How to make mandolin louder

How to make mandolin louder

My daughter plays mandolin in a group with 4 others (uilleann pipes, fiddle, whistle and guitar). She needs to do something to make the mandolin louder as at the moment she can’t be heard. Any advice / tips would be appreciated. Thanks

Re: How to make mandolin louder

Is she miked? How about a contact mike?

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I have a "Tone-Gard" on my A-style Flatiron. Helps with projection by getting the instrument away from your body a bit:

http://www.tone-gard.com

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How bout a reso mando

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Tell the other players to show some respect and keep their levels appropriate. OK, that won’t work with the pipes (but it is likely that the problem stems from the guitarist, the lineup you’ve given usually balances quite well). If that fails: stiffer plectum, heavier strings, play it harder, buy a louder mandolin.

In general, if one instrument can’t be heard it’s always preferable to work out which instrument is obscuring it, and turn that down rather than turning up the quieter one.

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Buy her a shortscale banjo 😎

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You’ve got to be careful telling somebody ‘you’re playing too loud all the time’. Especially when the reason is ‘I can’t hear my daughter’. You’ll build resentment in a hurry. Mandolin is a pretty quiet instrument and I’m not at all surprised with that lineup that it wouldn’t be audible. Sorry to directly contradict you Mark M.

You said a ‘group’ - is this a publicly performing ensemble? If so, just plug the thing in. If it’s a session, amplification will probably be frowned upon, and honestly, like the low whistle, mandolin’s just not going to be a good session instrument because even by itself it’s not strong enough to cut through the background noise of an average evening at the pub. Will’s suggestion of the banjo may have been tongue-in-cheek, but in all seriousness it’d probably be a good solution. Tune it GDAE and she’ll hardly have to change anything at all.

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What Mark M said.

I once played in a bluegrass band and had to change my way of playing in order to acquire a decent volume from my low budget mandolin. It was worth the practice, but I’d never be able to play reels and jigs the way I like with that kind of wood-chopping approach.

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These are some good comments. I play mandolin almost exclusively in our sessions, and can usually be heard well enough, though I agree with tdrury that just background noise alone can sometimes overwhelm the mandolin, so it doesn’t always work. In those cases, I switch to banjo.

I use a 1920 Vega cylinder-back that I got on eBay. This type of mandolin actually has a longitudinal cylinder carved into the back, and that seems to give it more mid range and volume - at least compared to my high-end Collings MT2. Again, the Vega can be heard in most sessions, but it must be played pretty hard - I usually break about one string per session.

While the old cylinder-backs can be a bit expensive, it’s possible to find them for a reasonable price (compared to comparably good-sounding, modern mandolins) at the usual suspects, such as Elderly, Mandolin Brothers, Bernunzio, Gruhn Guitars, and so forth. Since these Vegas are already about 90 years old, they won’t depreciate while you have them if you take care of them, and may even increase in value as they become more scarce. eBay is also a good source, but make sure the seller has a lot of positive feedback, and will offer you a time period during which you may return the instrument (at your expense) for a refund.

Hope this helps.

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The thing to appreciate is that being heard is as much about frequencies as it is about volume. In the lineup the Op quotes, the pipe, fiddle and whistle all have very ‘round’ sounds, with very few high overtones. The mandolin in contrast has a very bright sound, with a lot of high overtones. So even if the pipes, whistle and fiddle are substantially louder, the mandolin will still be heard, because it is using a different part of the frequency spectrum. In that lineup it is only the guitar that is going to cause problems, because it has a similar timbre, and covers the same part of the frequency spectrum.

I lead a beginners session which typically has at least four fiddles, a couple of whistles and a piano accordion. Most of the time I lead on mandolin because, despite being substantially quieter than my fiddle (or any of the other instruments in the room), it is more easily heard above the other instruments.

I do agree that in sessions it is hard to tell the guitarist to ‘shut the **** up’ but sometimes you just have to do it. In a band situation there should be no problem at all in telling one member to play a bit quieter.

Amplification is the worst possible solution - once one member is plugged in the rest will inevitably follow, and then you’re back to square one, except 20dB louder.

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It’s just a sad fact that a mandolin isn’t a great session instrument. I love mandolin but I took up fiddle

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Well, Mark M disagrees with me back, which is unsurprising, and just fine. I’m not sure, though, why it would be just fine to tell a guitarist ‘play quieter’ but not ok to say ‘we’re getting the mandolin a small amp, you don’t need one.’ And you’ll surely not amplify a pipes or whistle?

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I play mandolin in a session every week. It fits well with the fiddles, flutes, boxes, banjo, guitar, whistles and pipes. I can lead tunes, if required, but I don’t want to be the loudest instrument. It does compliment the sound, a bit choppy in some places, some chords. You do need to dig in a bit.

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@Lillymcgill - are you talking about a performance or a session scenario?

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One of the problems I’ve found is that each person wants to sound as loud as all the others. If you have four people playing at the same volume, each one will be one-third as loud as the rest put together (by way of explanation — I’m not sure about the actual physics); but things being as they are, everyone wants to hear himself at the same level as all the others, so the inevitable gain in volume begins.
Of course it is better to play each instrument within the volume range that suits it; but human nature being what it is, everyone ends up belting the hell out of it, and the quieter instruments eventually get abandoned.
As has been mentioned, the mandolin may seem quiet to the player; but it is usually possible to hear it clearly from an adjoining room.
A lot depends on the seating arrangements as well — I have a friend who insists on sitting facing me with his guitar pointing right at me. It is far better if I can manoeuvre myself to somewhere behind his left hand; that way he can still watch my fingers without deafening me.
Perhaps a friend could listen to a couple of tunes from the p.o.v. of the audience, and make an unbiased assessment?

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Re: How to make mandolin louder

Hi Guys thanks so much for your very helpful comments.
Just to clarify its actually a competition they’re in so they are generally sitting up on a stage in a large hall with high ceilings. Yes they are all miked and we kept the mike closer to the mandolin than other instruments. They have been given some constructive feedback from adjudicators referring to the last performance which includes the fact that the mandolin can barely be heard.

She tends to use quite a soft plectrum so we’ll change that first.
Can anyone advise on good strings for trad mandolin?
Also any suggestions about the bridge?
Its a beginners Lark mandolin so the strings are probably the cheapest available and the bridge is plastic. If I can source better strings and possibly get a different bridge maybe that would help. I read in an older discussion that the bridge should ideally be wooden - I’ve no idea where I would get a new one.
Any more thoughts…?

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I use a 1mm plectrum , black nylon and heavy strings so a 12 on the top E . That suits me.

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They are all miked, and you can’t hear one of the instruments??! Sounds like a large part of the fault must lie with whoever is mixing the sound.

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Nick is definitely on to something. FWIW the same would apply if they were all plugged in.

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That’s right, it’s always the soundman’s fault. And I need more of ME in the monitor!. No, more, a little more, a little more-hey-where’s that feedback coming from?

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Ha! OK, it’s not like that can’t happen too.

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The sound man could turn everyone down and match the levels to the quietest instrument. But 5stringfool has a point. I got a pickup fitted to my mandolin… It is a couple of things that are glued on the underside of the soundboard, going to a jack output which doubles as the strap holder. Then into an external preamp. It sounds really good and the reason I got it is because even when feedback was not a problem, I couldn’t relax and play whilst trying to maintain a set distance from the mic, and also I would often bash the mic with my instrument.

So I guess the solution for the original post is probably a combination of louder playing, better miking/instrument positioning, better sound mixing, and maybe a pickup too if you don’t mind drilling a hole in the mandolin.

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Oh, the sound man is really important. After some twenty years gigging, we got a sound man who managed to find just the right PA settings to give my mandolin a sound I did not know existed. I was used to not being able to hear myself as clearly as the other instruments.

By the way, I’ve also heard stories about the mandolin being able to cut through everything - but never experienced it myself. Not at all.

Even fiddle and box can be difficult in some sessions (yes, really).

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By the way my pickup and preamp are made by K and K. I thoroughly recommend them if you want to go down this route. Not super cheap but worth every penny.

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The fact is, the mandolin is not a loud instrument (when played as a melody instrument, at least). It is no co-incidence that the mandolin is not seen that often as a mainstay in the line-up of traditional bands. Obviously, if everyone is individually miked or plugged in, then the mandolin can be turned up (or other instruments turned down) to get a better balance. But I feel that this needs to be done with caution; the aim should not be to have the mandolin at the same volume as the pipes, but to have the balance similar to how it would be in a session in a small room.

Rather than trying to boost the volume of the mandolin to unnatural levels, perhaps the best solution is to work the arrangements such that the mandolin has some ‘airtime’ of its own - or in tight duo with one other instrument (mandolin + fiddle, say). I’m not sure what the Fleadh rules are for grupaí cheoil but, dare I say it (some might consider it antithetic to the very essence of traditional music), the mandolin can sound great playing in harmony with another instrument - not all the time, heaven forbid, but just as a touch of spice here and there.

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Yes, if you are miced up the sound man is the most important part of the system, but you still have to give him a decent sized signal to work with. 0.012" strings and a heavy pick (I use a 3mm Jim Dunlop Stubby jazz guitar pick, or you can get thick, profiled picks made specifically for mandolin) will help.

Choice of microphones is also vital - the usual SM57 type dynamic instrument mics most soundmen use for everything except vocals just aren’t sensitive enough for the mandolin, You need the extra sensitivity of an electret or condenser mic - it would probably be worth your while buying one to carry with you.

But the player still needs to make the effort to play loud - a shy player will be too quiet no matter what equipment you give them, and if you turn up the amplification they’ll just play quieter. If competition judges say the mandolin is too quiet, I suspect they are alluding to the player playing too quietly, rather than the final sound of the instrument not being loud enough.

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I’m not sure whether the suggestions of getting a banjo or a resonator mandolin were entirely in earnest. Personally, though, I think it is a great shame if someone feels they have to play a different instrument from that which they really want to play, just for the sake of being louder. We choose our instruments, for the most part, because we like the sounds they make. If you play mandolin, you need to learn to exploit its strengths - of which being heard clearly above pipes, fiddle whistle and guitar its greatest one. As Mark M says, however, it is the responsibility of the player to get, where necessary, as much volume as possible out of the instrument.

As regards amplification, a pickup of some kind (in the bridge, under the soundboard - or on the outside, if you want it removable) makes life a lot easier. The sound may not be as good as that from a mike, but it pretty much eliminates problems such as feedback, leakage from the louder intruments and the need to keep a constant distance from the mike.

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Mark M-you’re right about the mic, and I will always bow to your superior knowledge vis-a vis running sound, but it seems to me that rather than spending $200 or more for a good condenser mic, it would make more sense to put that money towards a better instrument-one without a plastic bridge.

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There’s a similar conversation going on at Mudcat at the moment (the thread is called "Using powered speakers for reinforcement"). I’m not a mando player myself but I do play a "quiet" instrument so I sympathise with mando players in sessions, who I know sometimes struggle. All the comments there and here about amps making everyone else, including the pub "audience", louder, are true. Nothing like bitter experience. In the ideal world a bit more sensitivity from the players of loud instruments would go a long way, but amplifying one instrument among a bunch of unamplified ones is not a great idea. Unless you’ve spent a small fortune on your mic/pickup and your amp, you’ll sound different, not just louder, and not in a good way. Michael Eskin mentioned the Tone Gard as an option (I also mentioned this on the Mudcat thread). I have no idea how effective it is. Perhaps Michael will provide a bit more information based on his experience with it. It seems expensive for what it is, but, if it does the job…?

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5stringfool, in general I would agree with you about spending money on an instrument rather than a mic. But as soon as you start playing miced up (which this group is doing already) then the mic becomes every bit as important as the instrument. Reasonable electret mics aren’t that expensive these days, for about £50 you can get one which for this particular application will vastly out-perform the SM57 that usually comes with the house PA. Also, with mandolins cheap doesn’t necessarily mean quiet, and without seeing and hearing the current instrument it is hard to judge how much you would gain by upgrading. If you are looking at the tone, playability etc. then it’s fair to say more expensive is always better, but for volume and projection that isn’t always the case.

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The mandolin will never be the loudest instrument at a session however there are a couple of factors that can greatly impair or improve the instruments volume.

Plectrum - the majority of people I’ve come across playing mandolin use a grey dunlop .63mm. It is too thin for driving the sound from a mandolin. I use a 1.5 mm plectrum. The importance of the plectrum is such that if you were to have a look on the mandolin website www.mandolincafe.com you will see an endless amount of pages of discussions on plectrums. Plectrums cost anywhere from 1 euro to 35 euro and each one will give a slightly different sound. I would advise trying out a variety of plectrums and see which one sounds best to your daughter.

How you hold the plectrum - again the majority of people I’ve seen hold the pick like a guitar player would, between the pads of their thumb and index finger . This does not provide enough resistance for the pick to push through the strings. The majority of bluegrass mandolinists use whats sometimes known as the compton grip. (after Mike Compton) a search on google will bring up an huge amount of pages on discussions on this grip. In a nut shell the compton grip is achieved by making a loosely closed fist, place the plectrum on the first knuckle of your index finger and bring your thumb down on top to hold the pick in place. Your picking action then comes from your wrist. It will feel awkward for a little while but the benefit to your daughters playing will be huge.

Solid top mandolin - the sound of the mandolin will come from the wooden top vibrating. Very cheap mandolins will have a laminate top. this will not vibrate and the sound the sound will only come from the strings. It is next to impossible to create a lot of volume from a laminate top mandolin.

Set up - mandolins are contrary instruments and need to be setup . this means making sure the strings sit properly in the nut at the top of the neck and that the saddle is positioned correctly for intonation and is a very snug fit to the top of the instrument . Set up is vital.

Strings - D’addarrio J74 are one of the most commonly used strings. not expensive and nothing wrong with them. J75 are thicker set, thye will slightly improve volume but they will be much harder for your daughter fret cleanly.

Tone gard is a metal clip on device that holds the back of the mandolin away from the player thus allowing it to vibrate. If the instrument is plywood back it will have little effect.

Best of luck to your daughter and her group in the competition.

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I forgot to add in regard to the bridge and saddle. Generally you will find ebony ones on the higher end mandolins and rosewood on the lower end mandolins. This type of bridge and saddle is not attached to the top of the mandolin and is only held in place by the strings. It needs to be positioned correctly to ensure proper intonation.

Fixed position bridges often have a plastic\ bone saddle.

There is no hard and fast rule on how often to change strings but I find after about four weeks j74s go dull and loose volume.

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If you can afford a National Reso it is the perfect solution.
Sounds like a mandolin only louder not like the ‘funky’ jugband sound you get from the cheap Asian import resos.

I played with a mic in a very loud venue last night with the rest if the group all plugged in and with volume pedals etc. I had to stand back from the mic to balance.

It can also be played quietly.
Remember cones were invented pre amplification precisely for this issue.

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Any inexpensive beginner instrument should be considered more of a "kit" than a fine instrument.
It will need a little work to sound as good as it can. Changing the strings and bridge, or at least properly fitting the bridge, would be essential.
Any good music store that does repairs could refit or replace the bridge relatively inexpensively.

Like Noah, I also use a 1.5mm pick and J74 strings.

My first mandolin was a $50. Rouge. I refit the bridge myself, replaced the strings, and it sounded like a $100. mandolin. Still not great, but twice the better. 🙂

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Earlier this year I wrote:
"Bear in mind that there is a lot of difference in volume between various mandolins - and experience also plays a large part. In sessions, I’ve only been able to get EXACTLY the sound I wanted from but two instruments - neither was my own. Funnily enough, one had costed ~€1000 and the other ~€35. I’m certainly not known as a loud player, but at these two sessions I’m thinking of, I had NO problems being heard.

The very instruments were definitely of major importance, but also my 20+ years as a mandolin player. I’m not sure I would have been able to get the same sound in the early nineties (nor would I have had any idea that it could sound like that in a session)."

https://thesession.org/discussions/33420#comment714204

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Interesting discussion. I play mando in all kinds of sessions, parties and bar gigs and rarely feel unheard.

All the suggestions about how to be louder have merit—but you don’t want to go to extremes.

In an acoustic situation, there are really only two solutions:
1.get a louder mandolin
2. play louder!

I really don’t agree with the starting point that mandolin is a quiet instrument. It is in an acoustic niche that no other instrument occupies, so should be hearable, certainly over a guitar. I really don’t understand why beginning players are in a competition as their primary playing situation, but whatever works…

Everyone who’s commented has a valid point, but I think it’s inadvisable to tell a beginner, who like all of us is trying to be comfortable playing, to start using super-heavy picks and heavy gauge strings. Won’t do much for improving the overall sound if the instrument itself is part of the problem, which sounds like it is the case. So, here are my suggestions, starting with the cheapest and easiest.

1. Try picks that are heavier, moving up one gradation at a time. You are looking not just for volume, but for a pick that suits your music and style. Most beginning mandolinists and guitarists do start with a pick that is too flexible for projecting sound…but that does not mean you should go immediately to 1.5 or 3mm fossil stuff. After 35 years of playing, I personally like a .73mm or an .88 (Jim Dunlop Tortex)—I like a pick with just a little bit of flex. And I play pretty darn hard! (I wear them out).

2. Try medium gauge strings, see if they are comfortable and give you extra volume. Again, "a little more", not going straight to the opposite extreme of what you’re used to.

3. When looking for your next, better mandolin, try bluegrass-style ones—an A-style body with F-holes— as well as the "Irish-style" round-hole. They are designed for more volume and fast aggressive playing.

4. I recommend a Shure SM-137 condenser mike — if you’re not doing your own sound, you just tell the soundtech that you’d like to use your own mike and it needs phantom power. Cost me about $200 in Canada. Versatile. No one has trouble hearing me in a noisy pub with this on board! Lots of good pickups out there, as with mikes, they can stay with you when you upgrade to a better instrument.

And most of all, do carry on your endeavours with this noblest of instruments ;)=

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I definitely agree with using thicker plectrum: I use 1.4mm Wegen bluegrass picks. They are harder to control, as you need to keep a relaxed grip, which can be hard in more nervous situations. But with practice thicker plectrums can produce far greater volume and, in my opinion, better tone and tonal variety.

Stringwise, I’ve found that DR mandolin strings are quite a bit louder than J74s; they also seem to last longer too.

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Lots of good recommendations here. I especially like how Noah & Bill went into detail about he proper pick grip, equipment, setup, strings, etc. Here’s what I’ve discovered for myself from my 4 mandolins:

Archtops seem to be louder than flat-tops.
Tone gard is a must.
Pick thickness of 1.00mm and up. I like about 1.2-1.5mm ish.

I bought a 91 year old Gibson Junior A that is LOUD. Maybe old wood is also a factor … although my beater (A style solid carved F-Hole Top) is also LOUD.

Good to read about string recommendations. I’m on a new string search at the moment.

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Removing the pick guard may increase the volume.

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This past year I switched to flatwound strings - d’Addario makes them - on mando. More expensive but worth it, much more comfortable and don’t leave my fingers raw after a full evening of intense playing—and not prone to breakage. Thinking back to my early days, I sure would have appreciated them then! My only hesitation in recommending them to beginners is that you might find them addictive—and when trying different instruments, they won’t have the flatwounds on. And you should give yourself a chance to try and appreciate lots of different, better instruments as you develop.

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Mandolin is not a super choice for plaing tunes, in a session it will be impossible to hear the instrument. In a band it can be amplified, but it is not very common in Irish music.
Switch to banjo (17 fret ) , that is my advice, it will be a walk in the park to switch, because of the same fingering.

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I think it’s worth talking a bit more about picks, because it’s not necessarily just a case of thicker = louder.

As I see it picks fall into two catagories - flexible and rigid.

With flexible picks the situation is easy - as the pick presses against the string (at rightangles to it) the tip bends until it is at enough of an angle for the string to slip down it and ‘twang’ off the end. The stiffer the pick the more force is needed to bend it to the release point, so the louder you can play with it. Dynamics are controlled by how deeply you engage the string - use just the very tip and the pick only has to flex a little before the string is released, dig deeper and it has to bend more. The important point is that the string is released by the pick flexing, you can play with a completely rigid grip on it.

But as you go up in thickness there comes a point (usually about 0.8-1mm, depending on the type of plastic) where the pick is so rigid that it will never bend to release the string - if you hold it at right angles you could keep pushing until the string snaps. So to allow the tip to angle over so the string slides down it the whole pick has to
tilt in your grip. The dynamics are now controlled not only by how deeply you engage the string, but also how tightly you grip the pick - you have a wider dynamic range than with a flexible plectrum, but it takes more skill to control it.

Once you get above about 1mm you are into the realm of profiled picks - instead of being a flat sheet of material with a rounded edge, in cross section the pick has a curved taper towards the tip. This means that, with the pick held at right angles to the string, the face hitting the string is angled (just like the bend in a flexible pick) allowing the string to slip down and off the end. This allows you to use a more rigid grip. As you go to even thicker picks (1.5-4mm), the profiling gets more pronounced (like the bend in a thinner flexible pick) allowing a tighter grip, giving less control but requiring less skill.

Choice of pick is like religion and politics, everyone has their own views and there are no right or wrong answers. And dynamic control isn’t the only issue - if you look at rock and folk guitarist who strum a lot you’ll find they almost always use flexible picks, but jazz guitarists who need to pick individual strings fast and accurately mostly use profiled picks. Finding the right pick is a matter of experimentation, but I would encourage everyone to try using profiled picks as well as just going through the range of flexible picks.

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AS I’ve said many times re bouzoukis - two things; replace the bridge with some version of a Red Henry bridge - a one-piece bridge that sits on two feet on the soundboard, carved/drilled in ways to make the string energy transfer more efficiently to the soundboard; and a heavier, brass or bronze, tailpiece.
Also, honestly, some members of the female gender DO play rather delicately; tell her to hit the thing harder ( ducks and hides from wife, daughter, and all other wimmen )…!!!
Also, yes, if they’re miked up, then it’s the sound man’s fault.

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@houlberg: See my previous post

"Mandolin is not a super choice for plaing tunes, in a session it will be impossible to hear the instrument."

…unless you follow some of the advice given by Mark M, Jeff Lindquist, Bill Cameron et al.

"…it is not very common in Irish music."

All the more reason, then, for those that do play the mandolin to stick with it.

I have nothing against tenor banjos (Some of my best friends are tenor banjos😉), but they’re different instruments - as different as onions and garlic.

DunnP: "… National Reso … Sounds like a mandolin only louder…"

I’ve never played one of them - I’ll believe it when I hear it. The ‘funky jugband’ sound of the Asian imports is definitely not to my taste and no substitute for a ‘real’ mandolin.

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Another factor affecting volume is how you hold the mandolin. If the back is pressed against your body this seems to dampen the sound; if you point the mandolin toward a bit so the back is away from your body you get more volume. I think this is the idea behind those toneguard devices.

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"toward a bit" should read "forward a bit", of course

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Drill a couple of holes in the bridge if you can. Or even on the body (would not recommend for any instrument which is not a piece of crap)

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What?

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I’m sorry? Did you not understand what I meant?

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I suspect Blacksmith Sam is suggesting a cheaper way of doing a Red Henry bridge. Probably not a great idea. Red Henry was selling bridges for a pretty low rate, but I ended up making my own, from his website, experimenting with a £3.00 block of maple from the local woodshop, sawn down to the right thickness and worked on by me on the garden table with a power drill and a coping saw; some of them were pretty effective, No.10 is brilliant !

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"Drill a couple of holes in the bridge if you can…"

That’s a bit vague. A couple of holes where? How big? As GP says, probably not a good idea - unless you’re prepared to make lots of bridges out of different materials and experiment with different sized holes in different places etc. (what Red Henry did) or else follow a specific design.

"…Or even on the body"

Some mandolins are made with a ‘sound port’ - a hole somewhere in the top side (i.e. the side nearest your face) - to make it more audible *to the player* but has little, if any, effect on the forward projection. Cutting extra soundholes in the soundboard would probably increase the volume somewhat, but it would also alter the tone of the instrument (probably shifting the balance towards the higher frequencies), which may or may not be desirable, depending on how it sounds to start with. Besides, you’d need to take extreme caution in chyoosing the placement the holes, so as not to damage the bracing or compromise the structural ingerity.

So, in short, recommending drilling holes in the bridge or body, without further qualification, is not useful advice.

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Say that to Claudine Langille, @houlberg! Or Donal Lunny for that matter

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Noah: a plectrum costing 35 euro?!!! Can you direct me to the person who most recently bought one? I’ve got a bridge to sell them.

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Should of clarified more, see if I can. Probably not.

I have a wooden floating bridge on my mandola. The instrument was not loud enough to busk with and still play nicely. So I drilled 5 holes in the bridge, I think I used a 2mm bit. This increased the volume a fair bit.

In time I removed a flesh of wood from the bottom of the body (a sound port as CreadurMawnOrganig stated)…this increased the volume a real good bit. I use my mandola more for Primus covers rather than ITM, and drilled a series of very small holes (about 20 in total) on the face of the mandola. Once again increased the volume slightly.

I bought my mandola from a dodgy market in the outskirts of Marseilles for 8 Euro. I felt okay with messing around with it. If your Daughter has some expensive yoke, then ignore everything I said.

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Cutting extra hole in instruments is definitely not a good idea. It won’t make the instrument louder, what it will do is drastically reduce the bass. Instruments that have soundports are specifically designed to have soundports - ie. the main sound hole is made correspondingly smaller to compensate.

For anyone interested, look up ‘Helmholtz resonators’. Once you get past the basic physics most of what you find will relate to ported speaker enclosures, but the principles, and the formulae needed to calculate port size v body volume v frequency response, are exactly the same for stringed instruments.

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@CreadurMawnOrganig She will just have more fun and opportunities in the the long run, just my opinion

Re: How to make mandolin louder

"Cutting extra hole in instruments is definitely not a good idea. " Unless it’s a bodhran.

Re: How to make mandolin louder

Here’s a quick clip of the National CMO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVAb9Pb9Krs


Forgive the playing I made this a few weeks to get these two tunes I’m learning from Waifs and Strays in my head. You might see me glancing at the dots (oh the horror).

It gives an idea of it played softly. It has a lot of bite if driven though.
You can be heard in a session.
By the way I couldn’t afford one of these but have this on extended loan.
I don’t really play mando much but if I wanted one for session playing this would be it.

All the best,
Patrick

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Re: How to make mandolin louder

That mando sounds very nice. I have a friend who impulse purchased a metal-bodied resonator mando at a folk festival a few years ago, and has never brought it out to my knowledge………I played it at the time, and found it a bit brash…..perhaps light strings and a light touch might improve it.
There’s also always a mandolin-banjo, if you want to sound louder, but there are some pretty unpleasant-sounding versions of these about.

Re: How to make mandolin louder

Thanks, Patrick. Sounds lovely. Lovely tunes (the 2nd one’s especially quirky) and lovely playing too.

Re: How to make mandolin louder

That one sounded surprisingly good, Patrick! Resonator-instruments usually have a more metallic sound.

Re: How to make mandolin louder

Yeah the national is ideal. It’s amazing sounding I think. Especially with flatwound strings.

If you have the money, for me its a no brainer. I will own one one day

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Re: How to make mandolin louder

You can’t judge all resos based on the widely available Recording King or Ashburys.
There are nice Regals (and Dobros, Nationals etc. from the 30s (the ones with cone not the faux ones) and these new Nationals, which a lot of design work went into a few years ago.

I haven’t played it but a mate reports a really nice Regal he paid about 500-600 dollars for.

The tunes are the Swells of Coolarahan and the Old Maid from Waifs and strays 297 and 298.

http://joefago.com/book_WaS.pdf

Thanks,
Patrick

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Re: How to make mandolin louder

It occurs to me that the flat wound strings probably help to cut out a bit of the top-frequency jangle that I remember from my friends’ resonator mandolin. Sometimes you have to work at getting an instrument sounding right.

Re: How to make mandolin louder

Mandolins really benefit from being properly set up by a professional as well.

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