The Best Electric Mandolin in 2021: Eastman ERL EL Ray Mandolin

Mandolin - Electric Mandolin
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The Best Electric Mandolin in 2021: Eastman ERL EL Ray Mandolin

Anyone who is into classical folk music love mandolins. The mandolin is a very melodious stringed instrument that brings an old vibe to a song. It has 8 strings; the string is doubled and placed in a way that it feels like four strings, though there are 10 and 12 string versions. Eight string mandolins are traditional and the most popular among musicians.

The mandolin is an instrument that was played by the lute family in Europe. That was a long time ago. It has existed since 2000 BCE. Mandolins came to Italy in the late 17th and 18th century, which then came to be known as the modern mandolin. From time to time, it went through subtle changes.

Mandolins are known as an acoustic instrument. It has a soundhole to produce and amplify sound. It can be loud, that is, if you pluck the strings harder, it will produce more sound. However, if you want to perform in front of a live audience or a concert, you can’t rely on an acoustic mandolin because it won’t be loud enough to satisfy a huge audience.

You won’t be able to just plug it into an amplifier because an acoustic mandolin doesn’t have a plug-in feature. And microphones aren’t a great option to pick up any stringed instrument sound. So, you will be needing an electric mandolin.

If you are considering buying an electric mandolin, you should first know about a few things about a mandolin. This is because going to a random musical instrument shop and grabbing one won’t be a wise choice. You need to consider a lot of things to buy the best one for you. So, we are about to briefly discuss a thing or two that you need to now and then talk about our top pick.

Types of Electric Mandolins

You need to determine what type of electric mandolin you want. There are mainly two types. They are acoustic/electric and full electric mandolin. The acoustic/electric type mandolin is an acoustic mandolin that has a built-in passive pickup like the Piezo and has an audio output jack to connect it to amps. It looks just like an acoustic mandolin and functions like one as well. You can play an acoustic/electric mandolin with or without plugging it in. You can get an acoustic tone even after plugging it in which is the best part of electric/acoustic mandolins.

The second type is pure electric with a solid body. It looks nothing like an acoustic mandolin, rather like an electric guitar. It has magnetic pickups, volume and tone control knobs like an electric guitar. Electric mandolins are a great option if you are into something different. You can switch between different pickup positions, and play around with the tone knob for a different type of sounds. You can plug it into an amp and use distortion effects or dial into different tones, even shred if you are a shredder.

Pure electric mandolins sound different than the acoustic ones, the sound difference can be a huge distinction. Nonetheless, electric mandolins can be quite fun.

Well, by now you know the difference between an acoustic/electric and electric mandolin. We are focusing only on electric mandolins and so, we are going to discuss our top pick, which is the Eastman ERL EL Ray Mandolin.


The EL Ray was first displayed and introduced at Winter NAMM 2019. NAMM is the largest music product trade event where everywhere different now music products and tech are announced, displayed, and sold. The Eastman ERL EL Ray Mandolin. It is a premium mandolin and quite expensive as well. It is made for people who played the mainstream electric models like the Eastwood Mandocaster, Fender Mandostrat, and the Epiphone Mandobird and want an upgrade.

Build and Design

It features a single-cutaway design. The body design is an F type approach that resembles a Gibson Les Paul. It is a beautiful looking electric mandolin with a dark brown glossy sunburst finish. The body is solid one-piece mahogany and the top is made out of maple for a warm and sweet mandolin tone. There are F type holes in the body which gives it a traditional mandolin look and adds a nice touch.

There are a lot of things to appreciate about the design. The design is woody, the color tone is not very light and not dark either, and the finishing is very smooth and pleasing. The body shape is a bit like a Les Paul electric guitar. But it is recognizable as a mandolin. The neck profile is very comfortable; it will give an acoustic mandolin feeling.

The Eastman ERL EL Ray Mandolin comes with a 40–11 loop-end set of nickel strings which are thick, and heavier than average electric mandolins which sounds very decent but not ideal if you are into bending. You can always replace them with lighter strings for bending.

Its equipped with nickel Grover tuner machines which are of very high quality and ensure a stable tuning experience. There is an ebony in different parts which you will instantly notice after seeing the mandolin itself. It features a custom-made Loller Humbuckers which is similar to the famous Seymour Duncan pickups.


The only thing to complain about the performance is the Weak E string. The signal of the E string is not strong as the other strings, resulting in the E string sound getting masked by other strings. This can be resolved by realigning and repositioning the pickup. Yet, we realize that something like this is unexpected out of the box.

Apart from the weak E string, this mandolin is very decent sounding. The fretboard is very smooth and you can glide around it and try different techniques like sliding, tapping, hammering, pull off, etc. The pickup response is excellent and accurate, and overall, the sound profile is very warm and bright.

This is a great mandolin from almost every angle you look at. If you want a premium electric mandolin that is stunning to look at, performs well, this is the best pick for you, and you won’t regret purchasing it.

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