View Full Version : Tremelo problems

Nov-24-2005, 10:12pm
When I try and do tremelo on the mandolin I can feel my elbow and shoulder tighten up , not alowing me to get the job done.
Any help would be http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif a great help.

John Flynn
Nov-24-2005, 10:35pm
First, you just have to relax. Only go as fast as you can do it relaxed, don't gain speed unless you can do it relaxed. Especially relax your grip on the pick and let it pivot a little between your fingers. It's like you are "brushing" strings with the pick. Eventually, the speed will generate the volume, so you don't have to "muscle" it. A relaxed grip will signal the rest of your arm to relax.

Then there is something Mike Compton taught in his workshop. Think of the pick motion of the tremelo as being tiny circles, rather than straight up and down. Now let me be really clear here: This is more mental than physical. Someone watching you would not see that much of a difference. But in your mind, you are making a very slight circular, or more precisely an elliptical, motion. I find I can really get better relaxed speed with this slight change/imagery.

All this will seem awkward a first. But with practice, it has really helped me. I hope it helps you.

Nov-24-2005, 10:38pm
Thanks Mando Johnny
I will give it all a try.

Nov-25-2005, 3:58am
We had a great Tremolo Workshop with Radim Zenkl last summer. He explained how he varies the sources of his movement from his wrist to his elbow depending on the speed and strength he wants.
Also, he explained that he practices by following a metronome. He starts by picking an open string at 4/4: 4th, then eighth, then sixteenth, then 32nds, all the while thinking about keeping his wrist and his arm as relaxed as possible. Eventually, you can pick up speed and go to full blown tremolo, but if you manage to keep relaxed playing 32/4, then that's already a great progress.
Also, Evan Marshall explained that he does not use his arm at all during tremolos, unless he wants to accentuate a particular note. So his wrist does all the job most of the time, while the elbow moves only once in a while.

Good luck!

Peter Hackman
Nov-25-2005, 10:18am
I've always been a bit casual (there's
a less polite word for it) about my tremelo. Only
recently have I become more fastidious
about finer details
such as which notes to tremulate (fewer than you might think),
where to break it, and where to lead it into the next phrase.

I tend to tense up a bit when recording
(or performing, which I almost never do);
then I stop
and calm down a bit, because a tense tremolo
sounds more like a machine-gun than music.
And I might even freeze up.

Now, I don't want to interfere with somebody else's learning
process but I can't recall ever achieving a tremolo by going from slow
to fast
I don't think of it as fast; always thought
that it's a certain pressure against the strings that
triggers this type of motion.

I may remember wrong, it's been so long since I picked
up the mando. But it could also be a generation thing;
I have a strong feeling that people are more technical
and intellectual in their approach to music today,
given the plethora of instructional material,
tapes, books, DVD:s, whatever. I don't
know whether this is a good thing, really.

I'm not offering any advice, just a reflection.
Relax. Relax your mind and you will relax physically,
I suppose.

Nov-25-2005, 11:39am
I'm with Peter on this one. Relax. Over-analyzing it doesn't do it for me, but do whatever works for you. As long as you relax. It's one of those things that the more you worry about, the harder it gets.