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Thread: Better machines give better sustain?

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    Default Better machines give better sustain?

    I just replaced the stock machines on my Eastman 305 with something a little better (wouldn't be hard). They're decent quality Chinese 4 on a plate, sold in UK as 'Leader Banjo Co Deluxe Mandolin Machine Head' - a modest 35/$40 worth. Tuning is a lot less stiff and a good deal more precise as I hoped - but what I didn't expect is noticeably longer sustain. The old machines had the worm hanger brackets stamped and bent out of the base plate, the new appear to have separate worm carrier brackets welded onto base plates that are full width along their length.

    Now I've replaced the bridge and the machines (both worth doing), it's becoming apparent that the low and narrow OE frets are made of cheese and are starting to wear - next question...

    Max

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    There is no reason for different tuning machines to make any difference in sustain.
    When folks take things apart and put things back together to swap out a part, then set the mandolin back up with new strings, often the combination of new strings and new set up makes a difference in the sound, and that difference is often attributed to the new part, regardless of what the new part is.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    What John said above. The only additional thing I can think of is the weight of the tuners may differ enough to have an affect on the sustain. The quality would not be an issue though.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    I'm using the same old strings, no new setup. I suspect the new tuners are heavier as well as stiffer, so maybe that's what caused it - like the old C clamp on guitar heastock effect?

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    ...like the old C clamp on guitar heastock effect?
    There's not much to that. Added mass mostly affects the main "bar bending mode" of an instrument by lowering it's frequency. The frequency of the bar bending mode in mandolins is already lower than any notes the mandolin can play and has no particular direct effect on the sound. Added mass serves only to lower it further. The mass difference between two sets of tuners isn't a lot. The difference between the lightest set I've weighed and the heaviest set is 31 grams.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    The way I read Maxr’s comment was, having replaced the machines and the bridge, the sustain was different, which I can believe, unless the order of mods and tests was otherwise.
    Other comments about no possibility of the tuners being involved is are correct in my primitive understanding of the mechanics.
    Good Thanksgiving, all.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Thanks John - well, I wonder it's one of those things where a small weight difference just tips things enough to change them. I'm pretty sure there is a difference, although of course it always sounds better when it's just been cleaned

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    When you make a change to your instrument and pay good money for it then I would expect you to hear a difference. Unfortunately others might not hear the same difference.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    When you make a change to your instrument and pay good money for it then I would expect you to hear a difference. Unfortunately others might not hear the same difference.
    I admit to being guilty as charged. It's a nice feeling.
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    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Many years ago, during the brass nut guitar fad, the then Frets magazine ran an experiment and concluded that brass nuts did increase the on a guitar but that this was simply down to added weight on the headstock. I hear what Sunburst says but it’s conceivable that you might hear the same effect on mandolin if the new tuners ate significantly heavier.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    I had a Manson electric guitar with a deep and heavy brass nut at that time, and I never did like the sound much - but that was probably down to me, not the guitar

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Many years ago, during the brass nut guitar fad, the then Frets magazine ran an experiment and concluded that brass nuts did increase the on a guitar but that this was simply down to added weight on the headstock...
    I used to read those types of articles back in the day and assume they must be correct. As I've grown in lutherie I look back on them and see what poor science many of them were, how poorly conclusions were drawn and how they were just a way to fill magazine pages in many cases. As I've learned more about the actual physics of how instruments work I can see that a lot of that stuff was pure hogwash.
    Basically, the only way I can be convinced that there is an actual sound difference from anything is if it is supported by a double blind listening test, and that includes things that I think I hear. Humans are just too susceptible to confirmation bias, hearing what they want to hear and so forth. Being human myself I have to accept that I'm susceptible to the same biases.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Confirmation bias makes the world go round!
    In a related area, audiophilia, even double blind tests are outlawed these days, and it’s been years since quantitative measurement was also ridiculed. This is a world where a few fist-sized rocks placed carefully (!) in a room, at a cost of several thousands of bucks, transforms somebody’s total listening experience. A world where the known characteristics of human hearing are inconsequential compared with bizarre theories.
    Not surprising that some aspects of the instrumental performance world could be even more subjective when there’s no general agreement on what can actually be measured and the relation to what a consensus of performers might consider better or worse.
    Now I happen to come from a world where if something can’t be measured, one can’t say anything useful about it, so I’m slightly biased.

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    Question Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    When you make a change to your instrument and pay good money for it
    then I would expect you to hear a difference.
    Unfortunately others might not hear the same difference.
    Or there is the Placebo like, ..Because you spent the money, you convince your self that it made a difference ..
    (but maybe only your spouse will hear the before vs after )
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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Confirmation bias makes the world go round!
    In a related area, audiophilia, even double blind tests are outlawed these days, and it’s been years since quantitative measurement was also ridiculed. This is a world where a few fist-sized rocks placed carefully (!) in a room, at a cost of several thousands of bucks, transforms somebody’s total listening experience. A world where the known characteristics of human hearing are inconsequential compared with bizarre theories.
    Not surprising that some aspects of the instrumental performance world could be even more subjective when there’s no general agreement on what can actually be measured and the relation to what a consensus of performers might consider better or worse.
    Now I happen to come from a world where if something can’t be measured, one can’t say anything useful about it, so I’m slightly biased.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Nov-26-2021 at 2:41am.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Ah, a clear case of mandoaudiophilia then One thing that's very noticeable re. acoustic musical instruments is that the sound the player hears may not be what the listener hears,. With fiddles at least, most of us like a good 'under the ear' sound. I mentioned somewhere else that years ago I was at an amateur classical after gig do where someone handed round their Stradivari. He also passed round a Joseph Rocca, without saying which was which - also a very fine instrument, but generally slightly less esteemed. Most of us who dared play them preferred the Rocca because it sounded great under the ear, but the Strad being played inside his house was clearly audible at the bottom of his garden with the door shut, and the other was less so. For a concert hall performer, qualities like carrying power may be important even if the instrument sounds less good to the player.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    For a concert hall performer, qualities like carrying power may be important even if the instrument sounds less good to the player.
    No doubt about it, but we're talking about much more than sustain, I think.
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    No doubt about it, but we're talking about much more than sustain, I think.
    Yes - I suspect a particular frequency response curve shape that violin produced was the reason the sound carried so well. Thanks for reminding me about Hobgoblin, Dagger - I looked at their site and found they have Kentucky 150 and 250 mandolins at 'Black Friday' prices, which are the best UK new price I've seen on these recently. I bought a 250, and they threw in what sounds like a Kentucky 'Deluxe' nuagahyde (fake leather) gig bag, which looks to be a cut above the usual gig bag. Hobgoblin's not a shop I'd normally think of as leading price, but this time they came up trumps - so much so that even if it needs a pro setup I'll still be in pocket.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    No doubt about it, but we're talking about much more than sustain, I think.
    Yes - I suspect a particular frequency response curve shape that violin produced was the reason the sound carried so well. Thanks for reminding me about Hobgoblin, Dagger - I looked at their site and found they have Kentucky 150 and 250 mandolins at 'Black Friday' prices, which are the best UK new price I've seen on these recently. I bought a 250, and they threw in what sounds like a Kentucky 'Deluxe' nuagahyde (fake leather) gig bag, which looks to be a cut above the usual gig bag. Hobgoblin's always had helpful friendly staff, but it's not a shop I'd normally think of for best prices - this time they came up trumps.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?


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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    ...and for good measure, there's this one...
    https://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/powerhousetwins.html

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    One night in the store where I used to teach, several musicians gathered to discuss banjos. Banjo players have the same types of discussions. The one person there who had lutherie experience finally said. "Your dog can probably hear the difference." I still think that is the truth.

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  30. #23
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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Indeed, guys. I believe there are a not insignificant number of pro classical orchestral violinists and violists who own an historic instrument which they felt helped get them the chair, but which spends most of its time at home - while they play a new or newish 'bench copy' of it at work. I've only seen one of these top line bench copies, but I'm told they're works of art. Do some mandolin luthiers make bench copies of original Lloyd Loars so the owners can play in public without suffering insurance anxiety?

  31. #24
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    ...Do some mandolin luthiers make bench copies of original Lloyd Loars so the owners can play in public without suffering insurance anxiety?
    If they do they probably don't publicize it much. Unlike Stradivari and other "old Italians", Gibson has trade marks, patents and a fleet of corporate lawyers. I don't think things are as bad as they were for a while, but a true bench copy of a Loar might lead to a cease and desist letter at least.

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    Default Re: Better machines give better sustain?

    Maybe add Mass? a brass plate on the back of the headstock , perhaps?
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