Mandolin Report

Red Henry

Red Henry

Last week I told you about a Randy Wood mandolin I'd just bought on eBay. Well, I'm glad to say that the instrument is really turning out well. I've set it up with medium-gauge bright-bronze strings and a maple bridge, and the tone and volume are constantly improving. Here's a photo of the mandolin before I changed the strings:

Randy Wood Mandolin #

Randy Wood Mandolin

When it arrived, the mandolin had a set of light-gauge phosphor bronze strings on it, and they were some of the deadest strings I've played on. Now, dead strings are not always bad, but this set had nothing left to give. I switched them for medium-gauge bright-bronze strings—the kind of bronze that’s yellow in color. Bright bronze seems to last a lot longer for me, and never really goes as dead as those old phosphor bronze strings had done. They turn from reddish to brown as they age, and then seem to lose most of their tone.

The maple bridge made a big difference too. Looking for as much bass response as possible, I put on a soft European-maple "winged" bridge, and the sound really came through with a lot of solid low end. (For a look at some bridge types, see my bridge page at

After changing the strings and bridge I've taken the mandolin out to some picking sessions, and I've had a good time with it. Its sound comes through quite well, even if there are some guitar, banjos, basses, and other loud instruments present. That's what I like! I think that a mandolin really needs to shine through when taking a break, no matter how big the jam session, and thanks to world-class builder Randy Wood, this mandolin does just that.

Y'all pick purty--


Posted in By Red, Instruments and tagged , on by .

About Red Henry

Began playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and banjo in 1967-69. I married Murphy in 1974. We led the Red & Murphy bluegrass band, playing professionally, from 1975-87. Since then I've handled the technical side of Murphy Method cassette, videotape, and DVD production. When you call I usually answer the phone, and I'm normally the one who sends out the orders.

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