View Full Version : Tone-Gard

Dec-04-2003, 2:05pm
I clicked on the Elderly Mando page link that's on the main page here, and it has this "TONE GARD for mandolin" listed. It's like a little cage that fits around the back of the mando so it doesn't rest against your body and instead is free to vibrate.

I often find myself trying to contort into various positions in order to let the back of my mando ring out like this, but it doesn't work too well. I'm wondering if anybody has one of these and what they think of it. I don't think I would want it on there all the time when I'm just noodling around, but for recording or even performances, I wouldn't mind getting that extra bit of volume and tone if it works well.

Dec-04-2003, 2:13pm
You should do a search on this site if the archives are still there.....Several people have them and they work great. Not to mention helping to protect the back of your instrument. Mine is missing some paint in several areas....Gotta wonder what could have done that and what the back of the mando would have looked like without the tone gard on it. I got to open for Skaggs a couple of months ago and when he finished the evening he held his mando in the air and turned it around so the audience could see the tone-gard.

Frank Russell
Dec-04-2003, 2:23pm
I tried one and liked it. Wish I hadn't traded it, but I was in the market for a solid tailpiece. It worked really well, left no marks on my mando, and definitely kept it away from my gutmute. I never really noticed it as far as comfort goes. Sometimes they even fit in your case while still on the mando, though mine did not. Worth the money.

Dec-04-2003, 3:08pm
absolutely worth it if you do any recording and play dynamic music....will really give some depth to your playing if you have an ear for small details...

some folks are only intersted in loud and fast but playing hard all the time shouldn't be necessary...good players can back off when necessary and in those cases the tone gard really helps even more...

of course the likes of steffey and skaggs play super hard and it gives them even more of an edge on their mandos...

Dec-04-2003, 3:14pm
I have one on my Weber Absaroka and just love it. It also fits in my case while attached to the mandolin.???

Dec-04-2003, 3:19pm
I have one for each for my two mandolins and being that the mandolins fit in the case with the Tonegard attached, I leave them on. They are great. They leave no marks on the mando and protect the back. They project the sound much better than the mandolin does when touching your chest. No just a gadget.
My 2 cents. Clamdigger

Dec-04-2003, 3:25pm
Well thanks everyone. I can't believe how quickly the responses came in. I am going to buy this today then.

Dec-04-2003, 3:30pm
i used one constantly when i was playing a fender fm63s and it really made a difference in the projection and volume. i have since started playing a michael kelly fs deluxe and it's a tight fit to get it into the case attached to the mando. ANYWAY, i've quit using it on my michael kelly and, fwiw, it doesn't seem to make nearly as much difference as it did with the fender. don't know the reason behind the difference but if it would fit in my case better i would still be using it.

oh yeah, they are also a great coversation piece (mando johnny)

Dec-04-2003, 3:36pm
Are you still cyber-stalking?

Big Joe
Dec-04-2003, 3:49pm
I've got one on my Bush. Not that it needed more volume, but it is cool. I won't put one on my Master Model. They are pretty neat and I liked them well enough to stock them in our store at Opry Mills.

John Flynn
Dec-04-2003, 4:12pm
oh yeah, they are also a great coversation piece (mando johnny)
OK, you guys are just baitin' me now. I have changed! I am now fully in support of the tone-cage. By thoughtfully cyber-stalking me from thread to thread, the Knox-man has helped me understand that if any player thinks he needs a gadget in order to feel like he sounds half-way decent, he should use one!

As a newly reformed, open-minded mando player, I need to be supportive of that. So I want to go on record as supporting anything anyone wants to hang, clamp, glue or screw on thier instrument. This includes catcher's masks, arm rests, walrus nuts, stun guns, vibrators, kazoos and even turn signals. It's all good... I'm sure if Mr. Monroe were around today, he'd have all that stuff.

Knox-man, thanks for helping me see the light! #

Dec-04-2003, 4:18pm
Great post!

Joe Parker
Dec-04-2003, 4:31pm
Big Joe-why not on the Master Model?BTW-I ordered mine this week. I have a tone guard on my F5V and it really works great-fits in my Calton too!


Dec-04-2003, 4:42pm
So far the tone-gard is the best "add-on" that I have purchased for my F-9. I have people that are shocked at the difference that it makes.

Dec-04-2003, 10:17pm
On a varnish finish the contact points where it touches the finish will mess up the finish and not much can stop that. I risk that with my arm rest and it gives me good results with increased tone and volume.

There is an upside to using one on a varnish finish. While it will leave little marks on the places where it touches, it will protect the rest of the back from body oils or sweat. Maybe I will use one on my MM this summer. We'll see. Hope that explains why. Nothing wrong with the product or its results.

Dec-04-2003, 11:19pm
Yes, it does fit on the back of the mandolin. For those whose mandolin back contacts their body when they play the tone-guard will improve the sound considerably.


Dec-05-2003, 5:29am
As a newly reformed, open-minded mando player, I need to be supportive of that. So I want to go on record as supporting anything anyone wants to hang, clamp, glue or screw on thier instrument. This includes catcher's masks, arm rests, walrus nuts, stun guns, vibrators, kazoos and even turn signals. It's all good... I'm sure if Mr. Monroe were around today, he'd have all that stuff.

Knox-man, thanks for helping me see the light! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif
man, you slay me!!! thanks for being a good sport and cyber stalking victim. and if you know a reliable source for walrus nuts, i'd be very excited to have some for my mandolin. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Mando Medic
Dec-05-2003, 8:10am
Not only did I use the Tone Gard on the Master Model Prototype #3 I had for 1 1/2 years, but Tony made a Tone Gard for my Herringbone Martin that is a killer. Same principal as the mandolin, and the instrument just rings like crazy. The best add on for the money you can buy. There simply is not another device you can buy for your mandolin that improves the sound more for the low cost of investment. It is true that if you're not careful, it will leave little marks, dark spots where the rubber insulating contact points touch the varnish, but Tony suggests that these contact points be treated with a car wax first. I instead suggest that medical tubing purchased in the fishing department of the local Bi-Mart Store be substituted for these points and that takes care of that. By the way, this medical tubing is yellowish brown is found in the fishing department and is used as the leader insulator for Sturgeon hooks.

As we get older, some of us get larger in the front and it is not as easy to keep the mandolin away from the front of us, freeing up the back and keeping the mandolin from damping the back and muting the tone and volume. This Tone Gard does that for us and allows us to play the instrument naturally with it lying across our fronts like a guitar and not having to throw the angle of the instrument at an oblique or angle from us. I don't know about you, but that just is not a natural angle for me to play at. This devise and an armrest are just great. Kenc

John Flynn
Dec-05-2003, 8:31am
if you know a reliable source for walrus nuts, i'd be very excited to have some for my mandolin
Knox: I hear you can only get the fossilized walrus nuts. That's because getting fresh ones can be very, very dangerous. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Big Joe
Dec-05-2003, 9:44am
There comes a time in life where one may realize you do not need to be a walrus for them to be fossilized...of course, some of us may look like a walrus....:D .

Mando Medic
Dec-05-2003, 10:12am
Fossilized Walrus nut is very unique. Do you know how you get them? You-neek up on them!

Dec-05-2003, 10:16am
I thought Paul was the walrus!

Dec-05-2003, 11:23am
Koo koo ka choo!


Dec-05-2003, 12:45pm
ROTFL!!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Scotti Adams
Dec-05-2003, 5:40pm
..absoluteley the best $65 you can spend on your mando....every player who is serious about his tone and volume shouldnt be caught without one....alot of people opt for a different tailpiece to try to capture more volume and tone...well they are looking in the wrong place....you will not get more of an immediate upshot in these areas with a TP.....get a Tone-Gard....get it..got it?....good....

Mike Buesseler
Dec-05-2003, 6:55pm
I've used a Tone Gard for a couple of years and love it. #Only problem: #those rubber feet/protectors occasionally fall off. #I've lost one. #

Any suggestions for keeping them on? #I tried some kind of glue which didn't work....

Dec-07-2003, 10:21pm
If I may I would like to say I've thought, asked and looked hard to find the best materials for the Tone-Gard. The tubing that is on it is natural rubber because it has no "polymers" like plastic and surgical rubber tubing that soften and eat away finishes. I've included sheets, stickers FAQ's, everything I know to do about maintenance. Because the rubber is natural it deteriorates and makes black marks on clothing. This can be stopped by using wax on the rubber on the spring arms once a year. It just seals the rubber again. I don't use automotive wax. I use instrument wax or Pledge on the RUBBER, rubbed in with the fingers. Once a year is all it takes. I don't recommend the Tone-Gard for varnish because it's soft, not because it "eats" the finish. There are a lot of players of varnished instruments who use it who say it does less damage than their shirts, buttons and zippers and are more worried about tone. Thanks all for your support of the Tone-Gard, your the only reason I make them. Happy Holidays!

Mike McCoy
Dec-09-2003, 4:37pm
I'm late getting in on this one but its real simple if you want more volume, better tone and better protection for the back of your mandolin buy a Tone-Gard, if you dont....

Dec-09-2003, 4:40pm
Can I repaint my Tone-gard? I have several places where the black paint is coming off....Sort of adds character but I think a purple one might add even more character!

Dec-09-2003, 5:04pm
Please feel free, it's your gard. I intended the Tone-Gard to be maintained by the owner. The thing that I worry about is mods / no maintanence and when it doesn't work out they publicly blame me/the gard. I use Krylon and to do a real nice job you need to take ALL the old paint off along with the rubber parts. The rubber tubing is 7/64" RUBBER automotive tubing that all auto parts stores stock. To make the pads you super glue black permanently dyed suede leather to the same rubber tube. And if you want them to stay on permantly take super glue and put some in the slit and glue it to the gard. Be warned, have it in the right position and it will be a mess if you ever want to re-position or re-paint! I hope this is ok Scott T. as my intention is not to peddle my wares here, just offering some tips.

Dec-09-2003, 5:10pm
Tony...You make a great product! Thanks for the reply and hope you have a great holiday season!

Scotti Adams
Dec-09-2003, 5:30pm
..I second that Ben..thanks alot Tony

J. Mark Lane
Dec-09-2003, 6:06pm
To make the pads you super glue black permanently dyed suede leather to the same rubber tube.
Pads? What pads? I have two ToneGards (luv 'em, btw). I see metal and rubber tube thingies, but no pads.

Hey, did I get cheated? I ain't got no steeeenking pads!

Dec-09-2003, 8:31pm
oops, sorry, "gard guards", the rubber and leather guards that go around the outside hoop of the Tone-Gard and keep the metal hoop from contacting the back of the mandolin, thooose stinking pads.

J. Mark Lane
Dec-10-2003, 11:39am
Uh... I still don't understand. Do you just mean the rubber tubing that goes on the sections that clamp the thing to the instrument? Or is there something else in addition to this?

Scotti Adams
Dec-10-2003, 12:08pm
..there should be little strips of black leather glued to the pieces of tubing...thats what actually comes in contact with the back of your mando...did you buy this Gard used?.....Im sure Tony would make it right if he mistakenly sent yours to you not quite right....

Dec-10-2003, 12:45pm
I remember selling J Mark at least one gard and I KNOW it had "gard guards" on it. As head cook and bottle washer I do everything and no gard leaves without guards. Besides the rubber on the "arms", spaced around the outside of the Tone-Gard are the gard guards/pads that keep the metal gard from touching the back of the mando. Unless they were taken off, the gard was delivered with them.

Scotti Adams
Dec-10-2003, 1:08pm
..Im sure there is a logoical reason for this.....

J. Mark Lane
Dec-10-2003, 2:39pm
You know, it could well be that I'm just too stooopid to know. I never take the thing off. Maybe I should take it off and see what's there. I'm sure that gard-gards must be there... I just must have never noticed them. I'll look when I get home (oh, boy, something to do!). <g>

Thanks, Tony. And thanks for making such a fine product.


Frank Russell
Dec-10-2003, 3:05pm
Tony - just to clarify, you're talking about the flat surface attached to the rubber tubing on the holding "arms," right?

J. Mark Lane
Dec-10-2003, 10:44pm
Ahh, ok, now I see. The little thingies attached to the little thingies. The gardgardgards. I never noticed them before.

Needless to say, I don't notice much. I'm too busy trying to make sure I always know where my head is.


Dec-11-2003, 2:04am
In keeping with one pic is worth 1k words, I present for your approval "Anatomy of a Tone-Gard"

J. Mark Lane
Dec-11-2003, 9:53am
Uh... what are "rays"?

You know, the Pentagon may be interested in that drawing....

Dec-11-2003, 10:41am
Uh... what are "rays"? #

Those are those things they put all those bans on.

You know Ray bans #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

(He said while ducking)


Dr. LJ
Dec-16-2003, 7:52pm
Well, this is as good a place as any to add my first comment.

I played Matt Fox's Tone-Gard encased mandolin and was quite impressed. I recently got one for my Ratliff RA-5 and I was amazed at how much louder and clearer the sound was. It is a wonderful product and it works like a charm. It is everything Tony says it is and more. It will be the best $65.00 you can spend on your mandolin. It is great!


Dec-16-2003, 10:04pm
Tony, do you make them for an octave mandolin yet? I have a Freshwater octave mandola.

Dec-16-2003, 11:03pm
On my website I have just a sampling of what I've done over the years. I've made gards for all of the mandolin family, mandolin, mandola, mandocello, octave mandolin, mandoban*o, mandodobro, autoharp even uke's and everything in between! Now I've got a good design for guitar with 2 of them on the website. The D size guitar will be like the 000Gard. I say this to demonstrate that there is no "yet". If you are sure you want a Tone-Gard I will work with you, please email me off list. Again I thank you all for your support.

Dan Cole
Dec-19-2003, 10:06pm
My wife gave me one of these for Christmas, albeit a few days early and it is amazing the difference it makes. Very impressive item. She got me the Art Deco style. Highly recommended!!

Jan-29-2004, 1:38pm
Just installed my Tone Gard on my A-9. Love the difference it makes. Getting a much deeper, woodier tone and more volume than without it. 100% satisfied customer!!

Jan-29-2004, 2:12pm
I installed one on my new fern It does make some difference but I'm still trying it. I'm not sure it helps this mandolin that much. Plus it got a black stuff (light) all over belly of my yellow shirt when we played last week.

Jan-29-2004, 9:22pm
The rubber parts on the gard sometimes oxidize. The best way to preserve the rubber is put a little Pledge wax on your finger tips and rub it into the rubber. This will stop the black stuff.

Jan-30-2004, 10:04am
I'll try that. Thanks!

Charlie Ayers
Jan-30-2004, 10:38am
Forgive my inability to conceptualize, but does the Tone gard attach to the sides of the instrument, to keep it in place?


Scotti Adams
Jan-30-2004, 6:51pm
..the Gard attaches with "spring arms"...3 of them...one on each side bout and one on the bottom bout...they are protected with rubber and leather..these are the only points that have constant contact with the mando...the spring arms apply just enough pressure to grasp the mando safely. I just recently bought one for a 1934 D28 herringbone...and all I can say is that it made a power house of a guitar into a real big cannon....HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.....there is absolutley nothing that will harm the apppearance of your instrument..

Mike McCoy
Jan-30-2004, 9:28pm
I've got a Gard on my HD28V and it has made a good guitar really great!!! I cant say enough good things about the results I have had with the ToneGard on my mando and now on my guitar as well. Thanks Tony you've done it again!

Scotti Adams
Jan-31-2004, 10:05am
..I seen and played with Frank Wakefield last night..hes another happy customer....straps one on that ol Loar of his..he says he loves it...

Feb-03-2004, 11:27pm
Anyone tried the Rigel A model ToneGard?

Feb-06-2004, 9:02pm
Yes, I have used the tone guard on my Rigel A+ for the past year. Great results, highly recommended.

Feb-07-2004, 11:29pm
I'd really like to try one... but i just don't quite have $80 worth of desire, i guess.

Scotti Adams
Feb-08-2004, 3:10pm

Feb-08-2004, 3:41pm
According to Tony's site:

"Gards for Rigel mandolins (see sample photos here or in the gallery) are $80."

I would be more tempted at $65.

Feb-09-2004, 3:56am
If they were not so hard to make I wouldn't have to charge so much. I didn't come up with the rounded sides and different shape, I just made the Tone-Gard fit. I don't remember Peter Mix or Pete Langell thinking I was damping their desire when I sold them their Tone-Gards. As I remember they were quite amazed I could do it at all, seeing how I did it from prints John Strong made me so I could make him a gard.

Scotti Adams
Feb-09-2004, 8:09am
..wow..they must have went up....I paid $65...sorry for the mis-info...

Feb-09-2004, 8:23am
Tony, I have no doubt that the time and expertise you invest in every single ToneGard is worth every penny of the asking price. For the labor time involved I'm sure your product is fairly priced. It's just that this old comsumer's disposable income is all pretty well disposed of these days. So i'll go on wishing your product cost 1/2 what it does and you can go on wishing people would stop bitching about its price.

Feb-09-2004, 9:45am
when one see and hears what it actually does, there is no bitching involved. Yeah, it can make that much of a difference.

For what Tony is doing...it's more than a fair price.

Feb-09-2004, 10:36am
Thanks Zeek, I think a lot of us are in the same boat. I'm not as good at PR as say CharlieD or BigJoe. I give at little test for folks to do on my website so there's no doubt whether they need a Tone-Gard or not, they can hear for themselves.
I think Scotti has the idea they've gone up, the standard gard has been the same since 2000,Sunrise $65, the Deco (harder) $75, the Rigel (the hardest "standard") is $80 and customs go up from there depending on how hard they are. I've also have had my income disposed but I'm hoping also it will get better.:;):

Scotti Adams
Feb-09-2004, 11:18am
thanks for the clarification Tony...mine was $65....

Feb-09-2004, 1:42pm
You know coming out with a simple product in today's world is just asking to be unappreciated. It's WAY harder to do simple than to do complicated, ask any engineer. Another problem is simple ='s cheap in most people's minds and that is all relative I suppose. Some of my dealers have told me I'm under market value but I know how hard it is to make ends meet, I live between those ends. I never expected to be selling these things, people just kept asking for them, so I do like I've always done, make 'em one at a time. I've had to devise my own equipment and tools as RonCo doesn't have a Tone-Gard maker,...yet. I am proud to be counted among people who have passion for something they love that supports other people(manufacturers of instruments, strings, gear etc, and especially the luthiers) who make up a community in a world where community is all but lost. I owe the communities of CoMando and the Cafe for their support, without them there would be no Tone-Gard. The Tone-Gard doesn't pollute, and should last a lifetime. I like other manufacturers/luthiers have a health tradeoff though. The wire wheel I use to clean the gards after welding sometimes grabs it out of my hands and smacks me, usually my left hand(at 3,500 rpm,double ouch!) and then there's the little known manganizim(sp?) I discovered while researching materials. It turns out this has been known forever. Modern metals use manganese to make them weld better but it off gasses when welded. This gas attacks the brain stem and causes Alzheimer. What was I rambling on about?

mandy lynne
Feb-09-2004, 2:09pm
Just wanted to reiderate the points that Tony's gard is well worth the money. I was skeptical, but the difference in tone/volume was truly awesome...i can't imagine ever going back to a world without the gard. More than that, I credit Tony with helping me realize the full potential in my little pre-Loar A model. I've played F-styles and the sound is just not there like it is with my A. Weird, huh?


Feb-12-2004, 10:15am
Tony, I sent you an e-mail from work yesterday, I'm just making sure you got it. It was for a tone gard for my Ratliff R5 F model...Thanks

Feb-12-2004, 10:33am
No, it didn't get through, or should I say get out? Did you use the mailto on the Tone-Gard site? I have a new email address.

Feb-12-2004, 11:30am
That's the one I used...I'll try again...