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Thread: Sorensen Tone

  1. #1
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Sorensen Tone

    A few years back, I had the delightful convergence of working on a new Sprite Two-Point mandolin for Randy Jones, who was the mandolin player for Lonesome River Band at the time, and having Shaun Garrity's Heiden mandolin and mandola in my care for a few months.

    So, as Randy and I shipped the Sprite back and forth for tone tweaking and feedback from the music that LRB was pounding out, I was plunking on Shaun's amazing Heiden A . . . and realizing that I wanted to take the top and back graduations for my mandolins in a new direction.

    The result was that I reworked the top and back graduations in a way which tied in to some of the variations on Loar era mandolins, refined those graduations in a few new ways, and changed the way I placed and worked the tone bars.

    Also, since I started building, I have mixed top and tonebar wood-types to achieve traits which balance the natural tendencies of the different woods. I have continued to refine that approach to voicing too.

    At the time, Randy's response to his highly-tweaked Sprite Two-Point was right on target. Unfortunately, he was forced to quit LRB to deal with family responsibilities. What a bummer!

    Since that time, the response has been good. Currently, all the instruments that I am building feature the top and back voicing influences of that time (including larger scale mandolin family instruments).

    I thought it would be helpful to post some videos which folks have pointed out as highlighting that new "Sorensen Tone".

    Here's a recent backstage video of Danny Roberts and Silas Powell to get us started --



    Steve

    PS - Silas is 14, video is by his Mom, and he has saved up his own gig-earnings to get a new VX next spring. I am really excited to be working with him!
    Steve Sorensen
    Sorensen Mandolin & Guitar Co.
    www.sorensenstrings.com
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  3. #2
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Here's some picking on the new Stealth and Zack Arnold's new VX at IBMA.



    What a blessing to have the cool, calm wisdom of Danny Roberts in the Sorensen mix!

    Steve

    PS - Both Zack (Claybank) and Silas (Powell Family Band) are cutting new CDs over their Christmas breaks this year. Can't wait to hear what they cook up! These are some hard-working young players!
    Steve Sorensen
    Sorensen Mandolin & Guitar Co.
    www.sorensenstrings.com
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  5. #3

    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Love that Sorensen Tone. Been playing my Sorensen F-8 for about a year now, Love, Love, Love this mandolin.

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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    My FX (the one with the shark) has been with me for just over two months now. It has a Sitka top and sycamore back/sides. Tonally I love how the low and low mids ring out. You can really feel how the whole body resonates on those notes. It’s not just a clunk—there’s depth and roundness to it. I also really enjoy the definition of each note when I’m playing chords up the neck. And Steve’s instruments are so easy to play. I had to sell off a bunch of other instruments to buy mine, but it was all worth it.

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  8. #5

    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    The most amazing thing about the AX that Silas is currently using is. No matter how hard he thumps on it, or no matter where he is on the neck. The AX just keeps delivering tone! He can push as hard as he wants, it just responds! Just about every other mandolin Silas has ever played, he'll eventually find a weak spot. That point to where for example if he's thumping Monroe style down strokes up in the key of B, the mandolin just won't respond as well. They typically start to lose their fullness and start getting tinny sounding. Every Sorensen Silas had played to date just keeps responding to his heavy hand. The harder he pushes, the more the Sorensen responds! It is amazing to hear how full and rich the AX is all the way up the neck!
    Last edited by branchline hammer; Dec-11-2017 at 1:39pm.

  9. #6
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    You could certainly do worse than being informed by Shaun's Heiden! Since Danny Roberts is in the fold, did you have a chance to work with his Dec '22 Loar? That one is also a monster.

  10. #7
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Mark,

    I didn't get to pick on Danny's '22 . . . I think he might have sold it.

    Not to be too heretical, but in the recent years, I've been trying to let go of the Loar graduations and push in a direction which, I think accentuates the best traits of the Loar-period Gibsons and incorporates some finesse and tweaks which were not part of the mandolins from that period.

    I was, however, very impressed with the Danny Roberts signed Gibson MM which Jeff Rose played with Detour. My take on how that mandolin was graduated had a lasting impression.

    Steve
    Steve Sorensen
    Sorensen Mandolin & Guitar Co.
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  11. #8
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Not heretical at all, just adjusting to what you want out of an instrument. Likewise, Heiden makes a brilliant instrument, but it isn't really a Loar clone either. That being said, Danny's '22 has been one of my favorite instruments tonally that I've heard. There's something about that batch that really worked for what I like to hear.

  12. #9
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Steve, I love your work. I hope to add one to my stable in the future. I am curious, after construction and finish, how do you tweak tone, besides setup adjustments and bridge swapping?
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  13. #10

    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Man do those really sing. Great full tone.

  14. #11
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Matt,

    I do a full set-up in the white and often tweak top and back graduations a little bit before pulling the hardware for finishing.

    Of course, I've done work on the insides through the sound holes of finished instruments . . . but try to make that a rare occurrence.

    Here is a video of the Sprite Two-Point that really started this process. It was re-topped 5 times in the course of working out the changes that I was working on with Randy Jones. I believe that this was about mid-way through the evolution --




    The first new instrument that I built with all the new graduations was the FX prototype. Here is the first video when it was a few weeks old with Randy Jones --



    Don Rigsby has been playing the FX prototype for the past couple of years.

    Steve
    Steve Sorensen
    Sorensen Mandolin & Guitar Co.
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  16. #12
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Yeah! #teamfx

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  18. #13

    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Randy Jones' version of Old Dangerfield is pretty good!

  19. #14
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Steve, well in my opinion you have gotten the "tweaking" down!! I love the tone of those mandolins! Nice work brother!!!

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  21. #15
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Steve Sorensen
    Sorensen Mandolin & Guitar Co.
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  22. #16
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Getting in the spirit - Joy to the World!



    Steve
    Steve Sorensen
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  24. #17
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    A bit of Christmas cheer with Zack Arnold (Claybank) on his VX --



    Steve
    Steve Sorensen
    Sorensen Mandolin & Guitar Co.
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  25. #18
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    I've heard what I dubbed Steve's "Randy Jones voicing" in person with Randy playing that Sprite; it's a beasty!
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  26. #19

    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    I LOVE my Sorensen Mandolin! I've had my VX for around three months and i have nothing but great things to say about it! I just got out of the studio with it and it recorded like a dream. Keep your eyes peeled for a brand new ClayBank album on Mountain Fever Records to hear my VX set to release in May 2018!

  27. #20
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Here's a little sample of Zack's VX from last month --



    And Don Rigsby with his FX trying to keep up with that amazing voice --



    Although these two instruments are voiced similarly, you can hear a real difference in how the two players approach them.

    Zack uses D'Addario J74s; Don is using bronze D'Addario flatwounds with a wound AA course.

    Steve
    Steve Sorensen
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  29. #21
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenS View Post
    Don is using bronze D'Addario flatwounds with a wound AA course.
    Are those the flattops (EFT74's)?
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  30. #22
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Yes, Don is using the EFT74s. He likes the smooth feel and the wrapped AA pair -- I think the smaller core of the wrapped AAs are a little easier on the fingers.

    On a different note, here is Silas Powell (14) working on a song for the next CD from The Powell Family. Silas is picking Danny Robert's AX and has ordered (and saved his own money) for a new VX.

    https://www.facebook.com/ThePowellFa...4506025106062/

    Silas' driving and fresh Monroe-style is really impressive. I'm very excited to be working on a new mandolin for him.

    Steve
    Steve Sorensen
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  32. #23

    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    That AX and Silas are a winning combination. Love that tone.
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  34. #24
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    Mandolin Tone Tutorial . . . right about 2:20 --



    Steve
    Steve Sorensen
    Sorensen Mandolin & Guitar Co.
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  36. #25

    Default Re: Sorensen Tone

    For many months, I've been reluctant to post regarding "Mary", my Sorensen Pacifica mandolin "005", because I didn't feel that I'm a good enough picker to have give an opinion on mandolin tone. I still don't think I'm a good picker but I'm at the Great 48 Bluegrass Jam in Bakersfield this weekend, and the reaction that folks had to my mandolin's tone and power was too exciting not to share. Last night, I participated in my first "official" jam at the Great 48 and the folks I jammed with were very patient with my playing. They were also blown away by Mary's tone, projection and intonation. They were looking at the headstock admiring the Mermaid inlay design (and trying to see the mandolin maker's name). After a couple of songs, they commented on how my tremolo sounded so clear and powerful. Mary really continues to inspire me to learn, practice and improve as a picker! Thank you Steve for steering me towards Mary!
    Click image for larger version. 

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