First, check out these custom Gold Tone-Gards. The “W” is for “Weber.”
You probably haven’t seen
a Tone-Gard unless you’ve seen Radim Zenkl perform and have paid
attention to his mandolin up close and personal.
The Tone-Gard … is a thin,
flat metal device that gently but firmly attaches to the back of your
mandolin by friction and compression. It’s construction is wire about
one-eighth-inch in diameter tacked together so it resembles a spider
web. The contact areas are shielded from the instrument with rubber
that fits over the metal frame.
The manufacturer says that it should not mar or hurt the finish on
your instrument, but it’s “buyer beware” and that he can not assume
responsibility for marring. “If you put it on and take it off carefully
and correctly, you shouldn’t have scratches or nicks.” So far there
have been no reports of finish reaction or discoloration with the
rubber insulators, but again, there are no warranties,” he said.
The Tone-Gard holds the back of the mandolin about one-fourth to
three-eights of an inch away from your body and clothing. Several
solutions to problems are achieved. The most important is that you no
longer have to swing the back of the mandolin away from your body to
achieve the true, non-muted tone of the mandolin. You won’t perspire on
the finish on the back of the instrument. Your mandolin back won’t get
as scratched from your buttons and zippers. And lastly, you won’t bring
andy buttons in contact with the back that give you a new rattle or vibration.
The Tone-Gards are handmade by Antone Pires of Visalia California.
He makes them part time, one at a time, and they are under a hundred
bucks — one more great device from getting something more out of that
mandolin that your spouse said you paid too much money for and you’d
better not trade it for another one!
This clever device really works well, fits in your case, staying on
the back of the mandolin when you put it away. It is very low profile
and easy to get used to. I won’t play my mandolin without it now that
I’ve gotten used to it. Two thumbs up Antone!!
© 2001 Ken Cartwright & Mandolin Magazine
The ToneGard is the creation of Antone Pires. Once you see it,
you’ll wonder why no one invented it sooner. Like all great gadgets,
it’s uncomplicated and elegant. The ToneGard design is based on the
elementary principle that a mandolin sounds better if its back is
allowed to vibrate freely. Simple huh? The problem is when you play a
mandolin it is usually held against your chest which very effectively
damps the back of the instrument. Some players lean forward while their
playing to allow the back some elbow room, but this is a surefire path
to back and neck problems if you try to do this all the time. So what’s
a mando player to do? Enter the Tone-Gard.
What this device does is move the mando back away from your chest.
It does this by way of a welded steel rod cage that mounts on the back
of the mandolin. It is held on by three metal mounting arms that grasp
the sides of the instrument. Where the ‘Gard does touch the back there
are several 1/2″ pieces of rubber tube with felt bumpers that mount on
the ‘Gard. While this sounds ungainly, in reality it is very neat. The
‘Gard adds only 1/2 extra thickness to the mandolin, so not only does
the instrument fit easily in its case, but a player’s normal way of
holding the instrument are unaffected. It weighs only a few ounces so
the mandolin’s weight seems unchanged. This design works on almost
every mandolin on earth. It fits on both “standard” F-style and A-style
mandolins without any modification. Unusually shaped instruments like a
mandola or Olde Kraftsmen mandolin can also be accommodated with a
Next question, does it work? Oh yes. In A/B tests it’s clear that a
mandolin with a ToneGard sounds like a mandolin that is being played
away from your body. Compared to an unmodified mando, the ToneGarded
instrument has more volume and greater bass extension. Besides the
sonic benefits, there are some important ergonomic advantages. By
removing the mando back from intimate contact with your chest you
eliminate the summertime phenomena known as “the wet spot”. When I play
mando in warm weather I get all kinds of hot and sweaty. While my sock
solution keeps my forearm from gumming up the front of disgusting. I
literally had to peel the mando off my chest. With the oneGard, there’s
some space for cooling air to pass between the mando and my heaving
breast. Now that is COOL.
Since some folks need to see that someone “big” (besides me) is
using a product before they’ll take it seriously, Radim Zenkl, mandolin
“superstar,” uses ToneGards on all his instruments.
- Our mutual friend [...] sent me a Tone-Gard recently to try and I love it! I’ve had students show them to me, and at workshops we’ve done A-B tests (with and without Tone-Gard) where the device gets unanimous approval. Just last week I did a recording session where both the microphone and room were especially good, so I could really hear the difference the Tone-Gard makes. After I was done playing my part, I wanted to stay and just listen to the mandolin!
- Thanks very much for putting this all together, and best wishes for continued success. It seems like before long a Tone-Gard should be standard issue with every mandolin, like shoulder rests for the violinist. Sincerely, – Don Stiernberg www.donstiernberg.com
- I bought it a month or so ago, and figured that Wintergrass would be the Big Test for it. I am pleased to report that I am very happy with it. The thing I like is that it makes my mandolin *louder*, with no apparent loss in tone quality. So, now even when a jam gets louder than I might like it to be, I can still participate (and actually hear what I am playing). – Steve S.
- I got the Tonegard and was delighted with it. It even fit into my case. People I’ve showed the Tone-Gard are very excited about it. – Josh B.
- I installed the Tone-Gard when I got home and it really helps the sound to be more consistent and better.I was able to get that sound before but could not hold the instrument comfortably for any period of time. Now it will sound great all the time. Thanks for a great piece!! See Ya, – Jay
- I received the Tone Gard on Monday. It works well to expectations for improvements in tone quality and volume, and it exceeds expectations for its unobtrusiveness as to appearance. Thanks for the prompt shipping. – Carl R.
- I got the Gard yesterday and it works great! I haven’t taken it off my mando since it arrived. Thanks for creating such a good product. Take care, – Mickey S.
- I received my Tone-Gard yesterday. Works really well–such a simple concept, but well executed. Given that I own a great sounding mando (IMHO), I thought the only thing left to improve my tone was the really hard one: PRACTICE! <g>. Considering what a lot of us spend on mandolins, there’s nothing out there that’s going to enhance their sound as much as using a Tone-Gard. My Dearstone just rings on forever! Guess I’ll be saving up to equip the Rigel G-110 now <g>. – Tony B.