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Thread: Collings MT2 Review

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    K
    thanks for posting the videos, these are really fun to hear and watch, and to see you and that MT2 bonding extremely well.
    "Roanoke", that will be sweet-looking forward to that. I first saw that performed by Sharon Gilchrist, love that tune.
    oh, did you get one of the fancy smancy towels(its larger than a "cloth") with the MT2?

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #27
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    I gave that cloth too, darylcrisp! It’s a serious cleaning rag, lol.

    Update all... I felt the bass response was getting a little tubby, so I lowered the bass end of the bridge just a smidge, like 1/4 of a wheel turn, and it changed everything. The tubbiness is gone, the mids and highs are super crisp, and it’s humming like some kind of glorious, buttery, crus, woody wonderment. It’s amazing how that little bridge tweak had such a profound effect.

  3. #28

    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Thx tons, I was just chatting with Bryan online. Told me it isn’t available yet but will update me with a price and pics soon. I live in Canada east of Toronto so might plan a trip to the store. Just retired and have been searching for a used MT Collings. Hard to find up here!! Do you have any pics of your old MT? Your new one sounds great!!!

  4. #29
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Heya!

    You know, I actually don’t have any pics. Funny, but I don’t have any that feature the mandolin. They are more of me, so.... It’s awesome though. I do have sound clips if you’re interested. If you PM me your email I can send some.

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  6. #30
    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Congrats on the new mandolin. I'd be interested in hearing that instrument a year from now...I bet it will open up considerably. I will subscribe to this thread and await your post!

    I had an MT2 many moons ago. IIRC mine was designated as MT2H which apparently at the time meant a "hard" top. Twas a great mandolin but sold long go due to my ongoing catch and release program.

  7. #31
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Hi, Everyone:

    Just an update for your regarding this wonderful mandolin. I think I'm one month in this week, so it's a good benchmark.

    I've changed strings on the MT2 twice and am getting ready to do so again. Since getting it, I've practiced about 90-120 minutes/day working on fiddle tunes and learning some new material. The time on the instrument increases significantly when I factor in random jamming and playing with other humans. I've also kept it in a very stable temperature and humidity-controlled environment, so it hasn't reaped the environmental changes as drastically as if I was just keeping it wherever in my house.

    I definitely have noticed a lifespan-of-the-strings effect. When I first put them on they are quite jangly, but after a bit of playing, and a day to settle in, they are humming and vibrating all over the place. There's initially a softness to the way they feel and respond, with significant, smooth, low-end hum. It's really prominent. As I play in the strings a bit more, over the next few days, they harden up a bit, everything feels stiffer, more like wires on wood or something, and it starts to bark more and have some more cut to the highs. I seem to be getting about a week or so of this sweet spot with the strings.

    Today, after the strings have been on for about a week, it was feeling very solid, very balanced, humming like crazy, strong mids and highs. I don't think there's one feature (other than super sweetness) that's standing out right now, tonally, but I will say it is quite light to the touch. When I had my Weber Fern, it sounded great, but I had to drive that thing. It did not respond well to a light touch, so I learned to take a kind of muscular approach to it. My left hand often hurt a bit after playing it for a while. This MT2 is the opposite. It can be driven, and the red spruce handles a heavy hand very well, but it's not necessary. If I keep my touch light it responds extraordinarily. The sweetness and the roundness of tone comes out, and it does the work for me. So, I am working on holding my pick looser, not striking the strings as hard, and it's a joy. I'm loving it

    I'll make periodic updates on this thread for whomever may be interested. I will add, the time spent on an instrument cannot be undervalued. Yes, it's an impressive mandolin, but I've spent dozens of hours on it getting familiar with the tone, and my hands are in really good shape after all of that playing. So, there are a few different factors involved other than it just being great. I'm getting better too because I'm just loving playing it so much.
    Last edited by Kevin Briggs; Sep-23-2019 at 11:58am. Reason: typos

  8. #32

    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    That’s awesome, congrats on this thing. Sounds fantastic.
    Gunga......Gunga.....Gu-Lunga

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  10. #33

    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Your last comment is a significant reason to upgrade. Play more, get better.
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  12. #34
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Nice update, good to hear you’re enjoying the journey. Not intending to hijack the thread but I’ve always thought Kym Warner and his ability (and great hands) sets the bar for what these babies are capable of. Mandolin Monday!


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  14. #35
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    He's a beast! I've been enjoying his videos quite a bit. :-)

  15. #36
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Hi, Everyone:

    Thanks so much for your interest in what's up with my new(ish at this point) Collings MT2. It continues to delight me each time I pick it up, and has en ever-evolving voice.

    I put new strings on it yesterday for the fourth time and I'm just really astounded at how it responds differently to each new set of strings. When I received it with a new set, it was quite jangly, only gaining some depth towards the end of the strings' life. Since then, each change has resulted in the instrument feeling a bit more stiff form the outset, which I welcome because it results in more bark. The bottom end and the mids were very resonant from the get go, but I would not say they were stiff and adding a punch to the low end. I was getting punch by backing off the low end and letting the body of the mandolin do the work. While that is still possible, I find I can strike the strings a bit harder than I was and get that brash, driven sound if I choose. I really don't choose it, but it's their.

    As I alluded to before, one thing I'm really digging about this instrument is because it clearly has a lot to offer tonally, I'm looking for ways to pull our the tone, and ways to enjoy the great playability. Recently, I started working through Ted Eschliman's "Getting Into Jazz Mandolin" to stretch my playing, and am pushing further in that direction. It really is a fantastic instrument and, partnered with the skills I am honing due to lots of inspired practicing, sounds clearer and rounder every day. I have noticed, however, there is a slight buzz going on somewhere around the A and E strings, likely due to the cooler and drier northeast weather, and possibly due to the frets being slightly worn.

    I haven't uploaded more YouTube videos, due to having converted to the Instagram platform. Lotsa' fun interacting with folks and discussing mandolins!

  16. #37
    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    The smile on your face in the first video posted says it all...enjoy.
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

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  18. #38
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Thanks, Mando Mort:

    I had the pleasure of visiting The Mandolin Store yesterday, meeting Dennis and Brian and trying a bunch of mandolins. I was really happy with how my MT2 was positioned, tonally, next to all of the really nice instruments there.

    Brian very graciously gave me a set (dressed the frets, buffed a scratch on the back, adjusted the truss rod, worked on the nut, and changed the strings). I had him put J75s on it, which made a significant difference. I'm not convinced I will stick with the J75s, but for now they bring a noticeable robustness to the instrument, although they make the action rougher going. I'll use at least two more sets of them to really get a clear idea of their up/downside.

  19. #39
    Registered User Joe Dodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    I really enjoyed reading this and watching your videos (as well as Kym's!). I had an MT for a couple of years back in the day, and always wondered how they differed from an MT2, other than the obvious cosmetic differences. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Got a [used 2017] MT2 in the spring and am massively in love with mine, glad you are finding the same joy.

    Just days into playing it I performed with it using a mic and noticed that EVERYTHING I played got picked up. While it was able to cut through the mix on lead, I spent the next month cleaning up my playing as every mistake, odd thump/twang, or quietly missed note came through the mix as well. I missed my prior mandolin that didn't cut through the mix but hid my mistakes for a while.

    I love how well it responds to dynamics. I can cut through a jam with my solo and punch through my rhythm over the chaos, but with my band I can also play sweetly at a whisper as well - all while having remarkably low action that plays with barely any effort.

    I have found that I have very distinct pick preferences with it - I've gravitated to my 3.5 mm Wegen more, it just makes this thing sing.

    Love the videos and re-living my initial joy with you.
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  21. #41

    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Briggs View Post
    H, Rdeane:

    Thanks for your reply. Yes, it's been a delight thus far, and I'm looking forward to what the future holds, seeing as I've had it in my possession for less than 24 hours. At first, I raised the action to get some more bark and depth out of it, which worked, but now I'm thinking I may lower it down again because it is really, substantially loud and otherwise strong. A real powerhouse.
    Okay, as a relative newbie, I have to ask how raising the action influences the sound qualities you're seeking. Is it related to your picking style? Is intonation a concern? Still much to learn here. Thanks

  22. #42
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Parker135 View Post
    Okay, as a relative newbie, I have to ask how raising the action influences the sound qualities you're seeking. Is it related to your picking style? Is intonation a concern? Still much to learn here. Thanks
    Hey, Parker:

    There's quite a bit to your question, and there has been a bunch of discussion on the Cafe you'll like enjoy checking out (searchable). But, that aside, here's my .02.

    String materials, string gauges, pick materials, pick gauges, bridge materials, and bridge height all have a significant impact on tone and playability, both individually and certainly collectively. The mandolin can be sensitive to what seem like minor changes. For example, I just switched to J75s from J74s (to a heavier set from a lighter set) and the tone is bigger and more robust. I also use a Golden Gate pick, which is thick and has rounded edges and sounds way different than a thin, pointy, electric guitar pick. I raised the action a while ago and found there was a point at which the tone started breaking apart, so I lowered it slightly and the sound was big.

    I think each instrument will respond differently to various tweaks, including string type and picks, and even within the same product line. It's really just a matter of experimenting with different string sets, picks, bridges and bridge heights to see what you like the best. Logic would indicate heavier strings, higher action, and a ticker pick make a bigger chop, but not always. Sometimes a nice low action helps the top move better, and you get a really sublime woof out of the sound chamber.

    Just go for it and find what you like! :-)

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  24. #43

    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Thanks for your reply Kevin. There is so much to learn. I've set up two or three flattops and built one last winter, and have been following the mantra that lower action is better for ease of play and intonation, short of buzzing of course. I have not explored the tradeoffs of going a little the other way.

    Love your new mandolin and listening/watching you play. Thanks again.

  25. #44

    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Much depends on your picking attack. When you are playing with the aim of drive and punch, using a thick pick, you are putting more energy into the strings, moving them farther. This necessitates a higher action so you don't buzz. The added benefit is a greater break angle which can energize the top, but you can hit a point where the pressure becomes a hindrance.. Playing with a lighter touch can enable lower action. Everyone needs to find their personal sweet spot.

    Yet another good reason to have multiple instruments, providing they are of high quality, each set up for different styles.

    After a short while, I've found J 75s to be pretty easy to play. I think I'm on my third set, and don't notice much difference when I play my J74 strung mandolins. Odd that I haven't strung my Silverangel with them, as that is what SAs are designed for.
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  26. #45
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    I got a mandolin from TMS and for 8-9 months was too terrified to make any adjustments to it. After all, they were known for doing quality setups and, at that time, I knew even less about mandolins than I do now (which still doesn't amount to much). Inspired by Kevin's report about the adjustments on his MT2 I played around with the bridge on my Eastman several weeks ago and after a few tries I managed to get what I feel was a significant improvement in the sound of my mando - I'm just not sure that I can attribute it all to the bridge height.

    See, the first time I went to make an adjustment to the bridge I started slacking the strings from the bass side towards the treble side and discovered that the top of my mando decompressed enough to break the final E string before I could slack it off. I hadn't realized how much the arch is compressed by the strings until this point. I think I made 3 total bridge adjustments (Up too high, down a little, down a fraction more) over the course of a week and for each of the adjustments my mandolin went through a round of decompression/recompression. After the third round it sounded almost like a different mandolin altogether. Much more open and responsive than it seemed at the start of my tinkering.

    This put me in mind of a term I found in one of the threads about break-in/play-in/Tonerite called 'manual flex'. Manual flex is/was apparently a technique used by some to break in a mando without playing it. You grip the sides of the instrument, depress the top and back plates (carefully!) with your thumbs and fingers, respectively, and then release it. This was reputed to limber up the plates for freer movement. It seems to me that slacking/tightening all of the strings at once (rather than one at a time, as I would during a string change) achieves the same thing as manual flexing but without the risk of cracking the top plate. If you think about the compression/decompression cycle of the top as a single period in a wave, then slacking/tightening all of the strings would have a vastly greater amplitude that that of a 'wave' caused by playing. It seems reasonable to me that if you believe in 'playing in' an instrument in the first place then flexing the top in this manner would produce a change in significantly fewer 'waves' than would be necessary to see the same change through play in time.

    But who knows? While I would like to think that it was a combination of the two actions, maybe it was only that my mandolin adjusted to the humid Ohio climate over the last 8 months and I just so happened to find the sweet spot in bridge height that compensated for the swelling.

    Thanks for attending my half-baked story time not-a-TED-talk. I'll see myself out lol

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  28. #46
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    An Mt2 can be a "lifer"- keep playing it; the more you play it, the better it (and you) will get. Love the videos so far!

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  30. #47

    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Thanks for the great videos of your great looking and sounding instrument :-)

  31. #48
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Happymandolin View Post
    Thanks for the great videos of your great looking and sounding instrument :-)
    Ah, thanks, man! Here’s a short one my wife took the other day when we were camping in Arizona. This is pre-The Mandolin Store, pre-J75s. :-)


  32. #49

    Default Re: Collings MT2 Review

    I am thrilled with my MT2-O. I did out a Brekke bridge on it, and like it quite a lot. It has opened up quite a bit in 18 months.
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  33. #50
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Martin View Post
    I am thrilled with my MT2-O. I did out a Brekke bridge on it, and like it quite a lot. It has opened up quite a bit in 18 months.
    Nice, Dave!

    Although I wouldn't put myself in MAS status, an oval-holed mandolin is definitely on my list, perhaps next, whenever that would be. I don't really have a gig for it right now, so that will keep me from splurging, but I am quite interested in the contrast in tone and what it can bring to an acoustic duo or trio. My experience with Collings has been so good both with a MT and now the MT2 that it would be a no brainer to go with an MT2-O. The MT-O I played at The Mandolin Store recently sounded wonderful.

    I'll likely embark on some oval-hole research and go from there. I run across some old Gibson As that sound pretty good to me, and they are often quite affordable.

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