For a long time I resisted putting no-name electric mandolins on this site. My primary goals are to hook up players with builders, to promote the manufacture and sale of good instruments, and to offer useful and practical information. Taking up space with no-name instruments doesn't serve any of those goals—most of them are junk, and if I don't have a name I probably have no other information that would be useful. However, once in a while you see something that's just too appealing to pass up. Additions to this page will be made on a completely subjective basis.
Here are an interesting solid koa 4-string with Gotoh tuners, a "Frankenlin" built from old Danelectro parts, a Flying V from the UK, and a nice-looking 4-stringer with a Bartolini pickup that almost resembles a miniature P-bass.
Here's what appears to be another Japanese creation with a scroll like a boat hook. I've seen a very similar instrument with the brand name "Orpheum" on it, but minus the electronics. Like Bruno, that was also the name of an American brand, so confusion reigns. Next, a homemade monstrosity with an old DeArmond pickup and a somewhat newer, less frightening acoustic/electric that reminds me of my cat, Sasha. Finally, a slenderized number that once belonged to British musician Mike Oldfield of "Tubular Bells" fame.
It's not too much of a stretch to opine that the almost-reasonable sunburst Mandocaster facsimile on the left is related to the instrument in the center. They appear to be virtually identical except for the number of strings and size of the headstock. I'm guessing they are from the same manufacturer, which I am also guessing is Japanese. Next, the infamous "5X5" instrument, so named after the inlays on the fifth, third, and first frets. The pickup, bridge, and inlays are slightly different than those on the sunburst instrument, but you'll note that the bodies and headstocks are identical.
The doubleneck section: Left, a Bigsby-inspired design from the 1950s or thereabouts. No ID other than the big S. Next, a custom mandolin/guitar particularly suited for gospel music. I think the builder of this axe has a Web site, but I can't seem to find it right now. Next, another mandolin/guitar built in the 1960s by an Oregon luthier. Next, a vintage doubleneck sporting some serious horns; reminds one of a Concerto. Finally, an 8-string/5-string beast assembled by an Arizona luthier; the 5-string neck and fretboard appear to be taken from a production-model StewMac instrument.
The bad sunburst and pickup on the instrument at the far left suggest that it's of Japanese origin, but it looks like no other Japanese e-mando I've ever seen. The red KayKraft-shaped 4-string item sports a Fenderish headstock and a fake Gibson label. Next is a monstrosity from the 1960s; I believe wedding coordinators call that color "seafoam green." Finally, this 4-string scroll model "looks good from six feet away," but has finish problems and a poor binding job. Reportedly it still sounds good, and that's the important thing.
Here we have a 5-string shaped as much by nature as by the hand of the builder—who was from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and that's all I know about him. Or her. Next, a 5-string from the 1970s that may have been built from a kit. Next, a copy of a Gibson EM-200 that looks a little off—the cutaway/point section is shaped differently from an authentic EM-200, the color is wrong, and then there's the pesky issue of the headstock being at best a clumsy copy of the real thing. To further confuse the issue, it has a real Gibson tailpiece and comes in a real Gibson case. And there may be more than one of these puppies out there. To its right, another EM-200 copy that does seem to sport an authentic Gibson neck—from an A-50 or EM-150. The body's general outline approximates an EM-200, but all the hardware is wrong and the body appears to be a flat slab, whereas EM-200s are arched.
First, a 5-string beauty that hails from Taos, New Mexico, by a builder who wishes to remain anonymous. Next, if there's a shortage of control knobs in Texas, blame the builder of this 4/6 doubleneck. Next, a blond doubleneck discovered in New Brunswick. Finally, holy mother of Murgatroyd! This space-age doubleneck reportedly was obtained in a barn auction in Ohio around 2017. But it may date back to the 1950s, judging from the materials and pickups.
On the left: Think you don't have enough wood to build an electric mandolin? Think again. Here's a compact instrument from the UK. On the right, a Jaguar-ish Japanese delicacy, again featuring an 8-on-a-side headstock.
On the left, a nicely built Tele-style instrument made from an attractive piece of ash, with pots dating it to 1968. In the center, a CCC ("Crude Carvin Copy") with a Don Lace pickup. Everything but the pickup screams 1960s. And on the right, well, I'm gobsmacked. This axe hails from southern Ohio, and it's complete with an ingeniously designed vibrato arm/tailpiece. I haven't seen anything this good since the Buckleman, and that's going back a few years.
On the left, a job that might have been inspired by a 1967 Carvin mandolin. It's carved from a single slab of maple! In the center, an Alembic-style number made from walnut, if memory serves. And on the right, the infamous "Rhinestone Cowgirl," a one-off number with a DeArmond pickup that wouldn't have looked out of place alongside Dolly Parton or Tammy Wynette between, say, 1961 and 1976.
On the left, this Strat-style 4-stringer hails from the UK. Looks homemade but decent, sporting Schaller tuners and a birdseye maple neck. On the right, a Jaguar-ish creation in Sonic Blue. Could be American, could be Japanese ... who knows?
Left: Sparkly overlay, two pickups, six knobs, a switch, and a whammy bar to boot. It looks to me like someone got hold of a mass-market mandolin and had some fun. Maybe too much fun. Next: Never underestimate the power of rustic charm. Next, a whimsical 8-string creation that's part Carvin, part Roberts.