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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Instrument Vibrator--It Works

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slswens - Posted - 05/28/2018:  14:45:40

Acoustic Enhancer for Mandolin
Here’s the setting: I’m an average-talent, hard-working mandolin musician. I practice every chance available, and one strategy I employ is to have a mandolin handy wherever I go: all over the house, in the car, etc. To this end, I own six mandolins ranging in cost from $400-$1,200.
The upshot is that most of these mandolins are well-constructed with quality material, but have a LONG way to go for maturity; i.e., no belly, no depth, none of the tone that years of use develops. I’m not a luthier, but do realize that price usually determines quality. SO. . .
How to “age” these lovely, but soul-less instruments.? My thinking was (and still is), “Vibrations—find a way to vibrate years into that stiff wood”.
To that end, I searched the web for such a machine, and found the most affordable to be David Andrews’ “Acoustic Enhancer for Mandolin”, which he designed primarily for violins, but has adapted for guitar and mandolin. I can’t post his website link on this round, but Google “David Andrews Violin” and you’ll find it.
Does it work? Here’s my somewhat subjective report for each mandolin I own:
Michael Kelly Legacy: no need, this particular instrument is “open” and sounds great without treatment. I used the enhancer relatively lightly (a few days), and the response continues to improve.
Fender 63: like a block of wood; beautiful, and “strong”, but very little resonance. It is opening up after a solid month, and improvement is beginning. I’m confident that a long stretch under the Enhancer will improve tone, and it’s buzzing away as I write.
KentuckyKM505 A style: No need, opened up pretty much straight out of the box. Great sound.
Eastman MD815: My most expensive mando, but I thought it would never open up. Played it for a year and pretty much gave up. A month under the vibrating Enhancer and it is definitely opening up. A unique belly, interesting. More time with the Enhancer is going to help.
Kentucky FM 160 A style: This is my car mando, the least expensive. Still “tight”, and needs more treatment, but I have confidence that the Enhancer will bring it to a maturity.
Washburn M65W: Nice trim, but an oddly small body. Its volume is never going to make it any more than a living room practice item. Plays easily. Enhancer is helping.
In summary, I'd buy an Enhancer without reservation. I’ve set up a “Giggle Stand” in the garage (it hums), and rotate my instruments through the process on a continuous schedule of a week or two each. David prices them in British Pounds, but it turns out to be $150 USD. This is an especially good investment for those of us with two or three or five mandos.

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