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Thread: Looking for something darker and throatier

  1. #26

    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Dark as in not bright, of course. Maple can get pretty damn shrill, so I'd just look for another wood for the back and sides. Birch, mahogany, walnut, cherry, and rosewood all turn down the treble.

    Throaty is tougher to nail down. But I get it. I like Guild guitars because their tone is what I think of as throaty. They give the wound strings a hint of a twangy grunt that almost sounds like talking. For my playing, it's a better fit than the balanced sound of most Martins, the nasal sound of most Taylors, or the beefy sound of most Gibsons.

    It's throatier.
    Newb question. Can mahogany back mandolins make good bluegrass instruments? Iíve read a bit that they really donít work well. Iím assuming itís a volume issue.

  2. #27
    Registered User jdchapman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Birch is the most underused tone wood. I wonder why. It flames nicely and sounds similar to but better than walnut to my ears. Mahogany mandolins haven't done it for me.

    I agree about Guild guitars, especially the heavy 1970s ones.

    Just for fun, I did a bunch of email searches on dark vs bright tonality from the guitar world. Bright was pretty widely agreed upon as having extra emphasis and tonal richness in the trebles, but dark was all over the place. Some folks said more balanced=dark, some said more bass=dark, some said more fundamental with shorter sustain =dark.
    So, for the purposes of clarity in this discussion:
    more powerful G string, a little dryer. Woodier.
    That helped nothing.

  3. #28
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Maybe stop changing your strings...

    Kirk

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  5. #29
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    It sounds to me like you're looking for more low end. I'd check out Redwood tops too.
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  6. #30

    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Quote Originally Posted by jdchapman View Post
    Birch is the most underused tone wood. I wonder why. . . .
    My mando is birch and spruce ó an old Gibson. Maybe someone here will tell us why it stopped being popular. (It was never poplar!)
    Quote Originally Posted by jdchapman View Post
    It flames nicely . . . .
    The hardwood floors in my house are some kind of birch. Yup, it's gorgeous wood. The finish on my mando is too dark for the grain to show.
    Quote Originally Posted by jdchapman View Post
    I agree about Guild guitars, especially the heavy 1970s ones. . . .
    Yes, my '76 is throaty. So was my late '60s.
    Quote Originally Posted by jdchapman View Post
    So, for the purposes of clarity in this discussion: more powerful G string, a little dryer. Woodier. . . .
    Hm. I usually replace the G string in string sets with something heavier. Maybe we're on to something. Or else we're just on something. . . .

  7. #31

    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Quote Originally Posted by jdchapman View Post
    Birch is the most underused tone wood. I wonder why. It flames nicely and sounds similar to but better than walnut to my ears. Mahogany mandolins haven't done it for me.

    I agree about Guild guitars, especially the heavy 1970s ones.

    Just for fun, I did a bunch of email searches on dark vs bright tonality from the guitar world. Bright was pretty widely agreed upon as having extra emphasis and tonal richness in the trebles, but dark was all over the place. Some folks said more balanced=dark, some said more bass=dark, some said more fundamental with shorter sustain =dark.
    So, for the purposes of clarity in this discussion:
    more powerful G string, a little dryer. Woodier.
    That helped nothing.
    That clarification does help. It sounds like one of the more modern oval hole mando's would fit your pallet (unless you want it for bluegrass)

  8. #32
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Take a look at Buckeye mandolins. They are pretty deep and throaty. Pete Hart is the builder and one of the nicest guys you will ever talk to. He is obviously in Ohio not far from Parkersburg, WV.
    ManjoMan

  9. #33

    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    [QUOTE=Parmejohn;1835337]Do mandolins with Brazilian rosewood backs exist in the world? I would love to hear how one of those sounds.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I have one that is padouk with a spruce top.

  10. #34
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    For 5k-ish I'd be looking at a used Ellis A model. They are on the darker, bassier side of traditional.

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  12. #35
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Would agree that an Ellis would be a good choice. I like the mahogany Weber Gallatin model also. Although that's not a bluegrass instrument in the traditional sense.

    It would be interesting to see why Gibson changed over to maple from birch. Violins are maple, so maybe that influenced it. My A Jr. is probably birch and has a lot of flame on the back.

    Oh, and to the question, yes, there are Brazilian rosewood out there. Most are flat tops from the from I would say the teens to the 1930's. They sound different than carved tops of the same period, but still have a good bark to them. My bandmate is playing one now that he's had for a while. Entirely different tone than my instruments, so they work well together.
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  13. #36
    Registered User jdchapman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Thanks to all for the help on this.

    One side note on Birch. I went through a Levin/Goya guitar phase a couple of years ago. They used really lovely flamed birch for back and sides quite often, as I imagine it was readily available to them. It sounds great! Also, the new Beard Deco acoustics use birch laminate, I think, to very similar effect. But I've never seen it in a long scale mandolin, just old Gibsons.

    Many years ago, someone in the classifieds had a small shop F5 with EIR back and sides. I bet it was loud. I also bet that luthier had a heck of a time carving it. That stuff is dense and the sawdust is no fun. Maybe best left for flat backed Instruments.

  14. #37
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    And yes, carved Brazilian rosewood mandolins have been made from time to time, but not often. I have seen both F-5's and A-5's, but no style 4's. Mark Taylor made a few about 20 or 25 years ago, before he turned to the dark side and went out of business. And I believe that James Condino has made a few, and has wood in stock to make a few more.

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  16. #38

    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Iím in agreement about Ellis for a darker, bassier experience.

  17. #39
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    I've been told birch doesn't "tool" well. It tears out very easily when carving or planing. Thus an arched top/back instrument with a birch back would be a more finicky build (guessing). I believe maple is more well behaved, therefore more desirable to build with (again, guessing). Since I build flat tops, I don't have those issues... I've been using some flamed birch for a flat top and it's quite lovely. I'm excited to hear it when it's finished.

    Amusing what autocorrect keeps changing "birch" to, ...just sayin'.

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  18. #40
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Well, there must be a way to tool birch, because Gibson made 50,000 carved mandolins out of it between 1910 and 1925 or so.

  19. #41
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    I haven’t seen many extremely curly birch mandolins, they’re mostly straight grain with small amounts of figure. I’m sure many folks have seen many more examples. But very curly birch used in cabinetmaking was common in commercial units of FAS birch in the seventies, can be extremely obstinate to work. We typically back beveled jointer and planer knives to more closely approach scraping as opposed to a more straightforward cutting action. It could still tear taking 1/32 pass as a final dimensioning pass. Material waste must have been a consideration.

    Whether that was an issue for Gibson, or some other cost factor, will probably never be known.
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  20. #42

    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    My Red Diamond July 9 F style mando has the sound you are after. Unfortunately, the price tag isn’t a match. If I were you I would looke into a Buckeye mandolin made by Pete Hart. Check out YouTube for sound examples. Looks like a nice one for sale on mandocafe. https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/175705#175705

  21. #43
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Quote Originally Posted by ManjoMan View Post
    Take a look at Buckeye mandolins. They are pretty deep and throaty. Pete Hart is the builder and one of the nicest guys you will ever talk to. He is obviously in Ohio not far from Parkersburg, WV.
    One just hit the classifieds.....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/175705#175705

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    I see an OM player in the making... Resistance is useless.
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  23. #45

    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    It’s not a brand you are looking for but more of a tone wood combination. Engelmann would probably be best with a hard back. Birdseye, if you can find it. Otherwise look for something with a wide curl in the flame.

    German spruce also tends to be dark sounding.

    Carpathian is also a good choice for a top wood.

    http://www.larkstreetmusic.com/list/pict/smartt.jpg

    If this Smart has an engelmann top, it will most likely be what you are looking for.
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  24. #46
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    So @jdchapman how's the search going? I obviously am taken with Mandolas. My first build was a five-course, no I don't remember how I tuned it, but it was incredible sounding. Woodier deeper than a Mandolin but not like an OM. I'm not a huge fan of OM. Sadly at the time we lived in a very small house and it had two bathrooms so one was my work area. I had the tube lined so it was soft to sit in and a bench built across it but my toddler got in when I wasn't home and gave the mandola a bath. I never had the heart to take it apart and fix it as badly as it was twisted up. Sorry I digress, I'm just curious where you are in your search. How close is this vid to your desired tone?

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  25. #47
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    I''m not sure it has to be deeper or darker sounding to be throaty sounding. Some instruments have it some don't.
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  26. #48
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    I don't understand throaty is there a vid that has the sound I can hear?
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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  27. #49
    Registered User jdchapman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Sorry for the slow reply. Spent the last several days managing a covid outbreak at work and setting up hospice for a relative, so not much time for my own passions. (Hence no trip to Nashville any time soon.)

    I am curious about Buckeyes! I do like mandolas, and had one for awhile, but I'm probably going to stick with a mandolin this time around. I haven't had much experience with Engelmann outside of a few Collings in stores. (And the Engelmann Collings were more my speed than the red spruce ones.) I like trying different builders, but I do recognize that small shops can make lots of different voices.

  28. #50
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for something darker and throatier

    Parmejohn, I am glad to read this discussion. I find the adjectives to describe sound a subjective topic, though I know it is a language of its own. I am attempting over the years to learn what these terms mean to most people. Wood selection, given a well-built mandolin from a builder of strong reputation, is the biggest starting point, I would submit. I do think the terms rich and mellow-- in my mind linked to Engleman Spruce, vs. strident and bright resulting from Adirondack, are fairly clear in description. Again, though, those may be subjectively defined. As I said, I am attempting to learn this terminology. Complex is a cool descriptor, although it is up to the listener to determine. I think of complex has having a more complete tone across the spectrum and this opens up a variety of uses in terms of the style of music. I have no idea if I am on the right track. One thing I look for is sustain. Comfortable playability is another key, but you have played a couple of the best mandolins out there, so this is a familiar topic to you.
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