Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Symphonia by Robert Mandel | Medieval style, box-type gurdy

Robert Mandel hurdy gurdy


Here you will find information about the hurdy gurdies by Robert Mandel, specially we will gather information and unbiased opinion about his medieval style symphonia,We'll check with the owners and the hurdy gurdy comunity people, start your research here and buy it if you like what you see here.

This are the characteristics of the instrument set on Mandel website, with some extra personal comments, that I will mark with "⦾".

Wood (Timbre):

All body made of german maple and selfmade plywood (maple)

⦾⦾ Author comments: It's plywood, which is nothing particularly bad for this price range, I really don't apreciate the misdirection using the words "german maple" "selfmade" and "timber" to sweaten the word "Plywood", this being said, Plywood is not a bad factor in this price range ⦾⦾

1 chanterelles (g)
1 mouche or trompette (c)
1 grandbass (C1)

⦾⦾ Author comments: I like the string configuration, you can also retune the trompette and drone up to D if needed. ⦾⦾

Thomastik Dominant overspun strings
Carbon nylon strings for the others

⦾⦾Author comments: The melody string and the trompette are nylon, I would like to know which string he uses for drone, we have to ask and update the article, I assume Viola C, the use of dominant is a good point ⦾⦾

Full chromatic scale from g' to g'' (except the highest 4 keys: d/e-flat/f/g) 

⦾⦾Author comments: the instrument has 22 Keys,  ⦾⦾

This instrument is particularly bought by beginners and hence their first impresions about the instrument are certainly uninformed, so I took the time to find people that started with one of this gurdies and now are intermediate or experienced hurdy gurdy players.

but first let's have a look at the promotional video recorded by Robert Mandel.

To me, in this video it sounds pretty decent and responsive, Robert is a good player and makes it sound certainly cool, now lets see what people want to say.

Here are some anonymous reviews that intermediate and advanced players that owned a Robert Mandel chifonie or symphonie gaved me:

Robert Mandel Opinion 1:

"Hi Sergio! Great to hear from you. We’ve never met, but I really enjoy and appreciate all of the info you have shared here online and on the podcast with Ryan. Great stuff! As for the Mandel symphonia, here are some thoughts: I bought it when I first got interested in the HG a couple of years ago at the beginning of the pandemic, and I don’t regret it. It cost less than most other entry level instruments, it came within 6 months, and with just one chanter, 1 drone, and 1 trompette, it was easy to get set up to play. The keys are smooth, the synthetic wheel was fairly easy to get rosined up with some liquid rosin, and mine at least plays as in tune as any other gurdy I’ve played, that said, it is the instrument I play the least today. It is very quiet, the simplicity of 3 strings also means you really can only olay in C or G. The original 3D-printed chien wasn’t very responsive, though that was easy to replace with a new wood one. There also were some “cheap” looking and functioning parts. The large friction tuners are less than ideal when compared to geared pegs on almost all other modern instruments, and the cheap plywood it is made out of was REALLY evident on mine, as the lumber yard green marks were left in and not sanded out, on the lid of the keybox where it is really visible! So like I said, it worked well for me to get started on the instrument, but it is not likely I will ever play it much again now that I have other instruments to turn to."

Robert Mandel opinion 2:
My personal experience with the Robert Mandel Symphonia. I start by saying that the first thing you notice as soon as you pick it up from the box is that it is solid and well built. A pity for the Polyoximethilene wheel which destroys the medieval aesthetics of the instrument. but it can be hidden by putting the lid on. The wheel always needed a lot of liquid rosin. I personally had to apply Liquid rosin every 3 songs to get the right sound. I think Robert should go back to the wooden wheel with a maple rim so customers can choose whether to use liquid or solid rosin. (I don't use liquid rosin). Despite 3 strings I found the sound very pleasant. I advise everyone not to use natural cotton but rayon fiber so as to highlight the C drone and to have a good and sparkling trumpet and a loud melody. The instrument isnt very responsive using natural cotton. Overall the istrument is easy to set up therefore making it very beginner friendly. The tuning pegs looks good and sturdy but they get stuck often making it difficult to tune the symphonia when required. I have used the specific product to unlock them but, after a few days, the problem reappeared. this was a bit frustrating because, although I play in a room with the deahumidifier and humidifier to keep the humidity at 50%, the problem always reappeared. other owners of the same Symphonia have expressed the same frustation. But this could happen on expensive instruments as well. The wood of the symphonia is left as it is and is not varnished/finished at all and therefore, after a few months, the parts that I touched the most such as keys and lid absorbed the sweat of my hand leaving a halo on the instrument. Tangents are working ok and are easy to tune. Crank and knob are ok. Nothing wrong with it.

Pros: .Affordable .Good for newbie .Stays in tune Cons: .Wood unfinished .Tuning pegs get stuck easely .only 3 strings. If I was Robert I would use wooden wheel, mechanical pegs, and I would finish the wood. And maybe create a version with 2 melody strings.

I'll add some more informed opinions to the article soon ;)

In this next video, minute 8:09, you can see Sanne Van Gend giving you a breafly description of the Mandel Symphony

here's another video that I found in Youtube by Daddy Long Les, you can check his experience owning it for a couple of months

I hope this unbiased article helps you in your decision of buying your new hurdy gurdy, if you red until here, you are doing a great job on your research and I'm sure you will find the perfect instrument for your needs.

Here's Robert Mandel info:

Robert Mandel Website
contact Robert Mandel via Facebook

Keep on cranking
Sergio González

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