Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

  1. #1

    Default Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Hi everyone! This is my first post here on Mandolin Cafe and I'm hoping to get some guidance.

    About a year ago, someone very kindly bought a mandolin for me. It's a Rogue RM-100A A-Style Mandolin and has never been setup properly. Playing it has always been a little difficult for me - having to press very hard, lots of buzzing, never seems to stay in tune (or even get into tune in the first place) - so I wasn't very diligent in my practicing until a couple of months ago. Now that I've learned the fretboard a little better and am getting some songs under my belt, I've started to realize that 'Hey, this should not be so hard to play.'

    I've read a bit about how getting your mandolin properly setup makes a world of difference in ease of playing and sound quality, but I've also read about how money might be better spent on getting a better mandolin, rather than trying to get the Rogue setup.

    Thoughts?

    I'm not a professional musician by any means. I play for my own enjoyment, and intend to bring my mandolin to traditional music jam sessions when I'm more confident in my playing. I enjoy playing celtic and bluegrass.

    Some insight would be greatly appreciated! Thanks everyone!

  2. The following members say thank you to missmurdy for this post:


  3. #2

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Any mandolin (or guitar) can be improved and made to play easier with proper setup. Most of this is just common sense. You want the neck to be straight (with a small amount of relief). You want the strings to follow the neck with the lowest action possible, so it is easy to fret. You want the bridge to be in the correct position for the best intonation. Those are the basics of a setup and you can do it yourself easily or pay to have it done by a shop. I would add that strings do "go dead" and that affects intonation, also, so fresh strings are part of the equation, as well.

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Jeff Mando For This Useful Post:


  5. #3
    Slow your roll. greg_tsam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    1,981
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    It wouldn't hurt for you to set it up if it were free since a professional set up might cost just as much as your mando did new. Learn to do it yourself as it's a good skill to have. The internet is good for that and there's a self help book from a member here. Rob Meldrum, I think?

    Some here play a Rogue but as your skills progress most move on to a better made, easier to play instrument and they sound better too. Buy the best you can afford. Your enjoyment will increase and you'll spend more time playing.
    Breedlove Quartz FF with K&K Twin - Weber Big Horn - Fender FM62SCE

    Wall Hangers - 1970's Stella A and 60's Kay Kraft

  6. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to greg_tsam For This Useful Post:


  7. #4

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    You can buy a better mandolin that's set up for about $250-- a KM-150 from Elderly. It'll be better, but probably still in the category of "starter" instruments. You can go for a step up into the world of solid body instruments for about $400-500 for an Eastman 305. One of those will last you years.

    Or you can pay $50-100 for a set up assuming you have someone locally who knows what they're doing.

    Or, you can ask user Rob Meldrum for his free ebook and try it yourself. It's not that hard-- I didn't have the cojones to try it out on my only instrument until I had upgraded, but it made my Savanah playable (even if it still sounds like junk).

    Hard to make a decision for you. If I were a college kid trying to scrape together cash, I'd do it myself. If I were an adult looking to invest in a hobby I took seriously, I'd probably upgrade. If I were Bill Gates, I'd just go ahead and buy that Lloyd Loar and invite Grisman to live in my boat house by the lake in return for occasional lessons.

  8. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to KEB For This Useful Post:


  9. #5
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    22,907
    Blog Entries
    52

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Your mandolin will be much more fun to play and sound a good deal better if you get it set up. If you have mind to do it yourself, or learn how, Rob Meldrum has written a book, that he gives away free, that is essential reading on the topic. If you decide to have it done, I do not think it will be good money after bad. You may really like the mandolin once it is set up properly, certainly more than you like it now, and it will take you more enjoyably to the next level.

    And by the way, your next mandolin will have to be set up too. And the one after that, and the one after that.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  10. The following members say thank you to JeffD for this post:


  11. #6

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Thanks, that's all really helpful!

    I sent Rob Meldrum an email request for his ebook and am looking forward to reading it, since it sounds like it's great and will help me understand my instrument better.

    Since I will need a good luthier whether or not I decide to upgrade my mandolin, does anyone have recommendations for someone kind and trustworthy in the NYC area? Hopefully someone who won't sneer too much if I do decide to stick it out with my Rogue?

  12. #7

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Asking this group if it is a good idea to upgrade your mandolin is like asking kids if it is a good idea to look for chocolate eggs on Easter.

    I am a new player and started with an Eastman 305. I did notice that the strings seemed fairly high and it was hard to press down on the first couple of frets. I had some one do a setup on it and it made a big difference and was easier to play. It does make a difference in the feeling when I play. I had a moment of insanity and bought a Kentucky from a forum member. It is a definite upgrade in sound, looks but it does really play nice.

    I have had limited opportunity to play many mandolins so not much to compare it to. Have you been able to play any other mandolins to see how they compare and what you would like in a different mandolin? If not I think that would be a good first step. You may realize that you like something much better or not and do some setup work on your Rogue.

    There are some great mandolins out there that do not cost thousands. Like Eastman, J. Bovier, Kentucky among others.
    Good Luck

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


  14. #8
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    22,907
    Blog Entries
    52

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by missmurdy View Post
    Thanks, that's all really helpful!

    I sent Rob Meldrum an email request for his ebook and am looking forward to reading it, since it sounds like it's great and will help me understand my instrument better.

    Since I will need a good luthier whether or not I decide to upgrade my mandolin, does anyone have recommendations for someone kind and trustworthy in the NYC area? Hopefully someone who won't sneer too much if I do decide to stick it out with my Rogue?
    Someone is going to sneer no matter what you do. Heck, just the fact that I walk into a predominantly guitar store to ask mandolin questions gets me a sneer.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  15. The following members say thank you to JeffD for this post:


  16. #9
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    2,855

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by missmurdy View Post
    Since I will need a good luthier whether or not I decide to upgrade my mandolin, does anyone have recommendations for someone kind and trustworthy in the NYC area? Hopefully someone who won't sneer too much if I do decide to stick it out with my Rogue?
    Mandolin Brothers is legendary: 629 Forest Ave, Staten Island, Give them a call (718) 981-8585 I am sure they can refer you to a good luthier close to you. You might want to just go out and visit and look at all the mandolin candy.
    Jammin' south of the river
    '20 Gibson A-2
    Stromberg-Voisinet Tenor Guitar
    Penny Whistle
    My albums: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/album.php?u=7616

  17. The following members say thank you to Capt. E for this post:


  18. #10
    Slow your roll. greg_tsam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    1,981
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by Northwest Steve View Post
    Asking this group if it is a good idea to upgrade your mandolin is like asking kids if it is a good idea to look for chocolate eggs on Easter.
    Truer words have never been said, Sir.
    Breedlove Quartz FF with K&K Twin - Weber Big Horn - Fender FM62SCE

    Wall Hangers - 1970's Stella A and 60's Kay Kraft

  19. #11

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by Northwest Steve View Post
    I have had limited opportunity to play many mandolins so not much to compare it to. Have you been able to play any other mandolins to see how they compare and what you would like in a different mandolin? If not I think that would be a good first step. You may realize that you like something much better or not and do some setup work on your Rogue.
    I have not, but it sounds like it'll be helpful in my decision making process.

    Capt. E thanks, for info on Mandolin Brothers. I'll give them a call and see if they can recommend someone. And maybe I'll take a trip to Staten Island to have my heart broken by some beautiful mandolins.

    Thanks so much for the advice guys! It is very much appreciated.

  20. #12
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States
    Posts
    13,763
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Get it set up. It's worth the $40-80 it may cost. You won't get a better other mandolin for that money. You might as well have them throw on new D'Addario J-74 strings when they do the work. It will play better, sound better and be a more enjoyable experience. If you then practice more and enjoy it, save your nickles to buy something better. But, keep this one to use as a beater in dicey situations (camping) or to pass along to a new player.

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

    + Give Blood, Save a Life +

  21. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JEStanek For This Useful Post:


  22. #13
    Registered User Mike Arakelian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Eastern N.C.
    Posts
    613

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Beware, there's danger lurking for ALL mandolin players...it's called MAS or mandolin acquisition syndrome. It seems like no matter what you're presently playing, no matter how good or bad it may be, there's always another mandolin out there somewhere that beckons you relentlessly. It's just the way it is!

    By all means get your Rogue set up properly...it will play better. But, start putting away your extra change, stray 10's and 20's, etc. into a safe place. Before you know it, MAS will strike and you'll be ready to make that next purchase.

    Welcome to the Cafe' and our wacky world. Have fun!

  23. #14
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,006

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Where in the NYC area do you live? There's a luthier down the road from me who set up my Rogue beautifully -- it's currently on loan to a friend who was interested in mandolin -- and he doesn't even pretend to sneer at anything I've brought in, for all he builds high-end electric guitars.

    Actually, whether you plan to expand your herd or swap out the Rogue for something else, I'd still get it set up. Consider it a gift to the next person to pick up a mandolin. Mine is just fine for all it sounds like a jack-in-the-box. It's easy to play, I usually fly with it and initially I bought it to leave at my mother's house so I wouldn't have to drag my other instruments around and about on vacation. If you eventually get another mandolin, you can use the Rogue to teach a friend/relative/kid mandolin so you can play with someone else. Win all around.
    --------------------------------
    1920 Lyon & Healy bowlback
    1923 Gibson A-1 snakehead
    1952 Strad-o-lin
    1983 Giannini ABSM1 bandolim
    2009 Giannini GBSM3 bandolim
    2011 Eastman MD305

  24. #15
    its a very very long song Jim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    BonCarbo CO.
    Posts
    2,446

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Yes get it set up and new strings , D'addario J74s are great sounding strings,. You also might consider a lighter string, sometimes they are a little easier to fret. Different strings are an inexpensive thing to change and discover what sounds best and plays easiest for your mandolin and ear. Martin, GHS, and Ernie Ball as well as D'addarrio make strings at reasonable prices in many different materials and gauges.
    Jim Richmond

  25. #16

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    A cheaper instrument well set up will sound better than an expensive instrument poorly set up.

    BTW, the KM-150 is solid wood, iirc. (Although a modern, quality laminate instrument can be as good as or better than an old or poorly set up solid wood instrument.)

  26. The following members say thank you to Petrus for this post:


  27. #17

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    I agree with many here, Rob Meldrum's ebook is a must. Still a newbie myself, an hour spent setting up makes life a lot easier.

  28. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Edmonds, WA
    Posts
    403

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Holy thread resurrrection, Batman! If you happen to stumble upon this thread and need the ebook mentioned, email me at rob.meldrum@gmail.com, put Mandolin Setup in the Subject line, and I will email you a free copy. How easy is that?

    Rob

  29. #19
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Frederick,MD
    Posts
    2,294

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Definitely learn to do a setup with Rob's book. Whatever mandolin you play now and in the future will need some tweaking from time to time and it's nice to be able to recognize what's wrong, and how to fix it.
    For wooden musical fun that doesn't involve strumming, check out:
    www.busmanwhistles.com
    Handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods.

  30. #20
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    22,907
    Blog Entries
    52

    Default Re: Relative newbie asking: To setup or not to setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by Northwest Steve View Post
    Asking this group if it is a good idea to upgrade your mandolin is like asking kids if it is a good idea to look for chocolate eggs on Easter.
    And yet, with proper restraint of our baser instincts, we manage to give a balanced answer.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

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