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Thread: Breaking in or Opening Up

  1. #26
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up


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  3. #27
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    If you can make yourself get older, you will lose the ability to hear high frequencies, and this will make your mandolin sound much less tinny, and give it way more bass. I've been trying this for 20 years now, and it is starting to work. I plan to get a lot older and I'll report back once I do.
    Believe me, I have been trying to get older but, for some reason, I keep getting younger. I am not a young curmudgeon vs. an old one.
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  4. #28

    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    All of my mandolins open up with new strings. When the old strings start to fall asleep, I change picks to a spare one of my 153 different picks. It’s just amazing.

    And I’m sure my hearing improved during my many years of running power machinery too. Routing is the new meditation.
    Not all the clams are at the beach

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  6. #29
    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Believe me, I have been trying to get older but, for some reason, I keep getting younger. I am not a young curmudgeon vs. an old one.
    Dunno, I have been working for a long time on being a curmudgeon. Mostly, I think it's just natural crankiness. At least so says my loving and long-suffering (because of me) spouse.

    I fall into the "maybe instruments change subtly, but so does my memory of what they used to sound like" camp. Not to mention the effect of temperature, humidity, type and age of strings, action, room acoustics, and on and on. I do agree with Jim that buying an instrument in the hope that it will turn into one that I like is not in my makeup.

    Now, excuse me, I need to practice yelling "You kids get off my lawn!"
    Kit
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  8. #30
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by grandcanyonminstrel View Post
    My favorite beat to death thread topic! A bunch of half deaf old geezers arguing about tone!
    Who you calling half deaf?
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  10. #31
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    I did ask once here years ago if instruments 'close down'. And I was told they do. And I think it is possible that keeping instruments in cases and not playing them might 'stiffen' them, or at least compromise their resonance. So I guess, and I'm just guessing, that a well played instrument might 'loosen' through vibration. I also think you do get better, and get to know your instrument. However, I'm not going to doubt those who say that their instrument got better.
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  11. #32
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    If I luck out, I will reach the big eighty this fall and I have noticed in the last couple of years that my mandolins sound worse. Its an obvious case of breaking out or closing up after decades of thrashing.
    -Newtonamic

  12. #33

    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Simonson View Post
    If I luck out, I will reach the big eighty this fall and I have noticed in the last couple of years that my mandolins sound worse. Its an obvious case of breaking out or closing up after decades of thrashing.
    I think it’s possible to run out of good notes in an instrument. Some of mine are developing that symptom.
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  14. #34
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I think it’s possible to run out of good notes in an instrument. Some of mine are developing that symptom.
    I believe there is a new service owned by Chris Thile by which you can upload many of the extra notes he as around his house to players like us.
    Jim

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  16. #35
    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I believe there is a new service owned by Chris Thile by which you can upload many of the extra notes he as around his house to players like us.
    Yeah, but will notes from a Loar F-5 load into a Gibson F-4? Or an Old Wave F-4? Do I need an emulator or "virtual Loar?"

    Then there's the whole problem of getting them to load in the correct order . . ..
    Kit
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  17. #36
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    I remember playing a Loar, that had been in a vault for a number of years. The maker who owned it proudly handed it to me to try. Here was the acme of mandolin making in my hands. Hit those strings and... dead. I mean the Loar sounded like a block of wood. Since this builder went to great effort to bring me this Loar, I tried a number of tunes and styles... dead. I handed it back to the builder and with no guile told him that I preferred his new instruments to the Loar.
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  19. #37
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    There is no way I would buy a musical instrument with high hopes that the sound will improve as time goes on.
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  21. #38

    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    PS -

    From the cafe classifieds, following up on post #20, here's an example of a torrefied top: https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/152246#152246

  22. #39

    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    I did ask once here years ago if instruments 'close down'. And I was told they do. And I think it is possible that keeping instruments in cases and not playing them might 'stiffen' them, or at least compromise their resonance. So I guess, and I'm just guessing, that a well played instrument might 'loosen' through vibration. I also think you do get better, and get to know your instrument. However, I'm not going to doubt those who say that their instrument got better.
    I'll bet that's true. Something else: The sound of resonator mandos and guitars doesn't improve with age. They fail mechanically. So I've bought a couple of used reso guitars for low prices, just because, unless they're desirable for other reasons, they don't appreciate the way flattops and carved tops do.

    If you look at the classifieds at www.resohangout.com, you'll see what I mean.

  23. #40

    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Over time, you will open up to your mandolin.

    Or you might sell it.
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  24. #41

    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by J Mangio View Post
    There is no way I would buy a musical instrument with high hopes that the sound will improve as time goes on.
    This depresses me when I think how bad my fiddle sounds

  25. #42
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    If torrefaction dehydrates wood and modifies instrument tone, wouldn't extended periods of storage in low humidity alter the sound? Once played a small 1850's Martin guitar that was astounding light weight and had an unexpected big voice.

  26. #43
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    If torrefaction dehydrates wood and modifies instrument tone, wouldn't extended periods of storage in low humidity alter the sound? Once played a small 1850's Martin guitar that was astounding light weight and had an unexpected big voice.
    It could. It could also do extensive damage to the instrument.

  27. #44
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Although it is only a relatively small subset of mandolins produced, an instrument with an oil-based varnish will take two or three years to “dry,” and the sound on a well-made mandolin will improve as the varnish dries.
    Doug Brock
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  28. #45
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    If torrefaction dehydrates wood and modifies instrument tone, wouldn't extended periods of storage in low humidity alter the sound? Once played a small 1850's Martin guitar that was astounding light weight and had an unexpected big voice.
    Torrefication occurs prior to putting the instrument together, so the wood is theoretically ‘Drier” but more stable when assembled. Unless you’re Frank Wakefileld, storing your already assembled instrument in low humidity and/or higher heat is likely to result in top and possibly back cracks, failed, braces, joints, etc, as the wood contracts to different degrees from one another...

    Frank got really lucky, IMO...
    Chuck

  29. #46
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    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Well... do forty year old D18 Martins sound like brand new D18's? What I am curious about is how good will a new Gilchrist or Nugget sound in ninety years. Yeah time and playing changes the tone of a wood instrument. So.... call it what you will. Yes technique makes the largest tonal impact. And then there is everything else that all adds up to make a difference. Soooo … Play on . R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  31. #47

    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    I think Charlie's observations sum it up pretty well. Is the mando finished with nitrocellulose lacquer? If so, then the sound definitely will change over time. Nitro consolidates and gradually becomes one with the wood. On my new builds, the first three months see the most drastic change. At about three years things seem to plateau. I've also heard that red spruce needs a little more break in time, at least in flattop guitars.

  32. #48

    Default Re: Breaking in or Opening Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Roy View Post
    I think Charlie's observations sum it up pretty well. Is the mando finished with nitrocellulose lacquer? If so, then the sound definitely will change over time. Nitro consolidates and gradually becomes one with the wood. On my new builds, the first three months see the most drastic change. At about three years things seem to plateau. I've also heard that red spruce needs a little more break in time, at least in flattop guitars.
    I'm one of the ones who experienced a new mando "opening up" & wasn't going to post due the varied opinions & thinking did it really ? But after reading Rob Roy's post I'm chimming in. I had a custom mando built for me by well known builder a few years ago with a nitro finish on it. When I first got it sounded good but maybe slightly muted than after a few months it changed for the better and ended up sounding real good. When I first got it I was switching back and forth between my Weber & it than after a few months the Weber didn't get played for over a year. How ever I would never buy another mando without playing it first and would never expect or buy one thinking it will sound better when it" opens up".
    Lou

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