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Making my mandolin louder

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Paul Mitchell 14 Sep 02 - 05:26 PM
John Hardly 14 Sep 02 - 05:59 PM
GUEST 14 Sep 02 - 06:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Sep 02 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,Guest Spot 14 Sep 02 - 06:50 PM
X 14 Sep 02 - 07:13 PM
Paul Mitchell 15 Sep 02 - 04:11 AM
GUEST,Skipjack K8 15 Sep 02 - 08:31 AM
Willie-O 15 Sep 02 - 09:02 AM
Allan Dennehy 15 Sep 02 - 09:16 AM
John Hardly 15 Sep 02 - 09:29 AM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Sep 02 - 09:43 AM
John Hardly 15 Sep 02 - 09:54 AM
Sir Roger de Beverley 15 Sep 02 - 09:58 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 15 Sep 02 - 01:43 PM
Leadfingers 15 Sep 02 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,Stoney 15 Sep 02 - 08:41 PM
mooman 16 Sep 02 - 04:22 AM
Larkin 16 Sep 02 - 04:35 AM
Orac 16 Sep 02 - 05:52 AM
Orac 16 Sep 02 - 06:02 AM
Allan Dennehy 16 Sep 02 - 09:32 AM
Paul Mitchell 16 Sep 02 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,Mando secrets 07 Mar 10 - 06:43 PM
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Subject: Making my mandolin louder
From: Paul Mitchell
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 05:26 PM

It's probably me being daft (as ever)....

I'm just getting to grips with my Ozark mandolin, which has been hanging on my wall for over a year now.. Following a bit of a session at home with several guitarists and an accordian / fiddle player, I decided it was time to pick the thing up and have a bash. But it's very quiet unless I'm playing chords.

Is it the way I'm playing it? The mandolin? Or is it the the way of things with this particular instrument? I've tried with a heavier pick, but that really hampers my already really hampered playing. I was thinking about getting a small battery amp, but that goes against my grain a bit so should be a last option (although suggestions welcomed).

I'm hoping to be able to play with my friend, who is a guitarist, as well as in ad-hoc groups of acoustic types.

So, any ideas welcomed.

Thanks

Paul Mitchell


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: John Hardly
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 05:59 PM

Gee Paul,

Having just come back from my monthly fiddle tune jam in which I (as guitar player) am utterly shelled by the other instruments -- mandos included, I guess I'd have to hear your poor instrument to be convinced it isn't already as loud (much louder than) the average guitar.

On the other hand, I'd betcha dollars to donuts that the other folks in my jam think I have justabout the loudist dom li'l guitar they ever heard.

It's the nature of these dadgum beasts that they project the sound away from the player. This causes a strange excalation that only the most seasoned players seem to be able to play around -- everyone is hearing the genreal din more than their own instrument.

When I first started playing with this gang I couldn't hear myself 'tall. Now I can't really hear myself take a lead (maybe a good thing) but I'm getting a better sense of the whole.

In short, I bet yer mando ain't broke....but maybe it is....
.....I don't know much.


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 06:42 PM

echo paul's comments.

You just don't know how loud you prob'ly are!


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 06:43 PM

Is it that you're not loud enough or that the others are too loud? Sometimes I have to be reminded to keep the volume down when I'm playing guitar along with an unamplified mandolin. When you're used to playing with someone you get to adjust that kind of stuff, I find, but at times you need reminding.

"Several guitarists" you say. My rule of thumb is more than one of any instrument tends to be too many. Apart from fiddles. (A guitar capoed up high counts along with one played open I count as two instruments.)


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: GUEST,Guest Spot
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 06:50 PM

May I very respectfully suggest you chop your Ozark in for an Oakwood "Teardrop Special" - mine is absolutely knockout!! Regards - Spot


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: X
Date: 14 Sep 02 - 07:13 PM

Paul:

What size of wire are you using? The bluegrass pickers I know use 11 to 41 some I know use 13 to 48 and all use a HEAVY pick.

If you want to know how loud you are playing, play standing facing a wall.


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Paul Mitchell
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 04:11 AM

All good ideas. Particularly that "play standing facing a wall", I'll gove it a go.

As to there being too many instruments, point taken. There always seem to be a lot of guitarists around. That's one of the reasons I'm trying to learn this beast.

I will have a go at finding heavier guaged strings, that, perhaps, will offset the problems I encounter with a heavier pick (I'm guessing here, can ya' tell).

All good advice. Perhaps I should just ask some one who's listening.

Thanks people, any more helpful comments most welcome.

Paul Mitchell


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: GUEST,Skipjack K8
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 08:31 AM

Paul, I'm more of a wannabe mando player, but even in my experience, the volume difference between different instruments is enormous. Cara (AKA The Potato Orchestra) boast the quietest (but beautiful Fylde) and the loudest (blood from ears Serbian affair) mandos, but it is ironed out by the PA.

My suggestion is that you tape the session, and then judge your volume against the ensemble.

Skipjack


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Willie-O
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:02 AM

Guess you have a not-too-loud mandolin. It happens. I wouldn't go higher than medium gauge strings, picking is not supposed to be a blood sport.

Mandolins don't have to be louder than guitars because they play in a different range. If you have something to say with it, it can be heard over four guitars!

One thing to realize though is it'll project more if you play it like a mandolin (rhythm chop) than if you strum it like a guitar. And an F style is louder than an A, usually.

Rereading your message, it sounds like you are trying to pick it up and jam right away. Practice, my friend, practice. Also, if it has been silent for a long time, the top needs some breaking in again, or has not been broken in yet if it's pretty new and has never been played a lot. (like daily for a couple of years)

Just a few things to try...

W-O


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Allan Dennehy
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:16 AM

Loads of good advice to you Paul, so far. The taping idea is excellent. Then you can compare your volume against your guitarist. Some mandolins because of their make and the players style can be almost impossible to hear against a strummed guitar, so there are times when a small amp can be the solution. However you'd have to be very carefull about bringing one to some sessions. The music police would bust you before you hit the first note!


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: John Hardly
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:29 AM

.....yeah, if a mando player brought an amp to my jam session I'd back my truck over it.

I agree with Willie-O's point about the different range. In fact, I was going to say that you may want to learn some of the solos in the higher register for this reason. For example, I noticed that I play the mando lead to Ark Trav in the higher register and the mando next to me was playing it in the lower. I could hear myself over the din better than I could hear him. He was competing with the guitars, I was not.


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:43 AM

I'd say there's nothing wrong with a small amp for a mandolin if you use it right, and I don't know anyone I've ever played with who'd disagree with that. But some people do get their knickers in a twist over the strangest things, so maybe yo could check against that with the people yo play with.

"Rhythym chop" - what's that mean and how do you differentiate it from a strum, Willie-O?


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: John Hardly
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:54 AM

Rhythm Chop -- the strings are muted almost immediately after strummed. It's the use of a mando as part of the "rhythm section"


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 09:58 AM

Most people ask me if I can play mine more quietly! For amplification in the band I use a Fishman pickup and preamp alongside a mic and juggle the two on the main amp to get an electric/acoustic balance.

R


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 01:43 PM

This is going to be so obvious that I'm almost embarassed to mention it. But, hey, sometimes the obvious gets overlooked, so somebody's gotta do it.

Volume is one of the reasons that acoustic mandolins have eight strings instead of just four. To get maximum volume, both strings in a course need to be vibrating at as close as possible to the same amplitude. A pick stroke that delivers a healthy punch to one string but doesn't touch or just barely brushes the second string is going to sacrifice volume. In practicing, a conscious effort should be made to strike both strings with the pick. When playing rhythm chops, dig in just a bit deeper. When playing leads pluck all the way through the whole course. It's sorta like classical guitar technique where your finger plays all the way through a note and comes to rest on the next string. If you just bump the string and go on to the next note you lose a lot of volume. It's like golf or tennis. You have to follow through.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Leadfingers
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 01:54 PM

Main thing is that different instruments are different! My Docherty is loud enough for me,which means its loud,cos I'm real noisy sod sometimes.And some project more than others.The taping is agood scheme but dont have the mike too close to yourself.


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: GUEST,Stoney
Date: 15 Sep 02 - 08:41 PM

If you have an adjustable bridge, make it a little higher. The higher the louder. There comes a point, though, where you sacrifice speed and dexterity.


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: mooman
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 04:22 AM

Guest Stoney has a good point. It is worth checking the angle of "break" of the strings over the bridge. As a general rule the shallower the quieter. If you have a very low action then raising bridge height will give a little more volume but at the expense of speed and ease of fretting and possibly also intonation.

You may have light gauge strings, e.g. .10-.34. If so, moving to something like .11 to .41 will give more volume. Personally I wouldn't go higher than that...particularly if you are coming back to the mando after a long break.

If it hasn't been used for a few years, the mando may not yet have "woken up" (a technical luthier's term!) and the sound may improve as you play it more (I could go into the physics and material science of this but haven't a full day to spare just now!).

I wouldn't go to too heavy a pick personally or you'll find triplets and the like become more difficult and the sound will be duller. Certainly not too much above medium gauge (I usually use a .60 Dunlop or .71 maximum). This is, however, a personal preference thing and also depends on your technique.

Ozark mandolins are not the loudest but you should be able to get a reasonable volume from it with a bit of perseverence. What others have said about it sounding louder to the listener is true as the majority of the sound is projected away from you.

What materials are the nut and bridge (with or without separate saddle) made from? Bone will give the best results for nut (unless there is a zero fret in which case it won't make a difference). For the bridge a good quality rosewood or ebony is preferable. I use a rosewood type with inset bone saddle. I buy them a little too high and then lower from the saddle side which then gives me the possibility to individually compensate each string.

Make sure also that the base of the bridge is in intimate contact with the top of the instrument along the areas that are in contact. Gaps here will result in a loss of transmission and to the top and less vibration of the soundboard. The bridge must be properly "fitted" to the top, especially if there is any curvature in the latter, rather like a fiddle bridge must be properly seated. This is a job you can do yourself (PM me if you need details of how) or any competent fretted instrument repair man should be able to help.

Hope these random ramblings help a little.

Peace

mooman


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Larkin
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 04:35 AM

I put a brass nut on mine and that improved volume somewhat. It made a hell of a difference to my guitar also. Martin


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Orac
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 05:52 AM

Volume is a problem if you want to make yourself known in a session. I have a Fylde but if I'm playing in a session I use a 1928 Abbott Mandolin-Banjo ... you can compete with anything with that ... wonderful thing. It may be of course that you may be louder that you realise. Can others hear you when you are playing ... just because the other instruments seem loud doesn't mean you can't be heard.


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Orac
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 06:02 AM

A hard/stiff plectrum is essential to get volume. A lot of mando players use a very floppy pick so that its easy to play tremolo but its no use at all in a session. The harder the better is the rule here.


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Allan Dennehy
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 09:32 AM

Larkin, pardon my ignorance but what's a brass nut?


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: Paul Mitchell
Date: 16 Sep 02 - 03:13 PM

Hey, this is great!

Willie-o, I think you are probably right about the "jammin' right away" thing. I had a bit of a play in a session last night. I was alright with a song my friend & I had (sort of) practiced. When it came to simply jammin' I found a mix of poor technique and a lack of confidence made me some what quieter. I think there's something here for me about being willing to "go back to basics". I can jam along on a guitar reasonably well enough and can entertain a crowd for a while... so maybe your advice is spot on.

As for the mandolin itself, the bridge is not adjustable, so perhaps I should consider that when / if I choose to invest in a better instrument (this one was £50 2nd hand). I will keep with it for a fair while yet, so perhaps it will be interesting to see if the instrument does "wake up" after a while.

I must say that the more I play with it, the more I like it!

Thanks all.

Of course, anymore ideas (that don't involve backing trucks over things ;->)welcomed

Paul Mitchell C.D. available (No mandolin playing on it)


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Subject: RE: Making my mandolin louder
From: GUEST,Mando secrets
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 06:43 PM

When they're not looking put some wads of cotton wool in the guitar's holes
works a teat:)


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