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Repent34
Feb-01-2006, 12:44pm
This is my first post so I'll say hello to all. I've been lurking for about a week or so, reading as much as I can. I am a total newb to mandolin and currently own an Ibanez acoustic guitar that I've been trying to learn.

I ordered a beginner mandolin, a Johnson Savannah MF100 to try out to see if I even like the mando, although I do know that I like it's look, especially the "F" style, and I love it's sound. I recently attended an Alison Kraus Union Station concert and loved hearing Dan play his. AKUS and Nickel Creek are my first and only exposure to the mando and I can see by my reading that there are many other players that I want to listen to and check out.

I have searched this forum for this question, and having found no answer, I'll ask it here:

1.) I read on a site, FOTW I think, that stated that learning and playing the mando was easier than guitar. I am wondering if users here could shed any light on that? Is it true and or have there been an studies or legit information published on this? I know that statement probably depends on the ability, motivation, etc of each player.
2.) I ordered the Johnson MF100 before I got involved in reading this site so I hope it's not a heap. It looks nice but the sound? Are there any Johnson MF100 owners here and if so, what do you think of your Johnson mando??

Thanks for any info to these questions and if I missed any previous posts comparing the mando and guitar hopefully someone can include a link in a reply.

otterly2k
Feb-01-2006, 12:53pm
I'll let others chime in who know about Johnson mandos.

re: guitar vs. mando...
I think "it depends". For playing melodies, I think mandolin is easier because of the symmetry of the tuning (all in 5ths, where the guitar is tuned in 4th, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th). But with guitar it's very easy to learn a few chords, and with them, you can play a ton of songs... which is quickly gratifying and provides momentum.

Some might say that the smaller neck/shorter scale is easier or harder... I think that depends on your hands and fine motor skills.

John Bertotti
Feb-01-2006, 1:31pm
I am learning both and do not find either to be easy in comparison to the other. I do find some things reenforce themselves and my theory knowledge is growing steadily. I do find that if I have a problem one one the other will usually help me past it. That may just be me but I would definitely get the basics of one down before jumping into the other. If you're just looking for the easiest route be warned there isn't one. If some point becomes a problem find someone else to explain it because there are a bunch of different approaches to music and no one way is good for everyone. John

Celtic Saguaro
Feb-01-2006, 1:43pm
Agreeing with otterly2k. The mandolin has big advantages in playing melodies, including the fact that for hundreds of years the violin had more music written for it than any other instrument. But as far as accompanying yourself or others singing, the guitar is such a treat that it makes learning the basic chords, quickly rewarding. It's the time you want to put in that makes the learning period seem short and easy.

jmkatcher
Feb-01-2006, 1:47pm
I'm learning both right now, with about a two year head start on mandolin. I'd tried to learn guitar a few times but was never able to match the progress that I had on mandolin. Ironically, with some mandolin under my belt, it feels like guitar is actually easier. I can fake a lot more on guitar without requiring the speed and dexterity of mandolin. The ability to play guitar fingerstyle also gives me more options. The mandolin is still my first love, though.

Repent34
Feb-01-2006, 3:02pm
This brings up another question of how many folks play/are learning both the guitar AND Mandolin? Don't the notes go from EADGBE (low to high) on the guitar and GDAE (low to high)on the mando? At first glance at this it looks like they oppose each other notewise (one goes high, one goes low) but I suppose somewhere that is supposed to make sense.:p

groveland
Feb-01-2006, 5:01pm
For more on this topic, we had quite a lengthy discussion on it here (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=12;t=30360;hl=mando+and+eas ier+and+guitar) as well. Opinions on both sides. Having played guitar for a while, I found mandolin to be very natural.

Repent34
Feb-01-2006, 11:46pm
thanks for all the insight so far in this thread. As always, of course, motivation plays a hugh part.

Jaus
Feb-02-2006, 2:16am
Personally I find the guitar easier. I started on with the mandolin and then after a year started leaning guitar. Maybe it is because I had already learned some stuff and my fingers were starting to get used to the whole chord forming thing.
But the more theory I learn, the easier both instruments become, since theory transposes instruments.

MandoJon
Feb-02-2006, 5:18am
Like somebody else also said, I personally find the mandolin easier for melody and the guitar easier for chords... but then... the first thing I learned on the guitar were chords and the first thing I learned on the mandolin was melody... so is it nature or nurture I wonder?

I've never owned, played, heard (knowingly) or even seen a Johnson so I can't comment on your second question, except this: Be content with what you have because any mandolin is better than none and when you feel you've made some progress (and saved some more money), get a better one. A good instrument is usually easier to play than a rank beginner's (cheap) instrument but then, you must cut your coat according to your cloth...

Ps welcome to the site!

Klaus Wutscher
Feb-02-2006, 5:54am
I struggled with Guitar (acoustic and electric) for 5 years when I was a teenager and couldīt learn to play it and join a band to save my life. Three days after I bought my first mandolin I had a band, a gig and an instrumental I wrote on mando to perform.... Ironically, 10 years later Iīm starting to pick up the guitar to broaden my stylistic horizon and, yes, play more gigs. For me, music started to make sense only when I discovered the tuning and shorter scale length of the mandolin. To this day, for me the mandolin is more logical and much more comfortable than the guitar.

leonardbakers
Feb-02-2006, 6:14am
I started out on a ebay Johnson four years ago and played it for about 8 months before upgrading to a MK Legacy (that plays like butter and opened-up to sound great now) The Johnson needed major set-up as the action was WAY too high and required a superhuman vise-like grip for a newbie to play. Once that was done I had a fairly loud mando with alright tone and action for something so cheap. The MK was like a breath of fresh air after it though, my playing improved rapidly upon switching just because I played the MK so much more due to the comfort and lack of fatigue.

GTison
Feb-02-2006, 9:46am
guitar it is bigger and has more strings, but... ALL EXCELLENCE IS EQALLY DIFFICULT.

Cetecea
Feb-02-2006, 4:00pm
^^^

I'd agree. I remember lengthy discussions about bass guitar being easier "cause it only has four strings". However, to really play an instrument well takes lots of dedication and time.

In other words...
It all depends!

Louis

Repent34
Feb-02-2006, 11:52pm
Thanks for the input so far. The mando is scheduled to arrive on Tues. I HATE waiting over a weekend for something arrive. The outfit I'm buying the mando through state that they adjust it as well as tune it before it ships. All I know is that it is currently in IL on it's way. I can totally believe that if after I play this for awhile and then decide the upgrade is rational(?) that I would be able to tell the difference in a high quality piece.

Time will tell many things.

holdenzdad
Feb-03-2006, 8:55pm
Just a suggestion - If you don't have the know how to professionally set up an instrument, have a friend or someone you trust (a pro setup can be expensive but sometimes worth it) take a look at your Johnson at some point - these instruments can vary greatly in terms of playability, but most of them can end up being good instruments for beginners - when you decide to upgrade, keep the Johnson for a traveler.

Also, mess around with different pics and strings - often times changing these can be completely rewarding - enjoy the new instrument and let us know when it arrives,

Steven

ira
Feb-04-2006, 9:46am
can't speak about the johnson, but i know for me, the mando was easier as
1. it made more sense in the way the fretboard is laid out
2. easier to hold - guitar always felt bulky to me therefore harder to play.
3. 2 finger chord shapes.


though if you want to play chords solo and sing along guitar is sure an easier instrument to get the sound you desire (doesnt' take as much thought). one can play the larger mandofamily instruments, but the stretches would be much harder than those on a guitar to be in the same basic range.

personally the mando has been a revelation and a musical rebirth for me. i just plain out love it, but playing more instruments is a good thing,i will prob. pick up the guitar to learn some basic chording for some solo stuff, but truly don't have interest in exploring the intricacies of the instrument the way i have with the mandolin.

the folks above put it well-it just depends, so learn one then the other.

Repent34
Feb-04-2006, 11:49am
Just a suggestion - If you don't have the know how to professionally set up an instrument, have a friend or someone you trust (a pro setup can be expensive but sometimes worth it) take a look at your Johnson at some point - these instruments can vary greatly in terms of playability, but most of them can end up being good instruments for beginners - when you decide to upgrade, keep the Johnson for a traveler.

Also, mess around with different pics and strings - often times changing these can be completely rewarding - enjoy the new instrument and let us know when it arrives,

Steven
Steven;

the vendor that I bought this mando through states that they do a professional setup and tuning on it. That was one of the reasons I went with them. Definately don't know how to do that myself, at this point. I did plan on using this one for a while and then if I kept at it buying myself another one later on and moving this one to a traveler just as you stated.

Is there any difference in picks between the guitar and mando?

chris

holdenzdad
Feb-05-2006, 12:05am
Good news about the setup - There's a big difference in sound depending on what pick you use - I have found that with my current setup and string choice (j74), I like a rather heavy pick with rounded edges - the dawg pick for example - the best thing to do in my opinion is to try a number of weights as your playing style and desired sound will differ from mine. Enjoy,

Steven

Repent34
Feb-05-2006, 2:56am
Checked out a small music shop here in town this afternoon. Picked up a ProPlec and a Goldengate just because.

C

Bluegrasstjej
Feb-06-2006, 6:17am
I think mandolin is much easier than the guitar. First of all, there are fewer strings (sure, there are 8 strings on the mandolin they are grouped and you play them two by two), I tend to get stuck on the strings on the guitar.
The distances are much smaller on the mandolin so you don't need to move around as much as on the guitar. But the best thing is to play chords. If you play bluegrass, you play closed chords which is really difficult at first but when you can play them, you only need to know two different major chords, since you can move them around to create new chords (just like barre on the guitar). The chords within each key are also placed in the same way whereever you move the chord. You can play in another key but don't have to think of transposing all the chords, because if you know the first chord you will know the others too (if you knew them in the first key, that is!!). This was a wonderful discovery for me http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif .

Haha, this may be really confusing but you'll see what I mean when you've played for a while.

red7flag
Feb-08-2006, 8:47am
When I first bought a mando, I got home and realized I didn't even know how to tune it. I looked at the cheesy book I bought at the music store. First string G, ok, next is D, ok that is a 5th, next is A another 5th, and last E, omg it is a "Circle of the 5th" (Actually learned about the "Circle of the 5ths" form a workshop given by banjo great Bill Keith. The idea is that if you start with any note and go to the fifth, then to the fifth of that note and on and on, you will get back to the original note, hense a circle). I was like a kid a Christmas. As I have played more. I realize how easy it is to play songs in different keys on the mando. How easy it is to figure out scales in different keys. If you need help with that. There are some great threads here on the Cafe, just use the search engine or go to Ted's great website jazzmando.com . I hope this helps.
Tony

lbracale
Feb-08-2006, 8:40pm
A lot of you are talking about playing guitar and mando, so here's something crazy to post...I play piano and I am trying to learn the mando. I got one this past Christmas. I'm not sure if I should learn to play by ear or theory. I dont know if I should be playing scales first, learning chords, or just reading and play tab.

http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/coffee.gif

gnelson651
Feb-09-2006, 4:41am
I'm not sure if I should learn to play by ear or theory. I dont #know if I should be playing scales first, learning chords, or just reading and play tab.

http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/coffee.gif
Yes to all.

I am guessing by "theory" you mean standard notation.Since you play the piano, I assume you already read music, you just need to translate it to the mandolin fretboard. #I prefer standard notation because I use sheet music in my church band and mandoin ensemble.

Play by ear easy songs you know, "Happy Birthday" "Come Around the Mountain," etc. Don't worry right now what key you're in, just explore the fretboard in the first position to find a simple song.

On scales, work around the open strings. Start with the G scale, D scale, and A scale.(don't worry about the E scale yet). These are the primary scales for fiddle tunes. Try learning Aonzo Family Scales (http://www.mandozine.com/index.php/techniques/techinfo/aonzo_family_scales/). Later, get a scale book

Learn the two finger chords (http://www.mandolincafe.com/two.html) and get a chord book for other variations of chords. Be sure to learn the chords along with the melody of a song.

Learn fiddle tunes either by tab or standard notation. Get a beginning violin book to start to learn standard notation for the mandolin. These cost around $6.00, or you can get a Suzuki book for about $15. For the songs themselves, try "You Can Teach Yourself Fiddling" by Craig Duncan #for about $11.00.

There are a lot of resources right here on the Cafe, go the the "Techniques" page or "Practice Tunes" page. You will need the free download TablEdit or TEF viewer to view the practice tunes. The software will show the song in both standard notation and tab.

Good luck.

lbracale
Feb-09-2006, 3:47pm
Thanks for the tips. I was out listening to some mando music and I found and Octive Mando, Mandacello...they sound way different. I like the Octive Mando, it has more bottom to it. Should I assume that all of these Mando's are played close in the same way?