Will the Tone-Gard™ help my Mandolin?

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.

How did you come up with the Tone-Gard™?

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. But 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. Lloyd Loar, who was a classical mandolinist, he is sitting. I don’t think he anticipated that people would stand and play, so he never addressed 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.

Will the Tone-Gard™ Fit my Instrument?

  • SunriseGards (7-ray design) and DecoGards fit almost any mandolin based on the classic Gibson carved-back mandolins, such as F5s and A5s, approx. 9-7/8″ across the back (+/- 1/16″). Most independent luthiers’ designs are based upon those body dimensions, including Gilchrist, Stiver, Givens, Summit, Lewis, Woods, and all the Japanese and Korean mandolins.
  • VintageGards (6-ray design) are for mandolins that are 10-3/16″ across the back, such as old round-hole Gibsons, Weber Absarokas, some of the other Webers (including some F models) some Hillburns, Newsons, etc. If you have one of these instruments, please get the Vintage, and don’t try to bend out the arms of a Sunrise or Deco to force a fit.  It won't work.
  • I have a design that will fit the radiused Rigel.
  • Martins, flatback mandolins like the Trinity College, and some of the new styles of Weber may require Custom Gards.
  • Gards for instruments other than mandolins are custom-made to fit the specs of your instrument.
  • Will the Tone-Gard™ Mar the Finish?

    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, possibly 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 exception 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. Whatcha gonna do?

    Is the Tone-Gard™ Hard to Install?

    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!

    Can the Tone-Gard™ Stay on All the Time, even in the Case?

    Yes, in almost 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.

    Can One Tone-Gard™ be Used on Several Different Mandolins?

    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 eventually break.  I do not warranty such use. There are Gards that have been in service since 1986 with no problem, but they stayed on one instrument.

    How Much, and how do I Order a Tone-Gard™?

    Can I Get a Tone-Gard™ Anywhere Else?

    More questions?