Please scroll down, there’s lots to see here, and it's not in any special order (or click on names in the Table of Contents). 

Practically a “Who’s-Who” of contemporary mandolinists!  (and some older ones too)

Examples of standard and many custom Gards for Mandolins, such Rigels, and also for Guitars, Ukes, Autoharps, and even Banjos.

Many photos are “thumbnails” that you can click for larger image.

If you’re not here and should be, please send a photo (jpg) showing your Gard, and any comments to

David Grisman

(website) uses the custom Dawgard for a louder bark and more bite: “I’ve been using Tony Pires’ ToneGard for well over a year now and I think it’s a wonderful thing…. My impression is that by keeping the back of the mandolin from touching one’s chest, the instrument is free to resonate more. I notice more highs, more lows, and more volume, which is always nice to have in a live situation. I also use it in recording and find positive results there as well. In fact the only time I don’t use it is when I forget to put it on…. Thanks to Tony Pires for a true mando-improvement.” CoMANDO (2003)

Thanks to the Dawg for mentioning the ToneGard and yours truly in his liner notes to his 2003 CD with Sam Bush, “Hold On, We’re Strumming“!


Ricky Skaggs

(website) is a great guy, in addition to being a superstar. He uses a custom Flowerpot design Tone-Gard on his Gibson Lloyd Loar F5s and Gilchrist.

Ricky at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, October 2011,  'Gard arm visible on lower side of mandolin

Chris Thile

(MySpace) the hottest next-generation mandolinist, with Punch BrothersNickel CreekGoat Rodeo Sessions (2013 Grammy for Best Folk Album), and recipient of a 2012 MacArthur "Genius" Award. The arm of his Tone-Gard shows clearly in his video ad for D'Addario EXP strings (e.g., at 0:29); hear how well his mandolin projects with a Tone-Gard.


John Reischman

(website) Many people think that John has the best-sounding mandolin in the world (but perhaps any mandolin in John’s hands is the best-sounding mandolin in the world). An alum of Good Ol’ Persons and Tony Rice Unitnow he plays with his band The Jaybirds, or as a duo with John Miller

Chris Hillman

(website) was a member of The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Desert Rose Band, and has played with folks like Emmylou Harris, Stephen Stills, Vern Gosdin, David Crosby, Gram Parsons, Dan Fogelberg, J.D. Souther, Bob Dylan, and Roger McGuinn.

Roland White

(website) has played with everybody from the Kentucky Colonels (with his brother, the late guitar hero Clarence White), to Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass, the Country Gazette, and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.

Radim Zenkl

(website) was the very first professional endorser of the Tone-Gard. He has taken his Tone-Gards all over the US and Europe, bringing it to the attention of more people than anybody else. His workshops and articles in various publications have done a lot to make the mandolin-playing public aware of the Tone-Gard. He has also challenged me to make Gards to go where there were none. Kind of a R&D lab on tour.

Andy Statman

(website) Years ago Radim met Andy Statman, and in the course of things showed him the Tone-Gard, and the rest is history. I can’t begin to tell you how cool this is for me. Andy Statman has always been one of my heroes, and to have him endorse the Gard is amazing. I wish I could remember some of the great things he had to say about the Gard, but I was in shock. What do you say to your hero?  The Fall 2005 Mandolin Magazine cover story about Andy Statman said at page 6: “To ensure that he can generate maximal tone and volume from the A-style, oval-holed instrument [a Gibson A2Z snakehead from 1922 or '23], he keeps a Toneguard [sic] wire support device on the back so he doesn’t inhibit the back’s vibrations by holding it directly against his body.”

Mike Marshall

(website) another “needs-no-introduction” mandolinist and teacherco-founder of the Mandolin Symposium, performer with the Darol Anger-Mike Marshall Band, Anger & Marshall, Choro FamosoMarshall & Thile, Edgar Meyer group, formerly of the David Grisman Quintet, Psychograss, Montreux, the Modern Mandolin Quartet, etc., etc.

Joe Craven

(website) soloist extraordinaire and a longtime member of the David Grisman Quintet and other great groups, uses a Gard on his most conventional instrument.

Don Stiernberg

(website) the foremost jazz mandolinist in America today, says: "I love it! It seems like before long a Tone-Gard should be standard issue with every mandolin, like shoulder rests for the violinist.”


Paul Glasse

(website) jazz and western swing great, featured on voluminous projects with artists such as Tiny Moore, Johnny Gimble, Mark O’Connor, Jethro Burns, Mike Marshall, Tony Trishka, Jerry Douglas, Howard Levy, Peter Rowan, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Eldon Shamblin, Allison Krause, Keely Willis, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Michelle Shocked, Laurie Lewis, Riders in the Sky, Asleep at the Wheel, and many others, says: "I think the Tone-Gard is a great invention. It allows my mandolin to resonate to full potential and helps protect the back of the instrument as well. I depend on it every day. Thanks Tony!"

Wayne Benson

of the headline bluegrass band IIIrd Tyme Out, says: "These really do make an incredible difference!"

Will Patton

(website), has been playing all kinds of music for over 30 years now, including celtic, jazz, rock and roll, bluegrass and Brazilian choro.

Tom Rozum

(website), performing partner of Laurie Lewis, as well as fine singer and instrumentalist in his own right, has Gards on his 1924 Loar F-5 (the Custom “Dog-Boy” Gard) and 1924 H-1 “Nelson” Mandola:

Eric Thompson

of Eric & Suzy Thompson, Bluegrass Intentions, and many other groups (check out video clip with Jerry Garcia — scroll down to bottom of that page), is enthusiastic about the benefits of the Gard on his vintage Gibson F-4:


Dix Bruce

noted musican, writer of instructional material, proprietor of Musix, and former editor of Mandolin World News:

Dana Rath

co-founder and long-term member of the Modern Mandolin Quartet shows off the ‘Gard on his Monteleone:

John Paul Jones

(website) who played mandolin as well as bass guitar and keyboards as a member of rock legends Led Zeppelin, has a custom Zep-Gard:


Jason Dennie

(website) with his Breedlove and BRW:


Alan Bibey

of BlueRidge with his custom AB-Gard:


Kenny Epps

(website) shows his Shamrock-Gard to Ronnie McCoury backstage at Greymont. Ronnie has one too, and told Kenny that he just uses it when recording.


Matt Sircely


Rigel “Ruby” CT-110 in its special Rigel Tone-Gard (photos by F. Farrell):

Ted Eschliman

MandoHack’s infamous Rigel Blue CT-110 is garded of course.

Scott Gates

shows his Gard to Evan Marshall (Photo courtesy of Andy Gates)

Steve Martin

IBMA 2011 "Entertainer of the Year" winner with the Steep Canyon Rangers, with a Banjo-Gard on the back of his custom responator-less clawhammer banjo (see BanjoHangOut forum):

Mark Johnson

(website) "This gard looks and feels great  I love it" says Mark, the 2012 winner of Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.  Mark and Steve Martin (with Banjo-Gards) appeared on David Letterman Show, with Emory Lester (below) on guitar:

Emory Lester

(website) He said in Mandozine“My main (and only) mandolin now is the 1996 Bruce Weber Gibson … It has a ‘Tone-Gard’ on the back of it … I can hear an audible difference with it as opposed to without it. David Grisman turned me onto that thing at the Grey Fox Festival in New York several years ago. Obviously, when he speaks, I listen.”

Howard Burton

(website) "It fits great and looks great! From the moment I fitted it I could tell a difference in the tone of my banjo, it seemed to have a more rounded balanced tone, it's difficult to fully describe, certainly an improvement to my ears."  A custom banjo-gard designed to fit over the resonator:

Some custom designs

Here’s a custom Hartford Whalers ‘Gard:

The custom Kokopelli-Gard:

The custom HarpGard features a Celtic harp motif:

Patsy Kline

Custom Dragonfly-Gard:

Jim Jensma

John Toman

who made the “Tone-Gard” wood name plaques in some of the photos. Here’s his custom gard:

Craig ‘Lumpy’ Lemke

(website) with custom Aloha-Gards:

Speaking of palm trees, is the AlohaGard available for ukeleles?

Sure. Here is the Martin baritone uke of...

Eric Segnitz

Peter Lee

With a d’Aigle Cascade Autoharp:


Drew Horton

“Although I already had considerable volume and tone on my Hilburn mandolin, adding the Gard gave me more punch when I really needed it (Bluegrass), but as importantly allowed me to play with a lighter attack when maximum volume wasn’t needed, allowing more finesse. The Gard increased the dynamic range of my instrument and increased my joy in playing it…. I really appreciate my Tone-Gard and would never leave home without it.” Drew left home in Boulder, Colorado, long enough to win the 2001 mandolin championship at Winfield playing his F-5 made by Jim Hilburn of Louisville, Co. He displays his prizes:

Drew is the sole legitimate descendant, amongst reputedly hundreds of illegitimate descendants, of the legendary Rom (”gypsy”) mandolinist Hor’tone, from whom he inherited the Djangolin. De rigeur are Custom ‘Gards for the Djangolin:

I also make GuitarGards, such as this Maccaferi-style and two views of a Martin 000 gard

Greg Charland


Here are Dreadgards on a Martin D-18. A standard D-Gard is also available.

Doug Carlton

Brian Delaney

of the Royal Garden Trio with his ‘33 Gibson L-5 guitar. He likes his custom Tone-Gard for strolling gigs.

Rick Grant

Master luthier Michael Lewis of Grass Valley, CA, made his “Bobby Osbourne Model” F-5 (I believe #4 of the Bobby Osborne Signature line). Rick’s Timberline Studio did some of the photos on the homepage and here. Thanks for everything (you know what I mean).

Steve Kirk

with his Jethro-model Washburn:

Linda Binder

(website) and her Breedlove Orca Tone-Garded:

Rachel Singleton

of The Glenville State Bluegrass Band

Tony Phillips

pickin’ buddy, as well as webmaster of, shows the Gards on his mandolins, one made of osage-orange by master harp-builder Dave Thormahlen, and a 1982 F5 by John Welch. (Note to potential website contributors: compare this awkward vertical double-mandolin technique with Tom Rozum’s more graceful horizontal method, above.) At right is his custom Klez-Gard, used with klezmer band the Red Hot Chachkas.

Alan Bond

Next, the fore and aft views of his 1976 Stan Miller. Nice rosewood, eh? Alan and his band Dark Hollow are busy folk. Check out at Alan Bond’s Berkeley Mandolins

John Bird

with his Kentucky Dawg. I’d love to pick in this guy’s back-yard.

Tony Pires

Last but not least, my 1986 F-5 made by Paul Newson of Manton, Michigan. Also a few custom Gards. One day I’ll dig through the shed and track down the old version #1 so you can truly see how far the Gard has come…. Contact me at