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Don Rickert Musician Shop

Professional Performance Acoustic-Electric Mandocello by D. Rickert

Posted by Don Rickert on

Professional Performance Acoustic-Electric Mandocello by Don Rickert Mandocello 6 Rickert Musician Shop (D. Rickert Musical Instruments)

We will be publishing an article in the near future on the history and evolution of the mandocello. This article is primarily about the new contemporary acoustic-electric mandocello from Don Rickert Musician Shop (D. Rickert Musical Instruments).

For now, here is the short version. A mandocello is to a bowed ‘cello what a mandolin is to a violin. The mandolin is tuned like a violin and a mandocello is a large mandolin tuned like a ‘cello. The primary differences, of course, is that mandolin family instruments are played with a plectrum rather than a bow and they have twice as many strings…actually four pairs (called courses) of strings, each pair being tuned in unison. These instruments are seeing increasing use in Celtic music, Progressive Bluegrass and In Alternative Old-Time (aka "Neo Old-Time", "Old-Time Punk" genres.)

The new mandocello by Don Rickert Musician Shop (D. Rickert Musical Instruments) is a radically modified state-of-the art acoustic-electric guitar by Ibanez, which is becoming one our favorite sources of high quality instruments to customize. The majority of contemporary mandocellos (and in our opinion, the best sounding ones) are based on a guitar body, which has a substantial upper bout (more vibrating surface and much more internal airspace in the soundbox).

Eastman-mandocello-mdc805-2008-full-front-1 scaled Fullshot33 Cell-tar rotated Guitar style mandocello

There are still a few makers who base their mandocellos on a “teardrop” style body…a somewhat larger Girl on Mandocello 2version of a so-called “Celtic” octave mandolin. The teardrop bodied mandocello’s size is limited by the teardrop shape, which has NO upper bout whatsoever, resulting in an instrument that is simply too small to do the job of kicking ass in the lower note range (i.e. the cello range).

The Acoustic-Electric Aspect

With its body length of 20”, 16” lower bout and average depth of 4”, this instrument is somewhat smaller than a jumbo or dreadnaught size guitar, yet it is quite sufficiently large to pack a strong baritone punch without amplification. 

That being said, it has the necessary electronic components for stellar performance when “plugged in.” With a well-designed performance rig, this instrument can take you to musical spaces you only might have dreamed about. For instance, you can easily achieve an octave lower, taking the range down to the subsonic range (notes that can only be felt but not heard)…an octave lower than a cello; which would be 2 octaves – a 5th lower than a violin or mandolin. If you think in terms of guitars, 4 notes lower than an electric bass or full-size standup bass. You get the idea!

It is equipped with the following state-of-the-art components:

  • Fishman® Sonicore pickup
  • Ibanez AEQ-SP2 active preamp w/basic EQ controls
  • Balanced XLR & 1/4" outputs

Every experienced stage performer knows the importance of balanced output for connecting to modern effects boxes, off-board EQ and amplification equipment.

If you wish to engage us to design the ultimate live performance rig, please feel free to contact us. Note: this would be a design consulting engagement and is not cheap!

Phone: 7068960909


OR use the Contact Us link on the top menu bar of Don Rickert Musician Shop

Key Specifications of the Professional Performance Acoustic-Electric Mandocello

  • body shape: Ibanez AEW body (Exotic Wood Series with a soft “Florentine” Cutaway)
  • bracing: X Bracing
  • top: Solid Sitka Spruce top
  • back & sides: Bubinga back & sides
  • neck: Mahogany neck (satin finish)
  • fingerboard: Rosewood
  • bridge: 8-string pin-style rosewood mandocello bridge made by D. Rickert Musical Instruments
  • bridge strengthening: Custom carbon fiber 8-string pin bridge strengthening plate (inside of the instrument)
  • body binding: Rosewood
  • top purfling: Natural wood multi ply
  • back strip inlay: Natural wood multi ply
  • fingerboard inlay: Maple dot inlay
  • soundhole rosette: Bubinga/Acacia/Rosewood w/abalone
  • headstock: Completely reshaped by D. Rickert Musical Instruments for two small bass tuning machines (for the low C strings) and 6 guitar-sized tuning machines
  • tuning machines: Gotoh
  • nut material: Micarta (synthetic bone) made by D. Rickert Musical Instruments
  • number of frets: 20
  • saddle material: Compensated TUSQ (synthetic ivory) saddle
  • bridge pins: TUSQ (synthetic ivory) black bridge pins with white dot
  • strings: Custom set of phosphor bronze mandocello strings
  • pickup: Fishman® Sonicore pickup
  • preamp: Ibanez AEQ-SP2 preamp w/Onboard tuner
  • output jack: Balanced XLR & 1/4" outputs
  • battery: 9V Battery
  • finish top: Gloss
  • finish back and sides: Gloss
  • finish neck back: Satin
  • Scale: 648mm (25.5”)
  • Width at Nut: 42mm (1.65”)
  • Width at 14th Fret: 54mm
  • Thickness at 1st: 20mm
  • Thickness at 7th: 21mm
  • Radius: 250mmR

Body Dimensions

  • Length: 20"
  • Width: 16"
  • Max Depth: 4"
  • acoustic-electric
  • Bluegrass
  • Celtic
  • D. Rickert Musical Instruments
  • Don Rickert Musician Shop
  • Irish
  • mandocello
  • Old-Time
  • performance
  • professional
  • Progressive