Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Hearing my guitar at a noisy jam

I go to a few jams that get pretty big - too big to hear my own guitar sometimes.

I have a built in pickup in my guitar. I’m wondering if I got guitar headphone amp, plugged it into the guitar, and then plugged ear buds in to it could I use those ear buds as a monitor? I’d keep one bud in and one out so ideally I could hear all the other instruments and be able to hear my own more clearly in one ear.

Any of y’all ever tried something like that?

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I have this struggle too sometimes but I don’t like the sound of a pickup. In a big jam, I’ll just make sure my strings are new and bright (I use medium gauge) and I also use a pretty thick BlueChip pick. That gives me the best volume. Still aren’t always heard, but the other people need to learn to quiet down for guitar solos!! :slight_smile:

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Just tell everyone else to be quiet!!!

Just kidding. It’s a great problem to have when you are surrounded by so much music that you can’t hear the instrument in front of you. It gets easier with time, but I don’t know if you get better at listening, or just trust what you think you are playing. I guess one other option would be to switch to banjo :wink:

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I wonder if that Tone-Gard that is sold on the store would help us Mandolinists project should more?

If someone has this and can comment, that would be great… but @Jake’s demonstration video on the store seems most impressive…

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I have a tone guard on my mando. Makes a big difference to me - mando is definitely louder. I’ve had folks comment on “that’s a loud mandolin”. The OP has a guitar though, and the General Store sells tone guards for guitar, but I’ve never observed one in use.

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I am sold… as it seemed like a great demonstration and @Flatpickin_Libby and @Mike_R might take notice too… although this is a Mandolin item.

I wanted to get one as it seems like the best way to play “normal” (not in an odd position like some professional Mandolinists who hold the Mandolin away from their body) but get the better time value.

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Thanks all! What got me going down this path was the idea of a wireless in-ear monitor. I’ve seen different solutions on the market but I think they require an amplifier. Then I thought “oh ho! don’t they sell amplified headphones for those travel guitars?” I may have to spend a few bucks to test this one out!

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I had one when I was playing mandolin… I did not like it! It’s cumbersome and takes the joy out of playing a featherweight instrument (makes it feel about twice the weight). Some players may like the feel of the extra weight. I will say, it does what it’s supposed to do… It definitely unmutes and let’s the sound come out! But learning to keep it away from your belly is the better option in my opinion.

I’m not knocking it… It’s a fine tool and it really works! Some players like them a lot, I’m just not one of them. That doesn’t make me right, it’s just personal preference.

To specifically answer your question: It will help mandolinists project more, but only if they are keeping the back tight up against their chest and belly.

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I’d just try to cozy up to some of the folks on the same wavelength and skill level as you and peel off into a smaller jam. I’ve never understood the appeal of a dozen or more people attempting to make music. Sorry I know that’s not very helpful but that’s the way I feel.

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I have one on a mando. I do like it. I would generally hold the mando off my body and this lets me be lazy. I am not sure it is louder, but it is certainly a better, deeper quality of tone. I don’t think it would help as much on a guitar.

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I have a tone guard on my mandolin too, and it makes a noticeable difference, but like Mike I’m playing a Collings and they’re generally loud to begin with. Guitar is almost always the quietest instrument in any jam I’ve sat in on. You’ll get some funny looks and unsatisfying results trying to electrify your way out of it. Smaller is better, one or two of each instrument, tops. I will amend my earlier advice a little though: if you find anyone who is playing at a higher level by all means jump on it. Best way to get better is to be the weak link. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! :grinning:

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@jw11 ,

What did you do with your Tone-Gard? Did you return it? If not, I might be interested…and you can reply to my email: mdgri3@gmail.com

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I completely agree Jim!

Sorry Will, I sold it along time ago… then I sold both my mandolins! I don’t even have a mandolin anymore. Sometimes I do miss having one though, but I’ve been working on Resonator guitar in it’s place. With my schedule, too many instruments to try to concquer just doesn’t work.

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Has no one heard of Parliament Funkadelic?!?

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@WillCoop
I have a tone-gard on my mandolin and I think it’s made a HUGE difference. I think that it sounds fuller, deeper, and probably louder. The main difference I felt when I put it on was the position of the mandolin. It was amazing! The headstock was always heavier than the body until I put this on which made it so much easier to play. It freed up my left hand instead of constantly holding up the neck. Not sure if others felt this way? But I definitely would recommend one for mandolin!

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Guitars are often the quietest instrument in a bluegrass jam. I put a sound port in each of my bluegrass guitars.


When I play, it is pointed directly at my chin and gives me the boost I need to hear myself in a noisy jam. I used a thin 3 layer mahogany laminate glued like a small patch on the solid mahogany sides to keep it from cracking at the edge of the dremel cut hole. Another benefit is that I hear the fullness of the guitar tone as if I were sitting right in front of the guitar.

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@Lucy_L,

That is nice feedback… Wonderful, in fact.

Now, it would be nice to have a brand new one… but it would also be great to find one used for my Eastman MD-315 (will gard fit all Mandolins?).

Also, does it attach in a way that protects your instrument? Also… after being attached for awhile, does it “leave marks” on the instrument when removed?

Just curious about the aspects of using it…

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@WillCoop
There’s rubber covering all the parts where it touches the instrument. It just slides right on the back of the mandolin and if you ever want to take it off, you just pull it off. I haven’t seen any marks on my instrument because the only places that it touches are protected. In fact, I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to change strings on my mandolin because I can put it flat without worrying about scratching up the back! :slight_smile:

The standard size fit my mandolin perfectly, not sure if it fits all mandolins, but I wouldn’t see why it wouldn’t unless you have an oversized mandolin (Like the Northfield “Big Mon” model) and in that case they make an oversized tone-gard.

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Thanks for the awesome feedback, @Lucy_L!

I’m pretty sold on the idea to get one… based on the positive feedback from you and others! :+1:

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