Here is an Excel file of all the parts, part numbers and locations where I bought everything needed to build this mandolin: EOM_PartsList.xls
The body is made of poplar which is a reasonably common wood among the larger guitar manufactures. It doesn’t look that great with a transparent finish due to streaks of purple and green, but it does take paint well so it is best used with an opaque finish. (For a transparent finish, alder is probably a better choice since it looks nicer but is otherwise similar to poplar.) I was thinking of using mahogany for the body, which is typically one of the woods of choice for higher end instruments. Since I was planning on painting the EOM’s body black anyway, I didn’t want to waste money on a much more expensive and nicer looking piece of mohoghany. Poplar is also less expensive at about a third the price per board foot which makes it a great wood for trying out a new design before investing in some higher end woods.
Maple was used for the neck due to its high strength and great appearance. It is also one of my favorite woods to work with. The other common option for a neck is mahogany.
The maple fretboard was used mostly due to it being a relatively inexpensive wood compared with exotic hardwoods. This makes it a great low risk option for a first try at slotting my own fret slots. It costs about $6 per board foot as opposed to $20 per board foot rosewood or $80 per board foot ebony at my local supplier. I also like the look of the maple fretboard contrasting with a black painted body. The downside is that it has to be finished with a lacquer and is more prone to looking dirty and showing wear. Exotic hardwoods tend to hold up better and look better in many peoples opinion, but for a first try maple is a great alternative that has been used by many of the large manufactures.
I went for a higher end pickup this time around. Instead of the much cheaper constructed and lower output $20 pickups I used last time, I went with two high output Dimarzio pickups which cost $62 each on eBay. I choose this brand mostly due to their large selection of different voicings and outputs in the single coil sized, dual blade arrangement. The dual blade humbucking pickups I chose are meant as drop in replacements for single coils pickups on Stratocasters. The compact single coil size fits nicely in the smaller EOM body. (A full size humbucker would also fit in this body style if you’re looking for even more output or an even warmer humbucker tone.) Rail style pickups are great for an electric mandolin or EOM since they can accommodate any string spacing and still look and sound like they are made for the instrument. Seymour Duncan also has a few pickups with the same dual blade humbucking arrangement, but they seem to have fewer options of this type of pickup and the ones I have seen on eBay are more expensive.
The custom made electronics cavity cover is made from a 1/8th in. thick Delrin sheet from Mcmaster Carr. The Delrin is plenty thick to be very strong and stiff even with a large cavity opening. Stewmac seems to only sell thinner stuff for Stratocaster style pick gaurds.
I found the electric mandolin bridge at this website: http://www.crossroadswood.com/services.html. (They are now being sold here: http://www.moongazermusic.com/bridges.html.) I used the four string chrome version with rectangular saddles since it nicely match the overall look of the EOM and the other hardware I bought. The rectangular saddles are the same that would be used on a guitar. I was thinking about buying a set of six guitar saddles and making my own bridge, but the six saddles cost about the same as the full bridge setup I bought. The bridge was quite a good deal; definitely worth the $32 plus $6.50 for shipping that I paid for it. The same website also sells eight string and five string and even ten string versions of the same bridge. I haven’t been able to find any other manufacturers that offer mandolin hard tail bridges. The next best thing would be using a guitar bridge with only the center four saddles installed, although it wouldn’t look as nice and would still cost about $40 for even the cheapest hardtail bridges. There isn’t a good electric mandolin specific alternative to using guitar parts if you are interested in using a whammy bar.
I used two sets of GHS Guitar Boomers as strings for the EOM. This included a set of extra light and a set of mediums so I could match my own sets of four strings for the two tunings I was planning on trying. I chose the Boomers because they are readily available locally and online. They’re also inexpensive and made in many different gauges. So far I have tested a set consisting of 011, 018, 036w and 050w which worked reasonably well for the G tuning. The set is about equivalent to a set of light to medium gauge guitar strings. The set could probably be changed to 012, 017, 032w, 046w for more even tension across the strings at about the equivalent of light guitar strings, but I didn’t get some of those gauges so that test will have to wait. The 011 to 050w set still seems too light to tune down to E. At least the way I have the instrument setup right now, the two lower strings buzz when playing open strings and all over the neck.
The tuners are sold on Stewmac as “Gotoh Schaller-style Knob Tuners” and appear to be meant for inline electric guitar pegheads. They look a lot more like an electric guitar tuner than the Grover tuners I had been using on other instruments; I especially like the knob shape. They are just as smooth as the Grover tuners and have a 16:1 ratio. These tuners also cost a bit less per tuner which surprised me since all of the other Gotoh tuners available on Stewmac are about twice as expensive as Grover tuners. One of the main reason I liked them is they are sold individually in left and right hand versions. I was able to buy only the four left side tuners I needed for my EOM instead of being stuck with two extra tuners from a set of six.