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Thread: Mando Massage

  1. #1

    Default Mando Massage

    Was reading the discussion about thr "Tonerite" device on the "equipment" part of the forum. Somehow I ran across a much older thread(2012?) and a post by Stephen Perry. He mentioned a method of "squeezing" the top and back of violins/mandolins that is an old and generally accepted method of helping to improve tone/volume. I'm guessing that is the unscientific explanation of why one might perform the squeeze to your beloved mandolin.

    One forum member suggested that this is a pretty scary thing to do to your mandolin. Stephen(mandovoodoo) Perry agreed that it is scary. Be careful/don't BREAK it! etc.

    Could not find much discussion about squeezing yer mandolin. Was hoping some of you might have further knowledge or comments about this practice. I looked around online to no avail.

  2. #2
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Its a short lived method to squeeze a bit of looseness into the tone, especially if your mando is too stiff to begin with. You can also run an orbital sander on the back plate, without sandpaper, and with a cotton towel between it, to loosen it up for a couple hours.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Just play the darn things. Nothing you can do will improve your sound as much as becoming a better picker.

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Ooh such a beautiful sunny morning, with the smell of fresh popcorn in the air ...
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Quote Originally Posted by V70416 View Post
    Was hoping some of you might have further knowledge or comments about this practice. I looked around online to no avail.
    There is that Sanskrit book written between 200 and 300 A.D., but don't tell us how it worked out for you or your mandolin.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Quote Originally Posted by V70416 View Post
    ...... a method of "squeezing" the top and back of violins/mandolins that is an old and generally accepted method of helping to improve tone/volume.
    That is certainly not advised nor generaly accepted method.
    If the instrument doesn't sound good there is something wrong - most often too thickly built, too thickly finished, bad geometry, weird archings or some other thing/s that contribute to not so great performance. No squeezing or forcing to vibrate will compensate for that. Folks are prone to believe many things and even hear results because of placebo effect....
    If I made a mandolin that doesn't sound up to my standard I would be looking for structural reasons first and try to re-do what I find not so good...
    Adrian

  9. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    I used the 5 ton press in my shop to squeeze my mandolin and now it's a little flat.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Grizzly Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    The secret in not in the squeeze, it's in the rattlesnake rattlers you put inside. BIG mojo!
    If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a vet.

  12. #9
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    I hug my mandolin on a daily basis.

    Does that count?
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5 Mandolin
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    There's a huge literature on carving/tap tuning/bracing/assembling/finishing violins and cellos, this page is relevant

    http://www.platetuning.org/

    quote: Over the years, while trying to make some awful violins sound better, I needed ...
    The Keepers: Kentucky km900, JBovier A5
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    some really really loud banjo's

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  16. #12

    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Yeah. I wish Mr. Perry would weigh in on this. I only said it was an old and accepted method because he said so(esp. violins). He has worked on a lot of instruments. If it's a bad sounding instrument there must be some things one can do to,at least,make it sound a little better,yes?

    I remember seeing Don Macrostie(Red Diamond) put a mandolin in a contraption that had a long handle on it;he pushed down on the mando to measure the amount of flex in the tops and backs.

    We all remember the iconic photo of Bill Monroe hugging his Loar;so,there's gotta be something to it. Right?

    Mmmm. Popcorn.

  17. #13
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Over the years here there have been hundreds of threads about how to magically make a mandolin sound better. People have propped them up in front of stereo speakers and played loud music at them for days, maybe weeks. They have developed systems to vibrate them, they have developed systems to strum them. I'm pretty sure Don was measuring the flex in the top with his device. Steve Perry had his methods. Not everyone subscribes to that magic the same way not everyone beat a path to Roger Siminoff's door for his treatment. Mandolins are not violins. If you have a mandolin that you want to change the tone on try different strings, try different picks, try holding the instrument out away from your body. All of those produce differences in how the mandolins sound but the best answer that anyone is ever going to give you will be to make sure you buy one that sounds good to you when you buy it. Steve Perry's last visit to the cafe was on Oct-30-2017. It appeared he was in the process of making some life changes at that point.

    I'm going to guess that Adrian Minarovic (he answered you above) has seen as many instruments as anyone.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Quote Originally Posted by V70416 View Post
    If it's a bad sounding instrument there must be some things one can do to,at least,make it sound a little better,yes?
    I was once in an electric Blues band where the drummer had a cheap, terrible-sounding drum kit. We salvaged it by throwing some mics on it and amplifying with EQ and a little compression. Through our PA it sounded pretty good. Amplifying (or recording) a cheap, bad-sounding mandolin is the only way I know to make it sound better.

    Acoustically? No, you're down to the inherent sound of the instrument. The answer is to buy a better one, instead of throwing time and money on trying to put lipstick on a pig. Just play the thing and enjoy it for what it is, while you save up for a better instrument.

    P.S. Have 'ya ever noticed how all these artificial vibration tricks are always assumed to make a positive improvement in volume or tone? And never a change in the other direction, sounding worse or at least different than it would sound if you just played it normally? Human nature is funny like that.

  20. #15
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    You'll never top "whipping it like a mule" for a workout....

  21. #16
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Im not afraid of being laughed at, so here goes...

    Back to my orbital sander comment above... I was not joking, even though it may have come across that way.

    Anyway, Ive been sanding down the back plates on my mandos while strung up and in the white. I started doing this a while back. Using an orbital sander, Id take a little wood off and the stiffness that goes with it. My mandos always seemed to sound stellar for a couple hours after doing this, angels singing on high, halos around the headstock, etc.. you get the picture. And for the time being, I would think, dang, I nailed it.. I took off just enough wood to really make this sound great. Well, the next day, the mando didnt sound as great. It lost all that great tone it had the day before. So, I repeat the same sanding process again, and dang, wouldnt you know it, the angels were singing again.. the next day, once again, the mando returned to the same tonal state before I had used the orbital sander on it.

    It didnt take me long to realize what was happening. So, I took the sandpaper off and just ran the orbital on the back plate with nothing but the felt backer, so no wood was being taken off. Boom.. the angels were singing again. And once again, the next day, angels were sleeping.

    This is a repeatable process, not magic or voodoo. The thing is, its temporary. Whatever it is its doing, wood returns to its normal state after several hours.

    And just a preliminary answer the obligatory "the noise of the sander was screwing up your eardrums".. no, Ive actually done this using ear plugs.

    Additionally, this is not a one mando, isolated incident. It happens every time I start the process of adjusting mandos in the white. Its actually annoying because I have to wait 3-4 days to really hear the subtle changes that are being made when taking stiffness off the back plate. The tonal change caused by the vibrating sander are abrupt and aggressive to the point that Im more inclined to simply sand by hand and use scrapers.

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  23. #17

    Default Re: Mando Massage

    If you substitute the words "Jack Daniels" for "Orbital Sander" in the above, I have had exactly the same repeatable experience.

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  25. #18
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Except I dont drink, or smoke.

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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    I was not suggesting you did. I was speaking of my own experience.

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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post

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    Registered User GrooverMcTube's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Blasting music at my mando with the stereo sounds like the ticket to Tone City!

    If I play "Highway To Hell" backwards will it be a "Stairway To Heaven"?
    Last edited by GrooverMcTube; Jun-16-2018 at 10:22am. Reason: incomplete statment: added "it"

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Ooh such a beautiful sunny morning, with the smell of fresh popcorn in the air ...
    Smells like “Controversy”!

    With apologies to “Apocolypse Now”.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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  32. #23
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    Default Re: Mando Massage

    I think fscotte has given us proof that playing the hell out of your mandolin will help keep it sounding angelic until it can remember to do it on it's own.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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