Thursday, May 29, 2008
Dean Mondo Mando (or: What Was I Thinking?)
I wrote an entry awhile back about an Alvarez Yairi nine-string acoustic guitar that had been very intriguing and that I wish I had back. Take that Yairi nine-string and add it to my ongoing fascination with both traditional mandolins and 12-string mandoguitars (of which I'll write about soon), and you might possibly understand how I came to own this Dean Mondo Mando. It's no excuse, but maybe you understand. I like the idea of being able to record a mandolin sound on my songs, but I don't really want to take the time to learn to play one. I know how to play a large handful of chords on a mandolin and I've faked a few people out, but the truth is that I'm no mando player. I did own a Phantom Mandoguitar at one point, which is an exact copy of the old Vox Mandoguitars. In fact, I owned the original NAMM show model and I REALLY wish I had it back.
So, a little over a year ago I came across this Dean Mondo Mando on eBay. It's a little larger than a traditional mandolin, with nine strings; the bottom 3 strings are doubled, while the top three strings are single [ed. note: to be clear, the three treble side strings are doubled]. So, it sounds somewhat like a cross between a mandolin and a 12-string. But here's where eBay fails us now and then: you can't try the instruments out ahead of time. If I had, I would have known what a piece of junk this was.
As Jack Nicholson said in the Batman movie, "Crap, crap, crap!"
This thing sucked more than a Hoover in a rice factory. Or something like that. What looks to be the body style of an F-style mando really turned out to be very flat on the top of the instrument...no arch. It had a pick-up built in, but to get the thing intonated you had to move the bridge so far back that the wires were showing up through the hole in the top. Excellent design!
The only thing going for it was the intricate inlay on the neck, which was pretty...pretty useless. The pickup sounded like crap and that's all the nice things I can think of to say. I realized that I had made a big mistake and put it back up for sale on eBay. It's hard to list something on eBay that you just recently bought, think it sucks, and try to describe it so that it will sell but you don't have to lie about it either. I took a hit on the price of this one just to get rid of it honestly. I hope the new owner enjoyed it more than I did. He couldn't have enjoyed it less.
So, they can't all be winners. I'll keep my eyes open for more unique instruments in the future, but I'll be a lot pickier about giving them an in-hand tryout before I buy. And I definitely will have my eye out for a Mandoguitar in the future. Anyone have an extra?