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Applause MAE148 Roundback Acoustic/Electric Mandolin
Overall Rating
Submitted: November 21st, 1998
by Justin Carpenter
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Sound Quality
The unplugged sound is very bright and sparkly, more trebly than bassy because of the bowl. The sound is reminiscent of a ukelele, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, though it lacks the deep end that a classic mandolin has. I find it does the job adequately. Plugged in, it delivers a smooth, clean range that really salvages it as an instrument. The electric sound is very natural, and clean, and recaptures the bass that's lost unplugged. I do all my playing with it plugged, now.
Aside from the tuning problem (which may be unique to my mandolin), I think this one'd hold up live, no problem. It sounds fine plugged in, and it seems quite sturdy. The tuners bother me a little -- they're open, and look as though they might fall apart over time. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but they're not as nice as usual Ovation tuners.
General Comments
This mandolin just isn't as good as it could have been, in my opinion. It's a fairly typical example that people use when stressing the "go for the real McCoy" argument. Personally, I'm a huge believer in "second company" guitars -- check my other reviews, and you'll see I'm a huge supporter of Epiphones, Jackson Performers, and other guitars that are essentially foreign-made copies of American classics. I don't believe in paying for a name for its own sake, and I've almost invariably found that with the exception of quality control problems, foreign-made guitars are every bit as good as, or better than, their American counterparts. However, this is an example of an instrument that just wasn't as good as it should have been, and it really disappointed me. Quality control was a large part of it, but also the 'cheapness' of the instrument, where it clearly wasn't as nice as an Ovation, caused me to label this one a Bad Instrument Experience. If you want to buy one of these, I strongly recommend a very thorough quality inspection. And hey, if you find one you really like, great! I just feel the mandolin could have been so much better, and wasn't. Ovation/Applause -- if you read this, here's what you could have done to make me happy: * Hardshell case included. * High-quality closed-gear tuners. * Nicer finish on the top, a little less thick and plasticlike, a little more woodiness. * Nicer epaulet trim/wood inlays. * MUCH better quality control on the bridge placement. Heck, an adjustable bridge would've been nice too, although quite a departure. * Slightly thicker neck. Do all these, use the Ovation name, charge $200 more to cover cost, and I would be raving right now about the mandolin. As it was, I felt let down. I appreciate your attempts to bring your quality guitars into more homes by offering budget versions, and I think that's a spectacular idea. I understand that corners must be cut to trim costs, since the Applause instruments have a lot to live up to and a much lower price baseline to aim for. But if I hadn't known how good Ovations are already, and I bought that, I'd be turned off to Ovation/Applause and wouldn't give either a second glance. Please try to improve quality control on these instruments -- Epiphone and Jackson are doing pretty well, so should you be.
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