Results 1 to 23 of 23

Thread: Armrest usefulness

  1. #1

    Default Armrest usefulness

    I was hoping someone could help me with some advice on the use of an armrest on a flat top mandolin...I play Irish Trad and am trying to increase speed and improve tone...would an armrest help?
    Thanks so much ..Tim

  2. #2
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Near Abilene, Texas
    Posts
    2,773

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    If you try it, you may afterward swear by it. Or not.

    I find armrests very helpful, and eventually I put them on all my mandolins (not flat tops). I have been studying a vintage flat top mandola in anticipation of a possible build project, and on it, the original builder put an armrest. So I assume that some players have preferred them for quite some time on flat tops as well. YMMV

    Wappen 17" scale

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	full view.jpg 
Views:	1061 
Size:	455.7 KB 
ID:	161460
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  3. The following members say thank you to Mark Gunter for this post:


  4. #3
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1,928
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    IMO not as much as good technique. Personally I use an arm rest to keep my sweaty arm off the nice finish. I didn't really notice a change in tone when I started using it. I did have to pay attention to where I was hitting the strings because it slightly changes my angle of attack. Have you looked in to a Toneguard? It may be a device that appeals to you tonally. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  5. The following members say thank you to UsuallyPickin for this post:


  6. #4
    Registered User JH Murray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Burnstown Ontario Canada
    Posts
    761

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    The armrest changed the angle my right arm approaches the instrument. I usually play with the heel of my right thumb resting on the back of the bridge. With the arm rest I am not pressing so heavily on the bridge, which frees the hand, and helps reduce the damping effect my hand/arm was creating. Definitely worth the try. I got my arm rest custom made from cafe member soliver, and I highly recommend his work.

  7. The following members say thank you to JH Murray for this post:


  8. #5
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Beaverton, OR, USA
    Posts
    1,030

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    I find an armrest nice for its comfort factor. I havent noticed any improvement or degradation of my technical abilities. Some have noticed an improved volume or tone because their arm is no longer damping the soundboard. But you may experience the opposite effect if the armrest is not well made - the contact area between the armrest and the body of the mandolin must not extend out into the vibrating portion of the top (or back).
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

  9. The following members say thank you to HonketyHank for this post:


  10. #6
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Near Abilene, Texas
    Posts
    2,773

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Quote Originally Posted by Timmyrebel View Post
    am trying to increase speed and improve tone...would an armrest help?
    Timmyrebel, I saw that this was your first post here, so if you indeed return to read responses, I want to welcome you to the forum. I purposely avoided your real question in my first response, but would like to write a few words about it this morning.

    As I'm sure you already know or can imagine, there is no direct correlation between use of an armrest and an increased speed or improved tone. What I mean is that using an armrest will not automatically result in increased speed or improved tone. Also, you can increase speed and improve tone without using any armrest.

    I have come to prefer using an armrest, and would encourage you to try one as that is the only way you'll know whether you prefer one or not. No one else can answer that for you. Since an armrest may change your forearm/wrist/hand position, you may find that it aids you in your playing, therefore it will help you reach your goals - or not.

    The second part and evidently the main part of your post is about improving your playing: increased speed and improved tone.

    In my opinion and that of many others, the main thing to do in order to increase speed is to follow these two principles:

    1. Play slower than you presently do. If you ever hit wrong notes, or do not get a clean sound, or if your timing suffers, or your tone or dynamics, then you are practicing too fast. Play so slowly that you do not repeat (and therefore reinforce) mistakes. Practice playing perfectly, as slowly as necessary to achieve 'perfection'

    2. Practice playing fast. In order to play fast, you'll need to practice playing fast, so when you think you're getting it, play it at tempo. Then slow back down and keep reinforcing perfect playing. Alternating between slow, perfect playing and playing at tempo in your practice sessions will keep you on track, but the slow, perfect playing is the most important part of this as it sets the brain cells and muscle memory for playing the way you want to play. Speed will come easily once you learn to play cleanly, correctly, etc. All of this takes time and determination.

    Now, as to tone -

    This has to do with use of dynamics, rhythm and control of your technique with your instrument in order to bring forth musicality. So if you practice slowly in order to perfect your clean noting and other aspects of your technique, the day will come when you can focus on playing up to speed and varying the dynamics and technique without having to think about it too much in order to get the sound or tone you want from a piece of music.

    Finally, realize that this is a lifetime quest, and the practice techniques I've mentioned are lifetime practice techniques. If you are Chris Thile, you'll still be spending alone time learning and playing or writing and playing new passages very slowly and cleanly before going out to perform them. One big newbie mistake is thinking that you're done with a song or tune once you can play it. You still can take time to slow way back down and analyze what you do, or creatively change it, etc. So, this is not a linear process. You don't just slow down and gradually increase speed until you learn a tune, then you're done. It's a rinse & repeat sort of thing.
    For now, try the armrest.
    Last edited by Mark Gunter; Oct-12-2017 at 11:33am.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  11. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Mark Gunter For This Useful Post:


  12. #7
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    south florida
    Posts
    2,717

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    I put them on all of my flat tops. (I only have flat tops...) Can't remember which was the first one, but I initially did it to protect the instrument and tailpiece finishes from sweat corrosion. I made it myself, so as to shape it right and also cover the tailpiece area, which is where my arm is when I play. So it's probably higher than the average armrest. But the elevation gave me a better playing angle, and kept my hand off the bridge, so I noticed tonal improvement, as well. I made them for all my instruments after that.

    bratsche
    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

    GearGems - Gifts & apparel for musicians and more!
    MandolaViola's YouTube Channel

  13. The following members say thank you to bratsche for this post:


  14. #8
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    22,708
    Blog Entries
    51

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    IMO not as much as good technique. Personally I use an arm rest to keep my sweaty arm off the nice finish.
    I wear a terry cloth wrist/arm band on my strumming arm, for this very purpose. I don't use an arm rest.

    One mandolin I have came with an arm rest and it looks so good I haven't taken it off.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  15. #9

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Thanks so much for all the advice and for taking the time to post...I will work on your tips...

  16. #10

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Thanks so much for all your efforts..will put advice into practise!

  17. #11
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    2,774

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    I liked having an armrest on my mandolin so much I've added one on every instrument (except my fiddles). My flattop (and archtop) guitar picking has improved with an armrest as well.

  18. #12
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    987

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    I personally agree a lot with what Mark Gunter was saying, increasing and improving practice techniques will ultimately be what improves your speed. I love using an armrest personally and do have one on my Flatiron 1N (a nice little flatty). My belief is that it improves the tone by keeping your forearm off the top of the mando allowing better vibration. As others have said it can help a lot by changing the angle of your arm/wrist/approach, but I can't speak to it improving speed.
    aka: Spencer
    Eastman MD-305
    Silverangel Econo A #429

    Hand Crafted Mandolin Armrests
    Check them out here

    "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage
    to lose sight of the shore, ...and also a boat with no holes in it.”
    -anonymous

  19. The following members say thank you to soliver for this post:


  20. #13
    Registered User fumblefour's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    North West Highlands, Scotland
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Thank you for this Mark. I looked at this thread because I just fitted a Mclung armrest to my Eastman (I love it mostly because it seems to help me keep my right wrist and arm more relaxed). But your reply actually addresses a much bigger issue for me, namely playing a tune consistently without mistakes. As a beginner (one year of playing), I am sometimes tearing my hair out over making mistakes on a tune I played correctly just minutes earlier. I suspect your advice goes to the heart of that.
    "To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable". Beethoven

    Eastman MD404
    Angara e D'Isanto 1895 Bowlback
    Paul Hathway Mandocello
    Bucketful of picks...still looking for the Magic one 🦄

  21. The following members say thank you to fumblefour for this post:


  22. #14

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefour View Post
    I am sometimes tearing my hair out over making mistakes on a tune I played correctly just minutes earlier.
    Do you play live much? That really helped "cure" me of worry about mistakes (note: not saying it's wrong to worry about, just for me I've benefited from letting go of perfection). I've since discovered that even the best of the best make routine mistakes.

    In fact, there was some research to this effect. Basically, mistakes were almost indiscernible... even to a professional listener who knew the piece... unless the performer let on with body language that a mistake was made. I wish I could cite my source...

  23. #15
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Near Abilene, Texas
    Posts
    2,773

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Quote Originally Posted by SixPants View Post
    Do you play live much? That really helped "cure" me of worry about mistakes (note: not saying it's wrong to worry about, just for me I've benefited from letting go of perfection). I've since discovered that even the best of the best make routine mistakes.

    In fact, there was some research to this effect. Basically, mistakes were almost indiscernible... even to a professional listener who knew the piece... unless the performer let on with body language that a mistake was made. I wish I could cite my source...
    That's a whole other subject, but "letting go of perfection," especially when performing, is a cool and healthy concept. As far as learning material and practicing technique and new material goes, "slow perfection" or "slow, deliberate improvement" is just about the most important fundamental, I think. But I like how Victor Wooten in The Music Lesson discusses actually practicing mistakes! Deliberately practicing mistakes can be a big aid to creativity, and to learning to "let go of perfection" in performances. I think that Jonathan Harnum in his book, The Practice of Practice hits on some similar themes. These guys are good sources for musical food for thought, IMO.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  24. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Pacific NW, slightly outside BC
    Posts
    531

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Similar question from the other forum that doesn't get much volume/participation, I answered that maybe it'll let you pinky anchor or heel of hand (or base of thumb) less: https://www.reddit.com/r/mandolin/co...ests_worth_it/
    The Keepers: Kentucky km900, JBovier A5
    Yamaha piano, clarinet, violin
    some really really loud banjo's

    Shopping/monitoring prices: Yamaha brass and woodwinds

  25. #17
    Registered User Miltown's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    North America
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    This seems like as good a thread as any to ask this question in: what arm rest would you all recommend for an Eastman MD 515? In other words, which arm rest would fit best, match the finish best, etc.?

  26. #18

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    People seem to like these: http://hillcountrystringworks.com/armrest5.html

    if you order one you need to include a depth measurement for your instrument. Color is a personal choice but personally I think the Mesquite or Cherry would look good with the 515.

  27. #19
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Near Abilene, Texas
    Posts
    2,773

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Luckily, you got a concrete recommendation!

    It would be hard for me to recommend anything specific. You do have numerous choices - IMO you should check them all out and see what appeals to you.

    I bought an ebony McClung armrest from the site that dadsaster recommended - I bought a novelty "f-scroll" armrest from Spencer Oliver in cherry (he's soliver in the forums, and usually has ads in the classifieds here). And a third one came already installed on a used Collings I bought - I don't know the brand or maker - it was in walnut.

    I liked all three

    Again, IMO, who cares what others think? Shop around and decide what style appeals to you most, and get it in a wood tone that won't clash with your instrument.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  28. The following members say thank you to Mark Gunter for this post:

    gtani7 

  29. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Pacific NW, slightly outside BC
    Posts
    531

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    I have a Cumberland and a Dudenbostel, both flat armrests, and a few McClung/Hill Country armrests and pickguards (ok, i haven't installed any of the pickguards, but i do have them). I like them all, actually, all nice wood nicely finished. They all have the 2 mounting feet under the mando binding joined by a curved plate and cushioned by cork or leather. Without that, you could put a lot of pressure on one point there.

    There are reports of finish, especially varnish being discolored or roughed up by that cork on the base
    The Keepers: Kentucky km900, JBovier A5
    Yamaha piano, clarinet, violin
    some really really loud banjo's

    Shopping/monitoring prices: Yamaha brass and woodwinds

  30. #21
    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Bay Area, California
    Posts
    2,101

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Couldn't hurt- one less excuse, right?

    I personally don't use one but I bet they're nice; I think a ToneGard is a surer way to improve tone.

  31. #22
    Eschews Obfuscation mugbucket's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Powhatan, VA
    Posts
    202

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Speaking of the Tone-Gard and arm rest, I have the former but not the latter. Is it possible/practical to use both?
    Despite the high cost of living, it still remains popular...

  32. #23
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Pacific NW, slightly outside BC
    Posts
    531

    Default Re: Armrest usefulness

    Quote Originally Posted by mugbucket View Post
    Speaking of the Tone-Gard and arm rest, I have the former but not the latter. Is it possible/practical to use both?
    It looks like the Tonegard is designed to have its felt "foot" that sits on the back sit a little inside the armrest mounting foot, so yes, they work fine together, neither interferes with taking on or off of the other. The biggest issue is finding a hardshell case that's deep enough that you don't have to put on and take off the TG over and over again, i think that can mar the finish.

    I can post pic if you like, if I can find my camera.
    The Keepers: Kentucky km900, JBovier A5
    Yamaha piano, clarinet, violin
    some really really loud banjo's

    Shopping/monitoring prices: Yamaha brass and woodwinds

  33. The following members say thank you to gtani7 for this post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •