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Thread: Year old mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Year old mandolin

    So it's been a year now since I finished my mandolin. A couple of months ago, I leveled and crowned the frets. Yes they had a surprising amount of wear on them, and in my exuberance, I didn't get around to really polishing the frets to mirror like luster like I should have. Just played it.. I gave it a good look over and was surprised with how many little micro scratches I'd put on it. Nothing major at all and not enough to notice, but it got me wondering how I'd feel about the same general use wear if it had bee a new Ellis or Collings.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts as you aged a brand new instrument over a few years or a decade. I see some exceedingly clean used high dollar mandolins and have to wonder just how much they ever got played. I have to laugh at myself when I noticed a nice little gouge in the ridge of the scroll.....until I remember I did it with my fingernail on my final sanding before the finish went on. I decided I'd do more harm trying to sand it out.

    I tend to be drawn to instruments that show what's called honest wear. Never went from shiny new to five years with a mandolin.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  2. #2

    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    For what it's worth, I have a guitar I built that's beat to pieces and a Martin without a scratch.

  3. #3
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    Cool thread, Br1ck...

    I've never been too put off by wear and tear on an instrument. I do, however, like to keep my instruments as nice as I can because I'm just into them being in good shape, but I don't get all worked up if they show some wear.

    I have a 1999 Martin HD28 that my father gave me as a gift, so it's very special to me. I received it brand new and I'd say it's still in very good shape. There are some knicks and dings here and there because I have played it quite a bit. The one that I wish I could have back was a simple goof on my part. I was taking it out of the case and I didn't secure the open part of the case enough. It came crashing down on the top of my guitar, which I was in the process of pulling out of the case, and part of the middle latch scraped the top of the guitar for about two inches. It's a surface scratch, but was just due to my clumsiness. Other than that, I see some wear and tear in various spots. I've had a brace replaced in it and some minor setup work as well.

    I guess my bottom line is the used look doesn't bother me so much, but I also don't feel very strongly about it. I'd like my new mandolin to stay nice and clean for as long as possible, but it likely won't. Ah well!

  4. #4
    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    I love the worn in look on well used musical instruments. I can't wait to wear a spot through the sunburst finish on my D-18GE, and I like the grey clouded appearance that's starting to develop on my Custom Shop HD28. My two year old daughter bangs away on my Eastman MD515 and I love it. When I upgrade my mandolin, whether it's to a $4500 Big Mon or a used Gibson F5G, I'm sure I'll feel the same as I do my two acoustics.

    Curiously, though, I'm not a big fan of relic'd instruments. Some of those that I've seen pictures of look like obvious fakes.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    Some makers are very talented at doing relics. My Silverangel is an example. It's not a full blown finish worn to bare wood one, but more of a well cared for 50 year old mandolin. A bad relic is horrible.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  6. #6
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    I've only had my mandolin since March, and already the finish is very cloudy where my pinky rests, there's a ding on the corner of the headstock (I'm pretty sure that wall moved) and one big face ding cuz my sister (6) grabbed an ukulele over-exuberantly and accidentally whacked the headstock into the top. I was pretty unhappy about that last one, but it's water under the floorboards now. Also, no matter what I do my instruments all get so dusty they look like they haven't been played in fifty years even though I play them daily, cuz there's just so much dust here
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  7. #7
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    I don't mind the normal dents and scratches so much anymore, but I do like a finish to look like it's doing what it was intended to do, protect the wood. For my instruments, I don't like seeing patches of worn white wood exposed to the elements, especially for soft-wood tops. For my life-time main playing instruments, I have some finish experience and won't hesitate to do some very gentle touch-ups to protect wood. On the other hand, if it's an instrument that has some intrinsic antique value, especially if I might consider re-selling it, I'll leave it as is for the next owner to decide about.

    A couple of years after I got my 2002 F-9 used from a dear friend, while camping my little dog sort of randomly hopped off of his bed, paws and nails first and left some significant marks on my F-9's top. I was not too pleased at first, but after a while came to remember that these marks would remind me of him after he's gone, and for me that's a good thing. I did touch the marks up to protect the wood and they are much less noticeable, but they're there when I want to see them in the right light.

    I do use ToneGards, armrests and pickguards to avoid direct body contact against my mandolins and that does tend to protect them from most wear and tear. I have worn through the finish of the back of my F-9's neck, but it has been recently re-profiled and speed-necked with a French Polish at the time of a re-fret, so it's looking and feeling great.

    Interesting that I haven't gone through the finish on the necks of any of my other frequently used fretted instruments... My 2002 F-9's original matte finish seems pretty thin and fragile, aside from going through the neck finish, through the years the top itself has actually been polished to a semi-gloss shine by handling. I've often wondered if the factory accidentally applied varnish to it instead of nitro...

    In contrast, the thick poly matte finish on my MK backup mandolin shows absolutely no tendency to wear, it seems almost like a dip; although I won't be around to see it, I fully expect that to be a 100-year finish.
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  8. #8

    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    I love a instrument with mojo!! A pic of one of my favorite D28s ive owned.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    I speed necked my MK. Took me three hours. I finally had to use 60 grit sandpaper. Whatever that finish is, it can survive a two year old.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  11. #10
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    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    I've had my Pava and Weber for over 3 years, and my Collings MT for 2 years, and all of them are still in excellent condition, but I have always been very careful with my instruments (my original 50-year-old guitar has minimal dings.) I don't play daily, but try to play everything weekly. Some weeks I get to play several times a week. I have armrests on all of my instruments now, since my Collings came with one, and I liked it very much (keeps the edge from digging into my arm.) I just like them to look as good as they can look.

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  13. #11
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    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    My Collings MT is 7 years old. I play it a lot - there are some grooves in the frets that I'll have to have taken care of one of these days. I certainly don't baby it, but I do keep it in the case when I'm not playing it, and I'm careful when Im handling it, but there are a few small dings that give character. Mine is a player's instrument for sure.
    -2012 Collings MT, Honey Amber Gloss with Tone Gard
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  14. #12
    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    I put together a very nice partscaster where I stripped the paint off of the body and repainted it an aqua green. I made a stupid move when putting the tremolo springs back in resulting in a scratch across the back. It was an immediate blemish and I was quite frustrated with myself. But over time, I don't give it any thought and it looks the same as just some scratch that would occur some other way.

    My feelings about it changed with time. I get lots of compliments on the guitar and I love to play it.
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

    Eastman MD615SB
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  15. #13
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    I've had my Arches A-5 since spring 2005. It has a few little nicks but overall is in great cosmetic shape. I've played it a lot but I do try to keep it looking nice. I would not be upset if it showed more wear, but it is such a lovely instrument I'm happy it's still looking good.

  16. #14

    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    .Just to clarify, I’ve done nothing that couldn’t be buffed out, but full sunlight shows what are probably button scratches, and I have a tone guard and armrest attached.
    This mandolin gets played two to three hours a day, and hangs from the wall most of the time. That I enjoy it so much, as do others, is icing on the cake. There are one or two “real” Arches for sale out there I’ve considered buying just to compare. I think if you bought one, needing loud and punchy, you wouldn’t be disappointed.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  17. #15
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    There are one or two “real” Arches for sale out there I’ve considered buying just to compare. I think if you bought one, needing loud and punchy, you wouldn’t be disappointed.
    I would describe mine as very responsive. It sounds as good played sweet and slow as loud and hard. That said, the first comment from another player is often, "Dang, that's loud!"

  18. #16

    Default Re: Year old mandolin

    As a general picking exercise, I’ve been playing as fast as I can, as softly as I can, in order to really improve my pick control and have a greater dynamic range. I feel dynamics are sorely missing from a lot of music these days. A friend has commented that he can back off his attack while playing my mandolin, and have a reserve for when he needs it. My Silverangel is a much darker sound. Nice to have different tools.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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