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The electric mandolin is an instrument tuned and played as the mandolin and amplified in similar fashion to an electric guitar.As with electric guitars, electric mandolins take many forms:

  • Most common is a carved-top eight-string instrument fitted with an electric pickup in similar fashion to many arch top guitars.

  • Solid body mandolins are common in 4-, 5-, and 8-string forms.


Electric mandolins were built in the United States as early as the late 1920s. Among the first companies to produce them were Stromberg-Voisinet, Electro (which later became Rickenbacker), ViViTone, and National Reso-Phonic. Gibson and Vega introduced their electric mandolins in 1936.

The first solidbody electric mandolin was the pau eletrico developed in Brazil by Osmar Macedo in the early 1940s and based on the cavaquinho, an instrument related to both the mandolin and the ukulele. The pau eletrico (4 single courses) later evolved into the Guitarra Baiana (5 single courses), commonly used in a style of Brazilian popular music called frevo. Tuned in fifths, it differs from the American electric mandolin only in having a shorter scale.

In the United States, the first solidbody electric mandolin was built in 1952 by Paul Bigsby for Western swing musician Tiny Moore. This instrument had 5 single courses rather than the more common four double courses. Gibson and Rickenbacker introduced solidbody 8-string mandolins in the 1950s, while Fender followed the single-course idea with its 4-string version.

Solid Body Electric Mandolins

Both four string single course and eight string double course solid body mandolins have been produced by several makers, as well as five string single course models.

From 1956 to 1976, Fender produced a four string version which they simply called the Fender Electric Mandolin. Its body shape was based on a smaller version of the Stratocaster body. They currently produce an eight string semi-acoustic electric mandolin with a very similar body shape.

Gibson manufactured the EM-200 solid body electric mandolin from 1954 to 1971. They currently produce a solid body mandolin known as the Mandobird, based on a smaller version of the Gibson Firebird body and sold under the Epiphone label. Both four and eight string versions are available.

The Mid-Missouri Mandolin Company produced two models, the EM-4 and EM-8, with carved top bodies and four and eight strings respectively. Blue Star produces four and five string models under the name Mandoblaster.

Image:Fender electric mandolin.svg|Fender Electric Mandolin profile



  1. Rickenbacker 5002V58
  2. Peter Buck at
  3. Kevin Jonas at

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