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Thread: The weight balance between the head and body

  1. #1
    Registered User masa618's Avatar
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    Default The weight balance between the head and body

    I was asked by a friend how to deal with a mandolin whose head is heavier than the main body. Is there any other way to cut the head veneer, make the neck thinner, replace the truss rod, or make it lighter? I think it's the quickest to talk to the designer ... Thank you for your knowledge.

  2. #2
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    The issue is the tuners. They are metal and have weight. Headstocks are designed around them, you cannot make the headstock thinner. thinning the neck or doing away with the truss rod would only make matters worse.
    Charley

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    Registered User masa618's Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    The issue is the tuners. They are metal and have weight. Headstocks are designed around them, you cannot make the headstock thinner. thinning the neck or doing away with the truss rod would only make matters worse.
    I see!!  It's important to think about the tuner. Thanks Mr. Charles E.

  4. #4

    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    Playing with a strap solves that issue for me, even when sitting down.

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  6. #5

    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    In ignorance and haste, I made my headstock a little too thick and then added veneers to both sides to make it worse. I can get strings on and tightened but just barely. I've scrapped and sanded both veneers to thin them but its just not enough for me. Top veneer has some shell work so I'm constrained there. I thought I would remove the bottom veneer, thin the headstock more, and attach another veneer to hide the ears. The back veneer transitions into and is let into the neck a bit so simply removing the veneer is not possible without some thinning of the neck.

    I've pretty much resigned myself to leave it as is unless someone has a more foolproof solution.

    Thanks - Gary

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  8. #6

    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    I switch between instruments, and even sitting down, the difference between my ‘good’, nose-heavy one and the non-truss rod lighter ones is annoying. Even for a violin, I sometimes wish a couple of helium balloons would be allowable accessories. And a bowl back - no support at all by pressing it against the body unless a grippy pad is interposed. A Tonegard, or similar structure could help stabilize the back of a flat-back against imbalance, or something like it with a counterweighted arm to the rear, but also not likely to be favored.
    So for the OP’s friend’s problem, maybe the grippy pad could help. Just don’t use one that destroys finishes.

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  10. #7
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    Once completed there is not much we can do to a mandolin to improve it's balance in the lap or on a strap. We could drill the peghead and tuner plates full of holes perhaps, if appearance is not a concern.
    When building, we can make decisions when choosing design, materials and so forth to help the situation. Any weight saving on the peghead side of the balance point of the instrument is an improvement, but the farther we get from the balance point the more it helps. A tapered peghead is a prime example. I seldom use Waverly tuners for several reasons, not the least of which is weight. They are among the heaviest (and most expensive!) mandolin tuners available. I use the thin (light weight) "20s style" tuner bushings because they are lighter than the cast ones that come with most tuners. Tuner holes are drilled through at bushing size, not step drilled as many are; my truss rods are considerably lighter than most single action rods and less than half the weight of some 2-way rods. Head block material is much lighter wood than tail block material etc...
    There is not really any one thing that can really help the balance situation, but an accumulation of small weight savings can add up to a more comfortable instrument.

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  12. #8
    Registered User Chris Fannin's Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    I didn't like the way my Eastman MD315 balanced either... especially with the strap around the f curl. I started putting a thin piece of leather under the strings below the nut. It balances great now.

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    Eastman MD315 Mandolin

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  14. #9

    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    I decided to measure. My nose-heavy mandolin is 1/2 lb heavier (total weight), than the old Strad-o-lin. If the body is supported on my right knee, that is, on the more or less equatorial diameter, the added weight at the tuners is about 6 oz.
    Then I added a spring scale to the strap button at the tail and measured how much counterweight at that point would make the two necks feel the same, again supporting at the same point. Interestingly, it was only 1 1/2 lb.
    That is, a hanging or attached counterweight solves that problem, and another 1/2 lb (+/-) lets the neck float, as it would supported by a strap.
    So, about 2 lbs at the tail, balances the neck entirely.
    Of course, the mandolin only weighs about that, so this doubles the weight, but that’s not so very much.
    Next step is to cobble on a proper hanger and weight and see if it seems useful. I think even something like a deliberately heavy arm rest could accomplish the same thing, and of course, a projecting arm would allow less weight to be effective. Note that all of this is based on sitting with the instrument resting on one leg, and is unrelated to playing standing up with a strap.

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  16. #10
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    As noted in post #8, a strap behind the nut makes the balance so much better, especially if its not slippery on your clothing.
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  18. #11
    Registered User masa618's Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    Hello Everyone. I was able to study the knowledge from your advice and experience. Thank you for showing us the measures from the viewpoint of manufacturing and holding. I will share the valuable information you have given to my friends. Many thanks .

  19. #12
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    I decided to measure. My nose-heavy mandolin is 1/2 lb heavier (total weight), than the old Strad-o-lin. If the body is supported on my right knee, that is, on the more or less equatorial diameter, the added weight at the tuners is about 6 oz.
    Then I added a spring scale to the strap button at the tail and measured how much counterweight at that point would make the two necks feel the same, again supporting at the same point. Interestingly, it was only 1 1/2 lb.
    That is, a hanging or attached counterweight solves that problem, and another 1/2 lb (+/-) lets the neck float, as it would supported by a strap.
    So, about 2 lbs at the tail, balances the neck entirely.
    Of course, the mandolin only weighs about that, so this doubles the weight, but that’s not so very much.
    Next step is to cobble on a proper hanger and weight and see if it seems useful. I think even something like a deliberately heavy arm rest could accomplish the same thing, and of course, a projecting arm would allow less weight to be effective. Note that all of this is based on sitting with the instrument resting on one leg, and is unrelated to playing standing up with a strap.
    I like the way you think.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    I use a Tone Gard and arm rest for other reasons, but they do help with the balance as well.
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  23. #14
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    I can't find it on a quick search, but somebody posted a fair bit ago about using some kind of weighted bag attached to the butt end of the mandolin that was designed to adjust for the weight of the neck. Maybe somebody remembers that post.

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  25. #15

    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    A proper helium balloon on the headstock would not add weight and balance it out

    This post brought to you courtesy of Reuben Goldberg Engineering Associates LLC PE

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  27. #16
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: The weight balance between the head and body

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    A proper helium balloon on the headstock would not add weight and balance it out

    This post brought to you courtesy of Reuben Goldberg Engineering Associates LLC PE
    Engineering gold! The balloons add to the stage presence.

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