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Thread: Sour Open D Chord Blues

  1. #1

    Default Sour Open D Chord Blues

    Has anyone come across this problem?: Get tuned up with electronic tuner perfectly; all chords, closed and open, sound OK, except for the basic open D, (2nd fret, 1st and 4th strings), which sounds just a little "off" or "sour". Putz with bridge positioning until intonation is spot on, via standard 12th fret checking,etc., but have same issue. This happens only on my fairly recently procured, (<1 year) Collings MT. I love the thing, but can't shake the sour D. Does not happen with my 1920 Gibson A2 or late 70's Kentucky KM 180B. I measured fret spacings which all seem good against published fret charts. Any input welcome here. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sour Open D Chord Blues

    How is the height at the nut? If you're fretting at the 2nd fret and the nut slot is too high, the string will be bending quite a bit (increasing tension and making that string sharp), which will make the chord sound "off". Can you tell which string is giving you the sour sound, and check the gap between the string and the 1st fret?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sour Open D Chord Blues

    my thoughts too
    open d should be sweet and resonant

  4. #4
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sour Open D Chord Blues

    When was the last time you changed strings?

    That can make a world of difference for those crazy intonation issues where all of the metrics/dimensions seem to check out. Unlikely that a recent Collings would be incorrectly fretted, that's probably not the issue. I'd check the nut as per the suggestions above and then put on a brand new set of strings and see if it sweetens up.
    Just one guy's opinion
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  5. #5
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sour Open D Chord Blues

    Im more often using 245(5) DMaj A,f#,D,a or the E is dampened
    writing about music
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    Default Re: Sour Open D Chord Blues

    +1 on what Tobin wrote. It "sounds" like you need to examine and adjust the nut slots. Email me at rob.meldrum@gmail.com for my ebook on how to set up a mandolin. It's free to all mandolincafe members. Make sure to have "madolin set up" in the subject line - it makes it easier for me to search and reply to the email messages.

    With a ten dollar investment in a set of autombile feeler gauges I'll show you how to measure the height of each string at the nut and how to lower the height of each string to the optimal height. This will address your intonation issues as well as improve the playability of your mandolin.

    Rob

  7. #7
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sour Open D Chord Blues

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kotapish View Post
    When was the last time you changed strings?

    That can make a world of difference for those crazy intonation issues where all of the metrics/dimensions seem to check out. Unlikely that a recent Collings would be incorrectly fretted, that's probably not the issue. I'd check the nut as per the suggestions above and then put on a brand new set of strings and see if it sweetens up.
    Good point. That drives me nuts, when I know my intonation hasn't changed (nor my setup), but still my strings are "off". They'll be perfect when tuned open, but maddeningly out of tune when fretted. Changing strings and re-checking bridge placement (which I like to spot-check at every string change) makes a world of difference, and then it's all better for a few weeks until the strings go wonky again.

    I seem to notice it most on the A/E strings at the 5th to 7th frets, though, not the 2nd fret.

  8. #8
    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sour Open D Chord Blues

    After I tune up, I always spot check several different ways, and the open D is one of the main ones. If it doesn't sound perfect, I start over.

    Others have given you good advice. Start with the simplest (new set of strings), and work your way up to the hardest (convincing the wife the only way to solve this is to buy a new mandolin).

    But seriously, it sounds like a good setup is what you need.
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sour Open D Chord Blues

    Set up. I had similar sourness when I hit a x011 bflat chord. It was a combination of the nut being a little off plus some serious fret wear. Dave Trexler, here in Austin, did a fret job, worked on the nut, and made my Gibson F5G sing. (Thank you Dave.)

    These kind of problems seem to be particularly pronounced when fretting on the first or second fret.
    Bobby Bill

  10. #10
    Registered User Wolfmanbob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sour Open D Chord Blues

    The string issue may be valid. Intonation can be off on a properly set up mando if the strings need changing. However, there's no substitute for having a real mandolin-guy look at the set up. Most of your average neighborhood guitar guys are not up the the subtllties of mandolins.
    RB - (Wolfman Bob)
    Lawrence Smart - 2 Point
    Flatiron - F5 - Artist
    Gibson - F12
    Gibson - A-50
    Flatiron - Pancake
    Fender FM 60 E

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