When I read about other plectrum players out there I am interested in knowing how they get “their” sound. So here is a list of the current gear I am using to get my live tone as well as recorded sounds.
I play a Taylor 310ce guitar that my father handed down to me. It is sounding better than ever after hours of him playing it as well as me, and giving the wood time to open up.
Top: Sitka Spruce. Back/Sides: Sapele. Cutaway & old Fishman Pickup system. The current models come with Taylor’s own Expression electronics, I prefer Fishman’s.
I use a real tortoiseshell pick, although there is some controversy around this issue in my experience it is the only way to get the volume and tone I am trying to produce. The pick was actually sanded as a mandolin pick making it even fatter and fuller on the 6 string guitar. I currently use it on both instruments. Eventually I will experiment with other picks, either tortoiseshell or something similar in material.
I play Medium gauge Elixer Phospher Bronze strings, and occasionally John Pearse Mediums for recording. I do find Elixers last longer and cost more.
To record at my humble home studio I use a Eurorack UB802 6 track with Shure microphones, sm56, and sm57. I only plug straight in when playing live. I use a Peterson clip on strobe tuner with sweeteners, so I can tune my guitar and mandolin even with background noise.
I play an Alvarez F3ANT Traditional F-Style mandolin. I had it scooped to avoid pick noise on the “sweet spot.” I also had a Fishman Nasheville series archtop mandolin bridge pickup installed. I play low action with Thomastik Strings: plain steel and flatwound chrome, medium gauge, 009 014w 020w 031w, 127.2 pounds tension, ball end, 34cm scale length. These strings are not cheap, but the flat-wound “a” strings seem to really keep my mandolin in tune and with the correct intonation. Other companies are starting to make flat-wound sets that are more affordable, I just haven’t tried them yet. I play through a Fender Acoustasonic amp.
Having listed all my toys as well as the ones my father so kindly lets me abuse, I do try to remember less seems to be more in most great art. I play completely acoustic whenever possible, and tastefully when my fingers oblige.