pickup will more than likely have a (very) high impedance pickup installed and you will need some way of matching this to the PA speaker input in order to get any useable sound out of it.
    This is true of ALL under saddle transducers.
    For best sound a buffering preamp will yield a balanced tone without the spiky trebles that so many people find harsh sounding.
    Fishman makes a couple, and there are others.
    The difference between death and taxes is that death does not grow worse every time Congress convenes. - Will Rogers

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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    .... but not ALL acoustic amps require some form of buffering preamp whereas most powered PA speaker inputs expect a line level signal.

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    The idea of a powered PA speaker is fine but you won’t be able to plug an instrument straight into one. A keyboard (with a low impedance/line out socket) maybe but a mandocello pickup will more than likely have a (very) high impedance pickup installed and you will need some way of matching this to the PA speaker input in order to get any useable sound out of it.

    Acoustic instrument amplifiers such as the Acoustic Image I mentioned earlier or the Carvin, Mandobart suggests, are basically a PA system in a convenient box
    If an acoustic amp (like my Carvin) has a high impedance (HI Z) input, no preamp or DI is needed. I have a RedEye but I only use it when plugging into a system with low impedance input.

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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    Think of it like this; the basic sound chain of any system includes a pre-amp, a power amp and a speaker. An acoustic combo amp includes all three whereas a powered speaker has only the final two. A powered speaker is a good idea because you have a wide choice of pre-amps available to wire in between your instrument and the power amp. Pre-amps come in a variety of forms from a humble stomp box to a multi-chanel studio desk and which you choose is dependent upon what you want to plug into it, what you want to do with it and how much you want to spend on it. All the complicated sound “stuff” takes place in the pre-amp and, personally, I appreciate the convenience of having everything in the same box. This may not suit everyone.

    As for “transducers”, a transducer is simply a device for converting one form of energy into another. Quite why people refer to a few crystals embedded in resin beneath a saddle as a “transducer” I can only speculate. Incidentally, my “household transducer” fired up this morning - it runs on gas and heats the radiators!
    Last edited by Ray(T); Sep-28-2020 at 3:24am.

  17. #15
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Gully Foyle View Post
    I suspect I will need something different to really give life to this instrument. Something with a full frequency response, and not too much color, and lots of headroom.
    Have you considered acoustic guitar amps?

    Most of the amps you listed are fine amps, but are "colored" for electric guitars. If you were using a magnetic pickup on your mandocello, and wanted an "electric" tone, they would be fine.

    Keyboard amps are flatter and less colored; so are acoustic guitar amps. Consider checking them out before you buy.

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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    That’s what some of us are suggesting but we’ve seen it all before; someone posts, goes away and doesn’t come back - over three weeks.

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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    I'm happy with a QSC K8.2 - great flat response sound, features a switchable high impedance input and some basic EQ. Sounds great with my Dazzo equipped mandocello.
    Ellis A5 Special Deluxe
    Collings MF 5 (for sale)
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    Lawrence Smart H 5 Mandola
    Gibson K 4 Mandocello
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    Thijs van der Harst Octave Mandolin

    guitars, banjo, dobro, weissenborn, fretless bass, upright bass

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    Registered User Steve Lavelle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello Amplifier Thoughts

    1 more for powered speaker.I used to play mandolin, banjo, and electric bass in a folk rock trio through a powered speaker. I had a separate pre for the bass and played the mandolin and banjo through a Radial Pre-z. The Radial was problematic because I had to change EQ for Banjo., luckily, I only played it on 2 or 3 songs per gig. EON610 was my choice to save on size and my weak old back. a615, only gets you 2Hz lower into the bass freq response (50 vs 52 for the 610, 610 id 13 lbs lighter than the 615).
    Steve Lavelle
    '93 Flatiron Performer F
    Customized Eastwood Mandocaster (8str)

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