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Thread: Playing hard... and staying in tune

  1. #1

    Default Playing hard... and staying in tune

    I currently have about 10 vintage mandolins and I regularly play them out of the house at gigs, jams, parties, festivals etc. Some of them are very good about staying in tune (in a variety of temperatures and situations), while others I am always working hard to keep them sounding right. I would like to get some of my favorite instruments to be a little more stable and allow me to play more, and tune less.

    What do you all think are the most important factors that can be worked on to make a mandolin better able to stay in tune?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Playing hard... and staying in tune

    Avoid humidity fluctuations at all cost (not practical). As a Florida resident, I can tell you that moving between airconditioned and unairconditioned spaces will definitely mess with your tuning. Beyond that, high quality tuners and a properly cut nut, both being lubed, are your best weapons (IME).

  3. #3
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    PTC GA

    Default Re: Playing hard... and staying in tune

    Wondering what you mean by "Playing hard..."?

    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain
    Luthier Page: Facebook

  4. #4

    Default Re: Playing hard... and staying in tune

    Unless you have dodgy tuners, and assuming you're consistent in how you string them (e.g., knots or loopbacks at the tuner pegs), I doubt there's much you can do other than what Rob Roy says. Tuning stability is mostly about the instrument: its construction and materials, and how they respond to changing temperature and humidity.

    To lubricate the nut, try just scraping some pencil lead (or a squirt from a graphite lube tube if you have one) into the string slots.

    Make sure they are at ambient temperature before you start playing. Maybe you go for your favorites first, and they're not warmed up or cooled off yet? But more likely, they're just the ones that aren't as stable.

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  6. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Playing hard... and staying in tune

    Or donít play so hard ha that the reason I donít jam. Ainít into volume competitions

  7. #6

    Default Re: Playing hard... and staying in tune

    OK to play hard, just don't put away wet!

  8. #7
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe

    Default Re: Playing hard... and staying in tune

    I wouldn't blame tuners or the mandolins themselves. It's mostly bad nuts that cause going out of tune IME. There are few mandolins that are underbuilt and sensitive to weather, humidity, temperature etc, but they are much rarer than ugly dirty nut slots...

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