Friday, December 26, 2014

E-Mando (Electric Mandolin) Design

I’ve just completed Paul’s e-mando and in the New Year it will be making a 10,400 mile journey to its new home in Australia.
Amanda and I have put together a video to demonstrate it. Rather than spending too much time talking in the video,  my rationale behind the E-mando’s design is here in the blog.
Having seen a number of bands playing live, using poorly amplified acoustic mandolins, I wanted to build something that a gigging mandolin player could regularly use amplified, with the minimum amount of fuss. Or, of course, any other player who wants to try a different voice.
I wanted the e-mando to look and feel like a mandolin rather than a mini-guitar. So many of the solid body mandolins that you see are scaled down versions of classic solid guitar designs and this look just isn’t for me. This shape is morphed from my Model 2 shape, which helps to keep the family resemblance with my acoustic instruments.
The e mando is finished in Tru-oil and wax which gives a wonderful tactile surface and enhances the natural beauty of the woods.
Thinking that the e-mando’s player could be on his/her feet for a couple of hours, ergonomics are an important consideration.
The top edge of the body is chamfered on both sides so that there are not any sharp edges to dig into the left arm.
32mm thick body keeps the weight down to just under 2 kg and comparatively light open gear mandolin tuners help to keep the mandolin balanced.
With the neck sloping backwards and a 20mm high bridge this e-mando feels like a traditional mandolin to play.
The use of an end pin jack-socket means that the lead and jack plug doesn’t interfere with the player.
The fingerboard has a compound radius and this coupled with the wide evo fret wire makes for a very easy to play instrument.
The Tru-oil neck is very smooth and fast.
I wanted the e-mando to offer great versatility without overly sophisticated (and pricey!) built in electronics or the need to change batteries.
There are two pick-ups; one humbucker and a piezo. The humbucker has volume and tone controls and a toggle switch to allow series/parallel switching: a centre off position allows for the pick-up to be completely turned off. These simple controls offer an amazingly wide tonal variation.
The piezo transducer is mounted in the bridge, under the saddle to give an approximation of an acoustic sound; a second toggle switch allows this pick-up to be turned on or off.  To get the best from this piezo it must be used with an external pre-amp.
The out-put is via a stereo jack-socket and the use of a Y-lead allows the two signals to be treated separately. Alternatively the jack socket is wired so that you can use a standard lead and just use the output from the humbucker.

The tailpiece is designed to take ball-end strings. Having a magnetic pick-up means that nickel wound strings are required and there is a much greater variety of ball-ended nickel strings to choose from, compared to loop-end. I’ve made up a custom set of strings 11 to 36 using electric guitar strings and feel that this range helps to balance the volume from string to string. Buying custom strings is really easy from somewhere like Stringbusters and this set cost around 6 quid to put together.
Well, I hope that the above coupled with the video gives you a good in-sight in to the rationale behind this mandolin’s design.
 As I said, in the video, there is an infinite number of variations in the design of solid, electric mandolins, so if you fancy having custom one built, please feel free to make contact.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Christmas 2014!

Amanda and I would like to wish all of our clients (past, present and future), friends and anyone who knows us a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.  
Our thanks and appreciation go out to all those who have commissioned an instrument this year. We are very fortunate to have a healthy order book; with many customers becoming friends and some coming back for second or third instruments. Also thanks to all of those who have made such positive comments on various forums. etc.
We are lucky to work with so many good folk who share the same values as us.