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Thread: Waiting for mandolin setup?

  1. #1

    Default Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Hi all! First post here after a lot of reading over the last couple years.

    I picked up an Eastman md315 from a local store the other day, upgrading from my Flinthill (basically a Rover, from what I gather).

    I'm eager to get it set up and can see or hear a few standard things that need to be done. The fellow at the store suggested I wait months for it to adjust to life outside their humidity controlled room before doing so. I live on the Canadian prairies. The weather is always changing but generally dry, except for the odd time in the summer. I have a humidifier in it's case.

    So my question is do I really need to wait or can I get this thing set up now?

    Thanks and apologies if this has been covered. Didn't see anything addressing this specific question.

  2. #2
    Resident Hack
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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Most stores that specialize in these types of instruments will do a setup on a new instrument before you get it. Go for a setup but find someone who is good at mandolin setups before you do. Just a gut feeling, but I'm betting there's better options than the store you're talking about
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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Download Rob Meldrum"s mandolin free set up book here on the Cafe` and do it yourself.
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  4. #4

    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Mitch, I was debating about that too. Initially I was going to buy it from this place and take it to a local acoustic shop for a setup. The guy at the store rattled off the things that need to be done to it and said they take their work to a local pro, which instilled a bit of confidence. Toying with taking advantage of their free setup and getting any future work done by the other place.

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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Get the included set up, but know that you may have to raise the bridge in a couple weeks depending on how vigilant you are with the humidifier. I gave an old Kentucky F style to a friend’s son a couple of Christmases ago. I keep the house at 50% all year round, and he doesn’t humidify at all. I set it up very low with light strings for the kid, and they came over for dinner and a string change last night (they’re in our friend bubble, and we’ve both been very careful/staying at home). Anyway, that mandolin was bottoming out from contraction. A little bit of bridge height, and it was singing again...
    Chuck

  6. #6

    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Yeah I think that's my plan. My big question is whether I do it now or in a month. My heart says now so I can get playing, and deal with any minor tweaks later. Brain is the one acting up. Hah

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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    I've actually encountered that before from a very reputable store with an excellent repair person.
    It's a matter of letting the instrument settle in and also let you get used to the new instrument - then you'll have a better idea of what you want in terms of set up.
    Since you're local - the thinking is probably that this is the most prudent course of action.
    Of course a lot of on-line sales (which is probably most sales these days...) will do the generic "set up" but with out any idea of the preference of the individual player with that individual instrument.

    If it's playing ok now I would wait and get it set up just right in a few weeks.

    Kirk

  8. #8

    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blindermaus View Post
    Yeah I think that's my plan. My big question is whether I do it now or in a month. My heart says now so I can get playing, and deal with any minor tweaks later. Brain is the one acting up. Hah
    I'd agree with your plan! Recall that a setup isn't necessarily a 'one and done' proposition either. Given the changes in weather, etc. you note you may want to have it checked again in the future. In our little town the small local shops sub out their acoustic set up work to the a luthier who works out of his home. I'm fortunate enough to have found him separately and he's done all of the work I've had done on any of my instruments.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    just a caveat -- if you find the instrument really hard on your fingers or hand and really tough to play, get the setup sooner rather than later. there's no reason why you should suffer because the store wants you to wait. there's pain creating callouses, but there's pain from a bad setup as well.
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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Did you get a new instrument? I'm no setup expert and I've only bought 2 mandolins both new, the intonation was spot on but if not that's not a hard adjustment and if new it shouldn't need any nut or fret work hopefully, bridge adjustment is no problem, you just have to tinker around with height adjustment until it's comfortable to play for you and sounds clean...my cent and a half

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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Do I gather from a previous post that new mandolins can need the bridge raised after a few weeks? I'm beginning to suspect my 'played for a few weeks' Eastman 305 might now be slightly too low. With the mando vertical, A .90 pick will stay with the tip between the strings and frets (both sides) at the 12th fret, while a 0.73 falls out. Is that too low? The G rattles a little when you pick it hard.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Do I gather from a previous post that new mandolins can need the bridge raised after a few weeks? I'm beginning to suspect my 'played for a few weeks' Eastman 305 might now be slightly too low. With the mando vertical, A .90 pick will stay with the tip between the strings and frets (both sides) at the 12th fret, while a 0.73 falls out. Is that too low? The G rattles a little when you pick it hard.
    Are you humidifying? Colder winter air and dry forced heat can certainly affect your setup within a matter of a few weeks.
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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Thanks for the suggestion. Here in Southern UK we don't get much really cold winter weather with low humidity, so I don't humidify - it tends to be 2-10C, damp and humid. Few houses here have electric blown air heating or heat pumps that dehumidify the air. Cellists are the only musicians I know here who act on humidity, and mostly that's just having summer and winter bridges.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Do I gather from a previous post that new mandolins can need the bridge raised after a few weeks? I'm beginning to suspect my 'played for a few weeks' Eastman 305 might now be slightly too low. With the mando vertical, A .90 pick will stay with the tip between the strings and frets (both sides) at the 12th fret, while a 0.73 falls out. Is that too low? The G rattles a little when you pick it hard.
    Depends, If .90 is millimeters, that's really low. For reference, both of my regular players will hold a Blue Chip CT-55 (just barely) both top and bottom. That's the equivalent of 1.4mm. I would recommend your try a heavier pick and raise the 12th fret action to it's thickness. Mandolin is very different from guitar, you've got doubled courses at a high tension. A heavier pick with more mass and little to no flex is needed to get things moving.

    In terms of setup, a week should be enough acclimation time. Most critical for playability is going to be correct nut slot depth. The target at the first fret is 0.005" clearance. That's about two paper thicknesses. Go a thousandth lower and you've got a buzz (ask me how I know), 5-10 thousandths too high and playing the first few frets becomes very uncomfortable. Mando nut slot depth is the one part of set-up I would recommend leaving to a professional who has mandolin set up experience.

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  17. #15

    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Are you humidifying? Colder winter air and dry forced heat can certainly affect your setup within a matter of a few weeks.
    Yeah I have an oasis humidifier.

    For context, in the last few weeks the temp has gone from -37C here to +2C. Even my house hates it.

  18. #16

    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    Did you get a new instrument? I'm no setup expert and I've only bought 2 mandolins both new, the intonation was spot on but if not that's not a hard adjustment and if new it shouldn't need any nut or fret work hopefully, bridge adjustment is no problem, you just have to tinker around with height adjustment until it's comfortable to play for you and sounds clean...my cent and a half
    It was a new instrument but the shop had not done any work to it. The A and E strings are slightly raspy, with the E string not really playing above the 8th fret or so. I can move the bridge up a bit but I'm hesitant to get too involved before I get a full setup done.

  19. #17
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion. Here in Southern UK we don't get much really cold winter weather with low humidity, so I don't humidify - it tends to be 2-10C, damp and humid. Few houses here have electric blown air heating or heat pumps that dehumidify the air. Cellists are the only musicians I know here who act on humidity, and mostly that's just having summer and winter bridges.
    You're probably right, but cooler air carries less moisture. I don't know where you acquired your mandolin, but the shift from a climate-controlled shop to your 35-50 degree Fahrenheit climate could account for the movement. There's a reason those cellos have summer and winter bridges.
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    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Roy View Post
    Depends, If .90 is millimeters, that's really low. For reference, both of my regular players will hold a Blue Chip CT-55 (just barely) both top and bottom. That's the equivalent of 1.4mm.
    Thanks RR. Yes. that's mm, and I think that's lower than when I got this mando recently. I have some 1.4 picks (and, tech freaks, feeler gauges even...), so I'll take the bridge up a little and see how it goes.

  22. #19

    Default Re: Waiting for mandolin setup?

    Thanks for everyone's input on this. In the end I went with the free setup at the store I bought it from. Their tech found a fret that was jamming up the a and e strings. Fixing that improved things dramatically as you might expect.

    Was honestly a bit disappointed when I got it home because it wasn't sounding right, but it took a day or two for the strings to break in. Will keep that in mind for next time.

    Will probably take it to the acoustic-oriented shop for any future work, but for the time being it's playable and putting a smile on my face.

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