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Thread: And just like that...

  1. #1

    Default And just like that...

    ...I have my first emando, a Gold Tone 5 string.

    I'm having a blast with it so far, but as a newb to electric instruments and still a relative newb to the mandolin I have questions, such as

    Any tips for integrating that C string into my picking? Do any of you use any effects pedals and if so what do you like? The only amp I have now is a tiny little Honeytone - Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #2
    Registered User BoxCarJoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: And just like that...

    get an EQ pedal. Even a cheap one makes a difference.

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    MN Mandolin Orchestra Benjamin Gieseke's Avatar
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    Default Re: And just like that...

    Very nice! Congratulations!

    Regarding amp and effects pedals-not sure what your budget is, but probably the easiest and most cost effective way to jump in on effects and upgrade your amp at the same time would be a Boss Katana or a Fender Mustang. There's a lot of variation in size and power with those, and both have a wide range of clean and driven sounds, as well as effects built in. Its a good way to get your feet wet and upgrade to a "grown up" amp without breaking the bank. Either the Katana or the Mustang would also be a good pedal platform amp if you want to explore that world as well.

    My other suggestions if you are looking to keep it small/good for home use would be a Yamaha THR10, or look at a small tube amp such as Blackstar HT1 or HT5 and then think about adding some effects pedals. Kind of depends on your budget and what you are hoping to get out of your new rig. Also, a looper pedal is always a good investment, they come pretty cheap these days and they are one of the best practice/jamming tools you could ever ask for.

    Congrats again! Have fun!
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  7. #4
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    Default Re: And just like that...

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    ... what grownup amps go well with the instrument?
    That would depend on how much space you need to fill, and how "electric-vs-acoustic" you want to sound. Guessing that the 5-string is a solid-body, therefore going for a more "electric" sound?

    I'm no expert on electric mandolin, except to note that both mandolin and guitar generally cover a range of about 3 1/2 octaves, of which only one octave or so does NOT overlap, so mandolin (in the grander scheme of things) is not so radically different from guitar as many tend to think. Some will disagree, but I'd start looking at reviews of guitar amps just to get a feel of what's out there and what some folks think is important.
    (Edit: Flymolo0's recommendations, above, are way more current than my experience!)

    As far as guitar amps go, I've had a bunch, from a tube Fender "piggy-back" BandMaster down to the AA-cell Roland MicroCube that I currently use to back up a mandolin group at library-friendly levels. FWIW, the MicroCube, for all its diminutive size, is still a step up from the Honeytone, plus it models an array of other well-known amps and effects, even if the audiophiles among us might disagree. IMHO, lots of fun for (these days) about $160.
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
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  9. #5

    Default Re: And just like that...

    I've just fallen down a rabbit hole of YouTube reviews and suchlike. The Microcube looks pretty good and, more importantly, it's available locally (Israel) at somewhat less than an extortionate premium. Thanks for the rec!

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    Default Re: And just like that...

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    ... at somewhat less than an extortionate premium.
    HA! Yeah, got mine on sale 10 or 12 years ago for maybe $90 US, when the going street price was around $125. It'll also run off a wall-wart converter; I just find the six 1.5 volt batteries more convenient for the library setting, and they -amazingly- last well over a year of weekly 2-hr. gigs.

    Good luck, and enjoy!
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the knowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

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    Default Re: And just like that...

    BTW, I wouldn't really call the MicroCube a "grownup" amp... more like an athletic 12-year-old!
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the knowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

  12. #8

    Default Re: And just like that...

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    BTW, I wouldn't really call the MicroCube a "grownup" amp... more like an athletic 12-year-old!
    Well, as Alfred Hitchcock is reputed to have said, "I have the heart of a child...it's in a jar on the mantlepiece!"

  13. #9
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    Default Re: And just like that...

    here's some tips:
    what you have now is a combination of mandola(bottom four strings)and mandolin(top four). The challenge from the luthier side is that mandolas use a longer fret scale than mandolins..consequently there are sometimes intonation issues sometimes with the C string, or a feeling that the C string is "floppy". Make sure you have a good pro setup, and consider a thicker gauge string for the C
    as far as integrating the C into your picking, you have a fantastic opportunity to work on transposition..the same chord voicings you know on the mandolin can be moved down to the bottom four, transposed to a different key. I usually play accompaniment chords on the lower four as they sound a little richer, less in the way of the soloist or distracting...
    in terms of scales or melody playing, you now have more notes to add below your mandolin scale patterns! For example, if you're jamming in G, you could start a phrase on 2-4-6 (D-E-F#) on the low string as pickups to your open G string and above. I like to map out improv territories by starting with a one octave scale, then extending that both above and below. So now you have more possibilities thanks to the C string. Of course scale shapes are the same since we're still tuned in fifths across the board
    effects and amps have more to do with genre or style than with the 5-string mandolin...if you're playing things that like a clean sound, look for an amp that features ample headroom (won't break up at low volumes) If it's the other, say distortion/sustain is part of the style you're playing, probably a channel-switching tube amp would be the starting point, or you could get the overdrive or distortion from a pedal of course
    check out 5 and ten string players for ideas: Paul Glasse,Tiny Moore, DuDu Maia, Hamilton DeHolanda, Tom Wright, maybe even yours truly
    4 stringers for reference on sounds( amp, pedal, etc) Sam Bush, Wayne Benson, Ricky Skaggs
    C-G-D-A electric 4 stringers who swing like mad: Johnny Gimble, Jason Roberts

    keep it fun and careful the wallet!

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  15. #10
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: And just like that...

    If you have a C on the bottom, you should have a 15" scale length neck, at least. If you are going lower (octave down) with a G ion the bottom, you need 17", though 18" or 19" would be better sound wise for that low string if you can handle the stretches, or rethink the fingering.

    With a 5-string, I think you are better off with a GDAEB or GDAEA (I prefer a 4th interval on the top) tuning, which puts you right in electric guitar territory - register wise. You are only a minor 3rd higher than a standard tuned elec guitar. Means you can cover rhythm guitar grooves for the most part, although you may have to leave out a chordal note here or there. If you are playing in a group with a guitarist, you want to be able to shift to rhythm backup while he/she solos.

    Once you go with single strings, you might as well dump the "mandolin" sounds and emulate Richard Thompson, James Burton, Peter Green, Hendrix, Santana, Garcia etc rather than playing bluegrass licks on it (which sound awful on the instrument, imo). Super-slinky light gauge strings make for easier string bending, but tone suffers. Best to develop the finger strength (it's easier the long the scale length, thus the suggestion to consider 18" or 19" instead of 17") and use heavier strings, especially if you want to go for the SRV "bite".

    And forget about an expensive custom built electric "mando". Get a mini Strat and do a conversion. If you keep the 19" scale, just restring it with gauges that fit the tuning, and take off the hardware for the low bass string if the bridge saddles and tuners are individual. Leave that extra space on the bottom so you can push-bend your low string'

    Tone: you can always swap out cheap pickups with some Seymour Duncans. A 5-position is a good idea if you have 3 pickups, especially if you like that "out-of-phase" strat sound. But instrument modifications aside, MOST of your tone COMES FROM YOU FINGERS.

    Niles H

  16. #11

    Default Re: And just like that...

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    If you have a C on the bottom, you should have a 15" scale length neck, at least. If you are going lower (octave down) with a G ion the bottom, you need 17", though 18" or 19" would be better sound wise for that low string if you can handle the stretches, or rethink the fingering.

    With a 5-string, I think you are better off with a GDAEB or GDAEA (I prefer a 4th interval on the top) tuning, which puts you right in electric guitar territory - register wise. You are only a minor 3rd higher than a standard tuned elec guitar. Means you can cover rhythm guitar grooves for the most part, although you may have to leave out a chordal note here or there. If you are playing in a group with a guitarist, you want to be able to shift to rhythm backup while he/she solos.

    Once you go with single strings, you might as well dump the "mandolin" sounds and emulate Richard Thompson, James Burton, Peter Green, Hendrix, Santana, Garcia etc rather than playing bluegrass licks on it (which sound awful on the instrument, imo). Super-slinky light gauge strings make for easier string bending, but tone suffers. Best to develop the finger strength (it's easier the long the scale length, thus the suggestion to consider 18" or 19" instead of 17") and use heavier strings, especially if you want to go for the SRV "bite".

    And forget about an expensive custom built electric "mando". Get a mini Strat and do a conversion. If you keep the 19" scale, just restring it with gauges that fit the tuning, and take off the hardware for the low bass string if the bridge saddles and tuners are individual. Leave that extra space on the bottom so you can push-bend your low string'

    Tone: you can always swap out cheap pickups with some Seymour Duncans. A 5-position is a good idea if you have 3 pickups, especially if you like that "out-of-phase" strat sound. But instrument modifications aside, MOST of your tone COMES FROM YOU FINGERS.

    Niles H

    Niles, that all makes sense to me. What gauges would you recommend for strings on a 19-inch scale?

  17. #12
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: And just like that...

    Here's what I use on 17". 48 36 22w 14 10. Maybe add a little for 19"
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Niles H

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  19. #13

    Default Re: And just like that...

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    ...I have my first emando, a Gold Tone 5 string.
    Pics? I've always fancied that one.

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    Any tips for integrating that C string into my picking?
    Learn tenor banjo or guitar. Until I got comfortable with the fretboard I found it best to think of my 5 as 2 instruments - a tenor and a mandolin. Over time they've merged into one, but that helped the transition.

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    Do any of you use any effects pedals and if so what do you like? The only amp I have now is a tiny little Honeytone - Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	188703 - what grownup amps go well with the instrument?
    What type of music are you interested in playing? Hard rock usually requires more effects and distortion than jazz, so knowing where you're going helps.

    My rig is actually 2 - a dirty and a clean amp each with their own effects. I use a switcher pedal to go from one to the other.
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  20. #14
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: And just like that...

    Most people don't, but I like playing fiddle tunes on mine, especially sort of texas-style. Anything, really. Just clean through a tube, or tubey sounding, amp for me.

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