Mandolin Magnet Mounting Tips
The small size and varying design of the mandolin make it a tricky instrument to film with the Magnet. Here are some tips to get you up and running.
On mandolin, the Magnet produces a “down the strings” image which is ideal for studying picking technique:
Achieving this means placing the Magnet far enough away from the picking hand to capture the forearm and anchoring positions. This limits fretboard playability to approximately the 8th to 10th frets. While this may interfere with playing entire pieces that utilize higher positions, it’s perfect for evaluating technique on selected phrases, which is really its intended use.
First, install the adapter grips. For the most neck contact, be sure to use the “table top flush” approach in our installation guide. This extends the grips lower to reach the bottom of the Magnet’s feet.
The A-style is the most straightforward design for Magnet use because the body is symmetrical and without ornamentation that might block the Magnet’s grips.
In particular, the “tall deck” design, as on this Stradolin, where the neck rises above the body, provides a large enough surface for the entire Magnet grip to make neck contact. This is among the most stable Magnet mounts you can get on any instrument.
Instruments with only fretboard above the body can still work, like this Gibson A-style, provided the fretboard is thick enough.
The trickiest cases are instruments with only fretboard, where the fretboard itself is thin. This Italian bowlback-style classical mandolin is one such example.
Even these can still work, though the grip might not be super stable. Still, if this is your main instrument, and you’re sitting relatively still while filming phrases for practice purposes, you may still get the shot — just be sure and use the locking strap.
Given the suitability of “tall deck” A-style mandolins for Magnet use, if you plan to do a lot of picking technique practice, an affordable vintage Stradolin or similar design is a nice addition to the arsenal. Not that you needed an excuse to buy more instruments!
Electric mandolins like this Fender FM-60E are typically designed like tiny electric guitars. As such, they have guitar-like mounting characteristics. Technique-wise, electric mandolins also feel similar to playing an electric guitar, so they represent a good crossover instrument. See above about excuses for buying more instruments!
With a large amount of grip-to-neck contact, the Magnet mount on the FM-60 is very stable.
The most popular mandolin design among bluegrass players, the F-style, is also the most problematic for mandolin use.
The hallmark scroll on the upper horn, as on this Kentucky F-style, is typically raised, reducing the available neck height above the body.
The F-style design frequently includes an additional problematic element in the form of a small, sloped tab of wood where the neck meets the body. These “neck wings” seem to serve no purpose other than to prevent the Magnet from attaching properly!
As with thin-fretboard bowlbacks, if an F-style with a scroll and neck wings is the instrument you have, there is a way to get the shot, and this is what it looks like.
Tilting the Magnet toward the treble side allows the entirety of the Magnet’s grip on that side to make flush contact with the unobstructed side of the neck.
On the bass side, the Magnet sits on the scroll and grip contacts the edge of the neck on an angle.
Although the Magnet is tilted, you can still mount the phone parallel to the fretboard for a landscape view of the strings and picking hand.
Install the locking strap so that it encompasses the upper horn and scroll.
This arrangement is relatively stable along the fretboard axis, so that you can still sit with the headstock at a typical 45-degree angle as Andy Wood is here. However it is relatively unstable in the front-to-back axis, so leaning forward or back can dislodge it.
Although the stability of the angle-style Magnet mount is not ideal, it’s still functional for practice use. If your instrument has a high scroll or neck wings, and you’re primarily using it for testing on select phrases where you can remain relatively still, you can get the shot. Here’s an excerpt from about ten minutes of playing on the Kentucky F-style while assembling this guide, during which the Magnet remained attached the entire time.