My Gear and Recommendations

I often get asked what gear I use and what I would recommend. Below are all the music products I use regularly along with links to buy them if you’d like.

If you buy them through the link, you pay the same, but in some cases I get a small payment which helps me keep this site going. I appreciate the support.

Mandolin – Newson Mandolin – this is my primary mandolin since 2018. Great sound and exclusively available at Gruhn guitar’s in Nashville. Tell George I said hi 🙂 If you are brand new to mandolin and want a more affordable mandolin to start with – check out the recommendations on my New Mandolin Gear page.

Picks – There are so many picks out there and believe it or not, your pick really impacts your tone. I’ve played a lot of picks before (and lost just about as many). For me, I like Dunlop gator picks. They are guitar picks, but they last a while, sound good, are cheap ($5 for 12) and thick. I don’t personally like the “mandolin” picks that are more a triangle or circle (like golden gate or the Dawg pick). Experiment when you can but below are the ones I use most often:

Amplifier – I’ve found that even with a good sound guy, having a good personal amp for the stage is a really great idea to avoid issues. Normally I use the Fishman Loudbox Mini setup behind me on stage as a backup. If I’m getting lots of feedback from my mandolin through the monitors, I’ll have be able to turn those down or off and use my amp instead

Mandolin Strings – Used to use coated Elixir strings but they have since ceased production. Now I mainly just use D’Addario. They are well priced, last a while, and don’t break on often.

Books – I have a lot of music books in my collection, below are what I think are essentials.

Misc Accessories

  • Tone Gard – a must have to avoid tone loss. I have one on all my mandolins. This keeps the mandolin off your stomach so you get better tone and more volume.
  • Clip on Tuner – this one is a USB rechargeable one so no more issues with stupid batteries!!
  • Leather Strap – This is kind of generic, but the Mandolin Store has some great options and are some of the nicest people out there. Support small business!
  • Cleaning Supplies – Cleaning your mandolin is important! All that gunk build up can both hurt your finish and your tone. Lemon oil on the fingerboard and use a clean rag to polish the finish (spray the finish on the rag!)
  • Matrix Metronome – I’ve seriously had the same MR-500 metronome from Matrix for over 15 years. Unfortunately, I don’t think they make them anymore, but the MR-800 seems similar. You can get free or paid digital ones for your phone too – but that can be annoying if you want to record a clip on your phone while using the metronome. I like have the separate purpose built device for that reason.
  • Amazing Slower Downer – a must for practice. I’ve used this almost daily since the early 2000’s. Slow down songs, change keys, and create loops for practicing
  • EQ Charts – While not “gear” it’s good to know where the mandolin frequencies are so your other gear works better. It’s hard to find a chart that includes mandolin, but there’s plenty with violins listed like this and this. While mandolins are violins are different – there’s enough similarity where this is a good start.

If you have a mandolin product you’d like me to review, please contact me.