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MCS148 Mandolin Questions

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JLT
Posted 2021-02-22 8:45 PM (#555209)
Subject: MCS148 Mandolin Questions


Joined:
February 2021
Posts: 5

A friend gave me an Ovation Mandolin with a broken nut. While I've built a bunch of mandolins, this is the first one I've ever seen with ball end strings. That should have been my first clue.

Replacing the nut was going to be no problem, since as luthier I've made many of them for both guitar and mandolin (plus other stringed instruments). But I realized that the broken nut was going to be the least of my problems.

I've got the old strings off and have ordered some new ones via Strings by Mail (good people, those). The Ovation web site offers no mandolin strings for sale, and no recommendations on where to get them, so I'm flying blind here. Can anybody recommend other sources, with better selections? One things that makes the question more relevant is something that this publication online said:

https://www.americanmusical.com/itemfiles/manual/ovationacousticguit...

According to this, the tuning of an Ovation mandolinis stated to be E-A-D-G, apparently tuned in fourths, like the four bottom strings of a guitar. This goes counter to every standard-size mandolin I've ever seen, which uses a G-D-A--E, tuned in fifths. (I checked the string frequencies to make sure that it wasn't a simple case of them labeling the strings in reverse.) So is this really the right tuning? Was this mandolin offered to those who were already acquainted with chord configurations on the guitar bass?

Second, I was able to get the battery out of the case to test it to see if it was still good. But when I went to replace the battery, I found that the positive and negative terminals on the case weren't labeled at all, and looked identical. You could insert the battery either way! Maybe there was once a sticker there that identified which pole is which. My only clue is that the wire going to one contact is white, and the other one is black. I know that white usually means (-) but I've seen so many exceptions to that rule, particularly on Asian products, that I can't trust that. But maybe a guy with an Ovation guitar can tell me if there's an "Ovation protocol" that dictates that the positive side of the battery goes either to the left or to the right.

Finally, is there a manual for these existing somewhere online, or a schematic, or something? (Again, the Ovation web site was no help there.) Information on recommended string gauge, etc. would be most helpful. The fact that it's a pretty long scale for a mandolin (13 3/4") leads me to think it was designed for bluegrass.

From what I've read, the MCS148 is reputedly a great sounding mando if you plug it in. I'm keen to try it, once the battery and string issues are sorted out. And I'm looking forward to meet other Ovation mando players.
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Old Man Arthur
Posted 2021-02-22 9:24 PM (#555210 - in reply to #555209)
Subject: Re: MCS148 Mandolin Questions



Joined:
September 2006
Posts: 10613

Location: Keepin' It Weird in Portland, OR
If your battery chamber has a slide-in battery holder, one side is larger than the other.
If you battery chamber has a sliding Door on the battery compartment...
Look inside, and one contact should be larger than the other.

If all else fails.... Trial and error? It will work one way and not the other.
I am not sure if a 9v will fry an Ovation preamp...
I know that I have reversed polarity on 9v batteries on an OP-24 and it did not die.

The official Ovation website has been changed so many times thru different owners....
So now all of the good info is here. So... Someone should know.

Also... wait for smarter people to chime in.

Maybe look around here.... https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/threads/69896-Ovation-MCS148-Mand...
Old threads, but a few Ovation mando owners.


Edited by Old Man Arthur 2021-02-22 9:38 PM
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JLT
Posted 2021-02-23 12:54 PM (#555215 - in reply to #555210)
Subject: Re: MCS148 Mandolin Questions


Joined:
February 2021
Posts: 5

Thanks for the reply, Arthur.

The battery case is indeed a sliding-door variety, but the two sides and the two poles are identical. The battery can go in one way as easily as it could go in the other.

And I did see that link for the Mandolin Cafe. I'm a long-time poster there and that was the first resource I consulted.

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FlySig
Posted 2021-02-23 5:53 PM (#555217 - in reply to #555209)
Subject: Re: MCS148 Mandolin Questions



Joined:
October 2005
Posts: 3899

Location: Utah
Don't believe the wire colors. After extensive troubleshooting on my 1997 Ovation, the problem was Red/Black are not positive and negative (in that guitar)! Factory original. For whatever reason the wire colors don't match convention.

I would be surprised if reverse polarity harmed your preamp. Designers should expect batteries to frequently be inserted backwards. YMMV, etc.
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Beal
Posted 2021-02-24 12:46 PM (#555219 - in reply to #555209)
Subject: Re: MCS148 Mandolin Questions



Joined:
January 2002
Posts: 14091

Location: 6 String Ranch
normal tuning
the battery holder are not identical, if they are they have been modified
Daddario makes the strings
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JLT
Posted 2021-02-24 7:10 PM (#555220 - in reply to #555219)
Subject: Re: MCS148 Mandolin Questions


Joined:
February 2021
Posts: 5

Thanks. I'll just string it up like a normal mandolin.

As for the battery wiring, a schematic would probably help me trace which wire goes where, but since Ovation doesn't seem to be able to provide one, I'll have to rely on experimentation, unless somebody else conversant in Ovation amplification can shed some light.
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