Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

  1. #1
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Shutesbury, MA
    Posts
    584

    Default Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I have noticed a phenomena over the last year that I think affects the 'appeal' of a specific mandolin . It is familiarity. I have two distinctly different yet marvelous mandolins. If I play one for two weeks or so and totally ignore the other, I bond completely to the sound of the instrument I'm playing - and the unplayed instrument oddly seems less desirable to play. If I switch instruments, after two weeks or so the 'bonding' is reversed. I also noticed that I had to slightly 'adjust' to the most recently picked up mandolin. Nowadays I play each instrument daily and I have found that it 1) by far reduces, if not eliminates, the 'slight adjustment' period, 2) my playing has improved by getting a more intimate feeling of the instrument differences, and 3) I enjoy them both equally. I'm concluding that instrument 'familiarity' is a significant 'thing' for me. Perhaps this thought might be of benefit to others. Cheers.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin

  2. The following members say thank you to Tim Logan for this post:


  3. #2
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    927

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I've had somewhat the same experience. One of my mandolins has a wide neck, so this increases the physical difference between the two. I alternate my two mandolins daily. However, the mandolin-banjo doesn't get its share of attention in order not to annoy my to spouse, neighbours, passing strangers, etc.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  4. The following members say thank you to Ranald for this post:


  5. #3
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,754

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I go through extended (months) periods when I really concentrate on one particular instrument. For quite a while, it's been my Stahl (Larson Brothers) mandola. One reason is that I've been largely backing up singers, and the mid-range of this somewhat bass-y instrument seems to suit vocal accompaniment.

    However, if the situation arises where I really need to play, say, my Dobro mandolin or my Gibson A/N Custom "pancake," I find myself fitting right back in with that instrument. Recently, for no particular reason, I pulled out the Eastman DGM-2 "Bacon clone" for a particular job, and thought, "Why don't I play this one more?"

    Always nice to know I have a selection of tools in the toolbox.
    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

  6. The following members say thank you to allenhopkins for this post:


  7. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,453

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    Part of my choosing my main core group of playing mandolins are the next profiles and comfort in playing them. They all have different outputs in terms of sound but I can pretty much pick up any one of them and play away. Granted there may be some slight adjustments as you mention but not much. The only one i truly notice a big difference is my National RM-1 which is the only one with a decidedly wider neck width at the nut. With that one I do find it more difficult to just pick it up and play. It would be perfect with a neck 1/8" narrower. Oh well...
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  8. The following members say thank you to Jim Garber for this post:


  9. #5
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,329

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I get it. There are times when I get so used to the sound of an instrument that when grabbing another one it's like it's a different thing entirely. Not just a different mandolin. Especially the case the last year.

    The good thing is that now that things are starting to happen (jams/gigs) other mandolins will get played and I can get used to switching between them again.

    All my mandolins have fairly different neck profiles, yet it isn't that difficult for me to swap around. Then again, about the only profile I've discovered no longer works for my hands is the sharp V of the 1930's Gibsons. Too bad as there are some very nice instruments from that time period.
    2017 Northfield F5SA, Strad-O-Lin, 2008 Weber Gallatin F, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305
    http://ericplatt.weebly.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/LauluAika/
    https://www.lauluaika.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/Longtine-Pl...4404553312723/

  10. #6
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    664

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    If the mandolins you're talking about, Tim, are the 1925 L&H and Collings listed at the bottom of your post, I can see why familiarity would be an issue. Between the bright, direct sound of a Collings and the mellower, more complex L&H sound, the difference in scale, and the very different neck profiles, there is a lot of space between the two. Do you prefer different picks for each? Hold them a little differently? Use a harder or softer attack with each? Play different repertoire with each? It all adds up.

  11. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Louise NM For This Useful Post:


  12. #7
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    566

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    It's kind of the opposite, for me. I rotate my two mandolins weekly(-ish), and whenever I pick up the one that's been in the bullpen, it's like a homecoming party. Next week, the same thing happens with the other one.

    I think I chose wisely...
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  13. The following members say thank you to Kevin Winn for this post:


  14. #8
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    near Boston, MA
    Posts
    609

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I think Tim is referring to the sound, and not any playing difference. And the same thing happens to me. If I play a particular mando for days, when I switch the one I was playing often seems better some how, or the one I pick up seems a little flat. Then that gets happily reversed. I thought it was just me.
    Last edited by Frankdolin; Jun-02-2021 at 7:04am.

  15. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Frankdolin For This Useful Post:


  16. #9
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    near Boston, MA
    Posts
    609

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    And so after going out for a beautiful morning wake-up, I'm left wondering if our instruments are going to sleep much faster than maybe originally thought. Maybe "new" instrument "opening" after time is a more frequent natural cycle for all wood instruments no matter the age.

  17. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,453

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I think it can be every aspect of each mandolin. As often noted in the many breaking in threads players as well as mandolins adjust to each other. Tim can answer what he was referring to.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  18. #11
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Shutesbury, MA
    Posts
    584

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    If the mandolins you're talking about, Tim, are the 1925 L&H and Collings listed at the bottom of your post, I can see why familiarity would be an issue. Between the bright, direct sound of a Collings and the mellower, more complex L&H sound, the difference in scale, and the very different neck profiles, there is a lot of space between the two. Do you prefer different picks for each? Hold them a little differently? Use a harder or softer attack with each? Play different repertoire with each? It all adds up.
    Yes they are the Collings and LH. I do use different picks but I am slowly trying to learn to use the same pick on each instrument. A more pointed pick is a little bit harder to use (for me) on the LH. I can't really isolate if attack is different - as everything flows together to make the feel different. Repertoire is the same.
    Last edited by Tim Logan; Jun-02-2021 at 8:43am.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin

  19. #12
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Shutesbury, MA
    Posts
    584

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    I think Tim is referring to the sound, and not any playing difference. And the same thing happens to me. If I play a particular mando for days, when I switch the one I was playing often seems better some how, or the one I pick up seems a little flat. Then that gets happily reversed. I thought it was just me.
    Yes the sounds are distinctly different but playing them is most definitely different as well - as Louise described above. And, LOL, it's not just you!!!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin

  20. #13
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Shutesbury, MA
    Posts
    584

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    One of the reasons I became so acutely aware of this phenomenon (again, for me at least) was that I played the Collings nonstop for quite awhile. Then I picked up my LH and found I far preferred the Collings. So strong was the feeling that I lapsed into insanity and thought about selling the LH!!!!! That would have been an insane mistake!!!! So I put down the Collings and started playing the LH nonstop - lo and behold I fell in love with it all over again and was not picking up the Collings! Nowadays I enjoy them equally for their different sound and feel. I have never regretted selling the (3 or 4?) mandolins I have sold - as I better understand my personal preferences. But selling the LH would have been a horrible mistake. I'm glad I realized it was just the 'familiarity' factor!!!!!!!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin

  21. The following members say thank you to Tim Logan for this post:


  22. #14
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,719
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I so totally agree, to the extent that I wonder if folks whose normal mode is constant catch and release are really missing something wonderful.

    I experience the phenomena of "familiarity as really get to know the mandolin as an individual instrument, not just a representative of its style or brand, to know where I can push it, where I need perhaps to coddle it, how to accommodate and how to exploit its idiosyncrasies. This stuff is great. So I have one mandolin with an excess of sustain. I have learned how to mute it when needed, and also to let 'er ring as an accompaniment to something on another string. I have another that is exceedingly beautiful at low to moderate volume, but the tone "breaks" or goes tinny when you try and play too loud. I have learned exactly where that breaking point is, and have learned to play just under it, and even, when doing a call and response type of tune, to go through it for a momentarily different voice.

    Familiarity. Yes. An under appreciated virtue.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  23. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JeffD For This Useful Post:


  24. #15
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Whitefish,MT
    Posts
    1,508

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I regularly switch between my Collings MT and my MTO. Same feel, different sound. I struggled with the MTO for awhile. There was something different in the feel under my fingers. It was driving me nuts. I about ready to sell it and move on, but decided I needed to get the bottom of problem before trying to sell. I measured everything, and finally discovered that the string spacing between the pairs was almost a millimeter wider on the MTO than the MT. Once I found that, a quick trip to Montana Lutherie for a few hours with my friend Bruce Weber, a new nut, new strings, a few other tweaks that Bruce just does automatically, and I am a happy man!

  25. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Mike Buesseler For This Useful Post:


  26. #16
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    3,186

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I started on violin over 40 years ago, then took up guitar just a few years later. But I really started progressing in guitar and fiddle when I started playing mandolin (about 13 years ago). Now I'm regularly playing my Martin HD-28, an Eastman arch top, a 12 fret round neck spider cone wood body resonator, a 12 fret Ovation 12 string and a gypsy jazz Sel-Mac copy.

    Then there's the resonator mandolin, the banjolin, my F4 and F5, an A4 mandola, my mandocello, octave mandolin, 5 fiddles, tenor ukulele....

    For me it's cross training and never a boring routine. I love them all, and though sometimes I'll focus on one instrument for a couple days I never lose the desire to play or enjoyment of the rest.

  27. #17

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I find this to be a very real thing. You get used to the sound, the specifics of how an instrument plays, what to expect, etc. I don't play many different mandolins. It makes it very difficult to evaluate if I were to ever purchase again if I'm quite honest. It's all such a subjective thing.

  28. The following members say thank you to MandoManCaleb for this post:


  29. #18
    Dave Berry
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    San Fancisco, CA USA
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: Familiarity and the appeal of a specific mandolin

    I tend more to save 1 (Gil A) with fresh-ish strings for my never ending recording project and play the Kimble for gigs and practice. lucky me.
    dave berry

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •