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Thread: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

  1. #101
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    I buy seriously worn and often-repaired used instruments.

    If I get a new instrument, I play it until it's seriously worn, and sometimes repaired.

    Experimenting with finishes -- kind, thickness, etc. -- will doubtless result in acoustic effects that some will prefer (and others not). That this is done as part of a process to make an instrument look older, and more played, is IMHO coincidental. Hypothesize that one could get the same effect by applying finish in a similar fashion, without calling it "distressing" or displaying faux wear.

    I found that Fender, in making "Closet Classic" distressed electric guitars, applied acid to the tuning machines to simulate years of manipulation by sweaty fingers. This strikes me as borderline stupid, but to many an 18-year-old rocker, it's probably "cool."

    So, I say haughtily, "I'll distress it myself, thank you kindly!"
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  2. #102
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    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!
    Hollow body electrics though... and George maintained that it worked for the rest of his life. So... ? (I don't know myself)
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  4. #103
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    The other thing that hasn't been mentioned in 'natural relicing' is the acid content of people's sweat. Rory Gallagher and Stevie Ray Vaughn literally burned the finish off their stratocasters. Compare that to Clapton's Blackie, which has finish wear, but nowhere near the extent of the other two. Compare Sam Bush's 'Hoss' to Bill Monroe's number one... Bill whipped his like a mule - so does sam. But... And Sam's hoss has been played by Sam for nearly as long as Monroe played his... Given that story above of Bill borrowing Charlie Derrington's F5, we might see a difference in approach.

    As to my opinion on artificial wear? (autocorrect won't let me use the 'r' word as a verb). It's your instrument - you do as you like. Keep it pristine, take the finish off, etc. None of my business. Some of them look great (like yours, Doug - great job). Some relic jobs look terrible. Some natural wear looks terrible.
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  6. #104
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    . . . My question is, is the distressed look what most people's instruments look like?
    PS -

    I didn't actually answer your question, did I?

    Yes, my mando and guitars look distressed. (But the mando looks a lot better than when I got it.) Note to relickers: Anyone who thinks I can't wear out my own instruments underestimates me.

    There's a silver lining to the relicking movement. I did an unprofessional paint job painting one one of my Strat bodies, and it approvingly gets called roadworn or a closet classic. Relicked it myself trying not to!
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  7. #105
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    The standard for distressed mandolins would have to be Monroe’s Loar before it was smashed, right? So that instrument was 40 years old when he bought it and he went on to play it probably 300+ nights a year, traveling in a bus, for another 20 years. That’s how a varnished mandolin reaches the “distressed” stage.

    On the other hand, my nitro finished P bass from 1968 looks pretty beat up, while my poly finished P bass from 1995 looks basically new. I wish it showed a little more aging. I like the look of usage in almost everything, but wouldn’t buy anything pre-beat. In bicycles we call is beausage.

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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Forgive me if it was mentioned and I missed it, but one thing which makes a big difference is how far the body of the instrument is from the strings. In other words, the closer the strings to the body, the more likely it is that you will get marks from your pick on the instrument.

    For example, I play two instruments made in the 1980s by Stefan Sobell - a 10 string mandolin and an octave mandolin, both cedar-topped. The octave has strings set higher from the body than the mandolin and has very little wear, but the mandolin is certainly well worn. I have used both of them constantly since I got them. I use clear nail varnish to touch the 10 string mandolin up every couple of years or so.

    I also have a Seagull guitar which I picked up only two years ago which has needed the nail varnish treatment, but other guitars which have been in the house for much longer have not, nor has a Collings MT mandolin which I have had for several years.

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  10. #107
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    David makes a great point re: not all instruments are created equal - the finish on the Weber Gallatin that I used to have (it was a custom Gallatin so had a gloss finish rather than matte/satin finish) started to flake to the point of being able to scratch it off with a fingernail on the neck and parts of the body. I used to busk a lot with that mandolin and would be out in the sun with it so I don't know if that played any part or if it was just the type of finish used. Nothing like that happening with my Girouard which has a varnish finish. While the neck on it feels "worn in" there's no visible finish loss.
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  11. #108

    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    ...This strikes me as borderline stupid, but to many an 18-year-old rocker, it's probably "cool."
    Along with that is a matter of "perspective," that is, to a kid today an 1982 Ibanez is a 40-year old "vintage" guitar. Whereas, a 21-year old Keith Richards in 1964 bought a "used" 1959 Les Paul -- just a FIVE year old used guitar, albeit, a quality one....

    A pet peeve of mine (among many, it seems!) is the INCORRECT use of the term "vintage." When the vintage guitar thing started 40 or so years ago, everyone knew we were talking about cool old instruments made with a quality not available today. Nowadays, the term has come to include vintage styled, themed or reissue instruments, sadly. To a point that an eBay search for "vintage guitar" reveals about 99 percent new and reissue guitars with only a tiny amount of actual old instruments. I try to pinpoint the search by adding a year, but again, 1959 Gibson or 1962 Fender shows mostly reissues, because they have appropriated the "years," as well.....

    I wish these major corporations would consult me first before they do such silly things...........

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  13. #109

    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    A pet peeve of mine (among many, it seems!) is the INCORRECT use of the term "vintage." When the vintage guitar thing started 40 or so years ago, everyone knew we were talking about cool old instruments made with a quality not available today. Nowadays, the term has come to include vintage styled, themed or reissue instruments, sadly. To a point that an eBay search for "vintage guitar" reveals about 99 percent new and reissue guitars with only a tiny amount of actual old instruments. I try to pinpoint the search by adding a year, but again, 1959 Gibson or 1962 Fender shows mostly reissues, because they have appropriated the "years," as well.....
    +1 to that. How did we ever get to the point where "Authentic 1939" means anything but.?.
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  15. #110
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    +1 to that. How did we ever get to the point where "Authentic 1939" means anything but.?.
    Ha! Am sure the archives of the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum has a lot to say about that. As did Flatpick-L back in the day. (Then again, these were folks that could and would argue over what the term "hot hide glue" meant.)
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  17. #111
    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    A pet peeve of mine (among many, it seems!) is the INCORRECT use of the term "vintage."
    Hi Jeff,

    I agree completely. Actually, I'll take it a step further. Vintage is a winemaking term with a specific legal definition. It means the year the grapes used to make the wine were harvested, ergo the year the wine was made. Although to some, it seems to indicate a 'quality' wine, it does not. Except in specific circumstances, even the worst rotgut wine has a 'vintage'. It's the year the grapes were harvested, pure and simple. So specific is the term that it cannot be applied to wines made from fruit other than grapes. The federal government regulates this and will not allow it.

    So, if I cannot use the term 'vintage' on my Asian pear wines, Fuji apple wines or Japanese plum wines, why do I see it used on cars, guitars, mandolins, comic books, even electronic games? And, on all of those it is meant to imply some level of quality, which it does not and cannot. We've misused the term to the point that it has become meaningless in most instances. Yet, I still cannot apply it in an instance where it would make sense (year of harvest of fruit other than grapes, used to make wine).

    OK, OK, I'll get off my soap box. Language is an ever-evolving thing. I get it. But still, it gets my back up.
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  19. #112
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    I am vintage. I do not have mojo as far as I know and if playing in a manner that would cause most people to turn and run then I guess I play like butter, but I have a good time doing it. Yeah, there are some terms I do hate, vintage isn't one of them. Taterbug is.

    Oh, and vintage should only be applied to those mandolins produced in the Vintage region of France.
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  21. #113
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    vintage should only be applied to those mandolins produced in the Vintage region of France.
    Built in Vintage County, Kentucky IMO…

  22. #114
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Of course, everyone knows, the descriptor "vintage" when applied to US made musical instruments, means pre-1970. It does not change with the passing of years like the term "antique", but rather refers to the point in time when US musical instrument manufacturing largely went to crap as a result of the combined effects of 1) companies being run by lawyers and accountants instead of instrument builders, 2) most of the quality resources being no longer available and 3) competition from non-US manufacturers. I am aware of the claim that "language is an ever evolving thing", but that mostly seems to mean "I will call anything whatever I wish to, with no regard for established convention, as long as it suits my purposes".

    Additionally, if one searches the word "vintage" on ebay, the search results number over 18.000.000.

    And yes, I too, dislike someone referring to my mandolin as a taterbug...

    Okay, now I will get off my soapbox...
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  23. #115
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    At least in australia - antique - 100 years or more
    Veteran -75 years or more
    Vintage - 50 years or more
    Classic - 25 years or more

    So that cheap no brand you have that has the broken tuning key, that was made in 1972 - vintage.

    Everything else that’s not about the date is marketing guff
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  24. #116
    Registered User gspiess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    So here's a link to a Facebook post where the mandolin was intentionally set on fire. Not quite distressed, but...
    https://www.facebook.com/dubovamusic...HL8PkrKFGnA4Xl
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  25. #117
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Hi Jeff,

    I agree completely. Actually, I'll take it a step further. Vintage is a winemaking term with a specific legal definition. It means the year the grapes used to make the wine were harvested, ergo the year the wine was made. Although to some, it seems to indicate a 'quality' wine, it does not. Except in specific circumstances, even the worst rotgut wine has a 'vintage'. It's the year the grapes were harvested, pure and simple. So specific is the term that it cannot be applied to wines made from fruit other than grapes. The federal government regulates this and will not allow it.

    So, if I cannot use the term 'vintage' on my Asian pear wines, Fuji apple wines or Japanese plum wines, why do I see it used on cars, guitars, mandolins, comic books, even electronic games? And, on all of those it is meant to imply some level of quality, which it does not and cannot. We've misused the term to the point that it has become meaningless in most instances. Yet, I still cannot apply it in an instance where it would make sense (year of harvest of fruit other than grapes, used to make wine).

    OK, OK, I'll get off my soap box. Language is an ever-evolving thing. I get it. But still, it gets my back up.
    Unfortunately, you’re correct, it does evolve, and those other meanings have been absorbed into the language according to Merriam-Webster.

    Referring to an item as having a high quality due to its age is now accepted practice. Now we can just argue about when an item legitimately can be described as vintage. Lately i see solid body guitars manufactured in the 1980s sold as genuine vintage.

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vintage

  26. #118
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distressed Mandolin and Regular Playing

    My 46-year-old Guild D55 that I bought new at a tiny store called Guitar Center in LA in '76, still looks quite nice. Oh, it has little dents and bruises, and pick wear behind the pickguard. The back of the neck has some of the finish worn off from my hand playing on hot stages in the 70's and 80's, but just to look at it, it is no where near the intentional "distressed" look. I agree. If an instrument is cared for, and kept in its case when not being played, they don't have to be beaten up. I would just as soon not have a beat-up instrument to begin with-- although I wouldn't turn one of these down: https://www.guitarcenter.com/Gibson/...74115035940.gc
    Last edited by lflngpicker; Sep-28-2022 at 9:12pm. Reason: More info
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