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Thread: Overtone Grommets

  1. #1

    Default Overtone Grommets

    Do those little black grommets that you put between the courses (between the tail and the bridge) make a noticeable difference in terms of what they're advertised for? I just bought a bunch. They look cool on my instrument, like I know what I'm doing, but I can't be absolutely certain they're doing anything. But if someone asks me what those little rubber donuts are I say, "well, they're to compensate against sympathetic overtone harmonics," they usually smile and slowly back away (I get that a lot.)

    So, opinions?

  2. #2
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    I could tell that they settled down some of the clangy overtones on my Eastman, so I used them. But they don't do anything on my Collings.
    ...

  3. #3
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    When I heard unwanted tones I could not account for as fret buzz, I threaded a piece of shoestring leather through the strings between the bridge and tail piece, which does the exact same thing as the grommets. In one case it fixed the problem, in another case it did not, because the problem was a tail piece cover that rattled.

    So if the strings below the bridge are a problem, the grommets fix it.
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    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    In a perfect mando world, you don't need them and they add nothing. If you have not noticed extra noise or buzz, then you dont need them and they contribute nothing. If you have been hearing "buzzing" or something off the string that isn't from the intended pluck or strum then it could be from string vibrations between the bridge and the tailpiece. If so, the grommets or a piece of leather will suppress that noise. Some poor mandos need them between the nut and tuners too. For me less is more and I dont use anything I dont have to.

    ps--jeff beat me to it. What he said.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by Astro View Post
    Some poor mandos need them between the nut and tuners too. ..
    I have not heard of that. It makes perfect sense though.
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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by Astro View Post
    For me less is more and I dont use anything I dont have to.
    Well, you don't have to use a spoon to drink your soup, and you don't have to wear underwear under your trousers, but the chances are good that you do that anyway.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    I don't know the science of it, but I don't think its an always or never type of problem. The exact pitch and resonant frequency of the bit of string below the bridge is dependent on a lot of things - so the frequencies that would sympathetically ring it would change too, if you change string gauge, or have the bridge slots worked on, or change how you connect to the tail piece.

    The grommets are an elegant solution. Weber makes the Nymph which does the same thing. It is pretty handsome too.
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    Registered User avaldes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Some mandolins (and it is not a question of quality, but an accident of harmonics) have resonances that can be solved by these. I recently got a Weber Gallatin A oval hole, great alternative to my f-hole Bovier. It sounds great, but out of the box it had an unwanted resonance when I played the open D string. Hardware store grommets (about 40 cents each) took care of it. I have them on my Bovier also, but in that case mainly for looks. At any rate, I'm a believer, and they look better than felt strips or leather bits or whatever else people do.
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    Registered User Rosemary Philips's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    This past weekend, several players mentioned that, even if the overtones are not noticeable in regular playing, they sometimes can be heard during the recording process. I've never tried them but I think I'll give it a shot and see if I notice anything. What are they used for in the hardware world?

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Years ago when I bought my mandolin, I used double stick tape to attach piece of thick felt to the inside of the tailpiece cover, completely invisible when in place and, does not get lost when you break a string!
    I tried the rubber grommets when I was testing a mandolin, I got them at an electronics supply place, they use them for gaskets when passing wire through metal radio cases. No idea what else they might be used for. It was a ham radio/cb radio place, I think I got ten of them for about a buck. Cool old style shop, no clue what most of the stuff in the place was but, for a radio guy I bet it would have been a dream shop. Old shop, there were parts in there that had not seen the light of day since 1947!
    I love that kind of shop, never know what you might find.
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    Registered User Chris W.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    I put a Weber Nymph on my new Northfield, but ended up taking it off. I felt it was causing intonation issues. Maybe I did not install it correctly but when I used it the G and E pairs were pushed apart as if the device was too big for the width of the strings. I wove a small piece of flannel fabric near the tailpiece and I'm pretty sure that the instrument not only stays better in tune, it also sounds more resonant.

  15. #12
    Registered User avaldes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosemary Philips View Post
    This past weekend, several players mentioned that, even if the overtones are not noticeable in regular playing, they sometimes can be heard during the recording process. I've never tried them but I think I'll give it a shot and see if I notice anything. What are they used for in the hardware world?
    I think they are used in electrical applications. They are basically little rubber doughnuts in various sizes. The small ones fit nicely between the paired strings on mandolins. Not the intended application.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered Plec Offender Mickey King's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    If you have high frequency hearing loss like me, they make no difference!!
    Mickey

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    Registered User Randy Linam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by Mickey King View Post
    If you have high frequency hearing loss like me, they make no difference!!
    I'm with you. Grew up in the 70s. Too much Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Stones. It was fun!

  19. #15

    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosemary Philips View Post
    What are they used for in the hardware world?
    They are used for insulating metal cases from wires and to prevent wires from chafing/wearing through the insulation in electronics applications.

  20. #16

    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    The grommets are an elegant solution. Weber makes the Nymph which does the same thing. It is pretty handsome too.
    Thanks for the link to that German site, hadn't seen that one before. I'd seen those black things on the strings but didn't know what they were called.

    I can obtain the ideal setup now: Weber Nymph on the back end (maybe with grommets just to be safe), Tesla Vibration Damper between the nut and the tuners, Tone-Gard on the back, ToneRite on top to open it up, Snark tuner clamped to the head, FretLightz fretboard illuminator (http://bit.ly/1FWs22L) ... good to go!

    Click image for larger version. 

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  22. #17
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by Petrus View Post
    I can obtain the ideal setup now: Weber Nymph on the back end (maybe with grommets just to be safe), Tesla Vibration Damper between the nut and the tuners, Tone-Gard on the back, ToneRite on top to open it up, Snark tuner clamped to the head, FretLightz fretboard illuminator (http://bit.ly/1FWs22L) ... good to go!]
    You forgot the armrest and the soundhole humidifier.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Try your mandolin with them & without them. If there's no perceived change in the overall sound,then they're doing nothing. I did exactly that with the 2 mandolins that i had, & quit using them as there were no 'overtones' to damp to begin with,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    My Collings MT had a strip of leather that has since gotten folded and no longer where it was originally. I sometimes hear a buzzing sound, which I thought was because of our dry weather here in Albuquerque. I have been keeping my humidifier damp and in the closed case with the mandolin. Now I'm wondering if grommets would address the buzzing I'm hearing. I know it's not the action, because mine is higher than originally. The intonation is good all up the neck. Do I put 4 grommets, one for each pair of strings? Do the strings go straight through the grommet before I put on a new set of strings? What keeps the grommet from sliding up and down the string? If I get these at the hardware store what exactly do I ask for?
    Daniel Kaufman

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by FrDNicholas View Post
    Do the strings go straight through the grommet before I put on a new set of strings? What keeps the grommet from sliding up and down the string?
    Each grommet is wedged between the two strings of a pair; the strings do not go through it. Wedged-in, they won't slide.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by Astro View Post
    Some poor mandos need them between the nut and tuners too.
    By "poor", do you mean "poor quality"? Mike Marshall and Chris Thile, who play high-end mandolins, use a piece of felt under the strings just behind the nut, which is doing the same thing as rubber grommets would do. Steve Smith uses rubber grommets on his Ellis, both behind the bridge and above the nut. I don't think it has anything to do with the quality of the mandolin, if that's what you were implying by "poor", but rather has to do with the player's desired sound (and whether he wants the slight overtones, etc., that come from unmuted string ends).

    Personally, I don't use anything between the nut and tuners. But my James tailpiece already has rubber grommets under the strings, so I don't need anything between it and the tailpiece. I have used the rubber grommets on other mandolins, and while they look cool, they just don't work as well as a piece of leather woven between the strings. They weren't very effective at completely muting or deadening the strings.

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  29. #22
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    By "poor", do you mean "poor quality"? Mike Marshall and Chris Thile, who play high-end mandolins, use a piece of felt under the strings just behind the nut, which is doing the same thing as rubber grommets would do. Steve Smith uses rubber grommets on his Ellis, both behind the bridge and above the nut. I don't think it has anything to do with the quality of the mandolin, if that's what you were implying by "poor", but rather has to do with the player's desired sound (and whether he wants the slight overtones, etc., that come from unmuted string ends).

    Personally, I don't use anything between the nut and tuners. But my James tailpiece already has rubber grommets under the strings, so I don't need anything between it and the tailpiece. I have used the rubber grommets on other mandolins, and while they look cool, they just don't work as well as a piece of leather woven between the strings. They weren't very effective at completely muting or deadening the strings.
    I think I meant poor in terms of feeling sorry...as if they were a special needs mando needing additional aids to function better. Its probably more my prejudice than any truth. But if I bought a new mando with a proper set up and it needed string suppressors to keep from buzzing behind the nut, I wouldnt be real happy about it. I'm willing to accept that may be more my problem than any one elses but can't change the way I feel.

    I'm sure if I had a chance to own some antiquey tone monster with historical value of some kind and it required one, I would more likely view it as an accessory. If I were choosing a pick up basketball team I wouldn't choose the guy with a cane. But if I were choosing a partner in an open doubles chess tournament, I might.

    Do you really expect me to be able to type something and know what it means ? I stink at multi tasking.
    Last edited by Astro; Mar-13-2015 at 7:48am.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Welcome to FAQ land ..

    drop by the archived posts to see some of the dozens of pages on the same topic.
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  31. #24
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    When I first designed the "Wood Nymph", it was in response to a customer who had just come from a recording session and had duct tape wrapped around the strings to get a cleaner recording. It seemed that there could be a more elegant way to achieve the same thing, utilize some of our small unusable ebony pieces and provide an inexpensive item that could be sold at festivals. We also noticed that it helped stabilize some of the electronic tuners of that era. It was designed for Weber instruments and bridges so it may or may not fit the string spacing of other brands.

    Vern Brekke

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overtone Grommets

    Vern I have one on my sopranino. It came with. I have not taken it off to see if its definitely needed.
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