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Thread: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

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    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
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    Default Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    I was the lucky recipient of a CT55 Bluechip for Xmas this year. I love the way it plays, I can do execute some tricky string-changing passages with it that always got blurry when I used my Wegen TF140 (although I love the tone of that Wegen...).

    However...

    I took it to a jam today, and couldn't help but feel that it seemed a bit quiet. Is this the pick, or just me, or just all mandolins in general? I'm playing a Collings MT, which I understand is supposed to be pretty decently loud mandolin, with newish strings. At one point, though, I was playing with a bass player and he said he couldn't hear me from, like, literally three feet away. Is this just something that's going to happen at every big jam? Was the guy partially deaf? (I should note that this was a lot of people indoors in a big, echoing school cafeteria.)

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    Henry Lawton hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    I once listened to Jake Gaithright play my Goldrush with a CT55, a Dunlop stubby, a Red Bear and a real tortoise one. The tone and volume of the Red Bear and the real tortoise were very simular. The CT55 might have been a tad louder and a little brighter and precise in execution. The Stubby has a cool plastic sound thats very different. The CT55 shouldn't be reducing your volume. You might try practicing right hand technique to bring more volume out of your MT. I started out playing more timidly and had to work at pulling more tone and volume with my right hand training.

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    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    What Hank says...

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Mandolins are NOT a LOUD instrument,compared to most others in a Bluegrass Band context. My Lebeda F-5 is VERY loud for a Mandolin, & even that fails to stand up to a full Bluegrass band line up in a jam session.The notion of 'Banjo killer' mandolins is c**p (IMHO). Mandolins were never built to be essentially LOUD !.
    In an un-amplified jam session environment, it's up to the other players to cut each soloist a bit of slack so that they can be heard above the others - that's sheer courtesy. When using amplification,especially if each player has their own mic.,then you can usually be heard any time you like,providing that the balance of the mics.is set correctly.
    I play fairly regularly every Monday night at a local folk club,where it's mostly Irish music. there's no way on this planet that i can be heard above 2 Fiddles,2 Guitars,a Tenor Banjo,a Piano Accordion & a Dodhran player.Occasionally a player of the Irish Pipes will turn up,then i'm totally sunk !
    Being possibly the player of the quietest instrument in a Bluegrass band is something that we have to get used to & it doesn't matter what pick you're using. If the other players don't back off a bit - you might just as well fit cotton strings to your Mandolin & mime very well,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    It's all in the right hand. Sure, the pick makes a diff, but it's 80-20, imo. And a mandolin CAN be too loud in a band context. Need to refine and maximize the attack.

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    Professional Cat Herder Phil Vinyard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Agree with above. My CT55 is still my favorite pick, even over a real tortoise shell one I picked up last summer. It always makes me sound louder and clearer than any of my others, with less pick noise.

    Might look at some right hand technique. When my volume drops, it's typically because I've fallen back into bad habits and am holding the pick wrong.
    Phil Vinyard
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    Registered User Tony Sz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Maybe next time, why not bring along a few other picks and evaluate weather or not you're loosing volume by comparing the picks. Personally, I find it hard to play at high volume if I'm trying to play an intricate passage. If I HAVE to play loud, like at one of those jams where everybody is trying to play at maximum volume, I forget about playing anything subtle or intricate.
    Tony Szczygielski

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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Sz View Post
    If I HAVE to play loud, like at one of those jams where everybody is trying to play at maximum volume, I forget about playing anything subtle or intricate.
    Which kind of makes using a particular pick a bit of a moot point. I'm with Tony, just try a bunch of picks and use whichever one seems the loudest. Hopefully, it'll be something disposable unlike the Blue Chip.

    Of course for me doing music where I can't at least try for my own weak bits of "subtle or intricate" wouuld be more like work than play.

    FWIW, I find my CT55 noticeably louder than the TF120 I alternate with it. I choose one or the other pretty much on a whim depending on which sound seems better to me that day. But the sound of the CT55 seems pretty loud.

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    I love my CT55! I get more out of it than my prior favorite - the ultex 1.2 big triangle.

    f-d
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    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    Mandolins are NOT a LOUD instrument,compared to most others in a Bluegrass Band context. My Lebeda F-5 is VERY loud for a Mandolin, & even that fails to stand up to a full Bluegrass band line up in a jam session.The notion of 'Banjo killer' mandolins is c**p (IMHO). Mandolins were never built to be essentially LOUD
    If you think the mandolin don't cut it try flatpicking fiddle tunes on a guitar at a jam session! My mandolin cuts just fine in a bluegrass context (banjos included) and is quite loud and powerful when it needs to be.

    2004 Gilchrist F5 X braced

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Blue Chips are not what I'd call quiet picks. I'd venture to guess that the problem is in your right hand and the way you're attacking the strings. Make sure you're playing through the strings and hitting both strings in the pair. Listen to Mike Compton, the Dawg, Jody Stecher, Billy Bright........those guys play with some real power and volume!

    As Perry mentioned trying to flatpick the guitar in a jam is frustrating at best, especially if you play with others that don't understand jam dynamics. I've all but given up taking a guitar to jams anymore. I just play it around the house for my own enjoyment. When it's time to jam I bring along my Heiden and I can definitely be heard when I want to be.

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    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    It ain't the damn pick! It takes strength and coordination of both the left and especially the right hand to produce a good tone with adequate volume. Practice, practice and more practice.

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    Registered User mtucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    hey, Perry ... that tee shirt in your avatar looks strikingly familiar! play on, bro!

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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    I got a CT55 off the Cafe classifieds about 6 months ago and two things stand out. First, it's very thin for such a stiff pick. Second, and related to the first, its thinness allows for a bevel that causes the pick to slide off the strings easily. The closest pick in my pile is the TF140, which is not as stiff and does not have a bevel that plays as well as the CT55. I would return to the TF140 if I lost my CT55 (any day now), but I wouldn't expect the same results.

    Tone and volume? In the fingers, not the pick. As the other guy said: practice!

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    Gilchrist (pick) Owner! jasona's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    I find the CT55 is one of the easiest picks with which to draw volume. I quite agree with Hank's evaluation as well.
    Jason Anderson

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    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    My right hand isn't that bad, folks, and I can get along fine in small gatherings. I bring this up because every mandolin at this large jam seems to have comparable volume issues (the groups here do tend to run big). This was really three or four questions rolled into one, I just mentioned the CT 55 because it's new to me and, you know, everybody loves to talk about Bluechips.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Sz View Post
    Personally, I find it hard to play at high volume if I'm trying to play an intricate passage. If I HAVE to play loud, like at one of those jams where everybody is trying to play at maximum volume, I forget about playing anything subtle or intricate.
    I think I might have to get this part through my thick head, Tony... I can get pretty loud if I simplify what I'm playing and just 'dig', maybe play some Monroe double-stop stuff, but that kind of playing feels a little vulgar sometimes, though, and if I want to do a really note-y version of 'Billy and the Lowground' or something it seems like the fiddles are going to win the volume-war every time.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    (I should note that this was a lot of people indoors in a big, echoing school cafeteria.)
    Blame the room ...

    us old guys say .. 'It's not an Amplifier it's a Hearing Aide'..
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Off topic but I think Blue Chip Pick should offer some sort of discount/special to Mandolin Cafe members!
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Well, that would be damn near every customer wouldn't it?

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    Fret less, play more! NoNickel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    With my old BRW I never had any problems being heard in a band. In fact, I was told by the guitar player and the bass player that I was too loud. But maybe it wasn't the mandolin that was too loud, maybe it was just me.
    NoNickel

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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    Well, that would be damn near every customer wouldn't it?
    You are sharp!
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by SincereCorgi View Post
    My right hand isn't that bad, folks, and I can get along fine in small gatherings. I bring this up because every mandolin at this large jam seems to have comparable volume issues (the groups here do tend to run big)........and if I want to do a really note-y version of 'Billy and the Lowground' or something it seems like the fiddles are going to win the volume-war every time.
    Just how big are these groups? And why are the fiddles playing when you're taking a break? It sounds like you're fighting a losing battle here. I've been to those jams where you can hardly hear yourself play. When it gets to that point I either break off somewhere with a smaller group or I pack up and go home. Life is too short and music is too much fun to jam with people that don't understand proper dynamics.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Shaun - It sounds like you've been to my Folk Club from your remarks above. They play mainly Irish Fiddle tunes & ALL the musicians involved are playing at the same time,there are NO solos,so it's head on thrash-out between all the instruments.If anyone thinks that they can play Mandolin & be heard above all the instruments that i mentioned in my last post,you could very well get into the 'Guinness Book Of Records' by doing so. Several Months ago,i sat about 10 feet away from another Mandolin Player,he couldn't hear me & i couldn't hear him - we followed Shaun's directive,packed up & p****d off. These days when i go,i just listen to the tune & as long as i can hear myself well enough to know that i'm getting the tune right,(they're mostly unknown by me),i'm ok with that,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    Shaun - It sounds like you've been to my Folk Club from your remarks above. They play mainly Irish Fiddle tunes & ALL the musicians involved are playing at the same time,there are NO solos,so it's head on thrash-out between all the instruments.If anyone thinks that they can play Mandolin & be heard above all the instruments that i mentioned in my last post,you could very well get into the 'Guinness Book Of Records' by doing so. Several Months ago,i sat about 10 feet away from another Mandolin Player,he couldn't hear me & i couldn't hear him - we followed Shaun's directive,packed up & p****d off. These days when i go,i just listen to the tune & as long as i can hear myself well enough to know that i'm getting the tune right,(they're mostly unknown by me),i'm ok with that,
    Ivan
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    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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    Default Re: Loudness with Chris Thile CT 55 Bluechip pick?

    Oh yeah, those loud, many-of-the-same instruments-whacking-away events are un-doable, for me.

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