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Thread: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Just saw this on facebook, Mike Compton has a pic of his Gil in a stand with the tone traveler on it. It just got a new fingerboard and had the neck angle worked on by Steve Gilchrist himself (The "Woodbutcher") and it looks like Steve's his last step is to use the tone traveler.

    I've been on the fence about getting a tone traveler for a while and I've been trying to get some feedback on it from this forum. That being said if it's good enough for Steve Gilchrist I recon I'll buy two.

    NOTE FROM SITE ADMINISTRATOR: this discussion has been closed for violating Forum posting guidelines as the originating party is acting on behalf of the company selling the product. Detailed here.
    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; Aug-01-2022 at 3:47pm.

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	tonerite study.pdf 
Views:	593 
Size:	583.6 KB 
ID:	202324
    In case you'd like evidence.

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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	tonerite study.pdf 
Views:	593 
Size:	583.6 KB 
ID:	202324
    In case you'd like evidence.
    Hey john that's a really interesting study on the effects of a 60hz vibration on the body of a guitar. There's a big difference between that and what the tone traveler does. They claim the main difference is using the tuned frequencies to directly effect the frequency response of those strings, which makes sense to me. The study even notes that 60hz is not a musical note.

    It looks like this study was in response to the tone rite, which i've heard uses a 60hz vibration.

    Also maybe should put more weight on Steve Gilchrist's using it than the 5 musicians that the study got to play their guitars.

    Either way I just put my order in. I'll keep folks posted with results!

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by FourPairPicker View Post
    ...They claim the main difference is using the tuned frequencies to directly effect the frequency response of those strings...
    The laws of physics state that objects (including guitars and mandolins) vibrate in their normal modes of motion in response to any stimulus and the frequencies of those modes are fixed, not variable. Also, normal modes of motion are the only movement possible, according to physics. That means, (once again according to physics) that it doesn't matter what the input frequency is, the guitar or mandolin will behave similarly in response. That's good enough for me and I won't be buying any tone rites, tone travelers, stereo speakers or anything else to vibrate my instruments.
    I know that speculation and debate are much more fun for lots of people, but for me, give me the numbers to back up the claim and I'll consider the evidence.

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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    As someone who has worked with products that got stress tested for vibration, I can tell you that an object's response to vibrations can absolutely change over time and they absolutely react to different vibrations. That's why you can break a glass with the right pitch. Resonance has a huge effect on mechanical systems. Now I'm not the guy who was doing the stress testing but I had a lot of really interesting conversations with those guys. Either way I love having these discussions with folks and totally respect your stance

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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by FourPairPicker View Post
    ……………..
    Also maybe should put more weight on Steve Gilchrist's using it than the 5 musicians that the study got to play their guitars…….
    Just like following Lloyd Loar and putting in Verdi’s all over the place.
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  10. #7

    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Well recently virzis have come back into fashion. I heard Wayne Henderson talking about them last time I was up there. Maybe old Lloyd was onto something?

    I'm just saying that guys like Gilchrist know a whole lot about mandolins and I really trust their opinion.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    I've worked on and repaired Gilchrist mandolins, so I feel like I know as much about them as he does.

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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Ninety years have passed since Virzis were patented. Pretty slow uptake.

    And I’m just saying some very respected folks can be very idiosyncratic.
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by FourPairPicker View Post
    ...object's response to vibrations can absolutely change over time and they absolutely react to different vibrations...
    Metals (at least some of them) react to vibration/flexing by work hardening and eventually fatigue. (It happens with strings, BTW.) When that happens the 'thing' (whatever it is) becomes stiffer and remains about the same mass. Stiffness and mass determine the frequencies of vibrational modes, so when either one changes the frequencies of the modes change. I've seen no evidence of that happening in wood in response to vibration, though I believe the study I linked might have showed a little in response to age, which could possibly be explained by the loss of hemicellulose from the wood, but I don't think the study considered that so it's just conjecture on my part.

  15. #11

    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    I have use the tone traveler since it first came on the market. The results are stunning. The thing that makes this product different from all the other instrument enhancement processes is its ability to isolate individual frequencies. For new instruments, or old masterpieces that are recovering from surgery or have just been retrieved from a long stay in the attic, it is a remarkable tool to wake them up. It also gives the user the ability to isolate certain aspects of sound color that may need enhancement, like the bass on a treble-sounding instrument. In general use, it helps create that magic separation between notes that the old instruments have on a new instrument. For me it’s all about clarity and distinction with every note having equal power. Every instrument I send out nowadays has had this treatment, and all my customers have been delighted.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Repeating myself from posts made years ago about the ToneRite:

    Do ya'll know what nobody has ever done to my knowledge? Nobody has ever put a new mandolin in a jig to hold it in a fixed position relative to a microphone, and made a simple plucking gizmo to draw a pick across the strings. A pendulum dropping the pick from a fixed, repeatable height would do it. The idea is to remove human variables. Just record the pick sweeping across the strings into a computer DAW from that fixed mic position on a brand new mandolin.

    Now use your Tone Traveler or ToneRite, or crank your speakers up loud and play your favorite David Grisman album on 24/7, whatever, to vibrate the mandolin.

    Do that for as long as you like. Now put the mandolin back in the jig with the microphone at the same fixed position and use the auto-strum gadget the same way you did before. Record it and look at the waveforms. Is the volume higher? There are a lot of claims about improvement in "tone" with these gadgets but they're usually accompanied by claims about louder volume. This is at least something we can test scientifically.

    Do this test and prove it increases volume. Preferably with more than one instrument so it's not just a one-off result.

    Anecdotal evidence about how "it sounds better" isn't worth much when you know how fallible human memory is, and subject to confirmation bias. What I've done with all my instruments when I wasn't happy and wanted something better, was buy a better instrument, not look for a quick fix.

    Edit to add: Forgot to mention but obviously, fresh strings each time before and after.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    I watched some of the demo video on the Tone Traveler page. I can sort of understand how playing certain frequencies can perhaps alter wood instruments but I find it hard to understand how it can work on a plastic banjo head. But what do I know anyway?

    Then again I would like to know if I applied the mandolin setting to a guitar could I make it sound like a mandolin? Sadly I like the instruments I own and don't want to change them.
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Repeating myself from posts made years ago about the ToneRite:

    Do ya'll know what nobody has ever done to my knowledge? Nobody has ever put a new mandolin in a jig to hold it in a fixed position relative to a microphone, and made a simple plucking gizmo to draw a pick across the strings. A pendulum dropping the pick from a fixed, repeatable height would do it. The idea is to remove human variables. Just record the pick sweeping across the strings into a computer DAW from that fixed mic position on a brand new mandolin.

    Now use your Tone Traveler or ToneRite, or crank your speakers up loud and play your favorite David Grisman album on 24/7, whatever, to vibrate the mandolin.

    Do that for as long as you like. Now put the mandolin back in the jig with the microphone at the same fixed position and use the auto-strum gadget the same way you did before. Record it and look at the waveforms. Is the volume higher? There are a lot of claims about improvement in "tone" with these gadgets but they're usually accompanied by claims about louder volume. This is at least something we can test scientifically.

    Do this test and prove it increases volume. Preferably with more than one instrument so it's not just a one-off result.

    Anecdotal evidence about how "it sounds better" isn't worth much when you know how fallible human memory is, and subject to confirmation bias. What I've done with all my instruments when I wasn't happy and wanted something better, was buy a better instrument, not look for a quick fix.

    Edit to add: Forgot to mention but obviously, fresh strings each time before and after.
    This would be a good start, but...

    Keep the instrument in the jig and apply the [your favorite tone enhancing gadget] to it while it is in the jig, and you can eliminate a whole set of positional mount related variables.

    Keep the same strings on the instrument and test it without changing strings, picks or anything else, and you can eliminate a whole set of setup variables.

    I'm sure there are a lot of other variable groups that could also be eliminated with other special procedures.

    The more variables that are eliminated, the more reliable are the results.

    But why has no one done this? In general, we really don't care that much what the results would be; they are all still subject to personal evaluation and -- doubt.
    -- Don

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  21. #15

    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    I live under a flight path, placing my mandolin on the balcony during non-curfew hours. Lots of different frequencies at varying volumes. Does wonders and worth a try.

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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    When everyone’s hearing is the same, we might be able to come to some agreement.
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    I am going to hold out for the "Tone Time Traveler" where it will take you and your mandolin into the future to see how it sounds 100 years from now.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    I didn't want to post on this, but this tone traveler thing was just too much.

    From the Dr. Herringbone website, on a page entitled "Why it Works" (or something like that):
    "The Tone Traveler delivers a set of fundamental tones and corresponding overtones that have been meticulously engineered to condition the wood of your instrument, unlike any of its predecessors. As the Tone Traveler begins to open up your instrument it becomes clear that the Tone Traveler adds the same clarity and focus that only hours of time spent playing an instrument can produce. Unlike any other device on the market, the Tone Traveler is a musically tuned poly-phonic system, the first of its kind in the world of instrument play-in devices."

    There are so many things in that statement that evoke something like a patent medicine show. I'll try to be as brief as possible. The hyphenated word "poly-phonic" should tip one off. "Polyphonic" is a compound word that refers to two different melodies played simultaneously in a piece. So whatever Dr. Herringbone had in mind, his use of "poly-phonic" indicates a lack of actual scientific or engineering expertise on the part of whoever wrote that blurb.. I don't intend to be picky, so I'll assume that the use of the word was intended to describe a multi-frequency excitation, which is what the blurb seems to imply. A further implication is that the frequencies are the same as those of the string first harmonics (what Dr. H called fundamentals) and higher harmonics (what he called overtones). Now, is that really unique and/or new? The short answer is no and/or no. True enough, the "ToneRite" (sp?) used a 60 Hz excitation frequency. But was that a specific limitation? As I remember it, the ToneRite sat on the bridge and applied that 60 Hz excitation to the instrument, INCLUDING the strings. Regardless of how one excites the strings, they move in their normal modes of motion, and not anything else, just as the plates and the rest of the instrument parts do. That was already pointed out by Sunburst. Note that the string frequencies are usually not the same frequencies as the body mode or body & neck bending mode frequencies. The string frequencies include their first harmonics ("fundamental") and higher harmonics. However you excite a string, you excite essentially ALL of its modes (with a few exceptions, depending on where you excite it). In turn, those string motions excite essentially ALL of the instrument body modes, and in turn its air modes. Further, if the ToneRite used a 60 Hz square wave excitation (I don't remember at the moment), it was actually providing a multi-frequency excitation, since a square wave has many Fourier components in addition to its fundamental.

    So now that we've shown that the TT excitation is not all that different in substance from "its predecessors", that brings us back to the Stanford study (provided above by Sunburst). The Stanford study showed pretty unambiguously that the TR did essentially nothing to an instrument, per a statistically valid evaluation by a sufficiently large panel of listeners. Admittedly, the study was done on the TR, and not the TT. But given the point I made above that the TT excitation is not actually different in substance from that of the TR, the case for skepticism of Dr. H's claims is pretty strong.

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  28. #19

    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cohen View Post
    Regardless of how one excites the strings, they move in their normal modes of motion, and not anything else...
    Absolutely; a universal truth. But you'll have to admit, it can sometimes lead to the object really opening up.

    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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  30. #20
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Tone Traveler says:
    As the Tone Traveler begins to open up your instrument it becomes clear that the Tone Traveler adds the same clarity and focus that only hours of time spent playing an instrument can produce.
    Wait a minute! Isn't that what we all want to do? Play our mandolins (or other instruments) for hours at a time. Wouldn't we prefer to do that than spend $360 to have a machine do that for us?

    Some sort of obsession with instant gratification. I will never forget reading on one of the guitar sites about some guy who was super excited about his newly acquired $15,000 guitar and ended by saying, "...and I can't wait until it opens up in a few years."
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I am going to hold out for the "Tone Time Traveler" where it will take you and your mandolin into the future to see how it sounds 100 years from now.
    Now you are talking. And I heard the deluxe model will take you back to 1924 and a store where you can buy one of those curly-cue mandolins with the f-holes.

    My cranky self says why not just sit and play your mandolin for hours at a time. It is also interesting to me that Gilchrist who makes some of the best sounding mandolins on earth feels a need to make them sound better? Am I missing something here?
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  32. #22
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Play 'em and it will come...

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  34. #23

    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cohen View Post
    I didn't want to post on this, but this tone traveler thing was just too much.

    From the Dr. Herringbone website, on a page entitled "Why it Works" (or something like that):
    "The Tone Traveler delivers a set of fundamental tones and corresponding overtones that have been meticulously engineered to condition the wood of your instrument, unlike any of its predecessors. As the Tone Traveler begins to open up your instrument it becomes clear that the Tone Traveler adds the same clarity and focus that only hours of time spent playing an instrument can produce. Unlike any other device on the market, the Tone Traveler is a musically tuned poly-phonic system, the first of its kind in the world of instrument play-in devices."

    There are so many things in that statement that evoke something like a patent medicine show. I'll try to be as brief as possible. The hyphenated word "poly-phonic" should tip one off. "Polyphonic" is a compound word that refers to two different melodies played simultaneously in a piece. So whatever Dr. Herringbone had in mind, his use of "poly-phonic" indicates a lack of actual scientific or engineering expertise on the part of whoever wrote that blurb.. I don't intend to be picky, so I'll assume that the use of the word was intended to describe a multi-frequency excitation, which is what the blurb seems to imply. A further implication is that the frequencies are the same as those of the string first harmonics (what Dr. H called fundamentals) and higher harmonics (what he called overtones). Now, is that really unique and/or new? The short answer is no and/or no. True enough, the "ToneRite" (sp?) used a 60 Hz excitation frequency. But was that a specific limitation? As I remember it, the ToneRite sat on the bridge and applied that 60 Hz excitation to the instrument, INCLUDING the strings. Regardless of how one excites the strings, they move in their normal modes of motion, and not anything else, just as the plates and the rest of the instrument parts do. That was already pointed out by Sunburst. Note that the string frequencies are usually not the same frequencies as the body mode or body & neck bending mode frequencies. The string frequencies include their first harmonics ("fundamental") and higher harmonics. However you excite a string, you excite essentially ALL of its modes (with a few exceptions, depending on where you excite it). In turn, those string motions excite essentially ALL of the instrument body modes, and in turn its air modes. Further, if the ToneRite used a 60 Hz square wave excitation (I don't remember at the moment), it was actually providing a multi-frequency excitation, since a square wave has many Fourier components in addition to its fundamental.

    So now that we've shown that the TT excitation is not all that different in substance from "its predecessors", that brings us back to the Stanford study (provided above by Sunburst). The Stanford study showed pretty unambiguously that the TR did essentially nothing to an instrument, per a statistically valid evaluation by a sufficiently large panel of listeners. Admittedly, the study was done on the TR, and not the TT. But given the point I made above that the TT excitation is not actually different in substance from that of the TR, the case for skepticism of Dr. H's claims is pretty strong.
    Interesting a quick google of the word polyphonic brings this up: "producing many sounds simultaneously; many-voiced."

    That being said I don't think that arguing semantics on this is very productive.

    The tonerite totally mutes the strings of an instrument so I think your point about exciting the strings to produce their tones is pretty blatantly untrue. Even if it did excite the strings the loudest frequency emanating throughout the body of the instrument will still be 60hz. I am not totally convinced that vibrating a piece of wood can't change it. Whether its the drying sap within it being displaced to different "nodes" of the wood or even the structure of the wood being changing due to the different wavelengths of the notes bending the top at different places.

    And long story short, while I think that study is really interesting I don't think it's conclusive. Their using humans as test equipment and the true test equipment they used was set up to test a device that is patently different than the tone traveler.

  35. #24
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  37. #25

    Default Re: Gilchrist Using The Tone Traveler On Mike Compton's Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    Absolutely; a universal truth. But you'll have to admit, it can sometimes lead to the object really opening up.

    The excitation on the Tacoma Narrows bridge was many, many orders of magnitude higher than what is being talked about here. Vibrating the wood can change it IF the excitation is high enough. If you read the Stanford study that John presented, one of the major findings was that the excitation from the Tone-rite was so low that it would have no effect on the material properties of the wood no matter how any cycles it was exposed. You can open things up with one cycle to failure if you hit it hard enough with a hammer also.

    The Tonerite or Tonedoctor or Tonewrong or whatever is a lot like homeopathic medicine where solutions are made so dilute that they are entirely water that claims to carry magical properties. Or home Ozone generators that do nothing but are claimed to cure all ills. If you pump in enough ozone to have a real effect it will poison you. That has been proven over and over but people still swear by ozone generators. Hair in a Can looks just like the real thing too. Magic solutions are everywhere.

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