View Full Version : Arthritis

Jan-27-2004, 3:05pm
Ooooooooh, is it cold in the Northeast these days! Bone-chilling and bone-dry...

One of my vintage babies gets a "phantom buzz" when the weather is like this, as if something inside the instrument is vibrating in especially sympathetic manner to the open G-strings; rather sad-sounding, I must say. And, despite my best efforts (and those of a fine luthier) to examine and locate the problem, no inner organ is visibly loose.

What to do? I try to provide as much humidity to the environment as the usual contraptions will yield but, of course, every last trace of moisture freezes immediately against the inner side of the windowpanes. What else is there to do?

Is there some mando-anti-inflammatory substance I could apply?

John Flynn
Jan-27-2004, 4:25pm
The midwest is getting bad too. I have a whole house humidifier and a room humidifier and together they can't keep up. What I do that has been satisfactory is keep the instruments in thier cases whenever I am not playing them. I mounted a calibrated humidistat in my mando case. It can not only tell me the present humidity in the case, but it also records the highs and lows since the last time I have zeroed it, which I do everytime I put the instrument away. I have found that with a basic humidifier, I can easily keep the inside of the case at 50% even if the room is at 30%. BTW, I used to have a fancy case humidifier I paid way too much for and it got sponge rot after a year. I bought a plastic soap case like you would carry a bar of soap in when you are camping. I poked about 20 holes in the top of it and I put a cheap sponge in it, which I keep soaked. It works better than the fancy one and if I ever get sponge rot, I'll just replace the sponge for 50 cents.

Jan-27-2004, 6:05pm
And for smaller versions of the same DIY humidifier, use plastic film canisters, cut circular pieces of sponge, pack the film container, puncture the canister, add water. More or less in that order...<G>

Bob A
Jan-27-2004, 9:37pm
It's the Ghost in the Wood.

Once alive, it now wanders between earth and sky, looking for the tree it dimly remembers having been. When the nights grow shorter, it won't long for earth and sun so painfully. whining in the wood, and will resign itself to being a mandolin, and sing happily again.

It must be true. Happens every year.

Jan-28-2004, 3:03pm
Oh Bob...

that was SO beautiful and poetic... I´m almost in tears for sympathy for our poor Ghost...


John Flynn
Jan-28-2004, 6:06pm
Bob, dude, where can I score some of that stuff your usin' man? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Jan-28-2004, 8:57pm
Very nice Bob A

Jan-28-2004, 11:08pm
Outstanding Bob - There's a luthier somewhere in Northeastern Canada who builds and repairs a lot of instruments on an annual basis. Every four or five years he'll cut a new maple tree for splitting and aging over the next few years. Lately he's been taking a string quartet out to play to the tree to let it feel what it will become.

Kind of a prequel to a ghost in a mandolin ...

Jan-29-2004, 10:54am
Thank you all. I will take the sponge-and-canister approach and report; intuitively, I know it should work. After all, that's what we do with (bowed) string instruments, my mainstay.

Speaking of which: While performing a concert of Bach Cantatas in an overheated church a couple of weeks ago, and having just walked in from -12º, a blood-curdling *BANG* was suddenly heard. Everyone looked in my general direction in horror. But no: no act of terrorism, no gunshot, no domestic dispute gone awry; just a sudden snap between two plates on the back of my bass. As the wood shrinks, the #rib-seams (having been glued with relatively weaker, thinner glue than the "inner" plates) ought to have given way; in theory, that is. In painful practice, however, the twin-plates of the back were asunder #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Of course, at the very least, the show went on... Now, off to the bass-luthier.

P.S. And I particularly thank Bob for his wonderful, animistic explanation of the matter. Greco-Roman naturalists like me (us?) are perfectly accustomed to —and greatly appreciative of— such views. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Jan-30-2004, 12:39pm
As a minor aside to the animism of this thread, perhaps a breath of life may be appropriate. Exhaled breath is normally about 65 to 75% relative humidity. Before I put any of my instruments away for the evening (these days it's down to one out at a time), I exhale a few times into the instrument until I can feel the humidity come back to me. The humidifiers are added to the instrument and the case and then everything is put away. I still need to refresh and refill the in case humidifiers almost every other day but ... the breath kind of guarantees an initially humid environment to start out with at least.

Now if you're like Dr. Kioulaphides with his motley of anatomically correct bass', or eat a lot of - ah - ferocious food, your results may vary. My word Victor, you could probably hyperventilate on a bass now that I think about it ...

Jan-30-2004, 12:52pm
Ah, au naturel, Dion...

The afflicted mandolin I speak of lives in my office, as a much needed, handy antidote (try saying THAT three times!) to those really, really annoying meetings— of which there are far, far too many.

In the same ecosystem, a.k.a. my self-contained cubicle, live four geraniums, four begonias, an aloe vera, a sizeable "weeping fig" tree, a tropical thingy-or-other, and a threateningly serpentine phyllodendron. My innermost hope is that (with time, water, and MiracleGro®) I will some day vanish beneath the foliage.

Now, as the blasted heater blasts hot air at us all —and the plants are faithfully watered— a good deal of evaporation does take place; I rarely feel my hands chapped, as I do elsewhere. Still, the old mando seems to need some more, ehm... geriatric aid.

As for breathing itself... I'll consider anything, Dion. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Jan-30-2004, 3:39pm
Like some minor —and I mean minor— deity, I picked up said mando and followed Dion's sage advice.

Now, for a too-good-to-be-true trivium: This is the de Meglio, with its idiomatic dash-dot-dash holes on the clasp. So, what more natural "mouthpiece"? I blew some hot air (better than doing so in the aforementioned meetings) through those weird little vents, careful not to INhale all the funky !#^$%#%*! gathering in there over the past 107 years.

Ha!... Talk about mouth-to-mouth resuscitation! Talk about "Love thy mando" (the 11th Commandment) It helped! Well, the buzz is not all gone but audibly diminished; plus, the instrument sounds so much warmer!

I am tempted to quote any of those 1,001 platitudes on this subject (in ecclesiastical Latin, if you prefer) but, for once, I will save my breath. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Jan-31-2004, 9:41pm
Ouch, Victor. I didn't get around to responding till now, but I hope your bass is back in your hands soon and plays better than ever.

Feb-01-2004, 9:46am
Oh, Peter... how long can a mercenary afford to be without his sword, even if he knows full well that the blade is coming loose at the hilt? Choice A. is to put it aside at the blacksmith's and be out of business (and eminently subject to slaughter) for a while; choice B. is to keep desperately stabbing away, hoping it does not fall apart in his hands (ditto on the end result); a shoddy compromise, either way.

Lame allegories aside, the bass is still in MY hands, not the luthier's— buzzing and creaking all the way. I'm just too darn busy, by far the busiest I have ever been in January... EVER! So, I can only dream of a slow-down (alas, in March, maybe?) for some corrective glueing. It's rough out there... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Feb-01-2004, 11:41am
I certainly hope this doesn't end in slaughter and just stays loose and buzzing till it can be attended to. This is one of those stories that make me glad I don't play music for money.

Feb-01-2004, 5:16pm
Whats the best place to keep these little high tech film cannister humidifiers? I have a shaped case and keep strings and a little notepad up by the headstock and don't want those to get wet and rusty or soggy, and I'm not sure keeping in the little pocket (for picks, etc, it's too small for strings!) would do much.


Apr-29-2004, 9:54am
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