Advice required

MandolinTalk

Moderator: Dave Hanson

Advice required

Postby Karaokeb » Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:19 pm

Hi All,

I am new to this forum and to some extent the playing of a mandolin. Let me explain, some years ago I purchased a, wait for it, Blue Moon instrument on a visit to Hobgoblin Birmingham. Bought this particular instrument as, within my price range, it had the punchiest tone and sound and had been carved out of solid timber. For some years it has been untouched, recently however I have been drawn to it again for a number of reasons the main one of which is that I now live in Mid Wales and have started a couple of music clubs. Cledlyn Music Club and Cothi Valley and District Music Club, both have pages on Facebook. In the main the people who attend, with the exception of a group called Brenig play like myself guitars. I thought it would be different if there was more variety so I dug out the Blue Moon and have been practicing on it for a week or two. I have had to make it a little easier to play by redressing the fret ends and lowering the action a little it is now easier to play than it was. One of the venues in which I attempt to play is large so I felt it would be advantageous to put a pick up on the instrument so that the sound could be reinforced. Sadly on looking at what is available I decided that too much butchery and cost would be involved. So started to look on the net for another suitable instrument I was attracted to an offering from Gretsch their New Yorker Supreme (£370.00). This is made of solid wood has Grover machine heads and a Fishman 300m pick up. It arrived today and to say I was disappointed would be an understatement, the sound was so dull it was like trying to play a bit of plank. The action was high even after I moved the bridge to its lowest position. My Blue Moon is an absolute dream compared to it. So my fellow forum members I am looking for your input as to what would be a suitable instrument, yes I know I would be better going to a shop with a lot of Mandolins for me to have a go on but my nearest option would be Hobgoblin Bristol a 270 mile round trip with the added cost of Severn road bridge tolls. Your input would be greatly appreciated.
Karaokeb
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:59 pm

Re: Advice required

Postby Ray(T) » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:12 pm

Just a couple of thoughts -
1) Solid tops on "cheapo" instruments are generally a waste of time. A solid top enables the luthier to carve and tune the top to produce the best sound. Whilst some luthiers are better than others, it's doubtful whether many sub £1000 mandolins have been anywhere near a luthier. For cheaper instruments the only option in my mind is to use your ears.
2) if you want to amplify a mandolin, use a microphone. If you must play electric and want to sound acoustic save up and buy something like a Godin. Whichever way you go, what you plug into is as significant as what you plug into it. For the same price of the Gretch you could have bought the ideal microphone [url]http://www.dpamicrophones.com/microphones/dvote/4099v-instrument-microphone-for-violin[/url], personally, I've given up experimenting with pickups and use either one of those or a stand mounted AKG1000s.

EDIT - sorry links appear not to work but I'm sure you can cut/paste
User avatar
Ray(T)
 
Posts: 463
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:34 pm
Location: High Peak - UK

Re: Advice required

Postby Karaokeb » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:48 pm

|Thanks for that thought I have a rode instrument somewhere will give that a try.
Karaokeb
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:59 pm

Re: Advice required

Postby colirv » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:30 am

I feel your pain! Trying to make a mandolin louder is a problem most of us have had to face. In your position I think first I'd beg, borrow or buy something like a Shure SM57 and an amp and see if that's enough. It is very difficult to find the best pickup for a given mandolin, they vary so much. I've ended up with a Fishman bridge pickup, although I'm lucky enough to have a tame luthier who could match the bridge to the mandolin. Through a decent pre-amp it doesn't sound too bad. The advantage of getting a quality instrument mike, such as the one Ray is suggesting, is that when you decide to splash out on a really good mandolin (as you will!) you can simply move the mike and benefit from your new mandolin's superior tone.
Colin
User avatar
colirv
 
Posts: 92
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 4:48 pm
Location: Washington, Tyne & Wear

Re: Advice required

Postby Ray(T) » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:28 pm

The advantage of something like the Fishman bridge pickup is that they mainly amplify the strings and it's not that important what mandolin they're attached to. The downside is that they can sound harsh and brittle with a lot of top end. If I were going for a pickup, I would go for the Schertler Dyn M although these cost as much as the DPA mic - around the same price may people are prepared to invest in a mandolin.
User avatar
Ray(T)
 
Posts: 463
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:34 pm
Location: High Peak - UK

Re: Advice required

Postby Dave Hanson » Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:51 pm

Having tried out a few including the Shure SM57 I've finally settled for a Microvox close mic system, comes with a flexible swan neck mic that reproduces the true sound and it's infinitely adjustable for positioning.

incidently the Shure is up for sale practically unused.

Dave H
Dave Hanson
 
Posts: 519
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 3:01 pm
Location: Halifax, UK

Re: Advice required

Postby Ray(T) » Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:29 pm

I bought three SM57s 30+ years ago and they're cheaper now than they were then!

If you're considering the SM57 (or any other dynamic mic) fine. However, you'll need to plug the DPA into something with phantom power. Ideally, the 1000s needs phantom power although it can be battery powered but I've never tried it. Personally, I prefer condenser mics. They seem to be more sensitive and respond faster than dynamics.
User avatar
Ray(T)
 
Posts: 463
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:34 pm
Location: High Peak - UK

Re: Advice required

Postby Karaokeb » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:53 pm

For Dave Hanson,

May have sent you yet another pm regarding SM57 where the text has not been sent hence this post. I have an SM57 somewhere will look it out and give it a go. Having said that I think I saw on a facebook page viz West Wales musical instruments and equipment for sale or wanted a request from someone looking for 2 sm57's may be worth you looking at the page,
Karaokeb
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:59 pm

Re: Advice required

Postby Daniel » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:05 pm

Hello Karakeb,

Your question is about the acoustic sound of the Gretch. So let's address that. The advice you've got so far is good, though.

ALL factory made instruments require a proper set up when they arrive at a shop. If it's a good shop, they'll take care of them before you see them. If they don't have the time or the skill on hand to do it, you get an unfinished instrument.

Mandolins are REALLY finicky about set ups. A great instrument that is poorly set up or that has bad strings will sound terrible.

So step one: change the strings. If you already have, do it again. Sometimes strings can be off.

Step two: identify a local or nearby luthier who has experience with mandolins (they are not "little guitars") and take to him or her. Problems to look for: poorly fit bridge, bent bridge posts, bridge in the wrong position on the top, slots in the nut that are too deep, too shallow, or too wide, loose or 'popped' frets.

Step three: Some upgrades will help improve the tone:
A cast tailpiece will not absorb as much energy as a cheap sheet metal one.
New tuning machines. You don't need Waverlys, but some mid-line replacements may be better than the stock tuners on the mando.
New nut. A good piece of bone or pearl will improve tone if you have a plastic one.

Hope this helps!
Daniel
User avatar
Daniel
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:43 pm
Location: Cambridge, UK

Re: Advice required

Postby Dave Hanson » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:11 pm

For what it's worth Ray, I have a condenser mic that I prefer to the Shure, but still prefer the microvox.

Dave H
Dave Hanson
 
Posts: 519
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 3:01 pm
Location: Halifax, UK

Re: Advice required

Postby Ray(T) » Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:31 pm

[quote="Dave Hanson"]For what it's worth Ray, I have a condenser mic that I prefer to the Shure, but still prefer the microvox.

Dave H[/quote]

The only experience I've had with Microvox pickups has been with their accordion models and, suffice to say, I don't particularly wish to repeat the experience.

You'll spot the DPA mic on most broadcast (close-mic'd) orchestral performances which is a recommendation in itself. For live work, I actually prefer a stand mounted mic as its possible to easily alter the dynamics of a performance plus, if I'm taking out up to three instruments, I don't end up with a rats nest of tangled cables.

Daniel - whilst a decent set-up is important, the marginal impact of changing components on a cheap mandolin is likely to be imperceptible. I wouldn't wish to encourage Karokeb to start throwing more money into what may amount to a lost cause.


EDIT - "quotes" this time - does nothing work as it's supposed to on this forum or is it because I'm working on an iPad?
User avatar
Ray(T)
 
Posts: 463
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:34 pm
Location: High Peak - UK

Re: Advice required

Postby Karaokeb » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:08 am

Many thanks for the inputs, I must advise that the Gretsch has been returned to the vendor in fact arrangements had been made for its return 1 hour after its receipt. Therefore the posibility of up grading it is not an issue. I still however have the Bluemoon F style which as I have said blows the Gretsch out of the water for playability and tone. I will when I get a few moments experiment with using a number of standalone mics including an SM57 but from past experience I have found the Rode I have to be the most versitile for both string and brass instruments, time will tell. I have looked at the Godin instrument and I must confess that has a certain appeal as does the Eastman 305 as offered by Eagle music as it is produced for them by the manufacturer factory fitted with a pick up. The Acoustic instrument co sells the same instrument but it is acoustic only so they would have to fit a pick up. My problem is, and I agree you should listen before you buy, both these vendors are a days drive away from where I live in Mid Wales so not only impracticle to visit but expensive with fuel cost etc.

I agree that adding value to a inexpensive instrument with the exception of changing strings, part of the running costs, is not the way to go and I would not contemplate it. Looking on the web I cannot find any mandolin makers/luthiers close to me. I did however find a secondhand instrument for sale in the west country on preloved which had been made in Wales by someone called Evans in Penarth. Having looked on the net for this person I cannot find them does anybody on this site know of them? If so can you give me their contact details. Or do any of you know of makers in my area I live 5 miles north of the university town of Lampeter. If so contact details for them would be appreciated, Again thank you all.

Looking at the add in preloved the instrument in question is a Pendragon Irish Rover but looking for Pendragon on the web it appears the company has ceased to exist@
Karaokeb
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:59 pm

Re: Advice required

Postby Karaokeb » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:13 pm

I have now dug out the Rode M3 condenser mic and tried it through a Mackie mixer with Phantom power (not 100% necessary on the Rode as it can be run from a 9 volt battery) then into a Trace Elliot acoustic amplifier the sound produced I have to say was suprisingly true to he acoustic sound of the manolin being played. The draw back is the mic stand and the proximity you have to be from it very limiting if you intend to use it at a music club/open mic event however perfect for the studio but never the less one way to go.
Karaokeb
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:59 pm

Re: Advice required

Postby Ray(T) » Thu Mar 02, 2017 5:48 pm

Sorry for the delay in replying, I've been out of the country.

That's exactly what I'd expect from a stand mounted mic. Unless you're using a hypercardioid and close micing, the limiting factor will be feedback. The "DBX GoRack" [url]http://dbxpro.com/en/products/gorack[/url] has a few followers on other fora. You can either stick it between your mixer outputs and power amp inputs of you can place it between your mic and its input. The only drawback is that it doesn't transmit phantom power so you'll either need a dynamic mic, one with a a battery or a phantom adapter
User avatar
Ray(T)
 
Posts: 463
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:34 pm
Location: High Peak - UK


Return to All mandolin subjects

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests

cron