c.2013 Eastwood Airline Electric Mandola (modded)

This cute, map-shaped import electric mandola is one of those new $300 Eastwood-made "Airline" models. This came to me via a friend who traded it for work. I liked it right out of the box but I've never been a huge fan of Firebird mini-humbucker pickups (they're too mellow/thick for me), so I swapped it out for a new Guitar Fetish "MiniTron" pup and then set the whole thing up with flatwound strings and octave mandolin (GDAE vs. standard CGDA) tuning.

The result? Yeah, what I wanted -- a jazzy-sounding, tight-voiced instrument that can easily take the place of an electric guitar in the mix. The 18" scale length also makes it absurdly easy to play lead work on, though I did have to play with gauges a lot to get it to sound/feel right (it has 50w, 30w, 22w, 14 on it right now).

It's not ungainly at all like some e-mandos and the Gretschier-looking pickup certainly adds a bit more character to it.

The factory setup wasn't bad but the nut did need some attention as well as, of course, bridge intonation. Regular-gauge e-mando ball end strings (36w-10) will get you to CGDA tuning just fine, by the way, and the mini-Rotomatic tuners are excellent.

There's that GFS "MiniTron" pickup. Despite the high course strings not going right over the polepieces, it still sounds excellent. Compared to the original pickup it's a bit tighter and, well, more midrangey Gretsch in tonality, though that's hard to speak of quite honestly because it's got double courses!

I'd used one of these pups in a Tele before and liked it a lot there, so I knew what I was getting into.

The adjustable bridge is wonderful to have.

Curiously enough, 4 of the strings are rear-mount while 4 are top-mount. I think I would've preferred them all one way or the other, but this works alright!

Even though it's small, the instrument still has a "tummy cut!"

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