View Full Version : New Mandolin Tasting

Mando Medic
Feb-07-2004, 11:13am
OK gang, we're ready for mandolin tasting 2004. It is set for 6:30 PM in Ballroom #1 at the Sheraton in Tacoma Washington, February 26, 2004. The theme this year is mandolins that cost new under $2,000. We may do two tastings if we have time. I would like to do one also of just oval hole, any price any style. Please email me at kenc@wvi.com if you are able to be at Wintergrass and can loan your instrument for the tasting. I will email you an application specification sheet. I will not do a PA system this year. I feel it contaminates the recording and the natural listening process.

Several new features will be that one of the microphones will be at close proximity as we have done in the past, and the other will be 10 feet in front of the mandolin, approximating more of a natural listening area. I'll not be asking you to change to my choice of string gauges, but if you would at least string with either J-74 or J-75 D'Addario strings, that would be good. I'd also like to build a pick collection for the Mando Museum, so if you could bring one of your favorite picks as admission, we'd appreciate it.

I'd love to meet you all and see your mandolins and I believe that Scott Tichenor is making plans to be there as well. I'll appreicate your comments here and your emails to me about the event. Pete can you help out again this year? You sure are a large part of this event. Thanks, Ken Cartwright

Chris Baird
Feb-07-2004, 11:43am
Why must all mandos have 74s or 75s on them? All mandolins are built differently and have many specific areas of stucture and accessory that make it sound its best. The gauge of strings is one of those things. It's like asking all runners in a race to wear the same size of shoe.

Mando Medic
Feb-10-2004, 1:03am
Chris, I've answered this before but for you and those of you who did not see it, here goes.
As with any testing or in this case tasting, there are standards set. If a recording is made with the same microphones at the same distance for each instrument with the same artist using the same pick playing the same song and the goal is to measure the tone and other attributes of the instrument, the last componenet of the test is the similiarity of the strings. This factors the resistence to the player in being able to try and create the same pick thrust/resistance for comparison.

I certainly understand that if a person does not like D'Addario strings or those gauges then he or she can choose not to particpate in the tasting. Those are my standards and it does come with some complications. If the player was not used to Thomastic strings and tried to play an instrument strung with them and fought the string, is that a fair test of the instrument? I would next year be interested in having a tasting where everyone who owned the instrument played the same short test piece on their own instrument with their own strings. Then I think the results would be most interesting. Kenc

Chris Baird
Feb-10-2004, 1:21am
Ken, I can see there are compromises that have to be made. I just see the right string as being an intrinisic part of the instrument much like any other part such as the top & back. For some mandos J74s will be perfect and for others it will be detrimental. However, I do think you also have a point that the different gauges will throw off the player. Anyway I'm sure you've heard this all before and best of luck with the mandolin tasting, I hope to be around for one sometime.

Bob DeVellis
Feb-10-2004, 10:36am
Ken. I respect your point of view and it's your show to run as you see fit. It seems to me, though, that different instruments (especially round hole) may really be intended fora type of string other than a J74/J75. I have some flatback round hole instruments that I'd never string that way. In fact, I use lighter strings than that on an F-4. My point is that, in a sense, the levelest playing field is created by having each instrument set up the way the builder intended rather than making all instruments conform to a standard best suited to one particular type of instrument. This is just an observation and isn't intended as a criticism. I greatly appreciate your taking all the trouble to do these tastings and making the CDs available and the last thing I want to do is bug you about how to do it. It's just a point of view I wanted to express. I'm perfectly happy with your making the final call.

Mando Medic
Feb-11-2004, 12:47am
Hi Bob, I agree that sometimes the best strings are the players favorites. And I think that perhaps next year I'll do a players tasting with the owners playing their own instruments. But in a controlled test ideally, each instrument should be set up as nearly identically so there is a level playing field. I've tried to devise a mechanical pluck system that would give each instrument the exact pluck to measure volume, tone, sustain etc; but it's not very exciting and the strings are not fretted. So the next best thing was to find a player that was consistent. John Reischman had done this before with several other tastings and his is pretty consistent. He is a human mechanical string plucker that has developed his pluck velocity on D'Addario J-75 strings,. And being as his Loar is set up with those strings, that was the standard that we came from.

This is one of those you can't win discussions and really what I want to accomplish this year is to add completly different mandolin tones to the collection that we have had the two previous years. Only difference is we will do a close and a far field listen. Same style in that we will give it the chop test then a 30 second tune test.

I'd really like to get to Mandofest this year to do one there too. Kenc

Mando Medic
Feb-12-2004, 11:10pm
I had an interesting call today from a person representing a Company that, among other things, builds mandolins and wanted to know if I would accept money for placement of their mandolin in the tasting? To all who may have pondered that question: NO! This is not about placing your product for visibility to the world, this is about a bunch of mandolin geeks that want to have some fun and educate ourselves and the mandolin world about sound. If you really want to help without gaining acceptance of your products in the tasting, just send me cash with no strings attached. Heck, I can use it for lots of things. Truck payment, house payment, a new mandolin for my personal use etc: Please mail it to Ken Cartwright, 395 N. 3rd. Ave. Stayton, Oregon 97383 and please, no return addresses. Thanks!

Feb-12-2004, 11:23pm
Good one Ken.

Mando Medic
Feb-15-2004, 11:48am
We don't have enough mandolins signed up for the tasting yet. The catagory is "Mandolins Under $2,000". If you would like to participate, please email me at kenc@wvi.com and I will send a a participants sign up sheet. The tasting is Thursday night, February 26, 2004 in Ball room #1 at the Sheraton Tacoma hotel and convention center in Tacoma Washington.

Feb-15-2004, 2:59pm
Mandos that you PAID <$2k for, or that are WORTH <$2k...or what?

just curious...

Mando Medic
Feb-15-2004, 5:12pm
Great Question! I would say either way and perhaps at today's market price. Meaning if you bought a Gilchrist in 1977 for $1500 it would not be today's market price.

By the way, there will be a just recently discovered Loar there and it will be played in the mix too. It has not been played for 40 or 50 years so it should have an interesting tone. Fuzzy and I experimented a couple of days ago with different michs and placement. It looks like the best placement is one at one foot and one at 4 foot. The four foot best approximates your ear at a distance and we found it more accuratly represents the mandolin un-mich'd. If you're unsure of the value of your mandolin, just throw it up here on the board and I or others will help with establishing a value, or email me off list.

Feb-15-2004, 7:07pm
Ken I tried to email you but did not get a reply but how do we get a mando to you if we are unable to make it I would love to see how one of mine stacks up to some others in uts price range.


Mando Medic
Feb-15-2004, 8:54pm
You will have to bring it or send it with someone. I do not want the responcibility of shipping, receiving, insuring and transporting anyone's instruments. I will bring an armload of my own plus my recording gear. You might post a message on this forum to find out if anyone from your area is coming that would bring it for you. My apology to you for not getting back right away to you, but it's such a beautiful day here in Oregon, I was playing in the sun today. Kenc

Feb-16-2004, 4:44pm
I agree, it sure was nice here yesterday (I'm in Portland).

I'm coming up for your tasting Thursday, and sticking around for Friday.

Mando Medic
Feb-17-2004, 1:29pm
The Mandolin tasting has been cancelled this year. Due to many circumstances, too many to speak about here, I will not be at Wintergrass. Sorry for the inconvience. Ken Cartwright

Feb-17-2004, 6:03pm
I'm sorry to hear that, Ken, I hope whatever has come up doesn't impact you too greatly. Regardless of the tasting, I'll miss jamming in the lobby with you, shooting the bull, and generally hanging out. Take care, my friend, and let me know if there's anything I can help with.

Mando Medic
Feb-18-2004, 9:39am
Zeke and all, I'm sorry I won't be able to be there this year either. Just can't do the tasting as Wintergrass waited until the last second to finalize their plans to include the tasting though I had put the request in and followed up on it all year long. I'm saving my energy for trying to get to Kansas this year for mando fest. I'd love to do that and do the mandolin tasting there.

Have a goodtime and jam lots. Kenc