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Thread: Recs for a specific sound

  1. #1
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    If you wanted a mandolin that had a very strong high-range presence across all four courses, with minimal bass and mid-range presence (i.e. not thuddy, thumpy, woofy, or boomy), but had respectable volume and projection, a "chimey" or "airy" tone (as opposed to "woody"), a very, very bright tone (as opposed to dark), what type of mandolins would you be looking to try out?

    Also, any strings you know of good for the above type of sound?

  2. #2
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    The terms you are using are very subjective, so I can only answer to my subjective impressions of what your words mean. It would be more helpful if you gave us an idea of the part you were going to be playing, rhythm vs. lead, the type of music, ect.

    However, the "chimey,airy" words brought to my mind a Martin bent-top with something like GHS Silk and Steel strings, But I don't know about "acceptable volume" part.

    For great treble volume, I like a Breedlove Cascade with J74s, especially one I played with an ivory bridge. The highs just cut like a razor on that instrument. I have never played a Breedlove oval, but my guess is that it might be a good middle ground between the two.

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    My idea for specific application:

    You have a typical acoustic rythm ensemble (guitar/banjo/bass maybe) and a mandolin that could basically play melody or counterpoint all the time, and be heard as a bright, airy voice, with minimal competion on midrange and bass presence offered by the guitar and bass, and a chimey, airy sound that would not compete with the plunky sound of a banjo.

    Basically looking for a bright melodic presence that cuts through on the high-end across all four courses, and does not bark, woof or whatever.

    My idea hear is to maximize the distinctiveness of several types of "lead" playing at once. The guitar rythm runs cut through at one register, the banjo at another, the bass obviosuly at another, and the mandolin to cut through specifically on the high end in light, airy, chimey manner that does not compete with the other registers, but it still very present in terms of volume and projection.

    Does that make any sense at all?

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    Oh yeah...not a bluegrass ensemble. More geared toward an old time instrumentation executing old time and celtic tunes.

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    I agree that a flattop is what I think you'd be after, they typically in my experience have a sweet high-end, and cut through minimally on the mid and low-ranges. But it may not offer the volume and projection you describe unless the whole ensemble compensates, which is indeed possible.

    Interesting question. There are a whole slew of carved-top options out there that I have not tried, including the oval-hole Breedloves, Rigel oval-holes, among others. Maybe there is something out there with a carved top (which I think would add projection and volume).

    Also, how about micing up a flattop?

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    Why not have a tenor guitar instead of the mando

  7. #7
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    Piccolo mandolin.

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    Listen to Kenny Hall, he uses a 'tater bug and gets the sound I think you are describing.
    Fiddles
    Arches F4 / Newson F5
    Crump B1 / Old Wave GOM

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. Definitely given me some options to investigate further.

    I wish music stores around here stocked piccolo mandos and tater bugs. Oh well, always looking for a good excuse for a road trip.

    Thanks again.

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    subjective is definitely the word -
    but I think it may be all in the style of your playing. I am (or should I say have been) #a guitarist by trade, but play mandolin with an accordian and a banjo (or mandocello, flutes, whistles, bagpipes, etc. depending on song). I chose an old #Gibson A, rosewood bridge and board, for the variety of sound needed. I just vary my style. ( Yes, maybe too woody for some, but I decided to give it a chance.) And after two years of playing guitar only with this band, they are now excited about what's happening with the Gibson A (50). Gotta love that mandolin magic. I can project well, lay back, be the soloist or the support for just about anything. Banjo buster - maybe not in the blugrass sense, but I sure give it a run for the money in this band. Also sounds killer with the pipes (French).
    I may not have the ear that you do, but after many #years with many musicians, I listen more to others' emotional response to the mix than mine.




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