Mike & Dawg

Me & Dawg

David Grisman (website) uses the custom Dawg-Gard 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)

And 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“!

Custom Dawg-Gards (2016)

Custom for DG's mandola

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.

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.

Fall 2005 Mandolin Magazine cover story about Andy Statman: “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 teacher, co- founder of the Mandolin Symposium, performer with the Darol Anger-Mike Marshall Band, Marshall & Thile, Edgar Meyer group, David Grisman Quintet, Psychograss, Montreux, Modern Mandolin Quartet, etc. etc. etc.

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

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

Chris Thile, 2012 MacArthur "Genius" Award, Goat Rodeo Sessions, 2013 Grammy for Best Folk Album, and host of "Live from Here" radio show.

Chris Thile (MySpace) preeminent mandolinist of his generation, performing solo (e.g., J.S.Bach Sonatas and Partitas), duo with Mike Marshall, and with Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek.

Alan Bibey of BlueRidge with his custom AB-Gard

John Reischman (website) Many people think that John has the best-sounding mandolin in the world — although any mandolin in John’s hands might make that impression, especially with a Tone-Gard on it! An alum of Good Ol’ Persons and Tony Rice Unit, he is the bandleader of John Reischman & the Jaybirds.

Emory Lester (website) 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.”

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.

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.”

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.

Paul Glasse (website) jazz and western swing great, featured 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!"

Dix Bruce, noted musican, writer of instructional material, proprietor of Musix, and former editor of Mandolin World News.

Frank Sollivan. Frank Sollivan & Dirty Kitchen was 2014 IBMA Instrumental Group of the Year. Their guitar player Chris Luquette uses a D-Gard.

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

Steve Kirk with his Jethro-model Washburn

Steve Martin, IBMA 2011 "Entertainer of the Year" winner with the Steep Canyon Rangers, uses a Banjo-Gard on his custom clawhammer banjo (see BanjoHangOut forum).

Steve Martin, takes his Banjo-Gard seriously.

Chris Hillman (website) was a member of The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Desert Rose Band (backing Emmylou Harris).

John Paul Jones (website) who played mandolin, as well as bass guitar and keyboards, with Led Zeppelin, has a custom Zep-Gard

Tom Rozum (website), long-time performing partner of Laurie Lewis, and 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

Joe Walsh (website) Among other activities, Joe plays with Darol Anger in Mr. Sun, and teaches at Berklee School of Music and online at PegheadNation.com

Greg K., Deering Clawgrass Banjo custom

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."

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

Drew Horton, 2001 Winfield mandolin champ: “Although I already had considerable volume and tone on my Hilburn mandolin, adding the Gard gave me more punch when I really needed it (for 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.”

He 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.

Jason Dennie (website) with his Breedlove

Jason Dennie's BRW F-5

Teo Quale (Crying Uncle) mandolinist of the future (and present)

Sierra Hull (website), photo by Bearrr


Two Gards are better than one!

Kenny Epps (website) with Ronnie McCoury backstage at Greymont. Ronnie has a 'Gard too, and told Kenny that he just uses it when recording.

Kenny's Custom Shamrock-Gard

Matt Sircely (website)

John "JT" Toman made the “Tone-Gard” wood name plaques in some of the photos.

Custom Kokopelli-Gard

Custom HarpGard with a Celtic harp motif.

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

Patsy Kline, Custom Dragonfly-Gard

Jim Jensma, StarsGuitars Gard

Tony Phillips, custom Klez-Gard


Hartford Whalers custom 'Gard

Craig ‘Lumpy’ Lemke (website)

Custom mandolin Aloha-Gard

Custom guitar Aloha-Gard

Linda Binder (website) Breedlove Orca

Rachel Singleton of The Glenville State Bluegrass Band


Greg Charland custom DreadGard on a Martin D-18

Neckless guitar! Test design for guitars and ukes that rests further forward, for finger-style and jazz guitar players

2015 prototype for dreadnought guitars

R&D design for Seth Oster's custom Gibson L-7 jazz guitar

Peter Lee, with d’Aigle Cascade Autoharp

Eric Segnitz's uke

Alan Bond, 1976 Stan Miller

Nice rosewood back, eh?

Rick Grant, with his “Bobby Osbourne Model” F-5 made by Michael Lewis of Grass Valley, CA. Michael came up with the name “Tone-Gard,” encouraged me to produce the 'Gard for others, and for years was the only reseller.

Rick Grant, early adapter, another early 'Gard design. See photo at top of Home page!

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


Tony Phillips, webmaster since way back when.

John Bird with his Kentucky Dawg.

John Bird, early adapter.

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 info@tone-gard.com