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Thread: What should I do with that mandolin?

  1. #1

    Default What should I do with that mandolin?

    Hello,
    I just bought that 50 euros mandolin from Rakuten, I think it looks good, but there are several problems I encountered:

    - When I move the bridge to get the open string and the 12th fret on tune, the other notes ranging from 1rst to 11th are out of tune, often too sharp.

    - I am having trouble pressing down the strings on the 1rst fret, is it because they are too high?

    - I think that the strings spacing is a bit strange, they are spread quite evenly on the bridge.

    I attached here some pictures:

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    What are your thoughts? Considering I am on an extreme student budget, should I return it and look for a bit more expensive mandolin, but well set up, or bring it to a luthier to get some work done?

    Thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Welcome to the Cafe! Return it. Nothing good is ever going to come from that mandolin.

  3. #3
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    Welcome to the Cafe! Return it. Nothing good is ever going to come from that mandolin.
    If you can return it for full credit on a better instrument, sure, I agree.

    However, I worked in music importers and know that this model mandolin only needs to first have the nut slots cut properly (they are way too high and likely is a molded plastic hollow nut) and then to have the bridge set for intonation and action height, and one would have a minimally working mandolin. I can't speak for the tone quality.

    If you can do this work yourself, perfect; otherwise the cost of using a mandolin tech or a luthier would be more than what you paid for the instrument itself.

  4. #4

    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    The action is high, but even considering some distortion from the camera angle, when I "measure" the length from the nut to bridge (in pixels), and divide by two, what it looks like to me is that the bridge is setting as if you used the intonation at the 13th fret, not the 12th. I counted them a couple of times, and maybe I'm wrong, so here's a picture and the scale and 1/2 of that shown in orange.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Assuming I am not completely, temporarily, off-planet, setting the bridge location using the 12th fret will help with the others. (I checked against a scale image and while there's some quibble with a fret or two, I don't think the slotting is the problem.)
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  6. #5

    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Thanks for your answer, I moved the bridge while trying checking if the 12th fret is in tune or not, I did not notice 1/2 of the string was on the 13th fret. I think I'm going to return it and look for a better set up one.

  7. #6
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Weiixia View Post
    Thanks for your answer, I moved the bridge while trying checking if the 12th fret is in tune or not, I did not notice 1/2 of the string was on the 13th fret. I think I'm going to return it and look for a better set up one.
    Good for you! Best of luck, too.

  8. #7

    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Weiixia View Post
    I think I'm going to return it and look for a better set up one.
    Good decision. If they try to give you any hassle, point out to them that the bridge slot spacing is absolutely bonkers and clearly defective. It may have ruined the saddle, requiring repairs beyond a routine setup. Setups are to *adjust* things, not to outright replace numerous defective or damaged things.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    One wonders if some computer-based designer actually thought it *should* be that way because "Oh let's even up the string spacing so it looks more tidy!" or was some rogue worker just trying to play a trick on their employers?

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  10. #8
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Three points I see from your photos: The nut slots need deepening as the strings are very high above the first fret; this will affect your intonation. The bridge is too far back towards the tailpiece - as Weiixia points out, the distance between nut and 12th fret should be very close to the distance between 12th fret and saddle; again, an intonation probelm is created. The saddle slots will need to be recut or even a new saddle made to put the strings into 4 double courses rather then the uniform spacing which has been used at the saddle. Maybe whoever did the setup at the saddle has only previously worked on guitars or instruments with single courses?

    I would agree with those who suggest returning the mando for a refund.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

  11. #9
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jess L. View Post
    One wonders if some computer-based designer actually thought it *should* be that way because "Oh let's even up the string spacing so it looks more tidy!" or was some rogue worker just trying to play a trick on their employers?
    Or just a bad design and low QC.

  12. #10

    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Or just a bad design and low QC.
    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    Three points I see from your photos: The nut slots need deepening as the strings are very high above the first fret; this will affect your intonation. The bridge is too far back towards the tailpiece .... Maybe whoever did the setup at the saddle has only previously worked on guitars or instruments with single courses?

    I would agree with those who suggest returning the mando for a refund.
    OP moved the bridge by setting the intonation at the 13th fret, is my guess (see my earlier post). Of course, it, along with string spacing at the bridge, might have moved or adjusted incorrectly at the factory, but I suspect that's in the 20% part of the pareto chart, and this may be an instrument that's been through too many hands at this point.

    In that price range, it will be difficult to find something that doesn't have initial setup problems of some sort! Any exchange should attempt to move to a shallower end of the barrel. My 2
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  13. #11

    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Looks like nylon strung,unless photo artifact.

  14. #12
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Looks like nylon strung,unless photo artifact.
    All the ones I saw had low grade metal strings.

  15. #13
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Looks like nylon strung,unless photo artifact.
    The E and A string sets certainly look metal. Interestingly, the nut slots are much better spaced as four pairs compared to the uniform spacing found at the saddle.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

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  17. #14

    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    I went looking on the fr.rakuten.shopping.com site (only one I could get to without creating an account), and there's a close relative of OP's mandolin there (in a "kit" with picks, bag, etc.) for 79. It actually had the string space looking mandolin-like at the bridge, but, assuming it wasn't an entirely photoshopped creation, the "double the length to the 12th fret" with pixels still shows the bridge pretty badly misplaced. (I should have just stopped at Frank's first response and kept practicing. )

    Click image for larger version. 

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    2019 Northfield NF-F5S
    some home music videos

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  19. #15
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should I do with that mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    The E and A string sets certainly look metal. Interestingly, the nut slots are much better spaced as four pairs compared to the uniform spacing found at the saddle.
    typically those nuts are molded plastic with the slots molded too.

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