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Thread: The Myths of the Mandolin

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    Registered User pefjr's Avatar
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    Default The Myths of the Mandolin

    I noticed the recent rise in price of the Snakeheads, I read expressions like "the snakehead sound", and the confusion increases beyond logic. I can understand the number of snakeheads alone as the reason for the increase in price, but the "snakehead sound" is not logical. It is just a headstock, nothing else is different. There is always surprises like the A1 I just bought, it sounds as good as my F2 and that's with the old strings still on it. But a "snakehead sound". No I ain't buying it. I understand the Lloyd Loar years and his innovations and the F5. Again it's numbers and the Bill Monroe factor, not "beast", "monster", etc. BTW, what does "butter " play like?
    I have the world in a jug, and the stopper in my hand.

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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Snakehead's got that special hiss and butter plays easy.

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    That butter is what you get when you let a Tonerite device run inside a bucket of milk for a few hours.
    That Bill Monroe factor accounts for the snakehead sound, because it sounds different from an F-style headstock when you bang it against something hard in order to break a corner off it and make it open up.

    So you see: all myths can be solved by just connecting loose ends...
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Speaking of myths of the mandolin, I was planning a series of videos in which I demonstrate that taking off all the finish made no difference to the sound, the tailpiece could be made out of anything, a mother-of-pearl nut was a complete waste of money, the size of the F holes was insignificant, a rattlesnake rattle actually makes it sound worse, and how the placebo effect is bigger than most setups, opening up periods, and tonerite treatments. But I doubt if there would be much interest. If anyone has any mandolin myths they would like me to investigate, please send them to maybelater@manyana.com.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    There is a sound that is associated with the snakehead, not because of it. The snakehead only identifies it. I have played a couple of them recently that were much different from the regular As: an A2Z @ Bernunzio and an A4 @ Mandolin Brothers. Of course, I also own a modern take on that which is my Brentrup, so I am not exactly running out to buy one.

    BTW there are prob a few late paddleheads (21 or 22) that might have that snakehead sound.

    Do you think that sitar players speak of their instruments as playing like ghee?
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    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    I have an old Kay that plays like lard.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1...SV2qtug/videos

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    There is a sound that is associated with the snakehead, not because of it. The snakehead only identifies it.
    That was my understanding. The way the mandolins were made at the time they made snakeheads.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    It's all to do with the Baloney Index. The higher the Baloney Index, the greater the mystique and, consequently, the price. To me an instrument is a very personal thing as well as a musical tool and that's how I choose.

    Like the OP I've seen trends but they often don't seem to have much logic to them. A lowly A I recently played sounded a great deal better to me than a much more expensive snakehead I tried in the same session. But everybody has their own opinion on things and that's to be encouraged.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Of course, there is some element of Baloney in everything... OTOH you can't deny that there is a general difference in the overall quality of tone in various eras of Gibsons: pre-teens, teens, early 1920's; Loar era; post-Loar era,; 1930s; 1940s, 1950s, etc. I would have to say that the prices may very well reflect more than the intrinsic value -- certainly the association with Loar during that time, However, I do not think there is really a mystique here, just that some of the snakeheads do have different tone than those that came before. That I can surely say, whether or not you like the tone is something else, but there is a difference there nonetheless. Not baloney for sure, in my humble estimation.
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    Speaking of myths of the mandolin, I was planning a series of videos in which I demonstrate that taking off all the finish made no difference to the sound, the tailpiece could be made out of anything, a mother-of-pearl nut was a complete waste of money, the size of the F holes was insignificant, a rattlesnake rattle actually makes it sound worse, and how the placebo effect is bigger than most setups, opening up periods, and tonerite treatments. But I doubt if there would be much interest. If anyone has any mandolin myths they would like me to investigate, please send them to maybelater@manyana.com.
    I love myth busting

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    Registered User pefjr's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by bertram henze View Post
    that butter is what you get when you let a tonerite device run inside a bucket of milk for a few hours.
    That bill monroe factor accounts for the snakehead sound, because it sounds different from an f-style headstock when you bang it against something hard in order to break a corner off it and make it open up.

    So you see: All myths can be solved by just connecting loose ends...
    rofl
    I have the world in a jug, and the stopper in my hand.

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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Greg Boyd once told me I shouldn't make paddle heads because a snake head would be more valuable in the long run. Now that is non sense!

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    The one thing that Snakeheads have that Paddleheads do not is an adjustable truss rod and a really nice neck. Is that worth the price difference? I think so.
    Charley

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    My former '23 A2Z sounded different than my '23 A3. Also the playability is different. Whether these different features support a two-fold difference in price is the $2,500.00 question. I'm very happy with my A3.

    f-d
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Two high-energy myths can be made to collide within a mandolin, thereby annihilating each other and producing a shower of secondary half-mythical particles, such as BC picks, mandolin capos and bursts of woody tone, which in turn can be detected and recorded in Cafe threads.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Bertram, are you CERN-tain?
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

    + Give Blood, Save a Life +

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  27. #17
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    I'm Largely HadroCollic!
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by testore View Post
    Greg Boyd once told me I shouldn't make paddle heads because a snake head would be more valuable in the long run. Now that is non sense!
    Did Greg say it would be more valuable in the long run because it would sound better or look better?

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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    He told me that people want snake heads more because if the Gibson myths mentioned earlier in this thread. My argument to him was that I'm not Gibson and my prices aren't related to theirs. He disagreed. Tone was not a factor in our discussion. Funny thing is that a few years later he sold it as a fine used mandolin. I laughed!

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    I think Greg does have a point there but he was coming from a business standpoint as opposed to an artistic one. It is the same reasoning that there are so many F5 copies -- that is what people -- at least in North America -- want and expect in a mandolin. Personally i would find it refreshing to see a modern-made paddle head, but my taste is far from mainstream. Besides, as i have noted above, the true myth (oxymoron alert!!) is only that that snakehead makes a difference in tone which it really doesn't. It just happens that that Gibson snakeheads were made a certain way (narrower necks, truss rods, perhaps different top carving) so the tone does differ.
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  33. #21

    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    The one thing that Snakeheads have that Paddleheads do not is an adjustable truss rod and a really nice neck. Is that worth the price difference? I think so.
    There are '22 paddleheads with truss rods and with the exception of the AJrs, any A style mandolin built after the snakehead era ended (1925(?) had a paddlehead and a truss rod. One of the vagueries of the Gibson parts bin.

    When you say "nice" neck, I am assuming you mean the 1 1/8" nut width, slimmer profile. Some of us actually find the 1 3/16" nut necks a little "nicer".
    Eric Foulke
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    I was hoping this thread would be about mandolin myths, like the one where people say you can actually get a mandolin in tune or that your Rogue will sound better with Waverly tuners. I'm so disappointed.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    I want a mandolin with a wet, plasticky tone.

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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    in the same way that if you're looking good you're more likely to feel good ... the snake-head myth might just be superior aesthetics made audible.

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  40. #25
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Myths of the Mandolin

    What makes the snakehead design superior, aesthetically? I happen to prefer the look of the paddle head. And the fact that I own one has absolutely nothing to do with that statement.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1...SV2qtug/videos

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