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Thread: Toning down a bright instrument

  1. #26
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Another vote for flatwounds. Am using the D'Addario FW74 on my Collings. Still has the same power, but tames the high end edge that modern sounding mandolins seem to have.

    Also been using a heavy or extra heavy celluloid, tortex, or juratex pick. They help keeping things mellow, and don't have the pick click that I find both BC and casein picks have.
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  2. #27
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Ok, I’ll be the dumb guy in the back of the room who asks the dumbest questions.

    How about bridge—or at least saddle—material? Wouldn’t a softer wood yield a softer (less bright) sound? Might affect volume, too, I know...but still?
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  3. #28
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    The OP did ask about the bridge, I see. I would think CA would make the mandolin brighter, but that is a guess.
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  4. #29

    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    I would think that a bridge of softer material might make the tone sound mushy. Not sure that would improve the sound.

  5. #30

    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    So the mandolin in question is a prototype which I gave away. It was the second oval-hole mandolin I built, and the second Nautilus prototype I built. I was still figuring stuff out on the new design.

    Spencer, I think you see why it was a prototype, now. It’s on the verge of being a great instrument, but just seems like it’s missing something. You can hear the potential in it, but it seems like it's got more to give. And it would, if the top were graduated a little thicker and the body had a little more air volume.

    Strings and picks are like using the tone control of a passive pickup. You can roll off the high frequencies, but you can't add anything. It needs to be balanced, and so what you really need is More Bass. It lacks bass because the body and soundport system are not an optimal design. It's fine, it is what it is, I'd say don't spend money on it, enjoy it for what it is. The only permanent solution is.. a better mandolin.

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  7. #31
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Thanks for that input Mandobar!

    Love the term "mushy" as a descriptor... very effective, Lol!

    I exchanged a few emails with Marty and he offered a few suggestions as well. Many similar and some interesting and quirky:

    -Many similar string suggestions
    -"Wolltone/Woll pick? It’s rubber… German players swear by them."
    -An interesting not on finding means to "decrease the air volume coming out of the sound hole" by covering the sound hole with tape or putting packing peanuts inside the instrument.

    For now my strategy will be experimenting with strings. I'll spend about $30 on 2 sets of strings: D'Addario Flat wounds and Flat tops and give them a try. I'm happy with my pick choice with the BC TAD60 as it has done a good deal to darken it but I may try some of other things... yet to be determined. If I'm not satisfied, I'll give the Thomastiks a try. If still then, maybe I'll stuff some packing peanuts in there

    I'll do my best to document my findings and share.
    aka: Spencer
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  8. #32
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    If you do add packing peanuts, use the biodegradable ones, they could be used as a snack in a desperate situation!
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  10. #33
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    If you do add packing peanuts, use the biodegradable ones, they could be used as a snack in a desperate situation!
    aka: Spencer
    Silverangel Econo A #429
    Jacobson Nautilus Oval Hole Prototype

    Hand Crafted Mandolin Armrests
    Check them out here

    "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage
    to lose sight of the shore, ...and also a boat with no holes in it.”
    -anonymous

  11. #34

    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    So the mandolin in question is a prototype which I gave away. It was the second oval-hole mandolin I built, and the second Nautilus prototype I built. I was still figuring stuff out on the new design.

    Spencer, I think you see why it was a prototype, now. It’s on the verge of being a great instrument, but just seems like it’s missing something. You can hear the potential in it, but it seems like it's got more to give. And it would, if the top were graduated a little thicker and the body had a little more air volume.

    Strings and picks are like using the tone control of a passive pickup. You can roll off the high frequencies, but you can't add anything. It needs to be balanced, and so what you really need is More Bass. It lacks bass because the body and soundport system are not an optimal design. It's fine, it is what it is, I'd say don't spend money on it, enjoy it for what it is. The only permanent solution is.. a better mandolin.
    Would something like a small sound post help at all, like used in a violin? Or an added cross brace?
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  12. #35

    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Sound posts don't help, they pretty much wreck the way a mandolin is supposed to work. They work on violin family instruments because of the sustained input of energy, but mandolin-family instruments work very differently. It's basically the same effect as adding a mute of the same mass as the back in the case of a mandolin-family instrument.
    Additional bracing could help this mandolin, but in general, stiffening the top increases high-end response. What this mandolin needs is a bigger air chamber. A smaller sound hole is the only remotely feasible solution, but I'm not sure that would work. Seems like a certain volume of air is needed.

    BTW threads like this are the reason I don't sell an instrument if I'm not 100% confident in its performance, and why I gave it away. No burn on Spencer, he's trying to make it work as well as possible given what it is. But at the end of the day, the structure and geometry of the instrument are far more important to the tone than anything you want to do to it. It's still going to retain its basic character.

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  14. #36
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Thanks so much for your input Marty, and thanks for the instrument. I am enjoying it. It has a vastly different sound than my SA, I'm just wanting to tone it down a little.
    aka: Spencer
    Silverangel Econo A #429
    Jacobson Nautilus Oval Hole Prototype

    Hand Crafted Mandolin Armrests
    Check them out here

    "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage
    to lose sight of the shore, ...and also a boat with no holes in it.”
    -anonymous

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  16. #37
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Why not ask Marty? He is, after all, the world expert on Jacobson mandolins.

    Flatwound strings would take down brightness for sure.
    Keep in mind it will only tone down the brightness of the wound strings. If the mandolins' tone is bright overall, flatwound strings won't help the unwound strings. Also, a softer tone pick, such as the Dawg pick, will soften tone but will also affect volume.
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