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Eastwood 'Ricky' Electric Mandolin Setup

I've been curious about the super cool Rickenbacker 5002V58 electric mandolin for quite some time. I'm not really a mandolin player, so I can't really justify the price of one. But that sort-of changed a few months ago when the Eastwood Custom Shop put its tribute model out for funding. The way it works is Eastwood offers an instrument, and if enough folks make a deposit, it goes into production. So I plunked down my deposit and held my breath.

It was delivered last week and I'm tickled to have it. I had been curious about Eastwood guitars for a while, and I agree with the consensus that they offer a lot of bang for the buck. And they're super cool and funky to boot.

Maybe it will motivate me to become a mandolin player!

As is the case with new instruments, it needed some minor adjustments to make it play really well. It was ok out of the box, but the action was a bit high, and there was a bit too much neck relief. Plus I needed to peel off the protective plastic on the pickguard and truss rod cover.

You can see the body shape bears a striking resemblance to the famous mando made in Santa Ana. One pickup, one volume and one tone control.

Note the aforementioned plastic on the pickguard.

I took the truss rod cover off to remove the plastic and to adjust the neck relief.

A 4mm allen wrench fits the rod.

The cavity is really short, and my wrench just cleared it.

I tend to like my necks adjusted with as little relief as possible. I set the neck to have about .003 inches of relief at the 7th fret.

You can see the straightedge I used, along with my feeler gauges. I would normally be holding the gauge rather than let it hang! But I needed one free hand for the camera. so there you have it.

At least you can see the method of measuring relief.

The string height at the nut was just a tad high, so I deepened the fret slots a bit. The nut is plastic, and really soft, so I did just 2 or 3 strokes with the nut files.

I find having the strings as low as possible at the nut - as low as possible to just clear the first fret without buzzing - makes a huge improvement in playability. A few thousandths of an inch makes a big difference.

I also like to knock the sharp corners off the nut. This makes it more comfortable when playing chords where part of your hand is actually over the nut - the nut won't dig into your hand.

Also lowered the string height substantially. It was about 6 or 7/64 of an inch on the bass side at the neck/body joint. It's now down to a touch under 4/64 on the bass side, and about 3/64 on the treble side. Plays super fast now with no buzzing at all.

Then I checked/set the intonation with my trusty Peterson Strobo Flip strobe tuner. (Not sure why it's reading "B" there - that low string pair is tuned to G, as any mando player knows :-) ).

And after all of the adjustments, we can take the plastic off the pickguard. Note that I took the knobs off - they just pull up off the shafts.

Here's the little mando ready to go.

It's super fun to play. The pickup is pretty hot, and it's really BRIGHT through an amp - have to roll off a lot of treble. I haven't touched the pickup adjustment just yet - I may be able to finesse the electric tone some.

It's nicely made, and it plays very easily and fast.

Here's the neck/body joint - nicely finished.

Strap button on the top bout.

It's just so adorable!

The business end. The body shape is really cool.

Vintage-style tuners are a nice touch.

The mandolin is now in regular production, and you can get one here.


Post a Comment 5 comments:

  • ken smith said...
    July 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM
    Hi, I have been trying to get mine intonated but having the worst time, especially the E string. I am about to return it so, any thoughts or suggestions since you have been through it
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    July 22, 2017 at 10:23 AM
    I don't know how much I can help, but I can try.

    What's the issue? Can you not move the saddles? Or are you just not able to get it intonated?

    This might be a dumb question, but are you tuning the high E pair to E5 (an octave above the standard guitar high E).

    Mine was pretty much on the mark out of the box - I just fine tuned it a bit.
  • ken smith said...
    July 22, 2017 at 8:30 PM
    Oops, I meant the G strings.. Everything else is fine but they were off even upon delivery. When I get the open string fine and 12th close the A (2nd fret G string) is always out. I use that a lot so have issues. thanks
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    July 23, 2017 at 4:29 PM
    I have 2 thoughts. The first thing I'd do is to try new strings for that pair. The ones it came with should be new and fine, but you never know. Who knows how good they are quality-wise to start with. That's probably the easiest thing to try.

    Second thought is to set the intonation using that A note at the second fret, and the 14th fret. Put a capo on it at the second fret to do that. Then see how the intonation is on the open G and at the 12th fret.
  • ken smith said...
    July 23, 2017 at 9:10 PM

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