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"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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June 20, 2012 | JL Smith Electric Mandolins

We've been a huge fan of the work of John "JL" Smith and his exquisite Telecaster style electric mandolins since we first reviewed one of his 5-strings three years ago. One of his sea foam green ones even landed a permanent spot in our own arsenal of instruments, and remains a personal favorite.

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The Florida builder took a little time off in 2010 but is back in the swing again (pun very much intended) and making some great mandolins, and still at a very competitive price. Though there aren't a lot of style options, he does this one thing extremely well. His 4-strings start at $799, and you can choose from a number of pickup options.

We find the tone so good, we don't even use any effect pedals, just a hearty Fender Blues Junior tube amp for some Porterhouse steak meaty sound. Smith enjoyed a glowing review in Vintage Guitar Magazine in October 2009.

Check out some of the past critters on his website. I you've been looking for "next step" electric up from a Mandobird or Saga, this would be a great choice.

Builder website: JL Smith Mandolins

Read JazzMando Review: JL Smith 5-string Electric

JL Smith custom pickguard
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Posted by Ted at June 20, 2012 5:15 AM

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