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Thread: Mandolin sound changing over time

  1. #26

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    While it doesn't reach the level of scientific evidence......
    Well that certainly says it all.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  3. #27
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    What about short term changes? How many of us think their instruments sound better after playing it x minutes after its been in the case for a week, a month? Can we separate out the player vs instrument warming up by playing a different instrument before testing the "waking-up" nature of the instrument in question?
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  5. #28

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    There is some evidence to bear this out. Instruments that are played get played in certain modes, in certain keys, that cause the wood to vibrate in ways that are more pleasing. The more the instrument is played, the more it starts to respond in certain ways that the physical structure is used to. Think about vibrations in your car. Things start to rub and respond in ways that are typical for the way that car is driven. I feel that same is true for musical instruments: they begin to respond in more musical ways, assuming they are played in ways that produce the desirable sound. Very good, antique violins are often prized not only because of their heritage but because of the great musicians who have played them, this adds to their provenance. This makes them "played in."

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  7. #29
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    I know when my mandolin was not broken in other mandolin players would say "your mandolin sounds great except for the G string". Now many years later the G string sounds great along with the rest of the mandolin. No memory involved, although I know how the G string changed, but others opinions over the years. Now the comments are "that is a great sounding mandolin". The G string is completely different than it was the first several years, it's easy to hear and I don't think my technique could make the change, I have played a long time before this mandolin and have not done anything different that I am aware of, tho it could happen. Many many hours of playing have definitely opened this mandolin up. When new others have said it was bright in the highs, now it is warm and lovely and complex, and a joy to play.
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  9. #30
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    The question I have is. If auditory memory is so short, how did I know Dad's banjo had been apart (post 20) I realize that I'm talking about an instrument that I " knew" very well, had heard every day while I was living at home and had heard many times the difference in sound when it had recently been apart but if not memory how did I know it had been apart after not hearing it for a week or so. I think I noticed every time and never accused wrongly. By the way Dad seldom took the banjo apart, hebwas not one to work on it on a whim.

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  11. #31

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    While it may or may not be the case (and we have argued it here often enough - just search on "opening up") I certainly would not buy an instrument that didn't already sound great hoping that it would sound better in time.
    Frank Ford gave me that advice decades ago, and I believe pretty much everything he says.
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  13. #32

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    I went to Gryphon every week for a decade or more when I lived in Palo Alto, and would play everything on the used wall. I must have played a hundred or more D 28s in that time, most were 60s and 70s models which were between twenty and thirty years old. Played many newer ones too. The impression I came away with, was heavy playing had more of an effect than time. I would play a D 28 that had heavy playwear, pick worn through the finish type wear, and they always sounded better to me than very clean examples of the same vintage. Now, the problem is, and has always been, were these instruments better to begin with, and handpicked by advanced players and played a lot, or did playing them a lot make them better? So it impossible for me to say, heavily played instruments sound better because of it. They might very well have been played heavily because they were better to begin with.

    But that does not negate that I light up when I see a very played in instrument.
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  15. #33

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Now, the problem is, and has always been, were these instruments better to begin with, and handpicked by advanced players and played a lot, or did playing them a lot make them better?
    It's hard to avoid thinking that correlation implies causation. Do fast cars win races.. or did the cars get faster because of all the winning? That's an obvious example, but lots of life is not as clear-cut as that.

    I love Tyler Vigen's correlations from real data...
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    Last edited by Marty Jacobson; May-19-2019 at 9:06pm.

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  17. #34

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    I've always thought it wasn't that my mandolin was necessarily opening up as much as it was a reflection of what I wanted to hear. Which is why some days it just doesn't sound right to me simply because there is a sound in my head that my mandolin isn't going to meet no matter what.

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  19. #35
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    It's hard to avoid thinking that correlation implies causation. Do fast cars win races.. or did the cars get faster because of all the winning? That's an obvious example, but lots of life is not as clear-cut as that.

    I love Tyler Vigen's correlations from real data...
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Those are hilarious comparisons! Thanks!
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  21. #36

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by NotACreativeName View Post
    I've always thought it wasn't that my mandolin was necessarily opening up as much as it was a reflection of what I wanted to hear. Which is why some days it just doesn't sound right to me simply because there is a sound in my head that my mandolin isn't going to meet no matter what.
    I think instruments sound a lot different on different days. I think it's a complex system consisting of:
    1. Human - can have sinus infections, ear inflammation, bad sleep the night before, etc which contribute to our perception of sound/tone. Also if it's a cold wintery day we probably don't play as dextrously.
    2. Weather - temperature and humidity do make physical (geometry) changes to our instruments which can impact tone, as well as the efficiency by which the sound gets to our eardrums. I think warmer, humid days make my mandolin sound the best.. but maybe that's just when I feel the best.
    3. The instrument itself

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  23. #37
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    I think instruments sound a lot different on different days. I think it's a complex system consisting of:
    1. Human - can have sinus infections, ear inflammation, bad sleep the night before, etc which contribute to our perception of sound/tone. Also if it's a cold wintery day we probably don't play as dextrously.
    2. Weather - temperature and humidity do make physical (geometry) changes to our instruments which can impact tone, as well as the efficiency by which the sound gets to our eardrums. I think warmer, humid days make my mandolin sound the best.. but maybe that's just when I feel the best.
    3. The instrument itself
    Years ago I wondered why I liked one guitar over another on different days and was actually able to tie it into the environment I worked in on any given day. I do industrial equipment repairs and audit, training, etc. Some days are much louder than others because of different facilities but the days I was around certain loud equipment more I found I tended to prefer a brighter guitar on those days. I have ringing in my ears 24/7 but that in and of itself doesn't seem to sway my tonal likes on any given day but the exposure to loud equipment does.
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  25. #38
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by peter.coombe View Post
    an exercise in self delusion
    Ah, Peter, but isn't that the most important art in life?
    belbein

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  27. #39

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Well that certainly says it all.
    Can you point me to the scientific evidence that shows instruments don't change over time? I'm not aware of it.
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  29. #40
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    It is the wrong question.
    Do instruments change over time?
    Well, if you take a new instrument and put it away in a case for 30 years, probably not.
    It will probably be a bit lacking from nonuse, and not a lot different than when new.
    It might have improved slightly from wood settling in, getting used to the shape they have been forced into.
    It might then open up if it is played vigorously over time.

    Do instruments change over time when they are played a lot?
    Of course they do, especially when they are a finely crafted instrument.
    A low end, heavily built instrument has less chance of developing, although it may still improve with playing, and probably will. Anyone who has ever had a fine instrument will see changes in the tone and resonance as the instrument gets played in.

    Fine classical instruments (violins, violas, cellos, and double basses) are very changeable over time with consistent playing. I doubt if you can find one pro violinist who will say instruments don't change with consistent playing over time.
    You can even use techniques and exercises to train a fine instrument to be better is specific ways.
    My viola teacher, when I was a teen, had a wonderful old viola, but was disappointed with the G string compared with the others.
    He took it to a specialist who gave him a series of exercises to perform on the instrument every day.
    My teacher played these exercises every day and eventually he corrected the issue after 6 months to a year.

    Fine quality instruments open up over time, and then can continue to improve over time if they are played a great deal.
    I have experienced it in a variety of instruments, from mandolins, to many guitars, to Classical Indian Sitars.
    A fine quality Classical Indian Sitar usually takes about a year of hard playing before it "blooms".
    It will open up into a very different instrument, with increased volume, sustain, resonance, and sympathetic response.
    No one in the sitar world would dispute this fact.

    Is there a point the instrument won't improve past?
    Sure. An instrument will get to a point where it is just about as good as it is going to get.
    It will change with the weather, temp, humidity, etc.
    Some times it will sound labored, and some times it will sing, depending on the environment.
    BUT in general, from new, a fine instrument can be improved with dedicated playing over time.
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  31. #41

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    Can you point me to the scientific evidence that shows instruments don't change over time? I'm not aware of it.
    Here's one. https://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/powerhousetwins.html

    Its interesting to note that there are lots of studies about how music changes your brain, which is apparently a lot more plastic than a wooden instrument.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  33. #42

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    Can you point me to the scientific evidence that shows instruments don't change over time? I'm not aware of it.
    There has been at least one rigorous study showing that guitars played frequently (for a long period with a mechanical device, versus by real players, versus by not played at all) and substantially equivalent guitars not played were identical ("scientifically irrelevant").

    Here you go: https://www.savartjournal.org/index....rticle/view/22

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  35. #43
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Everybody says that they're instrument has improved over time but nobody has any recordings to prove it. The recordings would have to be in the same room with the same mic at the same temp and RH, etc etc, so that is probably why.

    My two mandos sound pretty much like they did when I bought them, but they sounded good then. Hopefully I have gotten better.
    Never say "bouzouki" to a TSA agent...

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  37. #44
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    My new mandolins have all gone through an adjustment period, they feel tight and not openly responsive...tone seems compressed, and they're definitely finicky about staying in tune. That changes quickly with play over 2-4 weeks I believe. I say they think they're still a tree at least for a period of time.

    It makes sense to me that the vibration (non-scientific term) of the top changes the response if it gets consistent play unless it's a complete dog from the start.
    Last edited by mtucker; May-22-2019 at 8:44am.

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  39. #45
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    People believe lots of things and they talk about them a lot.
    Phil

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  41. #46

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    People believe lots of things and they talk about them a lot.
    You will never convince me of that.

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  43. #47
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    People believe lots of things and they talk about them a lot.
    I'm a skeptic by nature!

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  45. #48
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    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    There has been at least one rigorous study showing that guitars played frequently (for a long period with a mechanical device, versus by real players, versus by not played at all) and substantially equivalent guitars not played were identical ("scientifically irrelevant").

    Here you go: https://www.savartjournal.org/index....rticle/view/22
    When this got kicked around here a year or two ago, and everyone was sure that they were right, this article was put up as the definitive argument ender...
    I then, and now, point out that though guitars and mandolins share wood, wires, and bracing as their means of sound production, they are different machines. There is no compression load on a flat topped guitar, no arch, no tailpiece attachment to endblock...
    I consider the guitar research to be relevant to guitars, I think you should too

    Additionally, wood does age, and the internal unfinished wood is quite exposed to the environment...my instruments go through radical environmental changes seasonally, and daily.
    My more than two cents...ymmv
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  46. #49

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    It's hard to avoid thinking that correlation implies causation. Do fast cars win races.. or did the cars get faster because of all the winning? That's an obvious example, but lots of life is not as clear-cut as that.

    I love Tyler Vigen's correlations from real data...
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  48. #50

    Default Re: Mandolin sound changing over time

    My experience building mandolins and guitars is that the knowledge gained from one is transferable to the other. And anyway, guitarists say the same thing about their instruments maturing, crystallizing, drying out, etc. Oh yeah, I can tell that guitar sounds great from the eBay pictures, by the way that lacquer checking looks.

    I think the only real argument ender is to agree that the instrument itself is a small part of a complex system. There are many things in that system which change considerably, and on a daily basis. The instrument is by far the most static part of the whole system. It's not surprising that we perceive the instrument differently on a daily or minute-by-minute basis. But we don't need to assume the world moves around the elevator.

    One thing that never comes up in these discussions is how we all have a vested interest in this phenomenon being real (real, and strong -- personally I do believe it is real, but too small to perceptible).
    We have a vested interest because this is a major selling point and rationalization point in used instrument transactions. Hence why there's not a myth that all new instruments sound the best because they haven't been "worn out by all those vibrations, gone all mushy and dead" - that would be great for builders, but terrible for most people to talk about instruments, and engage in buying and selling used instruments.
    Things in which we are financially vested tend to skew our perceptions to a great degree.

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