The wood was a source of frustration on this project. I planned on using 8/4 maple as I had for my first and second acoustic mandolins, but all I could find was 5/4. I was able to find a decently flamed piece (which looked nice, but also made the whole project harder before it was over.)


I found the mandolin specific items at Stewart Macdonald including the rosewood fretboard and fret wire. I found the knobs for the volume and tone controls at RadioShack along with the 1/4 inch output jack. The Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners came in a set of eight for mandolins from International Luthier Supply. The cavity covers and the output jack plate were all made out of a black plastic trash can from a home center. The pins used to secure strings are all made from 1/8 inch brass rod which is both easy to work with and stylish. Stainless steel may be another good option since it would match the strings and tuner and be stronger, but it is also harder to work with.

Electrical Bits

The pick up I used is an inexpensive Korean made, EMG designed single coil, blade pole-piece, hum-bucking unit sold under the name Select by EMG. It cost me about $20 at Stew-Mac. It is definitely a step down from EMG from a quality standpoint (at least in appearance; I haven’t used an EMG pickup) but it still works well as a pick-up for my first try at an electric mando. The two potentiometers I used also came from Stew-Mac and are standard size, 500k units. 500k ohm pots are suggested by the pick-up manufacturer for a warmer tone as opposed to 250k ohm pots which are said to give a brighter tone. Since mandolins are already brighter than the guitar the pickup is meant for, I tried to skew the parts selection for a warmer tone overall.


The strings are nickel wound D’addario J67. Nickel wound strings are supposedly better than phosphor-bronze wound for electric mandolins, but I have yet to try phosphor strings to see how much of a difference they make. These strings are actually somewhat difficult to find and not available in a light tension version, which I would prefer. They do look nice since they’re all a consistent silver which matches the tuners.