Just spitballing here - but instead of depressing the strings down via magnets, raise the fret to make contact with the strings.
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If you could slide the nut forward and there is relief built into the neck, your action (and intonation) might be affected. Not that needing perfect intonation or tune is critical to musicians who spend half their time tuning and the other half playing out of tune.
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Got it: Steel frets. You're welcome. I would like 50% of the gross profits please. Thanks in advance.
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Furthering Mandolin Consciousness
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Funky idea. Wonder if Appalachia has taken it any further?
I can think of a wonderful alternative application for this if the basic concept ever got off the ground.
A plug-in interface to trigger individual magnets then you could use it as a mandolin equivalent of the pianola, enabling blistering fast faked solos by filthy-rich rock guitarists with the money to pay for it.
Reverse engineer it to use as an input interface for your XBox guitar player games?
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I'm not much of a mando player, but I have a few electric guitars and magnet strength and height definitely impact string resonance. This is easy to test and see for yourself. A great anecdotal example is Chet Atkins - he was with Gretsch for many years and his first signature guitars were all single-coil pickup designed. The Gretsch Dearmond/Dynasonic pickups have individual magnets as pole pieces. They aren't particularly strong, but each string has a magnet underneath it and they are fairly strong for pickup magnets. Chet had Gretsch change the pickups because he claimed the magnets sucked the tone from the strings. He said only Duane Eddy could get tone out of those pickups Another scenario you can test with is with Telecaster and Esquire guitars. Esquires only have bridge pickups - no neck pickups. In almost every other way Teles and Esquires are nearly identical (wiring is different obviously - a few other minor things too). But even on a Tele you can pull the neck pickup and the tone of the guitar is different slightly when playing just the bridge.
Magnets in the neck of a mando with any ferrous strings would impact tone, even in a minor way, in my opinion. One of the early posts mentioned neodymium - if I wanted to go this route of a magnetic capo I would go electromagnetic instead so that the magnetic impact is only present when I ran current through the slugs. Probably pretty difficult to do in a piece of wood...maybe possible in a carbon fiber hollow neck as was mentioned earlier when looking at lightness and stiffness. Seems like a lot of work to attack a problem that already has some very good solutions. Just sayin'...
That Proulx has some nifty innovations. I love the adjustable side port. I am curious how that changes what the player hears and what the audience hears.
The tapped hole would appear to be a low tech solution to the OP's quest, and probably easier to retrofit on an existing mandolin.
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