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Thread: Sound descriptions

  1. #1

    Default Sound descriptions

    I get confused when tone is described as woody, etc. Is there a description of the various tones that describe mando sounds?

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  3. #2
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    I have found some of the descriptions used only make sense after you hear them. Then it's like a light bulb in my head, oh that's what they meant! It would be nice if one of these places with a nice assortment of Mandos had a vid with the tone description for each, a point of reference.
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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    Kind of like describing the taste of wine ! Woody, fruity, full,light, medium, bouquet, oak, citrus, earthy,floral, buttery, chewy, etc ! I don't taste any of these characteristics ! I just either like it or not ! My tongue and nose are not that sensitive or discriminating ! All the sound descriptions made by others of mandolins also don't register with me ! I just either like the sound or don't like it !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    And to further complicate things, so much depends on the ability of the person playing the mandolin. There is a knack to pulling the best sound out not to mention pick and string selection and its effect on tone.

  7. #5

    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    These words are more banjo than mandolin...

    Babble
    Babel
    Bang
    Bedlam
    Bellow
    Bewailing
    Blare
    Blast
    Blatant
    Blustering
    Boisterousness
    Boom
    Booming
    Buzz
    Cacophony
    Callithumpian
    Caterwauling
    Clamor
    Clamorous
    Clang
    Clangorous
    Clatter
    Commotion
    Crash
    Cry
    Deafening
    Deep
    Detonation
    Din
    Discord
    Disquiet
    Disquietude
    Drumming
    Ear-Rending
    Ear-Splitting
    Enough To Wake The Dead
    Eruption
    Explosion
    Fanfare
    Fireworks
    Forte
    Fracas
    Fremescent
    Full
    Full-Mouthed
    Fulminating
    Fuss
    Heavy
    High-Sounding
    Hubbub
    Hullabaloo
    Hypnopompic
    Intense
    Jangle
    Lamentation
    Loud-Voiced
    Megalophonic
    Multisonous
    Noisy
    Obstreperous
    Outcry
    Pandemonium
    Peal
    Pealing
    Perstreperous
    Piercing
    Polyphloisboian
    Powerful
    Racket
    Rackety
    Randan
    Raucous
    Resounding
    Ringing
    Rings
    Riotous
    Roar
    Roaring
    Routous
    Rowdy
    Rows
    Shots
    Shouting
    Shrill
    Sonorous
    Squawk
    Stentophonic
    Stentorian
    Stertorous
    Strepent
    Stridency
    Strident
    Strong
    Talk
    Thud
    Thundering
    Tonant
    Tonitruous
    Trumpet-Tongued
    Tumult
    Tumultuous
    Turbulence
    Turbulent
    Uproarious
    Vehement
    Vociferous
    Yell
    Yelp








    bangbark
    bedlam
    blare
    bleat
    bluster
    boom
    brawl
    bray
    bump
    caterwaul
    clamor
    clap
    clash
    crash
    deafening
    din
    discord
    earsplitting
    grate
    hubbub
    jangle
    noise
    pandemonium
    piercing
    racket
    rage
    rasp
    raucous
    riot
    roar
    rowdy
    rumble
    scream
    screech
    shout
    slam
    smash
    squawk
    stamp
    stomp
    thud
    thump
    thunder
    tumult
    whine
    whistle
    yell

  8. #6
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    Heya....

    I agree. Describing tone can be difficult, but the wine analogy makes a lot of sense. As a point of entry into this conversation, I'll say my Collings MT2 has evolved over the first two weeks of having it. When I first played it, I liked the resonant tone. it was clearly a very good instrument. It played like butter, or glass, and it had cutting highs. The lows were a bit tubby at first, so I adjusted the action and now they're smoother and maybe even a bit punchier.

    Yesterday, I watched a video of Chris Thile practicing a Bach composition, and it must have been his Loar, because it had that ancient, hard, woody tone that I suspect only a Loar has. It made me feel like my mandolin was far inferior, and that I was silly to like my mandolin so much. But, when I went home and played my mandolin, I was very happy to hear how sweet, responsive and woody it was, even in comparison to the Thile video, and to think, it's only a little over two weeks old. After some break-in, it will no doubt open up and get that mature sound we all know and love.
    Last edited by Kevin Briggs; Sep-13-2019 at 1:43pm.

  9. #7

    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    Describing sound with words is one of the more difficult things we do here. What woody sound like if you'd never experienced it? But experience it and you get it. The only logical way out of this is to play a bunch of mandolins. If you've never played a Gibson, you've never really known the Gibson chop. We can call something bright and relate it only to our own experience. Maybe it's really toward the middle of the mandolin range, but if someone says it is somewhere between a Collings and a Weber, I've played enough of both to get what is being said. Then there is the G string sound on most imports I've played. Don't like it, but I can't really describe it other to say, play a Collings or Weber or Northfield and see what I mean.

    But descriptions in the context of experience is far easier to communicate. Then you are just needing to overcome what others might think is bright not being what you think is bright.

    I like to try wine. I like it or don't. Same applies to mandolins. Asked how mine sounds I usually reply fantastic. I can relate to that. But it may be only fantastic to me.
    Silverangel A
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    1913 Gibson A-1

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    Apparently there are programs on computers that can distinguish between one human voice and another.
    So when are we going to see a computer that listens to a mandolin and says, ‘oh, that’s a nice Collings!’?

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  13. #9
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    This would be a great subject for one of the big dealers to make a video about. Get a good player or two with a bunch of new and vintage mandos and play through them specifically talking about tone terminology. Show us sound samples of tubby, bright, dark, woody, etc.
    “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.” -- Aldo Leopold

  14. #10

    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    There was a forum member here who described one mandolins high doublestop tone as sort
    of like a dental drill. I got it right away. Shrill and piercing yet smoothly harmonizing tremolo with just a hint of
    forest-floor finish.

  15. #11

    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    It is difficult, for sure.
    Another wrinkle is how we interpret those words. Some people think of "woody" as being like a marimba - high pitched, bell-like. Other people think of "woody" as being like the sound of an old dusty wooden cigar box closing - kind of a muffled woosh of air. So one might ask for an example of "woody" tone, expecting to hear an airy/breathy/atticky sound, and then hear the example where a demonstrator had more of a marimba in mind, and say "that's not woody, that's glassy!".

  16. #12

    Default Re: Sound descriptions

    Does not every single mandolin sound woody? They are after all, wood. In that sense, woody is a very broad term.
    Silverangel A
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    1913 Gibson A-1

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