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Thread: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

  1. #1

    Smile Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Hello everyone! After mostly lurking here for many years I finally got my first mandolin - A Gold Tone GME-5. I've been playing my soprano uke tuned GDAE and I really enjoy it. I also play a 5 string electric violin and I wanted something similar in a mandolin. I imagine I'm the odd man out here but for my playing I prefer the electric guitar sound over the acoustic mandolin sound.

    I live in France and the GME-5 is the only 5 string mandolin I could find, new or used, in Europe. I read as many posts about the Gold Tone GME series as I could find and they didn't seem bad for a starter. So when I saw it "on sale" I bought it.

    I noticed that my pickup is not the same that I see in the photos in the US. I'm wondering if they changed the pickup. I read some complaints about the pickup in older messages. Mine looks like this:

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    and the one I see at Elderly for example:

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    Can someone explain the difference? The Gold Tone website says "single coil" for both the 5 string and 4 string versions, but they are different in the photos.

    Another question: I find it's not easy to hold it. I try to hold it like in this photo:

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    But the head drops down unless I support it with my left hand. I'm not sure if one is supposed to do that or not. I would prefer not to support it so my hand is free to move around. So maybe I need a shoulder strap? If the cable didn't get in the way I'd point the head up more but that doesn't seem possible with the plug. I know some people don't like the plug on the front because it can interfere with strumming but the plug seems in the wrong place for me. I'm sure I'll get used to it.

    So far it's fun to play and a big difference from the ukulele and violin. I'm surprised at how much sustain there is, which I like.

    Thanks for reading. Cheers

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    I just picked up one of these a few weeks ago (and am absolutely loving it and finding it incredibly easy to play and inspiring) so maybe we can share experience. I bought mine from Elderly specifically because it was clear they were one of just two retailers I could find offering it with an alternate pickup that Gold Tone oddly doesn't list as an official offering: a stacked humbucker. It's excellent, and none of the weak E string issue I read about, but it sounds like many folks prefer the standard single coil so don't think you got the wrong kind.

    With a newborn in the house, my prime motivation for purchasing was silent practice either unplugged or via a headphone amp (the Valeton Rushead Max is so much fun, great sound and a variety of effects to mess around with plus long rechargeable battery life for $40) so that extra plug in also makes it a little tricky to hold. I've found myself defaulting to a classical guitar style hold with the widest part of the body between my legs when seated. Standing, of course, the problem goes away and I think you'll find using a strap even when seated helps a lot with that balance. Have fun with it; I sure am!
    Eastman MD315; Kala tenor guitar; Gold Tone GME-5 electric; Gold Tone IT-250R tenor banjo; Mini tele conversion to 5 string

  3. #3

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    No reason that you can't put the jack on the pickguard. Fairly simple procedure.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    H Uvedale,

    It's nice to meet someone who just purchased the same instrument and I'm glad you're enjoying it. Whenever I get a new instrument I'm always a bit overwhelmed at first and then after a while it becomes normal. The mandolin is quite a change from the ukulele, I keep hitting the wrong strings etc. The fretboard is much skinnier than I'm used to.

    I didn't realize there were two different pickup options. I guess I got the older one. I read in another post that one can get a pickup from Almuse and swap it out easily. But I'm not in a hurry to do that. It does seem the E is weaker than the low strings but I noticed the same thing on my violin so I thought that was just a a limitation of pickups in general. It'd be interesting to hear a comparison of the two pickups on this model.

    I didn't think of holding it more like a classical guitar. My son takes classical lessons so that makes sense, I will try it. I also haven't heard of the Valeton Rushead. I just bought the Vox headphone adapter recently which is ok but I'm afraid to break it.

  5. #5
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    You Can change the pickup yourself.. Or Hire a tech to do it..

    A Stacked Coil Humbucker can fit in place of a single coil, if that's what you want..




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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    A strap may help in positioning.
    Play it like you mean it

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Try a cable with a right-angle jack. I use those whenever I can.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    I got to play a lot this weekend and I'm really enjoying this mandolin.

    The right-angle jack does help make it more comfortable. With my violin I use the right angle side of the cable into the first pedal. I reversed it for the mandolin. I will get a strap though because I want my left hand to be free.

    I'm wondering if I should take it to a luthier to have a real setup done. I don't know what kind of factory setup it has. I was able to adjust the tuners to get everything in tune except the C string. When the open string is in tune, the 5th fret is slightly sharp. The 12th is very sharp. This is noticeable for example when playing the 4th finger G on the C string. I screwed the saddle screw all the way in so I can't make it any flatter. I also notice that if my finger isn't right up against the edge of the fret, it buzzes a bit. This makes it really hard to play chords without buzzing. The shop I'd take it to as a "free diagnostic" so I think it's good to try for piece of mind.

    This weekend I was working on blues improvisation, I'm working through the book "Constructing Melodic Jazz Improvisation". And I started learning 3 note chords from jazzmando. I never learned a moveable chord shape on mandolin before and I think it's very useful. Eventually I'd like to learn a chord melody arrangement of an easy tune.

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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Glad to hear it’s getting more comfortable and that the angled jack helped. While a pro set up should certainly help with the issues you’re facing, you can probably reduce the buzzing yourself by adjusting not just the horizontal alignment of the saddles with a screwdriver, as you’ve already done, but also their vertical height using an Allen wrench if you haven’t. This adjustment will also get you a little closer on C string tuning, but even with the pro setup I got from Elderly and some further tinkering of my own I’m not 100% dead on there and believe that will always be a challenge, in my understanding, because it doesn’t have fanned frets that increase the scale length of that string. I was able to reduce the sharpness of the first few frets when the 12th is in harmony by reducing the C string gauge from the factory .52 to the .50 in the normal 5 string set from Emando.com and plan to try getting closer still to perfection with the .48 or .44 in their light or ultralight sets. For now, it’s close enough for the mix of fiddle tunes with drones and cello repertoire I’ve been using it for. Can’t help on jazz repertoire suggestions but do share a video when you’re brave enough!
    Eastman MD315; Kala tenor guitar; Gold Tone GME-5 electric; Gold Tone IT-250R tenor banjo; Mini tele conversion to 5 string

  10. #10

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    I took the mandolin to a guitar repair specialist. He checked it out and said everything was fine that he didn't see anything he could improve. He was able to get clean chords on it without buzzing so he said I just need to press harder on the strings. This is difficult for me because it's the opposite of how we play the violin. On violin we want just enough pressure to stop the string but not mash it down hard against the fretboard. After years of mashing it down too hard, now that I've learned to apply the minimum pressure, and have to learn to press hard on the mandolin.

    He said the tuning was way off on the C string and that to get the C string in tune the scale length would have to be an inch longer. I know some 5 string makers use 14.7" scale length for this reason.

    So it was good to know the factory Gold Tone setup is good. And now I know it's me.

    I then went to a store that sells strings and showed him my mandolin. He plugged it in and checked the tuning too. He agreed on the advice to try 50 and if it improves then even try 48. So I think we're on the right track.

    I will also find an allen wrench to see if I can adjust the G string a little higher. Most of the buzz is there. and barring is really hard because the C string is so fat, it's hard to barre the G string next to it.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    I tried the 0.050 for the C string. It didn't make a difference in the intonation, but it did make it easier to fret especially on the barre chords. I tightened the screw to move the saddle back as far as it would go and I went a little too far.. <snap>. I broke the string! So I put the original back on.

    I'll buy a couple 0.50 and a couple 0.48 next time I'm in town.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Steady progress! I’ve got some single .48s, .44s, and even .42s in the mail and will report back.
    Eastman MD315; Kala tenor guitar; Gold Tone GME-5 electric; Gold Tone IT-250R tenor banjo; Mini tele conversion to 5 string

  13. #13

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    I commonly see 48's on the C string for a standard scale. Question is whether it is actually standard or not. Try a flatwound.

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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    An update on my experimentation with the C-string intonation on this instrument: the other string gauges I tried made no improvement whatsoever so I brought the instrument to my trusted local luthier, Lyn Hardy of Woodstock, NY, who has saved me before when all else failed and did so again here. She had the breakthrough idea to lengthen the scale of that string only beyond what the adjustable saddle had permitted simply by removing the spring, as shown here. This as well as a slight nut adjustment so the strings rested on the zero fret completely fixed the problem when using the .050 gauge: the 12th fret is now perfectly in tune and the first six frets that were previously sounding badly sharp are very nearly perfect too, certainly close enough for my purposes. I'm really loving this instrument and recommend it even more highly as a very affordable and playable 5 string solution now that my one complaint has been removed.

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    Eastman MD315; Kala tenor guitar; Gold Tone GME-5 electric; Gold Tone IT-250R tenor banjo; Mini tele conversion to 5 string

  16. #15

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Uvedale View Post
    ...simply by removing the spring, as shown here. This as well as a slight nut adjustment so the strings rested on the zero fret completely fixed the problem when using the .050 gauge...
    Thank you for the update. Removing the spring is a great idea. Coincidentally someone just posted about doing this to his electric tenor uke. I'm on vacation this week and I'll remove my spring when I get back. Can you elaborate on what was done with the nut?

    Do you like the 0.050 better than the 0.052? I have noticed a couple things that I'm hoping the 50 will resolve:

    The C string is quite fat, which makes it really hard to play bar chords because I can't fret the G string properly. I'm hoping a 50 will make it easier to play bar chords. I've been working on learning the moveable 3 string chords and having a hard time with it. I can do them fine on my GDAE tuned soprano uke. It seems the string spacing on the Goldtone is too tight to get two fingers side by side but too wide to fret two strings with one finger. Are you able to play the 3 string moveable chords on yours? I suppose it's my technique or lack of.

    The other C string issue I noticed is that when going from the G string to the C string, there is a huge change in timbre. The two strings sound like two different instruments. The C string sounds like an electric bass. I'm hoping the 50 will make it sound a little more like the G string.

    Thanks again for the update and for sharing the ingenious idea to remove the spring.

  17. #16

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Another way to achieve this, without removing the spring, is to compensate the nut.

  18. #17

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Quote Originally Posted by thistle3585 View Post
    Another way to achieve this, without removing the spring, is to compensate the nut.
    Can you explain what you mean? How?

  19. #18

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    I got back from vacation and removed my spring. This didn't move the saddle back as far as I expected for two reasons: one the screw length and second, the hole where the string comes out. With a shorter screw the saddle could be positioned farther back, but the hole where the string comes up would be too far up. So I think this is the best I can do with the 0.052 string. If I get a smaller string like 0.050 then I could screw in the screw slightly more. I'll try that next time I'm in a shop that sells the individual strings (very few shops do here, I may order them online).

    The intonation is perfect on the 5th fret. It's slightly sharp but acceptable to me on the 7th fret. I also lowered the saddle slightly to see if it makes bar chords easier.. the C is so fat that it makes it hard to bar the G string. I think a 0.050 or 0.048 would help with that.

    Here's a couple photos. It's not on straight but I didn't want to redo it since I'll be redoing it soon anyway once I get the 0.050.

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  20. #19

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    You're getting close I see. Can you cut the screw shorter, cleanly so you can thread it back into the saddle? Don't want to mess up the threads. Or if you can get a shorter screw with the same threads measurements from the local hardware store, you should be in luck. I have always liked the GME-5 and should own one by now (note to self...).

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  21. #20

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    You're getting close I see. Can you cut the screw shorter, cleanly so you can thread it back into the saddle? Don't want to mess up the threads. Or if you can get a shorter screw with the same threads measurements from the local hardware store, you should be in luck. I have always liked the GME-5 and should own one by now (note to self...).

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    I don't take a chance messing up my screw. I'll probably take it out before I go to the guitar shop to get the extra strings and ask if they sell the screw? Hardware store is a good idea too. I don't mind cutting a second one if I can find the same size. I'm not sure it'll make a big difference though because if the bridge is farther back the string still has to go up through the hole.

    I'm curious why the C string on my mandolin is so much fatter than the C string on my violin? They have the same scale length. That's strange.

  22. #21
    Registered User JonDoug's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    I successfully shortened two of the screws on my Eastwood Mandostang (4-string) a few weeks ago—I was also concerned about ruining it and making the instrument unplayable, but it proved easy. I held the tip if the screw with a vice grip and cut through the screw with a thin diamond file. I had bought the files from Harbor Freight—a US chain that specializes in inexpensive tools. The cut was smooth.

    This file set is recommended by Rob Meldrum as a serviceable substitute for a nut file (see his PDF book available through the Café). Thankfully, I haven’t put it to that use for the Mandostang, and after a few other adjustments, the instrument has good intonation and plays well. A 5-string sounds like another level of complexity!

  23. #22
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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Please email me for my ebok on mandolin setup and make sure the nut slots are angled properly and the height of each slot is optimal. This is usually not correct on mandolins that were not set up by a mandolin specialist.

    Most hardware stores have a nut/bolt test plate where you can take your bolt (technically it isn't a screw) and determine what size it is (diameter and thread pitch) and get a replacement that has the thread all the way down. I don't know about France...

    Good luck!

    P.S. Get the free ebook by sending an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com and put Mandolin Setup in the subject line.

  24. #23

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Meldrum View Post
    Please email me for my ebok on mandolin setup and make sure the nut slots are angled properly and the height of each slot is optimal. This is usually not correct on mandolins that were not set up by a mandolin specialist.

    Most hardware stores have a nut/bolt test plate where you can take your bolt (technically it isn't a screw) and determine what size it is (diameter and thread pitch) and get a replacement that has the thread all the way down. I don't know about France...

    Good luck!

    P.S. Get the free ebook by sending an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com and put Mandolin Setup in the subject line.
    Hi Rob, I actually got your mandolin book a few months ago but I decided not to get an acoustic mandolin so I must confess I just skimmed over it but didn't read it. If the book applies to an electric mandolin then I'm going to read it, I'm sure it'd be useful for this sort of thing. Thanks for making your book available, especially for free.

  25. #24

    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    I finally made it to the special store in Paris. Custom Shop is the name of the store and they're really helpful. I bought a 48 C string and a couple 50's since I broke the one I bought the first time. I wasn't sure which would be best so I got both since I don't make it into the city often.

    I also showed him my screw (bolt!). I took the piece it screws into as well. He had a pack of replacement screws with springs that were shorter. He screwed the new one into my piece to make sure it was a perfect fit. 6 euros for a pack of 6. That's about $7.

    Tonight I put everything on. I started with the 48 string because if that worked I'd prefer a 48 over the 50. I was concerned about the saddle being too far back in relation to the hole where the string comes up. But once I got the string up to tension, it was ok. I even lowered the action a little. Much to my surprise the 5th & 7th frets were very in tune. After playing the string a bit and retuning it while it stretched out, I checked the tuning again. The 5th & 7th fret are perfectly in tune! I checked the 12th fret - perfect as well. I was really surprised. Now the C string is the most in tune string out of the 5. D-A-E are close enough at the 12th fret, I won't play up there anyway. But the G string is very sharp on the 12th fret. I think it could benefit from the shorter screw as well.

    Here are some photos. The first is the pack of replacement screws and a comparison of the new one and my original screw:

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    The reference number on the pack is GS-3324-001 "Pack of 6 Nickel Bridge Length Screws".

    Next is how it looks installed. I put the smaller spring that came with the smaller screw:

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    If you compare that one to the photo in a previous post, you can see the saddle is moved back more than before.

    Here is a view from the side:

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    You can see how the C string comes up through the hole and goes back. I hope this isn't a problem. I think it worked well for the 48. A 50 might be harder to get it to bend like that, I don't know because I didn't try the 50 since the 48 worked so well.

    More benefits of the 48: It's easier to play bar chords (also due to the fact that I could lower the action a bit). And to my ears the sound of the C string is closer to the sound of the G string. With the 52 there was a big difference in timbre when going from one string to the other. I think with the 48 this difference is less noticeable.

    Overall, I'm very happy with these tweaks. Thanks to everyone for the input, especially Uvedale your experience was very helpful.



  26. #25
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    Default Re: Beginner with new Gold Tone GME-5 questions

    I was reluctant to start a whole new thread about my experience, but since this thread is just sitting here...

    I want to put in a word for the folks at Gold Tone Music Group because they really went above and beyond to make sure I was happy with my instrument. Here, in brief, the tale of woe and intrigue:

    I bought a GME-5 from a 3rd-party seller that was endorsed by the salesperson at Gold Tone, because the 3rd party sold through eBay with their Global Shipping program which meant I could pay up front for shipping + customs fees and then have no hassle at the my end (Israel). And indeed, the instrument arrived to the day of their estimated shipping time.

    Unfortunately, it was unplayable. The intonation was way out, especially the C string. The luthier that I took it to tried removing the spring at the bridge and even shaving down the back end of the whaddyacallit, the little square piece that holds the string. No go. He said the entire bridge would have to be relocated which would involve drilling new holes in the body and that just didn't seem right to me.

    I contacted Gold Tone about the problem. Instead of getting defensive or insisting that my repair shop was wrong or otherwise being difficult about it, they sent me, at their expense, a brand new instrument. They even PayPal'd me cash for what I paid the repair shop so I wasn't even out that money.

    Granted, it took 10 weeks to get the darn thing through Customs but that was certainly not GT's fault. It finally arrived last week and I've barely put it down since. FWIW mine has the single-coil pickup with the 2 chrome strips. I would not say the E string sounds weak but I do dial down the bass on my amp a bit so the lower strings don't overwhelm.

    Anyway, takeaway is: Gold Tone Music Group staff, excellent. GME-5, excellent entry-level instrument. Plus I also have now what I guess I could call a GME-4-out-of-5, since the luthier was able to set proper intonation on the GDAE strings. The End.

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