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Thread: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

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    Default Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Mostly addressed to those who play mandolin instruments live. I've encountered a number of vintage guitars and basses from the 60s and 70s that had a padded back. The idea didn't really catch on but I think it had some merit and possibly even more merit for mandolins. Would a permanent suede leather back make the instrument more stable and easier to play considering that the suede would have an element of grip against the body of the player? The right forearm and left hand would be less involved in keeping the instrument stable.
    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Quote Originally Posted by Wrnchbndr View Post
    Mostly addressed to those who play mandolin instruments live. I've encountered a number of vintage guitars and basses from the 60s and 70s that had a padded back.
    I find that keeping the back open has a noticeable benefit for tone and volume and own a tonegard in order to to help keep the mandolin away from my body and fully resonant. Many players use a strap over just the shoulder [not neck like guitar] in order to make it simpler to keep the back held away from the body.

    Quite a few professionals use tonegards. I find that it has the added benefits of helping add weight to the body which helps keep the neck from dipping. It also decreases the amount of clothing/button/handling noise on the piezos when plugged in. At volume, I was surprised at home a button knocking on the back was annoyingly present - a tonegard pretty much removes all those handling noises for me.

    I would not want any cloth or padding that could muffle or affect the tone in the slightest on the back. Perhaps covering the back of the tonegard with something might be nice for some folks ... not sure I'm that market.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Markus, Exactly the kind of comments I'm looking for. Yes, I have observed a tonal change with some instruments when the back is open compared to the back being held against something. One of my mentors long ago told me that the back didn't really matter but I know that it does. My current build however is a line of solid bodies and this effect, if there is any will be minimized. Funny enough, those instruments that I remember seeing with the padded back were actually acoustic instruments. Some folks are going to say it matters on a solid body and others will say it doesn't. I won't argue one way or the other. I'm not sure if I'm going to include a piezo element and preamp at the moment -- I'd like to if I can find the right element and preamp that doesn't force me to compromise what I have so far. Piezos on solid body instruments pick up every noise -- maybe worse than those on acoustic instruments. I gotta check out what you call a tone guard. Thanks

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    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Quote Originally Posted by Wrnchbndr View Post
    Markus, Exactly the kind of comments I'm looking for. Yes, I have observed a tonal change with some instruments when the back is open compared to the back being held against something. One of my mentors long ago told me that the back didn't really matter but I know that it does. My current build however is a line of solid bodies and this effect, if there is any will be minimized. Funny enough, those instruments that I remember seeing with the padded back were actually acoustic instruments. Some folks are going to say it matters on a solid body and others will say it doesn't. I won't argue one way or the other. I'm not sure if I'm going to include a piezo element and preamp at the moment -- I'd like to if I can find the right element and preamp that doesn't force me to compromise what I have so far. Piezos on solid body instruments pick up every noise -- maybe worse than those on acoustic instruments. I gotta check out what you call a tone guard. Thanks
    How about shag carpet on the back or high density foam.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    It could work against you meaning that it might put the instrument in a position, and or keep it in a position, that you don't want. As a builder, I don't add "accessories" that are typically personal preference to my instruments. I let my customers decide on those things.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Andrew, You may be right on the money with both points. My primary experience is with guitars. I immediately dislike any guitar that doesn't sit right when I'm playing sitting down or standing up. I find it distracting. As a luthier, I'm totally new to electric mandolins -- in love with the sound of the tuning by fifths and motivated by the fact that every time I build one it sells comparatively quickly in my shop. But honestly, they feel quite alien in my hands. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. But I have this belief that if the player is using his hands or body for anything other than playing the instrument such as keeping the instrument stable, it detracts from their ability to play at their maximum potential. My focus on building instruments has always been "feel" as a priority over tone. I do however know a number of players who could care less about "feel" with skills so strong that they muscle through the most poorly setup sharp fretting pigs of guitars without giving it a thought.
    I think the best idea for this if I'm going to continue to believe its a good idea is to make a suede back removable. Something like attaching it with high strength magnets and then see what my customers have to say about it. I'm only looking for discussion and I'm totally grateful for everyone's input.

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    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    I would have no interest in something like this for an acoustic mandolin. I do think it would kill the tone. On the other hand if someone made a “mandocaster” that was a replica of Waylon Jenning’s tele with the tooled leather cover I might be interested. Just for the cool factor, not for the comfort or playability with the added leather/suede.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Quote Originally Posted by Wrnchbndr View Post
    left hand would be less involved in keeping the instrument stable.
    Left hand should not be involved at all in keeping the instrument stable. That can be accomplished in many ways already.
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    Registered User Roger Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    One would think that covering any part of a string instrument would adversely effect the sound, but Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and others put tooled leather covers on their guitars. Martin has even produced an Elvis signature D-28 with a tooled leather cover. I wonder how it sounds? ?
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    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Adams View Post
    One would think that covering any part of a string instrument would adversely effect the sound, but Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and others put tooled leather covers on their guitars. Martin has even produced an Elvis signature D-28 with a tooled leather cover. I wonder how it sounds? ?
    I wonder as well. My guess is that it doesn't sound as good as it must have looked on the TV, though lol

  12. #11

    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Again, I'm only considering this for a solid body electric mandolin. In this and other forums I'm not getting any positive feedback and honest opinions are what I'm looking for. I might try it in the future experimentally as a removable option attached via magnets. All the same, I totally appreciate the feedback.

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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    I think a solid body instrument with a back that increases friction would be detrimental. A well placed strap controls the position and range of motion. A smooth back allows the instrument to freely move against the player's body, finding its balance. My 2˘.

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    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Waylon Jennings covered his Tele in tooled leather. I always thought it looked pretty cool. I doubt it has any measurable effect on a Tele.


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    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good idea / Bad idea ?? Suede back

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post
    Waylon Jennings covered his Tele in tooled leather. I always thought it looked pretty cool. I doubt it has any measurable effect on a Tele.


    Daniel
    I would like the tooled leather top and sides with smooth back.Or faux leather.

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