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Thread: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

  1. #1

    Default Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    From a January 2008 Vintage Guitar Magazine article...

    For most of his career, Thile has played mandolins built by luthier Lynn Dudenbostel. He acquired Dudenbostel #5 in 1998, then sold it to buy #14 in 2001. Several years later, he bought back #5 because he liked it so much. “When I first got it back I hardly recognized the sound. The mandolin hadn’t been played much and had gone to sleep. I could still hear it in the background, but I was a little concerned that my memory was bad about how it sounded. It took several months for the mandolin to get back to the sound and feel that I remembered.” His experience with “Dude #5,” as he calls it, convinced Thile that instruments go to sleep if they aren’t played regularly. “I think if you honestly love your instruments, you have to play them regularly.”

  2. #2
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    I think he's dreaming.

    I've owned three Mandolins at a time, but favored one, when I tuned up the others, they sounded fresh as the last time they were played, I'm talking Gibson and Kentucky.
    2019 The Loar Supreme LM700 VS

  3. #3

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    People have more than one mandolin???

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  5. #4
    Registered User Mike Romkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    I know it sounds like voodoo but I think there’s something to it. Wood is organic. It breathes. It absorbs moisture and dries out. It flexes from the sound pressure and other forces incurred during playing. My mandolins tend to sound better the more I play them. Some sound good all the time, but to my ear they all sound better the more I play them. I have a new mandolin — new as in newly made — that was kind of unimpressive sounding until I played it. They do “play in.” To some extent, in my experience, some to get sleeping if they go unplayed.
    '09 Gilchrist Model 1, “July 9” Red Diamond F-5, '12 Duff F-5, '19 Collings MT2, ’24 A2-Z, ’24 F-2, '13 Collings mandola, '82 D-35, Gibson Keb Mo.

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  7. #5
    Hands of Pot Metal
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    Forest Grove, Oregon

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    Chris Thile notwithstanding, my own experience is that many people believe things that have no basis in fact. But if they have an epiphany with their mandolin, more power to them.
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

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    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

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  9. #6

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    My 1920 Martin A goes to the Celtic jam with me.
    My Loar 590 MS goes to the bluegrass jam.
    The StewMac goes out now and then, but it's definitely in 3rd place.

    1920 Martin Style A
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2018 The Loar LM-590 Ms
    Plus guitars - lots of guitars
    And one banjo

  10. #7
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    I have three and soon to be four mandolins and I rotate all in playing !
    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 !

  11. #8
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    I once owned three really great mandolins. After quite some time I found that I really only played one of them and that it was the one for me. Still is. I still only have one mandolin. When it’s off getting refretted or something like that I just play more guitar and some banjo.

  12. #9
    Registered User chasray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    I tend to play one more than the others. But it took a while before that happened.

  13. #10
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    No. Some haven't left their cases in years, and I'm referring to the more valuable and vintage instruments, as well as some I've picked up along the way by chance and never planned to "feature." I get fixated on particular instruments for a period of time, and play them frequently, while others languish unplayed.

    I can't remember the last time I pulled out the early-'50's Gibson F-5, whereas I've been playing the potatoes out of my Stahl Larson-built mandola recently. My Washburn bowl-back mandola's likewise stays closeted, waiting for the next historical program where its voice is needed. Conversely, St. Patrick's Day brought out the Flatiron OM and the Sobell 'dola, as well as the Martin Style A. The three mandocelli, Gibson, Eastman and Waldo, are lurking in corners, awaiting the appropriate moment. And some of my "fringe" instruments, such as the Howe-Orme mandolinetto and the Holdrio "pocket" mandolin, are really here just to be part of a collection, rather than functional members of a "plectral choir" (Gibson's old phrase for the mandolin family.

    And, in a way, that's too bad. Some day all of them will go back into circulation, perhaps to new owners who'll give them the attention and usage they deserve. They may well need to be "waked up" after decades of disuse, and I'm sure someone will want to do that. And I'm not apologizing for acquiring an assortment of instruments, some of which got played almost daily, others of which got played sporadically. I know that each one is there when it's needed for its unique voice, and I hope I've taken care of each one and will gladly pass it on to new ownership (and playership).
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  14. #11
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    All one of them, yeah.

    It's guitar players who need to have one with mahogany back & sides, and one just the same but with rosewood back & sides, and one just the same but with a Sitka spruce top, and one just the same but with an Adirondack spruce top . . .

  15. #12
    Mandol'Aisne Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    No, I don't. Currently my F5s (a Vessel and a Mix) are languishing in their cases while I practice and gig with electric mandolins.

    I don't often play my Weber Alder #2 mandola, so I couldn't tell you if that sleeps and then wakes. I never play it long enough to know!

    My acoustic guitars (SCGC and Martin) are languishing as well in favor of my Telecaster.

    The SCGC does go to sleep if it's not played. But the Martin seems fine. Might be the wood. The SCGC has an Adirondack top, as I believe Dude #5 does.

    The Mix is carbon fibre, so no change there!


  16. #13
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    Mandolins go to sleep. A posteriori.

  17. #14
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    Not really. One hanging on a wall for practice. That rotates between a couple. Then have two instruments for practice/performance with bands. The OM isn't getting much use right now, although I played a gig with it last month. And an absolute beater that never comes out unless playing outside in bad weather.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1989 Flatiron Performer A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 2018 Eastman MDO-305

  18. #15
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    I don't think Chris is dreaming, and probably knows more about this subject than a lot of us. I do have multiple mandolins, while I do try to play them all ( sometime you get stuck on one or the other for a bit) I do find myself leaving some of them in their case for a long time , -multiple months. To me - they do need to warm up, its probably a personal perspective thing and nothing to do with physics or elemental properties of various woods.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  19. #16
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    Yes, I do. There is usually one getting the most play time, but that top-spot shifts around through my small collection. Even when not the current favorite, all are getting played to one degree or another, and all seem to rotate back up to the top position over time. All also find their way into some playing-out (gigs, practice sessions or just playing with friends).

    When I discover one that is really not getting played and, for whatever reason, is unlikely to, it is sold off. Let someone else enjoy it instead.
    Purr more, hiss less.

  20. #17
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    I currently have about 20 stringed instruments. One guitar is on loan to my daughter - I don't think she's playing it much. I'll confess none of the 5 fiddles are getting much attention. I rarely pick up my Ovation 12 string or 6 string banjo.

    I just replaced the bridge on my Altamira sel-mac copy and put on fresh strings and it sounds great! My converted Eastman MDC 805 (now an archtop 6 string) is my main guitar and gets daily play. I'm looking for a real bluegrass flattop currently so it may get some rest.

    My Cricketfiddle F5 is my main mandolin and also gets daily play. My Morris hybrid F4 gets a lot of play, almost daily. Next in line for attention is the 10 string F4 giant mandocello. Its my main gigging instrument, but I don't gig much these days.

    The A4 10 string 'dola is overall the sweetest sounding of all my mandolin-family instruments but I don't play her as often as I should. Probably bring her to the jam tonight.

    The F4 ocrave mandolin is a beauty as well, but doesn't get as much attention. Really a shame as its combination of tone, volume, light weight, guitar sonic range and smaller-than-mandocello size really make it perfect for playing out.

    My 1930's Regal resonator mandolin and same vintage Stahl banjolin are great fun but only get out maybe once a month. They sound great, look cool and are guaranteed to get people interested.

    I'm actively moving on my Michael Kelly Octave Plus which I just never play anymore.

  21. #18
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    near Boston, MA

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    Yes. My instruments which are at 12 now, 5 mandos, 2-6 and 1-12 string acoustic, and 5 electric 6 strings, and really needs trimming,all get played regularly. They're all very different and make me very happy. I do have an old 6" english made banjomandolin and a uke-banjo in need of repair that don't get played. Oh and an old electric accordian w/ amp that never even gets looked at.
    Last edited by Frankdolin; Mar-10-2020 at 7:37am.

  22. #19

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    Of course, in order to give an answer there must be some additional qualifying of terms:

    1. How many mandolins do you have?
    2. What do you consider 'regularly'?
    3. How many of your mandolin are 'specialty' mandolins or 'collectors' pieces?

    I only have two mandolins - one is at my studio, and one is at my house . . . so, yes, I do play them both at least several times a week. However, somebody who owns 10 or 12 mandolins might understandably have a much harder time rotating through - especially if they do lots of session work and are not called upon to play certain styles of music regularly. For example, a professional mandolinist who plays mostly bluegrass music; he may predominantly play his f-hole mandolins for bluegrass - but in his arsenal he might keep a bowl back mandolin because he sometimes gets calls to play Italian music, or may only use his oval-hole mandolin for folk gigs, etc. Also within his dozen mandolins he may have some 'sentimental' pieces - perhaps his grandfathers old mandolin which really doesn't play well, or maybe he kept the first 'beginner' mandolin that he ever owned, which in reality is a piece of junk. As a 'collector' he may have been fortunate enough to find a classic old Gibson that he is just not comfortable traveling with, so it stays at home for weeks at a time while his is on the road - so that goes regularly 'unplayed' as well.

    It is not unusual to find that musicians love to buy instruments, and at least half of the ones that I know freely admit to owning more than they can really play with any sort of regularity . . . but as long as they are paying the bills and putting food on the table, having some frivolous toys around the house is okay with me.

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  24. #20
    Davor Tomasic
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    Amherst, MA

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    I used to neglect my Ibanez 524 (playing other, better (?) mandolins) but then I was inspired by:

    Mike Compton: Jenny Lynn

    so I tuned it to AEAE and now I play it regularly - there are many nice old-time tunes that lend themselves to be played in the similar fashion.

  25. #21
    Registered User Todd Bowman's Avatar
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    Crystal Beach, FL

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    As long as I am home, I play all three of my F5s every day -- which one gets played most depends on what type of music I play most that day - and sometimes which one is closest to grab - and sometime its just the one that calls to me. If I am on the road, its only the one or two I take with me.

    The octave gets played about once a week. Which begs the questions, "What is 'regularly'?" Once a year, once a month, week, day... ? And if they do go to sleep (side note/opinion: I think they do because I can hear a difference over time - so thats my basis in fact), what, generally, is the time period it takes them to take a nap? Not that knowing the answers to these questions is going to change my behavior much! :-)
    2012 Gibson F5 Master Model
    2019 Northfield F5 Artist 5 Bar
    2019 Northfield Arched Octave Maple
    2020 Northfield F5 4.0

  26. #22

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    I only have the one F5, which I made. It gets "played" every day. (I'm still learning, thus quotations.)

  27. #23

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    Music is magic..

  28. #24

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    My mandolin changes daily. Most days it sounds great, other days it has a blanket thrown over it.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  30. #25

    Default Re: Do You Play ALL of Your Mandolins Regularly?

    There's no mystery: your brain does the job of making the mandolin sound how you want it to, and often needs time to learn or re-learn how. Because you don't have conscious access to how it does that (as with most things your brain does) it can seem like magic when you don't understand it.

    Of the two main objects involved in playing a mandolin, one is a mess of wood and wires, and the other is a fascinating, subtle, and complex living intelligence that has evolved over billions of years. You'll all have to decide which is which in your own personal case.

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