Playing my National RM-1 again.

  1. Oren
    I bought this mandolin new 12 years ago (2006), and was pretty excited about it. Then came a long hiatus in mandolin playing (very little opportunity for mando in my rather strange music life), and I settled into playing mostly rhythm guitar and banjo in a trad-jazz band). At some point, I installed a National Hotplate resonator cover with the Lollar magnetic pickup on it, but never really used it.

    This year I was called to play amplified mandolin in a traveling show, and I alternated between my Godin A8, and the National. I discovered that I like the amplified sound of each about the same, although they are quite different. However, for me, the National with its 1.25-inch nut is so much easier to play that I really didn't use the Godin that much--I love a wide fretboard.

    Other advantages include: the sheer acoustic power of the RM-1 means I can rehearse (or jam) without an amp at times (even with an accordion); the Godin needs a 9-volt battery, but the National (so far) is always plug-and-play ready to go; the Godin preamp has a "delicate" feel to it, and it has failed on a gig in the past (had to have the preamp replaced), but the RM-1 is fairly simple technology, and just feels sturdier.

    I remember that intonation on the National used to be frustrating for me, but it seems that using only Thomastik Infeld medium gauge flatwound strings alleviates that problem (yes, about $50 a set--but they do last a long time). Twice, when a string has broken (one A, one E), I replaced the broken string with another brand that I had, and the intonation problem returned. In other words, a TI A string and an A string from another brand would not play in tune--and on the RM-1 I really hear it!

    For the most part, I use Dunlop "Ultex" 1.0 triangular picks, the edges of which I file or scrape to get a sharp edge. This makes for a brighter sound, and de-emphasizes the midrange "honk" of the resonator.

    Now the traveling show is over, and in my reluctance to let the RM-1 fade back into the closet, I've been introducing it into the trad-jazz band, playing it for some Latin boleros, blues, and other "ethnic" music. If I get my B-flat and E-flat mando chops up, I might try playing it on some of the old jazz tunes.

    Any other RM-1 lovers still out there?
  2. liestman
    Yep, I am still loving mine (no hotplate, J74 strings) for playing Irish trad in sessions. For me the sound is a bit much when just playing at home but in a slightly noisy pub with several other musicians, it really works great.
  3. Oren
    I took mine to a noisy general pub jam this evening. Two guitars, a banjo, a banjo uke, a fiddle, a harmonica, and singers. Couldn't hear myself sing very well, but easy to hear the RM-1 on leads or chords, and I didn't have to bear down on it very much. How nice...
  4. Davey
    My RM-1 has sat in it's case for a while as I've acquired another Mandolin or two in recent times. However, the Session I've been going to recently has become louder and louder so I thought I'd have another go with RM-1. I could also hear myself perfectly in a group of about 12 players & the wider neck was a delight to play for a change. I'm pretty sure I was playing the faster tunes much better.

    It also stayed in tune very well despite being in a very warm Pub. The carved top one I normally play would have needed constant re-tuning in the same conditions.

    The other thing I love is all the different tones it can produce with different picks & where you pluck the string.

    It's strung with Daddario EJ73's at the moment, I might try silk and steel next time.
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