Mandolinists always need more volume. Our instrument is not a loud one, and trying to keep up with banjos, fiddles, and guitars can be like tapdancing in a buffalo stampede. The tone-gard is a simple aftermarket way of increasing your volume. It clips onto the back of the instrument, pushing it away from the body and allowing the back of the instrument to vibrate freely. David Grisman, Ricky Skaggs, and Roland White are using them, which is as good a recommendation as any.
Many old mandolins, especially my old Gibson A-50, put as much sound out of the back of the instrument as they do the top. When recording my Gibson ‘A’, I sometimes have the engineer put a microphone behind the instrument as well as in front of it. My F-2 behaves similarly — it’s noticeably louder and fuller sounding if I let the sound come out of the back as well as the top of the instrument.
With that in mind, I’ve ordered a tone-gard for my F-2 from Tony Pires, and should have it in a few days. If it works well, I’ll likely use it when we record our next record. We prefer to track almost all the instrumental tracks live, and I’d much prefer to use my sweet-sounding F-2 rather than anything else.