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Thread: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit.

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    Default I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit.

    It's been on my old Gibson A5-L for about a month non-stop. I removed it out of curiosity, thinking that after a solid month of playing with it it would be interesting to revert to the way the mandolin sounded Before Tone-Gard.

    I kept it off. For about half a minute, anyway. The I put it back on, where it'll stay. No comparison.

    I know there are lots of threads about Tone-Gard "believers" etc., and I'm completely non-plussed. The back of the mandolin, when in contact with the body, is dampened. When it's not in contact, isn't. How this is a matter of believing in it or not is hard for me to understand. My mando sounds infinitely better when the back is allowed to resonate.

    In any event, I'm not trying to rehash any of the stuff in earlier posts, but to say that the TG, on my mando, is no longer optional. It's truly a wonderful ergonomic enhancement. It doesn't improve the mandolin, it just allows it to play at its potential no matter how you hold it. And most mandolin holding I do puts the back in contact with me. I can't imagine settling for the way lesser tone of the mandolin without it.

    Related: this picture of a Vivitone mandolin — designed by Lloyd Loar — seems to try to accomplish the same thing the TG does with that raised lip around the back.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian B View Post
    How this is a matter of believing in it or not is hard for me to understand.
    Those who keep choppin' away at the perimeter of a jam, anxious to remain inaudible, might never hear a difference

    Then there are those who never touch the back of their mandolin due to playing position/lack of belly.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian B View Post
    I know there are lots of threads about Tone-Gard "believers" etc., and I'm completely non-plussed. The back of the mandolin, when in contact with the body, is dampened. When it's not in contact, isn't. How this is a matter of believing in it or not is hard for me to understand. My mando sounds infinitely better when the back is allowed to resonate.
    Many players hold the mandolin so the back does not touch their body, so is not damped.
    The tone guard is a very effective way for those who don't do so to compensate for their hold.
    Eoin



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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    I know a mandolin player who, by the shape of his body, has no option of holding the mandolin away, except he'd be holding it above his head. If I had a mandolin for a main instrument, I'd probably get a toneguard, too.

    As it is, I am playing an OM I have sitting on my right thigh, held away from me by means of a dish towel folded around a bottle of Dr Duck's AxWax and stuffed into my right pocket.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Another example of an acoustic instrument that uses a similar device is the mountain dulcimer. Some dulcimer players utilize a device known as a "possum board". I have no idea how it got that name! But it is basically a sort of cradle that holds the dulcimer's back clear of the player's lap so that the back can vibrate freely.

    Violin shoulder rests serve a dual purpose, improving the player's hold and playing position while at the same time getting the violin back off the shoulder so that it can vibrate freely.

    Both of the above devices make an audible difference, not just to me but to many. Therefore, it is logical that a tone guard would, also. That said, I don't use one, my playing position enables me to hold the back of the mandolin away from my body. I have no experience with them, nor do I know anyone who uses one, but when players who anchor the back of a mandolin against their body say it makes a difference. I absolutely believe it.
    Don

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    I usually play standing up when performing. This makes it more difficult to keep the back of any mando, OM, guitar, etc. away from my chest/belly. Tony P. custom made tone gards for my octave mando and mandola. You can get one for any instrument you want. I'd sure like to see more guitar players use them - never can hear those guys in a jam.

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    As I've mentioned in other TG threads I use these devices on both of my F-style mandolins and am convinced of their value. In my experience with TGs, if you can feel vibration against your body as you play, there's a potential sound savings with the TG.

    I'd love to get one for my wife to use with her D-41. I'm pretty sure it would work the same for her, however we've just never pulled the trigger yet. She however doesn't have a belly like I do, so maybe she is one of those who holds the instrument safely away from her body while playing.

    All of my main playing banjos have resonators of one sort or another; these tend to serve as a TG, although also having a TG on a resonated banjo would be interesting. You can feel vibration through the resonator while playing though, so having the resonator insulated by a TG could potentially change things -- whether noticeably or not is up for grabs.

    I also play a little bit of squareneck Dobro; mine is a late '60s aluminum bodied one made by Rudy himself in his private Mosrite workshop. I can feel significant vibration as I play, so there again is a potential sound savings.

    I wonder if a Sousaphone would benefit from a TG. Lots of body contact.
    -- Don

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Mileages vary....

    I agree that for some mandolins, tone is noticeably improved with the tone-gard.

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Hate to be a party pooper. And, no doubt it works -- as so many people swear by the device......but, my gripe is that it isn't organic, looks like an ad-on, and just plain ugly! Think about it for a minute, skilled craftsmen spend countless hours taking beautifully figured wood to create something sleek and flowing, AND THEN, somebody clamps this bracket thing on it! Huh? Really?

    Kinda like putting training wheels on a Harley, IMHO. Might be a great idea, but ruins the flow.........daddy-O!

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    ...Think about it for a minute, skilled craftsmen spend countless hours taking beautifully figured wood to create something sleek and flowing, AND THEN...
    ...someone the shape of Jabba the Hutt wraps his meaty hairy fingers around it, sending Aesthetics running screaming in horror.

    Kinda like putting training wheels on a Harley, IMHO
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Mine. Fairly elegant, I think, for a hunk of stainless.
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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    I am firmly in the camp that thinks it is too blummin' ugly to entertain using it.

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron McMillan View Post
    I am firmly in the camp that thinks it is too blummin' ugly to entertain using it.
    Honestly, are you thinking about the way the Tonegard looks when you watch something like this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXDL6_3gFu0
    AKA "golfunit"

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    I don't care for the look either, but to each his/her own. I used to own a mandolin where the former owner used a TG. When he removed it it ripped the finish off all the way down to the bare wood where it connected. This might not be typical and probably isn't, but I only mention it as a heads up.
    ...

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by John Garcia View Post
    Honestly, are you thinking about the way the Tonegard looks when you watch something like this?
    Hear, hear.

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    I wonder how that happened. There are tons and tons of stories of people not taking them off for years and there being no damage. I wonder if perhaps the tubing around the brackets that cushions them was off. Or was this some kind of adhesion?

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    I thought it was going to be ugly, and it's not at all. Do I wish the mandolin could play as well without it? Yes, I'd prefer not to have a metal bracket on the back. But the TG is exceptionally well made, a real piece of craftsmanship, strong, thin metal with a fine black coatand once it's on, it's not the eyesore one might expect. The most unsightly parts are the little brackets, like the one you see on the Chris Thile video John Garcia posted downthread, but they are just not a big deal.

    For me, it's about getting the mandolin to sound as good as it can. Looks taking a front seat to sound? Not for me.

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Skilled craftsmen spend countless hours taking beautifully figured wood to make an instrument that sounds good and that is also sleek and flowing. If it's just sleek and flowing but doesn't have good sound, it doesn't matter how good it looks unless it's going to be a hat rack.

    A models, anyway.

    [Editors note: F players, please turn your Snark-O-Meters up.]

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron McMillan View Post
    I am firmly in the camp that thinks it is too blummin' ugly to entertain using it.
    Lucky for me I don't have eyes in my gut, and my instruments are opaque enough to block the audience's view through the top and back in order to see my tone gard. I guess superman (or anyone with those comic book x-ray specs) would get an eyeful of my ugly tone gard - but the rest of the view (me through my clothes) would make the TG the least of their worries....

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    You're not supposed to hold the mandolin clamped firmly against your torso. At most the bottom third of the back is touching your body (or your suit jacket) -

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEhEQOljqHo

    Nothing against tone-gards! But maybe TG enthusisats could ease up on the "What's wrong with you non-tone-gard-users???" comments.

  32. #21

    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    The next instrument I'm building has a second back. The internal one should be doing the acoustic "work", the outer arched back will hopefully prevent the back from being damped from body contact. From a usability perspective, if you need an aftermarket accessory to make the instrument sound its best, then that's a design flaw. Of course we're also adding mass to the instrument, so that will change the tone. But presumably it doesn't change it anywhere near as much as muting it by body contact so...

  33. #22

    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Snyder View Post
    Mine. Fairly elegant, I think, for a hunk of stainless.
    Mike that thing is awesome!! Where did you get one with the spider web shape?

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by jesserules View Post
    You're not supposed to hold the mandolin clamped firmly against your torso.
    I hope Thile, Grisman, Statman and the other top players figure that out one day so we can stop being subjected to their Tone-Gards.

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    The next instrument I'm building has a second back. The internal one should be doing the acoustic "work", the outer arched back will hopefully prevent the back from being damped from body contact. From a usability perspective, if you need an aftermarket accessory to make the instrument sound its best, then that's a design flaw. Of course we're also adding mass to the instrument, so that will change the tone. But presumably it doesn't change it anywhere near as much as muting it by body contact so...
    Wow. I just looked at your site for the first time, your mandolins are beautiful. Looking forward to hearin and seeing the new design.

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    Default Re: I took the Tone-Gard off my mandolin. And a Lloyd Loar tidbit

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian B View Post
    Skilled craftsmen spend countless hours taking beautifully figured wood to make an instrument that sounds good and that is also sleek and flowing. If it's just sleek and flowing but doesn't have good sound, it doesn't matter how good it looks unless it's going to be a hat rack.
    I disagree. Did you ever wonder why the "prettiest" part of the mandolin, the book-matched and figured back wood, doesn't face the audience? It is for the owner to enjoy. To glance down, and say to oneself, "I own this gorgeous work of art!"

    Or said another way, why does everyone need to be so loud? Why does every vibration need to be transferred into volume? It's OK for a little vibration to be "wasted" against the owner's belly, IMHO. Kinda like a reassuring pat on the tummy! Nice!
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Aug-29-2017 at 5:15pm.

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