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Thread: Toning down a bright instrument

  1. #1
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Toning down a bright instrument

    The tone on my Jacobson Oval Hole is a little bright and kinda quiet for my taste. I changed my pick to a BC TAD60 which helped, but I'm wondering if a different style strings might help?

    Can you darken or even soften some brashness of the sound and gain volume with any particular kind of strings? Silk and steel? Flatwounds?

    Any recommendations?

    Would a new bridge help? A CA maybe?
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Proplec picks have a dull tone to me, at least compared to a BC or Red Bear.
    Play it like you mean it.

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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Yes strings and picks both make a difference. A softer pick will yield a softer tone than a hard pick. A Dawg pick might suit you. For strings try out some different alloys …. Keep in mind you do have an oval hole instrument and they have significant tonal differences from F hole models. IMO a different bridge will not change much if the bridge currently in place has been properly fitted. R/
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Why not ask Marty? He is, after all, the world expert on Jacobson mandolins.

    Flatwound strings would take down brightness for sure. Funny you ask us about strings but don’t tell us what you are using right now. If you want a subtle change I would try Monels or NBs. A radical change might be TIs.
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  6. #5
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    I've been playing it with a Wegen TF 140 and the tone was nice, however it lacked volume, so I ordered a BC CT55 and that seemed a bit too bright for it. However when I use the TAD 60 (which I've been using on my Silverangel), it is a little darker and has a nicer tone. So now I'm using the CT55 on the SA and the TAD 60 on the Jacobson.

    That said, I think I'm ok with the pick I'm using, I'm just curious as to what strings the mando masses may recommend to help darken the tone a little more. I was thinking Flatwounds, but curious what other recommendations there were? Are the D'Addario FW74's good? Or do I have to spend $160 on the Thomastiks?

    I was also thinking about a CA Bridge, but if y'all think it won't make much difference then I'll forego that. Marty Set this up himself, so I know the bridge is in good shape!
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    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    .... Funny you ask us about strings but don’t tell us what you are using right now. If you want a subtle change I would try Monels or NBs. A radical change might be TIs.
    This...


    What’s on there now? ‘Cause we need a point of reference.

    Monels do this well as Jim suggests
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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  9. #7
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Oh ... well duh!... apologies for not thinking to mention what's on it currently!!!

    It's strung up with standard issue: J74's.

    I'm familiar with Monels; what are NB's?
    Last edited by soliver; Apr-12-2019 at 4:43am.
    aka: Spencer
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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Both Monel and silk & steel strings will "darken" a "bright" instrument but each will sound different.

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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    I'm a fan of Daddario EFW74 flatwound strings, especially for oval hole mandolins.

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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    I like D'Addario EFT74. Not as radically darker as the flatwound. They have the phosphor bronze sound, but are not as bright as the EJ74's and the A string is wound like the TI's. Depends how much darker you want your mandolin to sound. I don't like the D'Addario EFW74's at all. Tried them once and 1/2hr later they were off and I will never use them again. Each to his own. TI's do work well on my Lyon and Healy style of mandolins.
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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    I'll just agree with everyone so far and say there are a number of options to try, with the TI's the only one you really need to think about before buying because of the price. From my experiments with strings:

    Some standard PB's that are a tad mellower than your J74's (IMO), but still with that PB sound:
    *DR Rare
    *Daddario EXP's
    *EFT 74's (according to Peter above)

    More radical alternatives to darken your sound:
    *Monel (on some instruments I've tried, they are awesome; others, too mellow)
    *Silk & Steel (never tried)
    *Daddario EFW74 flatwound (definitely mellower than standard PB's - a little too mellow for my liking, but may fit you fine)
    *Daddario Nickle-Bronze (love these, esp. on my guitars; a little of the PB sound with a little of the Nickle fundamental tone)
    *TI's (great, would probably fit your purpose, but the price; EFW 74s would be a good alternative)
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  18. #12

    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    My F5 style is loud and a little too bright. I think that only thicker G and D strings and possibly a Toneguard will get you more volume and balance out the sound. Every other alternative diminishes the brightness and, consequently, your volume further so they are good alternatives for my mandolin but do not address your volume issue. Another possibility for diminishing brightness which I am considering for mine is recutting the nut so that the pairs of strings in the A and E courses are closer together. I'm going to try thicker G and D strings myself, especially since I'm using lights, before proceeding to methods to diminish the brightness.

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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Lighter strings are usually brighter. Are we talking bright on the wound strings, or bright on the plain strings. The E & A won't change much with different sets. G & D can be wound on different sized core, with different materials, double or single, flat or round or round flattened. A lot of variables beside gauge on the wound, but not many variables on the plain. When i find my plain strings sounding bright I usually tune, the mandolin is louder and brighter on the high strings when slightly out of tune with the pairs. One string a little flat or sharp from the other one, quite different than both correctly in tune.
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    1. Try a round edge pick or the round edge of a standard fender heavy pick, (or ex heavy) play with the loose grip. Play around with your grip too.
    I used to like D'Addario delrin picks for this, but they changed some time. Pro plecs are delrin. Grisman picks would be a good choice. Or try standard Golden Gates MP-12, that was the David Grisman pick about 20 years ago, pretty cheap for just a try.

    2. Try the Flat wound strings, heavier the better if the instrument and you will take it.

    3. Have a tone you want in your head. Adjust your hand to make it. Pay attention to the way your hand and pick attack the strings; the angle of attack, how much pick strikes the string. Pay attention to the way you are holding the mandolin; neck up too far or level. Also you may get some difference from your fretting hand. Pick grip makes a difference.

    MUCH tone is in the hands that play it. How? Adjustments.

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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    I am still a bit newer to the game, but a few thoughts FWIW.
    I am definitely a fan of a darker, woodier tone. On a whim I tried the new D’Andrea RAYDEX 1.25mm picks, along with Monel stings.
    I was able to get a warmer tone than with the J74’s.
    One other thing I did was watch a video where John Reischman spoke of his right hand technique. He discussed how his attack on the stings is less flat against the stings, and a little bit more on the diagonal attack.
    I am still playing around with this to get different tone qualities to the front of the sound, but I am haviing some rewarding results.
    As an additional thought, if you want to try another BlueChip, I bought an XR 50. I tend to use a more direct attack angle with thtis pick. It provides a respectable amount of volume while still providing a rounder, less bright tone.

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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Proplec picks have a dull tone to me, at least compared to a BC or Red Bear.
    Proplec - yes. And Dunlop JD Jazz Tone 208 even more.

    I switch back and forth. Vivaldi gets the Proplec and soft and slow gets the Dunlop.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    Or do I have to spend $160 on the Thomastiks?
    Where did you get that price? Not cheap in general but those who like them say they last multiple times longer than other strings:

    Strings and Beyond have them for $46.99 with free shipping and currently have them on sale for 15% off.

    (of course, NFI on my part)
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  26. #18
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Where did you get that price? Not cheap in general but those who like them say they last multiple times longer than other strings:

    Strings and Beyond have them for $46.99 with free shipping and currently have them on sale for 15% off.

    (of course, NFI on my part)
    Thanks Jim, that's the price I saw for the TI Flatwounds on Amazon.
    154 Tin-Plated Steel Flatwound Medium Mandolin Strings https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PQLXQNN..._8LsSCbP752AF4

    I'm guessing these are not what you are referring to.
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  27. #19

    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Is the Jacobson a cedar top?
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Play the new “bright” strings HARD for three days! Beat the new off of them and then let them be “deader”.
    New=bright
    Old=dead/“dark” whatever.
    I like gigging strings about three days old, they hold tune better and the brash quality is gone.
    Just one man’s opinion.
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  29. #21
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    Thanks Jim, that's the price I saw for the TI Flatwounds on Amazon.
    154 Tin-Plated Steel Flatwound Medium Mandolin Strings https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PQLXQNN..._8LsSCbP752AF4

    I'm guessing these are not what you are referring to.
    At $160, the Amazon order had better be a three pack.
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  30. #22
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    Thanks Jim, that's the price I saw for the TI Flatwounds on Amazon.
    154 Tin-Plated Steel Flatwound Medium Mandolin Strings https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PQLXQNN..._8LsSCbP752AF4

    I'm guessing these are not what you are referring to.

    I have seen some insane prices for all sorts of music gear on amazon lately and other things as well. You really need to take amazon prices with a grain of salt from my shopping there are some decent deals there but I have found lately that most anything I can buy there I can get locally for a very simialr price or online elsewhere cheaper.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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  31. #23
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    I agree with John B. There are some insane prices on many things. I will look for a book that sells brand new for $20 and there will be some third-party sellers listing the same book for $400. Makes no sense.

    BTW this thread helped me just noting the TI sale. I use T-I strings on my fiddles and need to change strings on one and their price was really right esp with the discount and their free shipping. If anyone does want T-I strings for whatever instrument Strings & Beyond would be a good source esp right now.
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  32. #24
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    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    A casein pick really toned-down the brightness of my Collings. Now usually I like the brightness, but some pieces need a little more restraint, and the casein pick helped "take the edge off."

  33. #25

    Default Re: Toning down a bright instrument

    I have spent countless hours (and $$$$) trying different strings on a multitude of mandolins. A lot depends on the builder, the woods used to make the instrument, and pick choices. My technique has changed over the years, so I've made adjustments for that. I've gotten more volume out of Adirondack tops with nickel bronze strings (same goes for a euro or Italian top). Higher action will get you more volume. The point is, it's a journey, and not everyone gets the same results with the same strings and the same mandolin.

    What I will say is that if you think the tone is bright, I'd try the TI strings. They don't work for every mandolin/player, but they may work for you. Give them a chance. Many is the time that I have restrung a mandolin, hit one note and thought I wanted to cut those strings off right then and there. But I waited and the results change as you play the strings in.

    Try as I might, I have strung my fiddles with Helicore strings and have never been able to stand it more than a few weeks. They are too mushy for my tastes. I really like the TI Red and Blue Imfelds, and while they are about twice the price, I love the tone. Now if they only made a short scale low C string for my 5 string I'd be ecstatic. Strings and Beyond has the best prices on these that I have seen. TI has made a fairly substantial price increase as of February of this year.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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