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Thread: ToneGuard Question

  1. #1
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default ToneGuard Question

    I have been a fan of tone guard for years and I just noticed something yesterday. I was doing "show and tell" with Luke Wilson when I noticed a difference with the tone guard off. While it is meant to free up the back of the mandolin to vibrate it does dampen via its grip on the sides. Once I got home I experimented quite a bit and found the overall punch is diminished with the tone guard on. I loosened the clamps as much as possible for it to stay on, (they were pretty tight), and this improved the performance quite a bit.
    Anyone else notice this?

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    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    On one of mine yes.
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  3. #3
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    No, I have not noticed this. In fact, I notice the very opposite: my instrument is noticeably louder with the ToneGard on, because it holds the back of the instrument away from my body. That is precisely what the ToneGard is designed to do. And that is why people buy and use Tonegards! In my experience, vibrations of the sides of a mandolin contribute negligibly to its tone, at least compared to vibrations of the top and sides, which have a much larger area, and in the case of the top, use a light, stiff tonewood for sound projection. I suppose it's possible that your own ToneGard might have been squeezing into the sides excessively, and that you needed to relax its grip a bit. But the ToneGard only contacts the mandolin sides at three tiny points, where the silicone-rubber-coated prongs make contact. That's not a large perturbation. Of course, if you can make a mechanical adjustment to your ToneGard that makes a sonic improvement to your ear, by all means do so! But writing for myself, I've never had the need to adjust mine in this way.

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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    I saw (heard) no difference on or off ! I think it depends on how/where you hold your mandolin. Didn't care for the tone Guard so got rid of it !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Some mandolins benefit more than others from using the toneguard. There are a lot of variables to be assessed and the best answer I found is "it all depends."

  6. #6

    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Drop that 75 lb third trimester beer gut and you can drop the toneguard; both you and the mandolin will be better off....
    Spruce dork

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by grandcanyonminstrel View Post
    Drop that 75 lb third trimester beer gut and you can drop the toneguard; both you and the mandolin will be better off....
    Are your pecks so huge that your mando hands free in the void? Lol!
    Perhaps kyphosis(hunchback)?
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  10. #8

    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    Are your pecks so huge that your mando hands free in the void? Lol!
    Perhaps kyphosis(hunchback)?
    I hold mine at an angle, so that just a small part of the back by the tailpiece actually touches my body. The scroll is probably 3 to 4 inches away and the headstock is maybe 8 to 10 inches in front of me. That puts my elbows about even. No reason for a toneguard.

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  12. #9

    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Y'all know how I feel about the T'Gard......it's not the theory I object to, it is the execution. Let's see take a $10K mandolin and put a $75 bracket on it.....and EVERYBODY somehow thinks this is a good idea????

    How about taking a brand new Harley and going to the local lawnmower shop and have them make a sissy bar for it, 'cuz they do a little welding on the side......am I the ONLY one who thinks this would be a little weird????

    Similar to the putting an $8 Snark on the peghead of a $3-10K instrument --- and plastic, at that! Or "parking" your capo on your peghead when not in use -- besides always leaving a mark, AGAIN it is the putting of an $8 gadget on an expensive, handmade instrument that bugs me. Anybody else?

    I'm not a fashionista, but I'm sure there are well-established rules about what shoes and jewelry should be worn with a designer dress, for example. Again, speaking out of my league, but you wouldn't mix Vera Wang with Walmart, I'm guessing....

    I shake my head constantly when this subject comes up, but I guess it is like Starbucks -- regardless of the politics, people love the product and think it is cool for some reason. Target to a lesser degree, i.e., why is Target cool and Walmart isn't? Seems like the same corporate thing to me......

    Rant over. Caveman NEED food, coffee.....

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  14. #10

    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    I hold mine at an angle, so that just a small part of the back by the tailpiece actually touches my body. The scroll is probably 3 to 4 inches away and the headstock is maybe 8 to 10 inches in front of me. That puts my elbows about even. No reason for a toneguard.
    Exactly, that is all that is needed. The "pivot." Watch an old Bill Monroe video. To assist with this all the old school players wear their strap over their right shoulder, NOT their left like 99.9% of modern players (who started on guitar, probably) -- just an observation, but.....

    And, YES, I realize part of the hobby, besides practicing and learning songs is consumerism.

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  16. #11
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    To assist with this all the old school players wear their strap over their right shoulder, NOT their left like 99.9% of modern players (who started on guitar, probably) -- just an observation, but.....
    It isn't true that ALL the old school players wear their strap over their right shoulder. I've seen old pics (predating Monroe's fame) of mandolin players with the strap over their left shoulder, and I've seen more recent but still traditional bluegrass mandolin players with the strap over their left shoulder. Yes, Bill Monroe wore it that way so it's easy to see why some folks would emulate Monroe and wear the strap the same way, but despite your argument, the choice of right shoulder might not have been specifically for volume. Wearing a cowboy hat (as Bill and many of his contemporaries did) was a practical reason to wear the strap on the right shoulder. I read that Earl Scruggs explained that he went from wearing his banjo strap on his right shoulder to over his head and across his left shoulder when he stopped wearing cowboy hats.
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  18. #12
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Y'all know how I feel about the T'Gard......it's not the theory I object to, it is the execution. Let's see take a $10K mandolin and put a $75 bracket on it.....and EVERYBODY somehow thinks this is a good idea????

    How about taking a brand new Harley and going to the local lawnmower shop and have them make a sissy bar for it, 'cuz they do a little welding on the side......am I the ONLY one who thinks this would be a little weird????

    Similar to the putting an $8 Snark on the peghead of a $3-10K instrument --- and plastic, at that! Or "parking" your capo on your peghead when not in use -- besides always leaving a mark, AGAIN it is the putting of an $8 gadget on an expensive, handmade instrument that bugs me. Anybody else?

    I'm not a fashionista, but I'm sure there are well-established rules about what shoes and jewelry should be worn with a designer dress, for example. Again, speaking out of my league, but you wouldn't mix Vera Wang with Walmart, I'm guessing....

    I shake my head constantly when this subject comes up, but I guess it is like Starbucks -- regardless of the politics, people love the product and think it is cool for some reason. Target to a lesser degree, i.e., why is Target cool and Walmart isn't? Seems like the same corporate thing to me......

    Rant over. Caveman NEED food, coffee.....

    Oh, come on!

    You mean like this?! Note the after-market sissy bar attached to a brand-new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Harley with sissy bar.jpg 
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    Actually, there are plenty of folks out there with new Harleys who choose to add a sissy bar, particularly riders who often carry passengers (like their spouse) behind them. This is not "weird," and there's nothing wrong with it. It is a practical choice, and it does not diminish the motorcycle. And it doesn't offend my "fashion sense," either!

    Your analogy to ToneGards is wholly inappropriate, IMO. Is the ToneGard a good idea? Well, folks like David Grisman, John Reischman, and Ricky Scaggs use them routinely, on stage in performance, on their extremely valuable, Lloyd Loar-signed Gibson F5 mandolins. These great musicians are not fools. They are not "unfashionable," either. They use ToneGards because they are pleased with the results, and not because they are paid extravagant endorsement fees (they aren't). In John Reischman's case, his ToneGard has been cleverly modified to mount the pre-amp and radio transmitter for his wireless pickup setup.

    As for the comparative costs of a ToneGard ($75) versus the mandolin itself (expensive, $1,000 to $150,000), your argument about this price difference is totally absurd. You use a $75-$200 tailpiece on a $12,000 mandolin. You string a $5,000 mandolin with strings that cost $10-$50. You tune a $1,000 mandolin with an $8-$30 tuner. You might optionally add an armrest or pickguard costing around $50-$150. You use a pick costing from $0.50 to $50. Maybe you want to add a pickup transducer? And so on. The cost of an accessory, relative to your mandolin, is completely irrelevant!

    Similarly, there's nothing wrong with using a Snark tuner (or a D'Addario Microtune, or a Peterson Stroboclip, or a TC Polytune, Korg, etc.), and placing it on the peghead of your expensive mandolin. Plenty of mandolinists do it all the time. They're not all "wrong" for doing so, either! Sometimes, the tuner might leave a little scuff mark. Most of us can live with that. The tone of the instrument is not affected. And the cost of the tuner accessory is, again, utterly irrelevant.

    As for parking your capo behind the nut when not in use: plenty of musicians do that, too, particularly those who play a frequently-capoed instrument, like the guitar and banjo in a bluegrass setting! This is can be especially useful on stage. I played banjo in a band for many years and always parked my capo behind the nut when not in use. The guitarist in the band did, too. (I don't use a capo on mandolin, so no need.) This is a practical, useful choice, because you can capo up faster that way. It is not some "fashion faux pas" and there would seem to be no valid reason for you to be so bugged by this. By the way: parking my capo behind the nut never left even so much as a scuff mark on my instrument. But even if it had, I would have cheerfully done it. And I never lost or mislaid my capo that way.

    You need to get over this irrational and ill-considered dismissal of perfectly acceptable behavior by other musicians. No, we're not the fashion industry, and there are no well-established rules of what "must go" with what. Thank goodness for that, I say! We are musicians, and we find practical solutions. You can elect not to use a ToneGard yourself, not to place your tuner on the peghead, and never to park your capo behind the nut. It's your personal choice and I respect it. But, IMO, you're wrong to criticize others for doing so, and your arguments about relative costs of accessories, the "weirdness" of their choices, and a seeming desire for some kind of fashion police strike me as over the top!
    Last edited by sblock; Dec-18-2019 at 3:47pm.

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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Okay JEFFMANDO, what's your comeback ? This could get good !!
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question


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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Winn View Post
    OK, cough, ummm, err, hmmm, clearing throat, my kid musta logged onto my account and wrote that silly stuff......

    Just kidding, I think it was my secretary.....

    First, there is no right or wrong answer. Secondly, if you play mandolin you are probably a good person -- regardless. (I guess I could have left off the regardless, huh?)

    Seriously people, you either get it or you don't. Some people like to replace the factory wheels on their Mercedes with huge aftermarket rims. Others think the rims designed by the engineers at Mercedes are probably superior........different strokes, I guess.....

    The simplest way to put it, there are two kinds of men in this world -- those who like power washers and those who don't. Some people like a loud contraption knocking the paint off their house when a ladder and a sponge and a bucket of hot, soapy water will do a better job. Same with leaf blowers -- again, loud contraption which supposedly saves so much time by "corralling" your leaves in a more manageable space to be picked up later.....in actual practice, my neighbor likes to start about 7am on Saturday, wake me up and blow his leaves into my yard and into the street.......did I mention, it is louder than a rake?

    Usually the guys who have power washers also have leaf blowers, so, I'm guessing the guys who like power washers and other loud gadgets are the same guys who like to doctor up their mandolins -- be honest -- no problem -- just a different viewpoint or philosophy than mine. My yard is over an acre, but I use a push mower because I'm old and it is the only exercise I get. It takes me several hours, which I am fine with -- taking breaks, etc. All the millennials on my street have $6K zero turn riding mowers, sure I'm jealous -- I always wanted a go-kart when I was a kid. Again, different priorites, different philosophy, and different phase of life...

    It's all good. But, I'm serious about the power washer thing......

  23. #16
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    I think the point the OP made is that perhaps in some cases there is some other effect of using the ToneGard, perhaps linked to pressure on the ridges of the instrument. I have not noticed this, and just now tried to find it.

    Regarding the main benefit of letting the back roar, I find that to be gigantic. Not as much to my ear just playing, but significant improvement to what the audience hears. Mostly just an increase in volume, but perhaps some impact on tone I am not sure. (If you play facing into a corner, as if you were being punished, you can hear what others hear.)

    Of course if you can religiously keep the back away from your body, then this main benefit is already achieved without a ToneGard.

    If I could religiously keep the back of the instrument away from my body, a whole lot of things would be different.


    While there are gadget people who are into the paraphernalia of it all, it is not true that everyone who takes advantage of something really useful is such a gadget guy.

    The device has not been invented that can measure how little I care about what others do with their mandolins, or what they think of what I do with mine. Heck if other's opinions mattered a lot to me i wouldn't be playing mandolin.
    Last edited by JeffD; Dec-18-2019 at 6:27pm.
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  25. #17
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Jeff Mando -- Well, for whatever it's worth, I also dislike noisy power washers! And I positively detest those loud leaf blowers. What's more, I also mow my (small) lawn with a push mower. When I mow it at all, that is...

    But I do love the ToneGard on my mandolin, and I find that it makes a big difference in the sound I achieve. Obviously, not all gadgets are the same. As JeffD correctly noted, not everyone who owns a piece of paraphernalia is necessarily a gadget guy. So be careful not to lump us all together. Mandolinists defy stereotypes!

    As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks. And there are way more than "two kinds of men in this world." Ya gotta get past that kind of thinking. Playing the mandolin more, and with more people, will eventually help you to do that, I believe.

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    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    ............
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

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  28. #19
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    I hold mine at an angle, so that just a small part of the back by the tailpiece actually touches my body. The scroll is probably 3 to 4 inches away and the headstock is maybe 8 to 10 inches in front of me. That puts my elbows about even. No reason for a toneguard.
    Same here.
    Adrian

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    Jeff Mando -- Well, for whatever it's worth, I also dislike noisy power washers! And I positively detest those loud leaf blowers. What's more, I also mow my (small) lawn with a push mower. When I mow it at all, that is.
    Well, our weekend house property is about half acre but I use old school large scythe... two times a season... We leave the grass and flowers grow a bit for bees and insect to feed on... Around the house I use push mower (non motor). But I wastly prefer washing machines to hand washing (with three kids that would be lethal to us :-) )
    Adrian

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  31. #21
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Whew!!
    Ask a simple question and get all the noise makers and leaf blowers out of their caves!
    Again, I noticed a difference in sound between a tightly clamped vrs. a loosely clamped ToneGuard.
    Not high math but noticeable. So I'm going with as loose as possible an application of an otherwise excellent accessory.
    BTW, I stand when I play or I sit on a stool. Regardless, I have no belly to speak of so the TG is very effective.

    ps, I'd take a mandolin over a harley any and every day.

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    ps x 2--I have recently a acquired Stiver F5, what a fantastic mandolin. Unbelievably underrated.
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  32. #22
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Most of the ToneGuards I've used have fit fine. There was one that was a very tight fit on an instrument, but was able to ease the arms out like the OP. Not sure if it choked the sound or not.

    (Edit - editorial stuff that didn't need to be said)
    Last edited by Eric Platt; Dec-19-2019 at 6:27am. Reason: no reason to say that
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  33. #23

    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    Oh, come on!

    You mean like this?! Note the after-market sissy bar attached to a brand-new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Harley with sissy bar.jpg 
Views:	29 
Size:	161.5 KB 
ID:	182043

    Actually, there are plenty of folks out there with new Harleys who choose to add a sissy bar, particularly riders who often carry passengers (like their spouse) behind them. This is not "weird," and there's nothing wrong with it. It is a practical choice, and it does not diminish the motorcycle. And it doesn't offend my "fashion sense," either! ........ a seeming desire for some kind of fashion police strike me as over the top!
    OK, been riding motorcycles since I was a teenager....over 50 years at this point...FWIW. Here's the deal, the reason you ride a motorcycle is to look cool, right? Part of that is to play the role of a bad mutha -- black t-shirt, boots, sunglasses, leather jacket, etc (last time I checked that was called fashion???) -- anyway part of all that posturing is the mounting and dismounting of the bike, as you show up to your favorite watering hole, event, etc.......

    that requires swinging your right leg over the rear fender when getting on the bike in one sweeping motion, popping the starter, and riding off into the sunset with all the "non-biker world" watching in feared amazement while holding their ears at the deafening sound of the straight pipes........

    well, UNLESS you are an NBA player you aren't tall enough to swing your leg over the sissy bar in one sweeping motion -- you have to instead awkwardly lift and tuck your right foot over the seat between the gas tank and the sissy bar to get on the bike -- IN EFFECT -- totally blowing your cool! The whole reason for being part of that elite club in the first place!

    Maybe fashion is an offensive word to some, maybe mandolin decorum would be more accurate....

    At any rate, just having some fun, but fully admit getting sidetracked at this point from the OP's question.....

    But, then again............

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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    I started using a toneguard when I was playing ina band wearing bib overalls and a coat, etc. It saved the back of my mandolin! But I do feel a more organic connection when playing without one. As for all of the other nonsense in this thread it is beginning to get as inane as much of the discourse in our society today. Happy Holly Daze, over and out.

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  36. #25
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    Default Re: ToneGuard Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Y'all know how I feel about the T'Gard......it's not the theory I object to, it is the execution. Let's see take a $10K mandolin and put a $75 bracket on it.....and EVERYBODY somehow thinks this is a good idea????
    Gee, I just put a set of $7.00 strings on my $4,500 mandolin. Maybe I should be looking for more expensive strings?


    When something works for 'ya, it just works. I'll gladly pay for high-end items for my mandolin when it makes sense. I replaced the stock tuners with Waverleys, I use an expensive DPA clip-on mic, and I've got a nice custom Pegasus case to protect the beast.

    But how expensive does a Tone-Gard need to be, to do what it's designed for? It's out of the way behind the mandolin, so I don't need it to be gold-plated. And frankly, one of the main benefits for me is the added weight at the tail, to help balance the big peghead on an F-style mandolin on the strap. I could add some lead weights at the tailpiece, but with a Tone-Gard I get the secondary advantage of acoustic isolation.

    Whatever concerns about finish damage are offset by the way it protects the back of the mandolin from buckle rash. And I'll never sell this mandolin anyway. I'm not concerned about resale value.

    Getting all worked up about decisions other folks make about their musical instruments seems like wasted energy to me. I have my own pet peeves... like how long some people go before changing their strings. That's a head-scratcher for me, and I do post about it from time to time. But I try not to get too worked up about it. People make their own decisions about this stuff.

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