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Thread: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

  1. #1
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    Default Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    What are your thoughts (or reviews) of this product?

    Especially if/when used along with a Tone Gard.

    https://bluegrasstoday.com/dr-arm-for-mandolin/

  2. #2
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Outsourcing arm rests seems a bit much to me, “Assembled in USA”. Looks like most other arm rests, no price savings.
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Ok I'm not trying to start a total war here but when did it become necessary to play an instrument without actually touching said instrument? Dr. Arm, Tone Gard, etc?
    Until very recently I don't recall anyone except mandolin players needing / using these devices. Bill M, Chuck B, Earl S, Doc W etc, etc didn't use these stand off devices and yet we go to great lengths to duplicate their sound. So what's the point of keeping your hands or arms from contacting your instrument when those who you're trying to sound like didn't use these devices? And why don't we see most (or any) classical (Philharmonic) musicians using such devices. I play the fiddle and use a chin rest for comfort, not tone. Never saw any advantage in sound using a chin rest.
    If you like it and think it makes your instrument sound better, so be it. I'm not trying to preach about the one and only way to do things. But when so many great musicians played on instruments and never thought about using these devices why do you add this and think it will make your playing sound like them?
    What's next, a device to hold your pick properly? At some point it's up to the individual musician to make the instrument make the music happen.
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    Last edited by Bob Gnann; May-08-2021 at 10:21pm.
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    I think most use the arm rest for the same reason you said you use a chin rest - comfort. Not sure what the issue is?

  6. #5

    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    From the mandolin players I know and the top players I've seen, I think it's down to the American love of attaching things to their instruments. It's a very rare thing to see a UK player using one.

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  7. #6
    Still a mandolin fighter Mandophyte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    I do! But I'm nowhere near a top player.
    Last edited by Mandophyte; May-09-2021 at 3:08am. Reason: Minor edit.
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    I personally don't see the need for an armrest, I don't use one myself and don't see why it would help me, but I'm sure someone will get great use and joy from something like this.
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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    I use them. Had them on for a while then took them off. One of my mandolins was uncomfortable where my arm went across it so I put it back on. The other developed a blush in the finish, when playing on a hot humid day, from contact with my arm. I put it back on. Now I don't have a perfect looking mandolin, on the contrary, I have posted pic's of the neck with most of the finish and color worn off from playing and gigging. It is a varnish finish and so more easily damaged and by using something that adds comfort and protects the finish seems like a no brainer to me.
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    I have posted pic's of the neck with most of the finish and color worn off from playing and gigging. It is a varnish finish and so more easily damaged and by using something that adds comfort and protects the finish seems like a no brainer to me.
    There is a reason violins don't have varnished necks, just sealer. Chin rests help holding a violin but originally were to protect the varnish.

    Folks who play occasionally may never cause much wear on their mando but any contact with skin will eventually wear away the finish. If the uncluttered look is absolutely essential to one's happiness, one can do as professional string players do to protect old Italian fiddles and cellos worth six figures, apply clear vinyl overlay in wear areas before they die. Emory Lester has a fine F5 with destroyed finish from right hand contact absent a pickguard. He added clear vinyl to at least stop further wear.

    I've seen plenty of guitars with worn-off finish from arm contact, and of course they all have pickguards, except classical guitars, who never touch the top. Flamenco players usually have them on both sides of the strings.

    I feel pain when I look at Mike Marshall's Monteleone cello with destroyed finish. Owners of Stradivari violins protect the varnish by using chin rests, and overlays if needed.
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  11. #10
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Fwiw, the reason why flamenco guitars have golpeadors is because flamenco toque involves percussive devices (golpe) - that would eventually trash (destroy), not merely mar, the top, were it unprotected.

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  13. #11
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Thanks for the responses.
    Last edited by Chompa; May-09-2021 at 7:01pm.

  14. #12
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    I don't use one and don't like hanging additional weight on my mandolins but if folks like it why not?
    I was surprised to see a mandolin I built years ago in their video though :-).
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  16. #13
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    Ok I'm not trying to start a total war here but when did it become necessary to play an instrument without actually touching said instrument? Dr. Arm, Tone Gard, etc?
    Until very recently I don't recall anyone except mandolin players needing / using these devices. Bill M, Chuck B, Earl S, Doc W etc, etc didn't use these stand off devices and yet we go to great lengths to duplicate their sound. So what's the point of keeping your hands or arms from contacting your instrument when those who you're trying to sound like didn't use these devices? And why don't we see most (or any) classical (Philharmonic) musicians using such devices. I play the fiddle and use a chin rest for comfort, not tone. Never saw any advantage in sound using a chin rest.
    If you like it and think it makes your instrument sound better, so be it. I'm not trying to preach about the one and only way to do things. But when so many great musicians played on instruments and never thought about using these devices why do you add this and think it will make your playing sound like them?
    What's next, a device to hold your pick properly? At some point it's up to the individual musician to make the instrument make the music happen.
    Over and out!
    Doc Watson used a John Pearse arm rest on his guitars starting sometime in the 1980's.

    Earl's banjo had an arm rest on it.

    Quite a few fiddlers/violinists use not only a chin rest but a shoulder rest which lifts the body of the instrument off the shoulder.
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  18. #14

    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Doc Watson used a John Pearse arm rest on his guitars starting sometime in the 1980's.
    Oh yeah, the 80's -- that's when Doc really started to sound good! Oh, brother!

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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hanson View Post
    From the mandolin players I know and the top players I've seen, I think it's down to the American love of attaching things to their instruments. It's a very rare thing to see a UK player using one.

    Dave H
    That's a bit reductive Dave.
    I encountered my first Tone Garda among shetlander friends at Orkney folk festival.

    They use them, like I do, for better volume , especially, but not exclusively, in pub sessions which can get quite noisy up here. They're not that rare.

    They also help you to hear yourself better and thus play with better tone and control. I bought two from a European supplier who sells quite a few so I don't think their popularity is confined to USA.
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Oh yeah, the 80's -- that's when Doc really started to sound good! Oh, brother!
    I never thought or knew that armrests were supposed to "improve" the sound of an instrument - it's always been my understanding that they were more for protecting the finish and also elevating the arm to a more comfortable playing position. Lots of people play without armrests and are perfectly comfortable, but we're all made differently - different body geometry or whatever, so if someone says that using an armrest puts their arm in a more comfortable position then more power to them, it's not harming anyone is it? I used to use McClung armrests on all my mandolins because with them on the mandolin my arm felt more comfortable, nowt to do with improving the sound. I decided not to put one on my Girouard just because it looks so good without one.
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  23. #17
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hanson View Post
    From the mandolin players I know and the top players I've seen, I think it's down to the American love of attaching things to their instruments. It's a very rare thing to see a UK player using one.

    Dave H
    I'm another (non top!) UK player who uses both. you may not see many of either here because nobody in UK sells them (yet). I'm certain the Tone-Gard make my Eastman MD 305 sound better to me, and the arm rest (a Dr Arm from Banjolit in Poland) makes it more comfortable. They attach together with no probs. If you hold the mandolin away from your body you may not notice the dfference a Tone-Gard makes, because that's what it does and why it works.

  24. #18
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Oh yeah, the 80's -- that's when Doc really started to sound good! Oh, brother!
    If this is a true statement, I question its intelligence.

    If this is sarcasm (which I suspect), then I question its effectiveness.
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  26. #19
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    I’ve been wavering on getting an armrest. When I do, it will be from one of the familiar makers who advertise here. I don’t see any benefit in buying this import.
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  27. #20

    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    I use an arm rest on my mandos for two reasons. No sharp corners for comfort, but most importantly, it's good for anchoring my arm in position to pick in the sweet spot at the end of the fretboard. It also gets the forearm up closer to parallel to the strings. I find this helpful for playing jigs and reels. Yes it does lessen the wear and tear on the finish of the top and tailpiece as well.

  28. #21

    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    But when so many great musicians played on instruments and never thought about using these devices why do you add this and think it will make your playing sound like them?
    Did anyone say or even imply that using an armvrest or a Tonegard would make them play or sound like anyone else?

    At some point it's up to the individual musician to make the instrument make the music happen.
    Are you suggesting that those using arm rests or Tonegards aren't making the music happen?

    Mike Marshall uses a block or his case to prop up his left foot. Nathan Livers hangs a rag from his strap to dry sweat from his hands while playing. A great many players use something to dampen the strings between the tailpiece and bridge. Many people even use coated strings so they don't have to change them as often. All this stuff just makes the instrument more pleasant to play for the particular player. Just like an arm rest or Tonegard.

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  30. #22
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    I recently started using armrests on my mandolins. I like them. My first was a nice ebony McClung that looks great on my black Weber traditional. I’ve made two (so far) of my own out of California sycamore. The photo below is one I made on my 1937 Harmony H410; currently my “kitchen” mandolin. The armrests are fun to make and, as a botanist, I can try out all kinds of interesting species since it only takes a small piece of wood for each armrest. I have some nice red Eucalyptus, black locust, and even a piece of sweet gum root for future armrests.

    I like using them because 1) I’m not trashing the finish on my mandolin where my arm makes contact 2) it helps in positioning my pick and 3) it is helping me to keep my pinkie off the top of the mandolin. As a long-time guitar fingerpicker, I’m used to having my pinkie firmly anchored. By using the armrest as an anchor point, it’s easier to not touch the top of the mandolin. Plus, they are just fun to make. Will make nice future projects to practice inlay.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Here’s a close-up of the sycamore (Platanus racemosa) armrest.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  34. #24
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

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  36. #25
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    Default Re: Dr. Arm for Mandolin

    Not and add-on musician in general, but I did add an arm rest to my Flatiron a few years ago when the finish started showing wear. Banjos need armrests, all that metal really digs into the arm without one. Aesthetics and comfort are purely subjective things. Do what makes you happy as long as no one else is harmed (insert joke about how my playing sound here).
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