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Thread: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

  1. #26
    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by Nashville View Post
    Always amazing how different we can be in our opinions. I was given a Tone-Gard free. I had long time wanted to try it. Well, I didn't like it from day one. Used it for a couple weeks, took it off and haven't used it since. I didn't find enough difference in tone to make me want to use it and I don't like the feeling of the metal against my body. I like to feel the smooth back of the mandolin. Maybe I will try it again some day, but for now I have no use for it. I don't doubt anyone else's experience or opinion, but we are all our own masters for sure.
    I agree. I have 2 that were given to me, and they are stashed away in a closet. I do agree that they change the tone, but my Nugget does just fine on its own.

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  3. #27

    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Finally ponied up for one last month and I can't believed I waited so long. It combined with a McClung is a game changer for tone.

  4. #28

    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    After using one for a year on my Northfield, I finally took it off last week. I realized, with my lanky frame, and the way I hold the mandolin, the tone guard isn't actually doing anything but poking me in my side. A week before removing the tone guard, I added an arm rest and that has been really comfortable. In my case, the best thing about the tone guard was that it added weight to the body and prevented the nose dive when I didn't hold the neck.

  5. #29
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    If you naturally keep the mandolin back away from your body, the ToneGard will make no difference.

    But there is another confounding factor I hadn't considered - the construction of your mandolin. How much does your mandolin's natural sound involve vibration of the back. If not at all, then it doesn't matter if you snuff out the back vibration and the ToneGard in this case will make no difference.

    For some mandolins the difference may be less apparent to the player than to the audience. It has been explained to me that sometimes the difference the back of the instrument makes to the sound is more apparent in front of the instrument.

    This is why I test it by playing into a corner of the room. To hear what the audience hears.
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  7. #30
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Tonegards seem to be a wonderful solution to overcome a limitation some players have with carved back instruments. They apparently allow instruments to act as if they have opened up much quicker than is usually seen and thus project more sound.

    Bowlback players have played for centuries without the need for one, and they hold their instruments in their laps. So odd.
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  9. #31
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Bowlback players have played for centuries without the need for one, and they hold their instruments in their laps. So odd.
    Two items. One is I am not sure that the back of a bowl participates in the sound generation in the same way as a carved back. So my thinking is that even if something like a tonegard were rigged up for a bowlback, it is just not needed and would provide no benefit.

    Second item. I play bowlback without hugging it to my body, and have learned to play my carved back instruments and flat backed instruments without contact as well, either playing sitting or standing. But i think there is a context that does make a difference. I don't ever see a bowlback in a jam session. Not ruling it out of course, but for years i was the only one I ever knew. I think in classical and more exact musics maintaining a proper hold on the mandolin is way up there in priority. The extent to which I have played in a mandolin orchestra and in a more chamber music setting, and in a recording session, holding the mandolin properly, away from the body, was always "part of the deal". Being hyper aware of everything seems to be how I managed it. But in the more relaxed setting setting of a folk jam, with less exactness required, and adult beverages often enough, and with fatigue from the lack of discipline required to stop and go home when tired, eventually the mandolin is against my body, and being my carved back instrument, at such times that tonegard makes a metric ton of of difference.
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  11. #32
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    If you naturally keep the mandolin back away from your body, the ToneGard will make no difference.

    But there is another confounding factor I hadn't considered - the construction of your mandolin. How much does your mandolin's natural sound involve vibration of the back. If not at all, then it doesn't matter if you snuff out the back vibration and the ToneGard in this case will make no difference.

    For some mandolins the difference may be less apparent to the player than to the audience. It has been explained to me that sometimes the difference the back of the instrument makes to the sound is more apparent in front of the instrument.

    This is why I test it by playing into a corner of the room. To hear what the audience hears.
    Agreed. While finding it makes a difference on many different makes, have tried it on two Strad-O-Lins and no difference at all. But neither instrument seems to rely on the back vibrating for the sound. One had a ply back (1941) and the current one has a solid back.

  12. #33

    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    I just met with my erstwhile mando/fiddle player. Returning his mikes & stands, as I'm moving 2 hours away (thus "erstwhile.") I picked up his mando (which he says is nothing special) and played it a bit, and then held it away from my body and played a bit and man did the tone change. His eyes lit up. I mentioned the tone guard and he said he'd never heard of it. I bet he'll be looking into one. It really made that particular instrument come alive.

  13. #34
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by milli857 View Post
    I went to Dusty Strings this weekend and played some awesome mandolins, but didn't end up buying any. I went home and went to a jam last night, and was a little underwhelmed with the tone of my Kentucky KM-150 in comparison to the Northfields i had played.
    However, today I put on the Tone Gard, and wow, what a difference! The tone is so much clearer now! To my ears, my inexpensive Kentucky with the Tone Gard sounds almost if not just as good as the really high end mandolins without one. (I didn't have a chance to A/B them and I am more comfortable on my own mandolin, so take this with a grain of salt). I imagine the high end mandolins sound incredible with one on though!
    I’m not surprised. The KM-150 is a great mandolin.

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  14. #35

    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by d18daddy View Post
    I would love to try one of these out, but my mandolin has a varnish finish and they advise not to use it with varnish.
    Tone Gards used to have black rubber around the prongs. I believe the black rubber made marks on varnished instruments. The TG now comes with a translucent rubber tubing on the prongs and shouldn't leave any marks. HOWEVER, if you make a habit of taking the gard off and putting it back on, the tubing can work its way down, thus exposing the tip of the prongs, which can scratch your instrument. I'm wondering if a drop of super glue to close of the end of the tubing would prevent that from happening.

  15. #36
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Just be real careful of the little rubber tubes that protect the metal from gouging the sides of your mandolin. Years ago, one of the tubes wore out and I didn't realize it. One day I took it off to find the metal of the tone guard had poked through the tube, and left a bad dent. I vowed to never let this happen again.

    After that, I checked the condition of the tubes on my Nugget's guard regularly. I thought I was on top of things. One day I pulled the guard off and it left a scratch as I pulled it off. A tiny rupture had developed in the tube after my last inspection!

    I think they add tone to an instrument, but I just don't use them anymore because of these experiences.

  16. #37
    Dave Berry
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Foss View Post
    Just be real careful of the little rubber tubes that protect the metal from gouging the sides of your mandolin. Years ago, one of the tubes wore out and I didn't realize it. One day I took it off to find the metal of the tone guard had poked through the tube, and left a bad dent. I vowed to never let this happen again.

    After that, I checked the condition of the tubes on my Nugget's guard regularly. I thought I was on top of things. One day I pulled the guard off and it left a scratch as I pulled it off. A tiny rupture had developed in the tube after my last inspection!

    I think they add tone to an instrument, but I just don't use them anymore because of these experiences.
    +1 on that which is 1 reason I stopped using them. That and the fact I am heavy right handed and have instruments that project well so never had an issue hearing myself. of course, YMMV
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  17. #38
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by banjoboy View Post
    . HOWEVER, if you make a habit of taking the gard off and putting it back on, the tubing can work its way down, thus exposing the tip of the prongs, which can scratch your instrument.
    I leave my ToneGards on all the time. They haven't been removed for years and years and in one case has not been taken off since I first put it on. I just consider it a part of the instrument.

    There was some concern about the material of those little black or white "tubes" being in constant contact with the finish of the instrument. But again, if it is always there it never comes off.
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  18. #39
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by banjoboy View Post
    . HOWEVER, if you make a habit of taking the gard off and putting it back on, the tubing can work its way down, thus exposing the tip of the prongs, which can scratch your instrument.
    I leave my ToneGards on all the time. They haven't been removed for years and years and in one case has not been taken off since I first put it on. I just consider it a part of the instrument. Like worrying about how the bottom of the strap button interact may have affected the finish of the wood aside the hole drilled. I dunno.

    There was some concern about the material of those little black or white "tubes" being in constant contact with the finish of the instrument. But again, if it is always there it never comes off.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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  19. #40
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Lots of responses. My personal experience has been helpful on some mandolins and not so much on others.
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  20. #41
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    The Tone Guard website says to contact them for prices. I emailed them weeks ago and haven't heard back. Wonder why.
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  21. #42
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by poul hansen View Post
    I might be throwing a spanner in the works here but I never understood why only mandolins of all the string instruments have a toneguard?

    And I've tried holding my mandolin close and away fro the body but can't hear any difference.
    I hear a world of difference. Your stomach is probably harder than mine.
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  22. #43
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    . . . . I play bowlback without hugging it to my body, and have learned to play my carved back instruments and flat backed instruments without contact as well, either playing sitting or standing. . . .
    I'm playing unamplified at a farmers market Saturday. I think I'll try that. Thanks!
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  23. #44

    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    The Tone Guard website says to contact them for prices. I emailed them weeks ago and haven't heard back. Wonder why.

    $89 at Elderly
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  24. #45
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Just got a sunrise from Banjo Ben Clark $79 I think.
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  25. #46
    Registered User Gary Hudson's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm amazed by the Tone Gard

    Does anyone use a tone gard with a mandolin with a varnish finish? I know if it never comes off then you won't see any marks, but the webpage doesn't recommend for a french polished instrument.

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