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Thread: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

  1. #51
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Denis Kearns View Post
    ... When I look at the scars on some of my older mandolins, it does make me wonder about previous owners’ picking styles. To generate similar scratches, I’d have to be really wailing on the instrument, maybe drunk, or both! Also makes me wonder what kind of music the mandolin had been a part of...
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  3. #52

    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    Mike Marshall's Loar looks like he dragged a belt sander over it, but that box had seen a lot of stages and a lot of tunes played out of it.
    It's also had it's Virzi ripped out, it's back removed and it's top and Tone bars re-graduated from the inside by John Monteleone.
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  4. #53
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Personally, I relic my instruments fast enough without an assist. But folks who play Stratocasters and Telecasters love 'em for some reason.

    The paint wears off over time, which means a lot of guitar heroes have old instruments that show their age dramatically. So some of their fans want instruments that look like they've been played at ten thousand gigs even though they haven't. Why be a pro if you can look like one? And so the relicking industry was born.

    There are two schools of relicking. The cheap school just finishes a guitar and beats it up — for instance, lovingly sanding the paint off the upper bout and other areas where paint wears off fastest.

    The booteek school relicks them to match various guitar heroes' worn-out instruments. Do you want yours to look like Clapton's Blackie? Garcia's Alligator? Something in a Stevie Ray Vaughn? There are luthiers who specialize in duplicating the wear of famous instruments.

    To me, it makes as much sense as those shredded blue jeans that high school girls (and people who should know better) wear.
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    My lacquer instruments show almost no wear. My main mandolin, a varnished instrument, shows a ton of wear. It also sounds much better. I think there is a significant wear difference between the two finishes, especially if you gig a lot, which I did. Still gigging, but not quite as much these days. Playing outside for the 5th day in a row tonight. I think the weather also takes a toll on varnished instruments.
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  6. #55
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    My lacquer instruments show almost no wear.
    Yep, big difference there. My mandolin bought new 15 years ago shows no surface wear at all, because it has a hard-as-nails lacquer finish. I removed the finish from the back of the neck because I like the look and feel, and it was a PITA to feather the lacquer into the bare wood.

    I kinda wish the body would show at least SOME wear, for all the time I've been playing it. But no. And I'm not about to try doing it artificially.

    My Santa Cruz acoustic guitar has a lot more visible life experience, from pick scratches (never loan your guitar to a stranger) to a pattern of "craquelure" lines in the lacquer. That happened on a trip through North Dakota in the middle of winter, when I stupidly left it overnight in the truck. No damage to the guitar but the finish didn't like it.

  7. #56

    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    ... My question is Does distressing an instrument improve tone and play ability? I honestly don't know.
    Not sure if this counts, but something that came to mind is this famous story from rock'n'roll lore...(not Loar! )...the story, as I remember it from my youth, when the Beatles went to India to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Donavan and some other well-known musicians were also there. Supposedly, John, Paul and George brought their Epiphone Casinos on the trip. Donovan suggested they SAND the finish off their guitars to really make them "open up." John and George did this and Paul decided not to. I certainly don't know if Donovan had some inside information about tone, but two of the Beatles thought it was worth the gamble. Again, those are electric guitars, not mandolins. And, who knows what kind mind enhancing was going on besides the TM. Then again, John's Casino did sound pretty good on the "rooftop" concert!

  8. #57
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    ... I just wondered how many people actually have instruments that look distressed like the created ones do from natural playing.
    Obviously Bill did, but the distressed look on his instruments came somewhat naturally, sort of like an old overworked hammer. There aren't too many folks who use up their tools as completely as he did.

    I've put plenty of accidental marks in my instruments, but generally I keep them in "gently used" shape.

    When I'm looking to purchase an instrument, I don't mind honest wear as long as the whole instrument looks like it's been respectfully used -- I'm not into abused instruments though. And I'm not likely to buy a new, "distressed looking" instrument. I'll put my own wear marks into it.
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    I wonder, of those with contempt for "artificially" relic'd instruments...if you played such an instrument that met every other personal criteria, both sonically and ergonomically, would you utterly reject it for its aesthetics? Are there any here who would unwaveringly dismiss/reject an instrument without ever playing it, simply because the luthier had elected to distress the finish? Would you be embarrassed to be seen with an instrument artificially aged, even if it was the best sounding/playing instrument you had ever encountered?

    Personally, I think it is important to be satisfied with an instrument's aesthetics, moreso, the more one pays for it. I own one somewhat radically relic'd (and expensive!) electric guitar, chosen strictly by virtue of how it sounds and played, and I tolerate the look. I further rationalize its appearance knowing that I would likely inflict some "relic-ing" to some degree on a shiny, brand new one in regular use, devaluing it for resale (and I always have the inevitable resale in mind when I make a purchase). I will admit I dislike having to explain the appearance when someone inquires ("no, it wasn't made in 1955.."), but I enjoy the guitar and thus, grin and bear it...
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    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    It boils down to personal preference.
    I vote for honest play wear.
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by musicofanatic View Post
    I wonder, of those with contempt for "artificially" relic'd instruments...if you played such an instrument that met every other personal criteria, both sonically and ergonomically, would you utterly reject it for its aesthetics? Are there any here who would unwaveringly dismiss/reject an instrument without ever playing it, simply because the luthier had elected to distress the finish? Would you be embarrassed to be seen with an instrument artificially aged, even if it was the best sounding/playing instrument you had ever encountered?

    Personally, I think it is important to be satisfied with an instrument's aesthetics, moreso, the more one pays for it. I own one somewhat radically relic'd (and expensive!) electric guitar, chosen strictly by virtue of how it sounds and played, and I tolerate the look. I further rationalize its appearance knowing that I would likely inflict some "relic-ing" to some degree on a shiny, brand new one in regular use, devaluing it for resale (and I always have the inevitable resale in mind when I make a purchase). I will admit I dislike having to explain the appearance when someone inquires ("no, it wasn't made in 1955.."), but I enjoy the guitar and thus, grin and bear it...
    If it was the best sounding instrument ever, I would restore it to it's state before it was damaged. It would take a lot of persuasion though, just to make me try it, especially when most of these instruments exist in a nondamaged version as well, as that is how they start out.

    Yes I would be embarrassed to be seen with a pretend "veteran gigger" instrument.
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    Kentucky KM-805..........2 Hora M1086 Portuguese II(1 in car)
    Hora M1088 Mandola.....Hora M1087P Octave
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by musicofanatic View Post
    I wonder, of those with contempt for "artificially" relic'd instruments...if you played such an instrument that met every other personal criteria, both sonically and ergonomically, would you utterly reject it for its aesthetics? Are there any here who would unwaveringly dismiss/reject an instrument without ever playing it, simply because the luthier had elected to distress the finish? Would you be embarrassed to be seen with an instrument artificially aged, even if it was the best sounding/playing instrument you had ever encountered?

    Personally, I think it is important to be satisfied with an instrument's aesthetics, moreso, the more one pays for it. I own one somewhat radically relic'd (and expensive!) electric guitar, chosen strictly by virtue of how it sounds and played, and I tolerate the look. I further rationalize its appearance knowing that I would likely inflict some "relic-ing" to some degree on a shiny, brand new one in regular use, devaluing it for resale (and I always have the inevitable resale in mind when I make a purchase). I will admit I dislike having to explain the appearance when someone inquires ("no, it wasn't made in 1955.."), but I enjoy the guitar and thus, grin and bear it...
    If the wear was legitimate performance play wear and the instrument was the best among those I’d played I would consider overlooking the wear. If it was artificially “relic’d” so the player could pretend to look like one of the cool kids, then even if it was particularly good feeling and sounding I’d be likely to let someone else have it.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny View Post
    If the wear was legitimate performance play wear and the instrument was the best among those I’d played I would consider overlooking the wear. If it was artificially “relic’d” so the player could pretend to look like one of the cool kids, then even if it was particularly good feeling and sounding I’d be likely to let someone else have it.
    Why assume that a player bought a relic-ed instrument so that they could "pretend to look like one of the cool kids"? Who are these mythical "cool kids"?
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    Why assume that a player bought a relic-ed instrument so that they could "pretend to look like one of the cool kids"? Who are these mythical "cool kids"?
    Why else??
    Kentucky KM-805..........2 Hora M1086 Portuguese II(1 in car)
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by poul hansen View Post
    Why else??
    Hmm, perhaps because the instrument met the buyer's criteria for playability and sound?. Why make assumptions about things? You have no way of knowing what someone else's intent is. There's no need to belittle people just because you feel strongly against relic-ed instruments and others don't. Talk about first world problems.
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    Hmm, perhaps because the instrument met the buyer's criteria for playability and sound?. Why make assumptions about things? You have no way of knowing what someone else's intent is. There's no need to belittle people just because you feel strongly against relic-ed instruments and others don't. Talk about first world problems.
    Jill, any mandolin problem is 98% of the time a first world problem!
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    My main guitar is a 000-15 Martin Streetmaster. With incredibly fake wear on it. Bought it because it had the sound I was looking for. Yes, many folks don't like them, but they must sell as Martin keeps making them.

    A couple of my mandolins have good, honest wear. Some still look pretty clean. The Flatiron with what I believe is a Fullerplast finish will probably never show much wear. We'll see, just got it so haven't been able to properly beat it up yet.

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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    We know distressing changes the "look" of an instrument, and I fully understand that the "look" genuine or not is very important to some performers. My question is Does distressing an instrument improve tone and play ability? I honestly don't know.
    In the controversy over the concept of an instrument "opening up" over time, I have not heard the alleged improvement in tone to be associated with physical wear to the surface of the instrument. A reliced instrument looks old enough to have "opened up", so maybe that is something.

    As to playability, the only improvement I have heard of is the "speed neck", where the finish is removed from the neck to allow faster and smoother hand movement. In my experience it does provide some advantage actually.

    I know more than a few trombone and trumpet players who have removed the lacquer from their instruments, for what they perceive is an improvement in tone and responsiveness. I don't know if there is any science behind this. And I don't know why they de-lacquer more than just the bell of the instrument. My suspicion is that, like artificial distressing of a guitar or mandolin, the result being pursued is simulated experience, as when I distressed my shiny new hard hat before reporting to the work site.
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    I have all natural wear on my instruments. If anything, I would be tempted to clean them up a bit, because for the amount of time I have been playing this thing, I should be much much better.
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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by musicofanatic View Post
    I wonder, of those with contempt for "artificially" relic'd instruments...if you played such an instrument that met every other personal criteria, both sonically and ergonomically, would you utterly reject it for its aesthetics? Are there any here who would unwaveringly dismiss/reject an instrument without ever playing it, simply because the luthier had elected to distress the finish?
    Yeah, I'd reject it out of hand, regardless of what it sounded like. First, because I like playing instruments that look a little different from the norm, like my semi-transparent brown-stained redwood top Lebeda mandolin in my avatar image here. I wouldn't want someone else pre-determining the look of an instrument to that degree, and where someone else would have one that looked exactly the same. Just a matter of aesthetics and principle.

    The second reason is that I'm not much of a believer in "The One" that's better than anything else. There are too many great instruments out there. If something puts me off about an instrument, it's easy to take a pass, knowing I can find another one that will please me just as well eventually.

    Would you be embarrassed to be seen with an instrument artificially aged, even if it was the best sounding/playing instrument you had ever encountered?
    Embarrassment doesn't enter into it. I'm too old to be embarrassed by just about anything these days. I don't care what others think about my instruments. I even play an F-style mandolin in Irish/Scottish trad sessions (shock! horror!).

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  27. #70
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    I have a few "not very pretty" instruments, some I purchased in that state but not because I wanted to look "authentic", the price was right and they sounded good.
    While I am less discerning with my clothes than mandolins I would not purchase those jeans with the holes already cut in them. Lord knows I've worn pairs that should have been condemned to the quilters table.
    I would maintain that mandolins do change tone over time and the very act of playing the instrument affects that and usually positively.
    I have owned a few mandolins for more than a few years and it is noticeable to me anyway. Perhaps I listen too hard?
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  28. #71
    Registered User rnjl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    I haven't bought- or more accurately, I haven't bought and kept- a mandolin in a long time but a few years ago I bought a Blueridge guitar (000) from Reverb and it's pretty beat up. That was a selling point for me because: 1) it was much less expensive than a pristine used one and 2) I won't fuss over not getting it scratched or dented.

    The latter advantage also applies to cars- I just don't worry about my 2008 Scion with 100K + miles on it, it's got scratches and dents and stains and that's fine. I'd be neurotic about a new car (I've never bought one) or a pristine expensive instrument.

    But intentional distressing is not my thing, to each their own, no harm in it.

  29. #72
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    I wouldn't relic a mandolin, or buy one because it was reliced, all other boxes checked I would not hesitate to buy one just because it was reliced.
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  30. #73
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Ok, I am guilty, I relic’d a mandolin! Am I embarrassed about it? Well, yeah. I feel silly playing it out, but folks who’ve asked about it said it was cool.

    The mandolin is an Eastman MD315, my cheapest mandolin, but one I liked well enough to plan to keep forever. I didn’t particularly care for the blotchy finish, so that was a factor. I had already sanded down the neck, so that a factor. Also factors were the distressed model Gibson was selling for over $20k (made to look like Monroe’s mandolin), an uptick in companies selling relic’d guitars (Pre-War Guitar company was selling three levels of relic, and they were seemingly very popular with some pro players), and an interview with David Crosby in which I was shocked by all the wear (honest, I’m sure) on his Martin D45.

    So, I went to work with sandpaper and a pick. I kept wondering how in the heck Monroe and Bush did so much damage to their mandolins’ finishes! How did they get to those spots? Must have been some crazy arm action?

    I think my results were ok. Looks more like Bush’s mandolin than Monroe’s. Making wear look real is not as easy as one might think (and it’s not like I’ll get any more practice doing so). I do like the playability and sound of that mandolin, so I play it a lot. It’s my go-to when playing conditions are less than favorable or I don’t want to take my Kimble (my other main mandolin). I guess I secretly enjoy the fact that that mandolin is now so different and that I did it, honest wear or not.

    The heavy fret wear is all honest! I’m already wondering how whoever does my fret job will respond to the “wear” on the rest of the mandolin. I’m preparing myself for some skeptical or ridiculing comments and snickers.

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  31. #74
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Sure fooled me …

    I stopped by to hear a few tunes from a circle at the Pearl Bluegrass Jam a few years ago, of note was a guitarist who was sitting atop a picnic table, carrying vocals and playing a professionally polished, in-the-pocket, subtly nuanced guitar part to everything they were doing. A pause came and he was chatting with the others who seemed to know him, apparently he’d been gone for some time and had recently returned from Nashville. I asked him how long he’d had that well worn and awesome sounding guitar, and he said it was brand new, he’d just gotten it, bought it distressed. I was a little shocked, honestly.
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    From a 2004 Cafe thread discussing the new Distressed Master Model mandolins...

    Charlie Derrington said,

    "We start with a regular Master (except the head veneer) and finish it all the way to completion. We then "back up" and do the wear process. The cracks are fake, so they will not affect structural integrity.

    Now here's the weird part. They sound different from a regular Master Model. Don't ask me why, because I have no idea why the distressing process should change the sound. They have a slightly "drier" tone."

    ------------

    Big Joe Vest said,

    "The Distressed Master does have a markedly different tone. It is drier and older sounding. Not only do they look old, smell old, and feel old, but they also sound old. I have a couple of theories, but that is all they are. It is the next best thing to having the real thing and even better than some of them! Try it, you'll like it!"

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