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Thread: Hard question

  1. #1

    Default Hard question

    The question I have is hard to ask in that it requires me to describe sound, but here goes. There are always a few threads discussing Pac Rim vs small shop mandolins. Now I have played quite a few Eastmans and Kentuckys, and to a fault, all had a tonal quality to the G string, which I can't describe adequately except a resonance I do not like. Exception being 900 and above Kentuckys.

    I have never heard this in the Collings, Weber, Northfield level of cost. Now it occurred to me, and in this my memory is failing me, while playing my MK this morning, I did not hear this resonance. Can't really remember if it was there before. I think it probably was. Now my MK has had several hundred hours of playing time over the time I've had it, close to two years probably. Has me wondering if this specific issue corrects itself over time.

    Don't get me wrong, my MK has other sonic shortcomings that set it apart from the better mandolins, but my view of an acceptable mandolin would change if the G string issue dissipated over time. And it could just be subjective and not bug some people.
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  2. #2
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Hard question

    Well .... good question. I can only say that I know a mandolin's tone will develop over time. Will it actually change enough so that you will eventually like it. Maybe .... but a players advancing technical prowess will have as much to do with tonal changes than the aging of the instrument. R/
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  3. #3
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hard question

    I am not sure if we are hearing the same things, but I will agree that there is something to what you are describing. The character of the G string sound is one of the first things I listen to when trying out a mandolin. Next I go up and down a D scale to see (hear) if there is any big difference in tonality between the A and D strings. I want those wound strings to be rich and not twangy. Useless words, I know, but I know what I like when I hear it. The A and E strings' character is equally important, but my feeling is that if the G and D strings sound good to me, the A and E strings probably will, too.
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  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hard question

    I am not sure what exactly "the G string issue" is. Do you meant the mandolin loses clarity or intonation or there are greater overtones on that string? I know that few mandolins sound very good when played on the G strings in the upper positions. Of course there is usually not too many cases when you need to do that anyway.

    I also wonder of some of it has to do with set up and possibly using different strings for the wound strings depending on the mandolin. This is why I really respect those mandolin makers who try to voice their instruments to specific strings or for specific tones.

    I agree, tho, that it is difficult to describe sound to others in words. Br1ck, you own one Pacrim and one small shop instrument. Do you hear that difference in "the G string issue" between those two. Perhaps you can record playing that string on each to compare?
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  5. #5
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hard question

    Response on the G is to me a big deal on a mandolin or violin. I think I know what you mean. I like a deep, resonant sound. The bass response on a fellow cafe member's Kimble this weekend at Wintergrass just blew me away! None of the low end mandos I've played come anywhere close.

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  7. #6

    Default Re: Hard question

    I hear a lack of richness or boinginess. How is that for a word. I think I remember the MK had it, but it had so many tone sucking issues when I got it, like poor bridge to top fit, string buzz, poor nut, etc. It doesn't now. It doesn't have the richness of my Silverangel by far.

    It is almost not there in the 900 and above Kentuckys. Regardless of the overall voicing, I've never heard this issue in a Collings, Weber, Gibson, Northfield, level instrument. I wonder if it is wood quality, top carve, or some other factor.bIt seems it could be engineered out of the instrument.
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  8. #7
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hard question

    Your question begs another - what brand / gauges of strings were on the mandolins that you played ?. If they all had the strings on them that they were imported with,then they might not have been the best,either in quality or condition. As we all know,strings & picks can make a huge difference to the overall 'sound' of a mandolin. GHS A270's sound terrific on my Ellis,but my Weber "Fern" sure as heck doesn't like them,& my Ellis doesn't sound too fantastic sportin' EJ74's !!!.

    If i had a mandolin with 'tonal' issues like Brick1 describes,i'd need to try a few different string / pick combos to see if i could make it sound better. I've often thought that i should have kept my $400 Michael Kelly 'Legacy' mandolin,just to see if i could have improved it over time,
    Ivan
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  9. #8
    en kunnskapssøker James Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hard question

    The times when one wished there was a recording or video of this, for the lack of experience to understand...

    Rover played well once swapping strings to medium, though the G strings would eat into the fingers fast. Did not notice any weird issues in playing it, and it seemed better with D & A strings.

    Weber Y2K6 does well on all strings, but G & D are noticeably stronger and the sustain is incredible! More so recently with repairing one area. Am interested in 'knowing' these odd sounds some people describe - yet hope I never have them.

    Luv the sustain on the Y2K. It can be overpowering to an effects in playing some laments.
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