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Thread: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

  1. #1

    Question Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    So to start, I'm on my 5th mandolin and have been playing since 2002. I am currently playing a Collings MT Oval hole with Engelmann/Maple woods. The others have all been sold so this is the only one I have.

    Strings have been the D'Addario XS mandolin strings, XSM1140 - Medium, 11-40.

    I feel that I need a better treble, thicker sounding not more trebly if you know what I mean. Sometimes I feel the bass strings overpower the high A and E string and I want more of a thicker sound. Although I do play amplified thru a house PA, I want the mandolin to sound better naturally and not via adjustments to preamp or gain.

    Pickup is K&K, preamp is Sunnaudio stage DI-2

    Looking for suggestions. Maybe different strings, heavier gauges on the A and E?

  2. #2
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Try 11.5 and 16. E and A.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Try picking closer to the bridge.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Have a good look at the very top of your bridge. I have found over the years that if the strings sit on a very thin pinnacle top then the sound can sometimes be thin. I have often sanded the top so that the string is sitting on maybe on 3mm rather than 2mm. Obviously you have to consider the other strings so if you were to sand the whole of the top you'd then need to side side the other strings back to say 2mm.

    Luthier could do this in no time but I have found it gives a fuller sound. Equally if the bass strings are too muddy I often thin down the sides of the top.

    Hope this helps. I am definitely not a luthier but have handled hundreds of mandolins over 50 years so I reckon it works.

  5. #5
    8 Fingers, 2 Thumbs Ken Sager's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Whatever you're using, try a slightly thinner pick.
    Less talk, more pick.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Or just experiment with a range of picks - thicknesses, materials, shapes…. The rounder tips have more of an effect on the treble strings, too, IME.

    I like the GHS A270 set with the .016 A string. They’re not coated. But seem to last well for me.

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    Registered User Kirk Higgins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Try John Pearse 2160 (12,15,26,40) or 2170 (12,16,26,40) phosphor bronze strings with a BlueChip CT55 pick. This should help fatten up the treble strings.
    Kirk

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  10. #8
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandyplayer View Post
    I feel that I need a better treble, thicker sounding not more trebly if you know what I mean. Sometimes I feel the bass strings overpower the high A and E string and I want more of a thicker sound.
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  11. #9

    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    I would say DON'T pick closer to the bridge. That is typically going to give a harsher/ more brittle/staccato tone, atleast with an F-hole mandolin. To get a warmer/fatter/more smooth sound I'd try to pick closer towards say the 22nd fret and I'd try to tilt my pick or use the bevel if your pick has one. I was at a great workshop a couple years ago with Casey Campbell and he was saying that is a great way to take the edge off the E string.

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  13. #10

    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Collings ovals like heavier A and E strings if you want stronger treble. I personally like GHS Pure Nickel and Monels from various makers. The wound strings in those sets brings out the dry, woody sound and the heavier gauge unwound strings bring out a really nice bell-like ‘pop’. I’m also not a fan of phosphor bronze on any of my mandolins really.

    That being said, I have Thomastiks on it now and I don’t think I’ll be using anything else on it. One thing is for sure, MTO’s respond and change a lot with different string types.
    Gunga......Gunga.....Gu-Lunga

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  15. #11

    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    I just thought that maybe I can use my acoustic guitar strings that I have kept for years or have accumulated because I up the string gauges of that to .013 and .017 from .012 and .016. I don't think the mandolin will know the difference once they are installed and trimmed to fit.

  16. #12

    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by ColdBeerGoCubs View Post
    Collings ovals like heavier A and E strings if you want stronger treble. I personally like GHS Pure Nickel and Monels from various makers. The wound strings in those sets brings out the dry, woody sound and the heavier gauge unwound strings bring out a really nice bell-like ‘pop’. I’m also not a fan of phosphor bronze on any of my mandolins really.

    That being said, I have Thomastiks on it now and I don’t think I’ll be using anything else on it. One thing is for sure, MTO’s respond and change a lot with different string types.
    Thanks for this response. I was hoping someone who knew a bit about the Collings oval hole would weigh in. I've used "Monels" on my acoustic guitar and find them very good but not my "go to" string. I started using XS strings because they last so long. It's been a year since I installed the XS strings and playing quite a bit on this mandolin I still find they deliver. Uncoated strings would be long gone and multiple times. It does seem the monels last longer that phos/bronze but not sure if that is the flavor I want.

  17. #13

    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Higgins View Post
    Try John Pearse 2160 (12,15,26,40) or 2170 (12,16,26,40) phosphor bronze strings with a BlueChip CT55 pick. This should help fatten up the treble strings.
    I have a Blue Chip CT55 pick but stopped using it because I felt that it did not do everything I wanted it to, especially with tremolo picking. I was using it exclusively and then found I was having difficulty with tremolo and did not know why. I switched to Golden Gate (very rounded corners) and my tremolo came back immediately. Still, I probably should go back to the Blue Chip and figure out how to do the tremolo with that pick.

  18. #14
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    Default Re: Wanting a better treble out of my Collings Mandolin

    + 1 on the beveled pick.
    I won't bore you with all of the details of my personal pick journey...we've all got one.
    But - Golden Gates and/or Dawg picks - heavy with the rounded edge - give all of my mandolins a darker tone, regardless of string type and other variables.
    You'll figure out how to tremolo with other picks.

    Kirk

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