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Thread: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

  1. #1

    Question help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    I don't see myself getting a new mandolin for many years, so to get a better instrument I Mus upgrade the parts on this one. I have questions.
    It's a jbovier a model built in 2012 all original parts, I believe.Click image for larger version. 

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    Ok, so here are some questions.

    What parts can I replace to make it better?
    When getting better parts, are you just buying replacement parts intended for more expensive mandolins or are their manufacturers who simply make good parts?
    How risky is it to replace certain parts?
    The knobs on my tuning keys come off. I would like to find some that are wood, rather than mother of pearl. Where can I buy these?
    What else can I get that is simply cosmetic, to make it more unique?

    Anything else you can think of that I need to know? I want my mandolin to operate at the peak of jbovier perfection..like a mandolin captain America

    Thanks!
    JBovier A5 2012 (Jaybo)
    Kentucky 140

  2. #2
    Registered User jake-mando's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    #1 upgrade would be a New Cumberland Acoustic bridge. With a good professional set up.
    I don't think there will be many that will disagree on this

    The follow are things I have done to my JB as upgrades:
    CA bridge
    Genuine bone nut
    Cast tail piece (Allan AR2)
    CA arm rest
    String suppressors
    K&K twin pick up
    High Quality Pick (Bluechip is my preference)

    This is my JB F5 Dorado

    Click image for larger version. 

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    To play or not to play? Well that's a silly question.

    2009 J.Bovier F5 Dorado
    2012 Eastwood Mandocaster
    2013 J.Bovier A5 (prototype)
    1984 K.Yairi AR352
    1980 Ovation Custom Ballader
    2012 Martin HD28

  3. #3

    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Thanks! Already got the blue chip ^-^

    I'm kinda scared to mess with it though :/ I realized I will have to have somebody fix the action for me after i replace each piece =_= guess I gotta collect he parts and then, when I have them all, put them on. Maybe I can do it myself but I'm not talk g the risk without having the money already in my pocket to pay somebody to do it.
    JBovier A5 2012 (Jaybo)
    Kentucky 140

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Things that help me to play better and get better tone are a good arm rest and a tonegard. And lots of practice.

  5. #5

    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    So a tone guard and arm rest can both be attached at the same time? Can they damage the mandolin?
    JBovier A5 2012 (Jaybo)
    Kentucky 140

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    Bark first, Bite later Steve Zawacki's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Have a McClung arm rest and Tone Gard on my Eastman. No harm on mine, nothing but good.

    As far as working on the JBovier, if you still have the Kentucky 140, then consider using the KM-140 as your learning tool. Before you attempt to change any JB parts, trying doing it first on the KM-140. If you do it successfully on the KM-140, then your potential of doing it right on the more valuable JB is better. I used to use a Rover RM-50 for that same purpose.
    ...Steve

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  7. #7

    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    The mandolin is good enough as it is. Spend that money on lessons, the mando will sound better.

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    Registered User Robert Smyth's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Moderator Edit
    Last edited by Ted Eschliman; Apr-25-2014 at 9:56am. Reason: Family show

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    1. Don't replace parts just for the sake of replacing them. Not all changes are "upgrades"; some may make your mandolin sound different, not necessarily better. And some replacements, such as tailpieces, may make very little difference in the mandolin's sound, while representing a considerable expense.

    2. The JBovier A-5 is spec-ed with Grover tuners. Here's a source for Grover replacement tuner buttons, of various types, and I'm sure a Google search will reveal others.

    3. The only real "risk" to replacing bridge, nut, tailpiece etc. is that you'll need to have the mandolin set up (bridge height/location, nut slots, etc.) after the replacement. That's not impossible for you to do yourself, but you might be more comfortable with a professional installation/set-up.

    4. Purely cosmetic modifications might include a custom truss rod cover, with your initials on it, or a custom strap with your name.

    5. Lotsa people seem to swear by the arm-rest and Tone Gard upgrades, but I can't speak to that since I haven't gone that route. Remember, though, that you can easily throw several hundred dollars into retrofitting after-market parts to your mandolin -- honestly, with no guarantee that they'll make the JBovier "better" enough to justify the expense. The same amount of money put aside could be applied to a more expensive instrument down the road.

    If you have a long-term "keeper," hot-rodding and prettifying it may be economically justifiable. If you're thinking of an upgrade, realize that you won't get the equivalent of the cost of the new parts, in terms of trade-in value. The new components may make you more satisfied with your JBovier, but they won't make it that much more valuable to a prospective purchaser. At least, that's been my experience. In fact, modifications you make to personalize the mandolin, will actually reduce its value to its next owner, in most cases.
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    I agree with Allen, save your money for a while and get a mandolin that fits your sound needs. Good luck.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    No reason to upgrade, actually, until you know what is inadequate about what you already have. Not loud enough? Tone not rich enough? Hard to hold or play even after making the necessary adjustments in hand position and technique?

    I guess what gets costly is upgrading for the sake of upgrading.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Registered User avaldes's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    I have a Bovier F5, bought May a year ago but a 2012 model. Although I am pleased with the progress I have made in the not-quite 2 years I have been playing, I will be the first to admit the JBobier is still better than I am.
    On this forum when people ask about replacing tailpieces, I have seen replies that any improvement in tone is probably due to changing the strings in the process. How often do you change strings, by the way? Also if the screws in the new tailpiece don't line up with the existing, you have to drill extra holes, which will lower value as per Allen's post.
    The CA bridge has many fans, but read up on the steps to sanding it to fit and cutting the string slots to be sure you can take that on.
    I have no idea why the tuner buttons would be coming off.
    To me, the toneguard makes some sense in that it permits the instrument to resonate more freely, and of the upgrades you propose, probably the only one I would consider.

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    Registered User avaldes's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Oh, and string suppressors. These are grommets from Ace Hardware (about 30 cents each). Suppress unwanted harmonics, and I like the look.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    I did the cumberland bridge myself on my the loar. my bridge snapped and I had to replace it so went with the good one. using rob meldrum's e book for measurements made the job easy. hardest part was sanding the bottom of the bridge to mate the surface of the mandolin top but take the time and find something the right shape.... I got lucky and the cumberland was almost a perfect fit from the get go and only needed minor tweaking

    string suppressor I just have a thin leather belt I cut strips off and weave through the strings.... ya I am/like cheap
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    Registered User Manfred Hacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Years ago, my first mandolin was a thin-sounding Eastman (or so I thought).

    What made a big difference was discovering the WEGEN picks, installing a toneguard, and a LOT of PRACTICE, religiously with a metronome, aiming for good tone.
    After two years, the Eastman sounded so much better.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Quote Originally Posted by kevbuch View Post

    What parts can I replace to make it better?!
    I think the first step is to have a real handle on what you mean by "better". What have you not got now that you want?

    Thinking about this, I have never consciously upgraded. If my first mandolin had not self destructed in a closed car one hot summer many years ago, I am not sure I would ever have gotten anything better. When I replaced it I did the best I could and actually because of dumb luck did very well. That second mandolin was and is more mandolin than I will ever "need" or that can be justified by my playing.

    Sure I have MAS. Real bad sometimes. But it is a lust for beautiful instruments, not seeking to "trade up" or upgrade by stable. Not seeking to diversify my sonic choices, or because I had "outgrown" in some sense my present collection.

    I am embarrassed to say it, but its true, my collection/accumulation has not been the result of any plan at all, just me falling in love with something at the moment I had enough discretionary money to buy it, or lusting after something until I had saved enough for it.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Some excellent cafe wisdom already imparted . Try a few different string gauges and pick options . Inexpensive and often overlooked and underrated " fixes" that can make a helluva difference to tone . Save the "big" dollars and enjoy that fine J Bovier .

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    If the tuner buttons come off,i'd contact Jeff Cowherd directly. He's the guy behind the J.Bovier mandolins. You could also ask him about the nut material as well. I'd be very surprised if a guy as 'in the know' about mandolins, wasn't fitting a bone nut already.An Allen 'cast' tailpiece is an option,but only if your existing one isn't too good. As Allen Hopkins said,don't replace just for the sake of it. If the mandolin sounds fine to you,then leave it. If not,then an up-grade to a Cumberland Acoustic bridge could be an option.The rubber grommets are only of use if you are getting un-wanted overtones. I had them on both my mandolins for ages,until i found out that i really didn't need them,
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    I know there is not much I would do to my Jbovier a5 2013 Sunburst.


    It is beautiful and it has a bone nut. Also, when ordering it I had the option of a K&K pickup and an Allen tailpiece, so I chose those.
    It hiked the price somewhat, but it was the best thing I did. Now I only have a little sympathetic string vibration, which I will probably sort soon. Otherwise, I would do nothing to my Jbovier.



    Happy playing!

    Playing:
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    Crafter M70E acoustic mandolin
    Jbovier F5 mandola 2016

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    Registered User Pasha Alden's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    At Kev: I support the view of Steve Zawacki. A test run for alterations and repairs on Kentucky is a sure way to be sure you know the ropes when it comes to making changes on Jbovier.

    Playing:
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  30. #21

    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Bunting View Post
    The mandolin is good enough as it is. Spend that money on lessons, the mando will sound better.

    My gramgram is buying me lessons ^=^ I know it's good as it is. I am in no rush. I just want something to think about in the future. My own kind of MaS I guess. I plan on doing these upgrades over years. Going to get an armrest in May or June, everything else, I will let all into place when it seems appropriate. I want lots of little projects. Fun fun fun!

    I don't plan on doin anything stupid. I will gladly pay for a professional to show

    Also, I'm likely trading my Kentucky for a killer bowlback.
    JBovier A5 2012 (Jaybo)
    Kentucky 140

  31. #22

    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    I meant that they can come off. Not that it happens on its own. I mentioned it because I think wooden buttons would be awesome looking. Changing the tailpiece sounds awful. Not in a million years will I put sandpaper to my jaybo just to add a new part. The tailpiece cover rubs the strings and make it buzz unless I pry it up a bit. I need a new tailpiece cover, I guess? Maybe I can field with this one a bit an eliminate that need altogether. Grommets are a great idea.

    I don't want a better mandolin. I just feel the need to add bells and whistles. Something about the pride in my instrument. I bet the way I feel is similar to somebody with an old sports car.

    As of now, these are what I want. Wooden tuner buttons, grommets and an arm rest. I bet I can bend the workpiece cover a bit to make that good. I already like my strap. If I replace that, I would want it to be the one I made myself.

    What are the processes for attaching a tone guard and arm rest?
    Thank you very much for your advice!!
    JBovier A5 2012 (Jaybo)
    Kentucky 140

  32. #23
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    That's a fine mandolin, and as has been mentioned, I'd contact Bovier directly about the tuner button issue. I'm not a great mandolinist but I've become convinced that most any mandolin that's set up well and holds tune will do the job. I got a CA bridge for my mandolin and it surely beefed up the tone. But I've noticed that as I get a little better, so does my mandolin. So much of the tone is in the player's hands and touch. I say get the tuner issue straightened out and then just spent time playing. Take it slow and focus on making a good, full sound out of each note you play. Before long you'll notice all the notes you are playing sound fuller, better, and just more beautiful. That's what matters. And have fun.
    ...

  33. #24
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Quote Originally Posted by kevbuch View Post
    What are the processes for attaching a tone guard and arm rest?
    A tone gard simply slips on: "Just lay the instrument on its top, and bend the arms at the waist and tail of the Gard until the arms hold it snugly in the center of the instrument. Ready to go!" (http://www.tone-gard.com/faqs).

    An armrest slips on and then gets tightened until it is secure: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...cclung-armrest.
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    Registered User avaldes's Avatar
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    Default Re: help me learn about upgrading my mandolin parts please?

    Kev, regarding the buzz at the tailpiece, try putting a piece of thin felt under the cover before doing anything more drastic. I sometimes use a piece of the sheet-foamy stuff that is frequently used to wrap electronics.

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