I have yet to hear a mandolin that doesn’t benefit from the Gard. Plus the added benefits of quicker “wake-up” of the instrument, and the protection of the back from zippers, buttons, and belt buckles.
My first “good” mandolin was a Japanese F-5 copy, which I thought was OK until I played a real hand-made instrument. Then I realized mine didn’t cut it in volume and tone. Bu I did notice that when I sat down it didn’t sound so bad. With some experimentation, I realized that, just like a fiddle, the vibration of the back of the mandolin helps produce sound. I also noticed that in all the old pictures of Mr. Loar, who was a classical mandolinist, he is sitting. I don’t think he expected anybody would stand and play, so he never had to address the problem of the back being muffled against the body. The Tone-Gard is my solution to the deadening of the sound caused by contact with the human abdomen.
As a mandolin player and user #1, I’ve tried to make the Gard as mando-friendly as possible, but I’m not a millionaire or an idiot. I don’t “guarantee” the Gard for anything except workmanship, and that’s why it’s very affordable. It is the cheapest and quickest way to improve the sound, as well as protect the back. As long as the pads are maintained, you can expect your mandolin back to look like the day you bought it, with some very minor scuffing where the upper pads are, which is easily rubbed out. I can say this because I’ve had a Gard on my mandolin since 1987. It’s had lots of hours, gigs, and miles on it since then.
The only instruments for which I will NOT make this
claim is French-polished mandolins. I have yet to come up with
something that won’t mark an instrument that, when the owner played it
without a Gard, left a perfect imprint of his shirt on the back of the
mandolin. In these instances, Gards should decrease the damage to the
back, compared to no protection at all, but there may be minor marks left by the Gard. Waddya gonna do?
Not at all. Just lay the instrument on
its top, and bend the arms at the waist and tail of the Gard until the
arms hold it snugly in the center of the instrument. Ready to go!
Yes, in 99% of all cases, including Calton cases. The Gard only adds about 3/8″ to 1/2″ to the overall depth of the instrument. You should leave the Gard on all the time, for the reason explained in the next paragraph.
I really do NOT recommend it. I’m not trying to sell more Gards; it’s a matter of metal fatigue. If you keep taking the Gard on and off, over time the spring arms will fatigue, and they will eventually break. There are Gards that have been in service since 1986 with no problem, but they stayed on one instrument.