Electric mandolin

Electric Mandolin

Electric mandolin

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The electric mandolin is an instrument tuned and played as the mandolin and amplified in similar fashion to an electric guitar.As with electric guitars, electric mandolins take many forms:

  • Most common is a carved-top eight-string instrument fitted with an electric pickup in similar fashion to many arch top guitars.

  • Solid body mandolins are common in 4-, 5-, and 8-string forms.


Electric mandolins were built in the United States as early as the late 1920s. Among the first companies to produce them were Stromberg-Voisinet, Electro (which later became Rickenbacker), ViViTone, and National Reso-Phonic. Gibson and Vega introduced their electric mandolins in 1936.

In the United States, influential luthier/inventor Paul Bigsby began building solidbody electric mandolins (technically, they consisted of a solid wood core housing the electronics, with hollow wings forming the body) in 1950. His first one had 10 strings and was built for multi-instrumentalist Paul Buskirk. Other Bigsby electric mandolin players were Al Giddings and Eschol Cosby. Bigsby's most famous mandolin, built in 1952, was owned and played by Western swing musician Tiny Moore. This instrument had 5 single courses rather than the more common four double courses, and was patterned after a similar instrument built by Jim Harvey of La Jolla, California, for a player named Scotty Broyles. Gibson and Rickenbacker introduced...
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