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Old 06-16-2024, 07:45 AM
JGarofalo3 JGarofalo3 is offline
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Question Help me with acoustic electric mandolin purchase

Learning mandolin I want to use this on stage so ideally seek an acoustic/electric mandolin F-Style. Been spending a lot of time reading up on these. Seemingly all in my price range (less than/equal to $1k) are made in China I am not looking to buy a preowned acoustic (although I do love preowned deals) and then outfit it (unless you know a resource that can do both)

Seem to be landing mostly in the LOAR or Eastman camps but the models are confusing to me.

For context these will be played in a 7 piece modern country tribute environment on stage mostly blending in or being highlighted in certain songs so the pickups do need to be able to get me there (if that makes sense)

I am so out of my depth here (LOL) any and all help is greatly appreciated!!

TIA

JG3
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Old 06-16-2024, 08:13 AM
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keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
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Many folks have fit a K&K (or JJB) pair of transducers into an acoustic mandolin and are happy with the results. Like guitars, amplifying an acoustic "box" does come with some feedback potential, so there are also solid or semi-solid options out there in both 8 and 4-string variants.

But, if you really want an acoustic, f-style with a pickup, there are bound to be both new and used ones out there. I'd personally stick with a name like Eastman or Kentucky in the PAC-rim brands, but a well set-up "The Loar" might be sufficient to start. Once plugged in, the acoustic qualities are not as important as the actual playability, IMO.

Here's one for $1k that is being sold by shop I've heard about.

https://reverb.com/item/81964407-use...-k-pickup-2573

p.s. There is at least one mandolin-centric website/forum that may have a wider range of inputs available.

p.p.s. you should also budget for a preamp, at least...
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Last edited by keith.rogers; 06-16-2024 at 08:52 AM. Reason: typo, pps
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Old 06-16-2024, 03:22 PM
Charlie Bernstein Charlie Bernstein is offline
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Do you mean an acoustic mandolin with a pickup? Your best bet is getting an acoustic mandolin and having a K&K or JJB passive pickup installed.

That way you'll have both a good mandolin and a good pickup.
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Old 06-16-2024, 04:48 PM
JGarofalo3 JGarofalo3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
Do you mean an acoustic mandolin with a pickup? Your best bet is getting an acoustic mandolin and having a K&K or JJB passive pickup installed.

That way you'll have both a good mandolin and a good pickup.
It's certainly looking that way as those with built in electronics seem to be average at best given my budget (no more than $1100)

Wanting an F-Style and looking in the previously owned market I am still struggling to find something worth considering.

Appreciate the suggestion and the PM too
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Old 06-17-2024, 06:46 AM
Charlie Bernstein Charlie Bernstein is offline
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Originally Posted by JGarofalo3 View Post
It's certainly looking that way as those with built in electronics seem to be average at best given my budget (no more than $1100)

Wanting an F-Style and looking in the previously owned market I am still struggling to find something worth considering.

Appreciate the suggestion and the PM too
=O]

Yeah, it can take time to find a good deal on a used mandolin. When I'm axe-hunting, I just visit my favorite classified sites over and over until I find what I want. It's slow, but it works.

Another option is to hold off another year or so to save up more money. Getting your budget up to $2k will give you a lot more choices. Patience pays.

You probably already know this, but whatever you do, get all-solid wood. Otherwise, you'll never be satisfied with the sound. It matters with mandos more than it matters with guitars.
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Old 06-17-2024, 07:14 AM
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A little more than your budget but a good choice from a good seller: https://themandolinstore.com/product...usticelectric/
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Old 06-17-2024, 07:28 AM
JGarofalo3 JGarofalo3 is offline
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A little more than your budget but a good choice from a good seller: https://themandolinstore.com/product...usticelectric/
Thanks! I'm actually looking at a pre owned Eastman 415 with Fishman's in her that falls within my budget. I think the 415 is a better mando than the 315 but am still trying to figure all these dang model number differences out LOL
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Old 06-17-2024, 07:50 AM
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keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarofalo3 View Post
Thanks! I'm actually looking at a pre owned Eastman 415 with Fishman's in her that falls within my budget. I think the 415 is a better mando than the 315 but am still trying to figure all these dang model number differences out LOL
The MD-4xx Eastman's have a mahogany back/sides, which is not traditional, and may have a mellower sound (never played one, myself), but the other feature they have that I do like is the bound fingerboard. (Just my personal preference on mandolins.) Next [Eastman] step up is the MD-5xx series which are back to maple b/s, but supposedly slightly better tuners. The 6xx models now come with the pickup standard, while it's optional on older 6xx models. (Not sure of the transition - I had a MD605 around 2010, briefly, and it did not have electronics.)

The feel of all of their instruments are pretty consistent, top-to-bottom, though, and they've been in the business for some time now. (I had an older MD-815v for a while - it's with our son now.)

FD: I have a Kentucky mandolin that has a JJB (K&K-ish type) pickup in it (A-style - it was cheaper ). Its neck suited me better, but otherwise pretty a equivalent line, IMO, though they do sell more mandolins through places like Amazon, where the setup you get can be pretty much a roll of the dice, landing on snake-eyes more than ones shipped out of smaller shops (again, IMO).

p.s. (edit) with all that - TMS is a good place to do business - bought 2 mandolins, including that first MD605, from them and still have the most recent one (another "A", non-electrified).
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Last edited by keith.rogers; 06-17-2024 at 07:56 AM.
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Old 06-17-2024, 10:53 AM
leew3 leew3 is offline
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in that context would an Eastman ERM El Rey be met with torches and cries of 'heresy' ?

https://www.eastmanguitars.com/er_m
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Old 06-17-2024, 04:03 PM
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You're paying pretty big premium for an F-Style. And there aren't a lot of mandolins that come with pickups pre-installed to begin with.

If I was in your position and I absolutely had to have an F-Style, I'd find a used Eastman MD-315 or Kentucky 606, 75x, 85x, and install a pickup. Some pickups are external transducers and easy enough to do yourself. Though not everybody cares for the look of the external pickups (I count myself among that number).

I just sold a MD-315 for $675 to an acquaintance, and have seen a few on reverb under $750 recently (though not right now). I also have a Kentucky KM-755, and I didn't think that there was too much between it and the Eastman... just preference. I sold the Eastman instead of the Kentucky mostly because one of the guys that works at my local craft brewery was looking to buy one.

A used Eastman MD-315 plus a JJB Marcato ($70) that you install yourself should give you plenty leftover in your budget to pick up a preamp.

But, if you're looking for the best tone for your money, A style are a better bet. If you're shopping for a particular look, then that's a different story.

The "The Loar" mandos get fairly mixed reviews. Though I've not played one myself.
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Old 06-17-2024, 04:21 PM
JGarofalo3 JGarofalo3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leew3 View Post
in that context would an Eastman ERM El Rey be met with torches and cries of 'heresy' ?

https://www.eastmanguitars.com/er_m
I personally think this is badass and I found one @$1300
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Old 06-18-2024, 02:03 AM
67goat 67goat is offline
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New, your best and most traditional bet is the MD315E.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leew3 View Post
in that context would an Eastman ERM El Rey be met with torches and cries of 'heresy' ?

https://www.eastmanguitars.com/er_m
For country, it will be fine. Come near a bluegrass circle and they may never recover your body.
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Old 06-18-2024, 02:22 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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As you mention Loar and Eastman. I've seen /played both. Go Eastman!
Don't look for a mandolin with built in 'lectrics.

Buy an acoustic (they mike well) and or fit a K&K.

Like with acoustic guitars - ensure that the neck suits your hand.
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Old 06-18-2024, 08:24 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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When I built my F style (I think it was mid 1980s?) I installed a McIntire Acoustic Feather before closing the body up. It's worked flawlessly for a lot of gigs since then. If I had a new F style today I'd probably go with a K&K Twin.

Mandolins are a bit more difficult to install pickups in after they are completed, so it's best to go search out a Youtube video of this to see what's involved BEFORE committing to an acoustic instrument purchase with the idea of putting an aftermarket pickup in.


Last edited by Rudy4; 06-18-2024 at 01:16 PM.
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  #15  
Old 06-19-2024, 11:43 AM
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warfrat73 warfrat73 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarofalo3 View Post
I personally think this is badass and I found one @$1300
One just popped up on Reverb for $1100... no financial interest.
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