View Full Version : If I only purchase one book for mandolin.....

Billy Bloodsurf
Dec-28-2005, 6:29pm
What should it be? While I AM new to mandolin, I have been playing guitar for close to 20 years, so I can already flatpick like the dickens and know my modes inside out. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance folks!

Dec-28-2005, 6:39pm
Jethro Burns, complete mandolin book (http://www.musixnow.com/Jethro.html).

Jason Kessler
Dec-28-2005, 8:50pm
I'm sorry, but I harbor vague yet foreboding reservations in initiating any form of communication with someone named "Billy Bloodsurf." Now if you were to change your name to, say, "Stevie Sunflower" or "Wally Won-The-Lottery," I might see my way clear to mentioning "Masters of the Mandolin" by David Peters. But, as it is, I'd just as soon stear clear of this one. I swear I hear the "Jaws" theme in the background.

Dec-29-2005, 12:18am
There is no way to answer this question without knowing a little about the style of music in which you intend to indulge, Guillaume de la vague déferlante du sang.

Billy Bloodsurf
Dec-29-2005, 11:19am
Sorry! My main interest would be primarily bluegrass.

Dec-29-2005, 2:26pm
Well close your eyes and and grab. There are many many books out there that say the teach bluegrass but they really don't. Most of every bluegrass instructional book I have picked up is nothing but fiddle tunes. Are fiddle tunes useful in learning bluegrass, absolutely. Fiddle tunes are basically tunes that use to or still do have lyrics and are now mainly played as intrumentals. But Mike Marshall's book call "Inprovisational Concepts" is a good book for learning to improvise.

Here's what I suggest:
1. Learn as many fiddle tunes as you can until you don't want to learn them any more.
2. Do an intensive study of the fretboard by doing all sorts of scales and arpeggios.
3. Listen to as much bluegrass as you can and concentrate on the mandolin player and fiddle player.
4. Start trying to play along with CDs, starting off with slower songs. By working out breaks and such you will learn the most about bluegrass.
5. If you can afford them, and if there is one near you...get lessons from someone who is good at playing bluegrass mandolin, or a good bluegrass fiddle player can probably teach you as well.
6. This goes along with playing with CDs, but ear training is crucial. If you can listen to a melody and then spit it out on the mandolin than you can really go far. I think there are books out there that help with this but you can do it without one. It really helps if you have someone else to play with. Get them to play a short lick and then you try to figure it out and vis versa.
7. What makes bluegrass is the "blues" part of it. If you can learn to use the blues scales in your playing than you will begin to notice why it's BLUEgrass. Here is a thread I started, trying to help with using blues scales in your playing BLUES SCALES. (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=25;t=30089)

I hope this some what helps. Also check out the Fiddler's Fake Book, or Bluegrass Fake Book if you don't read standard notation.

Dec-29-2005, 3:27pm
What makes bluegrass is the "blues" part of it. If you can learn to use the blues scales in your playing than you will begin to notice why it's BLUEgrass.
While I agree that the blues scale is used extensively in Bluegrass, the word itself refers to the Blue Grass Boys of Bill Monroe. And bluegrass (Description: Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) grows 18 to 24 inches tall and is readily identified by its boat-shaped leaf tip. )comes from Kentucky(Although it is not native of Kentucky) from which Bill Monroe was a resident (Rosine, KY)

Dec-29-2005, 7:15pm
Wasn't bluegrass around before Bill Monroe?

And although bluegrass might not have gotten its name from the word blues, the actual music did evolve from the blues. Infact almost all americana music did. Bluegrass is a combination of blues, irish, and folk music.

Dec-29-2005, 8:52pm
Wasn't bluegrass around before Bill Monroe?

The music or the plant?http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Dec-30-2005, 12:36am
Billy, Jack Tottle's book "Bluegrass Mandolin" would keep you busy for a couple of months. It moves right along and won't bore you. If you enjoy Monroe style mandolin a good second book to buy would be Butch Baldassari's book "Bill Monroe - 16 Gems for Mandolin" with accurate transcriptions of some of Monroe's classic breaks. There are tons of mandolin method books, some good, some pretty lame. I didn't get those two until I had been playing for 6 months and wished I had them earlier on.

Dec-31-2005, 3:08am
I'll second Butch Baldassari's "16 Gems" book and the cd as well. The tunes encompass a wide range of Mr. Monroe's style in several keys. A nice mix of vocal songs and instrumentals - highly recommended.

Jan-06-2006, 11:48pm
Hey Bloodsurf, was it hard going from guitar to mandolin? I would also like to learn guitar but it looks really hard to me.

Coy Wylie
Jan-07-2006, 1:00am
Steve Kaufman's Parking Lot Pickers mando book helped me more than anything when I was getting started. I think learning fiddle tunes is a lot more fun and you can build on the basic versions as you progress.

Thomas Chapmond
Jan-08-2006, 12:52am
I have used Dan Huckabee's Bluegrass Mandolin Books (Volumes 1 & 2) and find them extremely helpful. They are in simple tablature and they come with a CD. www.Musicians-Workshop.com.

Jan-08-2006, 7:27am
After you get down the basics of bg mando playing, I find the best thing to do is enhance repetoire. As has been said, there are tons of books and references out there, some notable ones:

Joe Carr Texas Style mandolin
Several Niles books
Pete Martin fiddle tunes
Dave Peters Masters of the Mandolin

et al...

Jan-10-2006, 8:55pm
I got Greg Horne's beginning mandolin book and cd from amazon and I really like it. #Since you have been playing guitar so long, anything you buy, you will most likely just breeze through. #Just timing alone, takes forever for a beginner IMHO.


Jan-16-2006, 12:02pm
Question: Does the book "Bill Monroe - 16 Gems for Mandolin" come with a CD? All of the ads I have found do not mention it?

Jan-16-2006, 8:44pm
Niles Hokkanen's "Pentatonic Mandolin" book/CD should get you started right. #You can add the other two notes later. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Jan-17-2006, 1:25am
tnpathfinder, the "16 Gems" cd is a separate recording released by Columbia - the book came later. You can get it from Elderly.

Richard Russell
Jan-17-2006, 8:41am
I highly recommend the Roland White Approach to bluegrass mandolin. Well organized, great tunes goes from quite basic to quite technical. Nice tracks to listen to and learn from.

Jan-17-2006, 10:55am
Thanks Lucky!

mad dawg
Jan-17-2006, 12:48pm
Niles Hokkanen's "Pentatonic Mandolin" book/CD should get you started right. #You can add the other two notes later. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
I also enjoy Niles' Mandolin chords and how to use them.

Tom Gibson
Jan-17-2006, 12:57pm
Can anybody comment on Niles' pentatonic and chords books compared to Mike Marshall's new books on improv and chords? Is either one better than the other for a beginner (albeit one with some music theory background)? Are they different enough that both (or all) are worth getting?



Jan-17-2006, 7:11pm
Hey Bloodsurf, was it hard going from guitar to mandolin? I would also like to learn guitar but it looks really hard to me.

I'll jump in. I played guitar for 15 years before I even found the mandolin and I can't say one or the other is more difficult, but I find that, to me at least, the guitar seems to make less sense now. Tuning in fourths seems to really be convenient for chords and not much else. It's a matter of learning where the notes are and the shapes of things. If you want to I have no doubt you'll get it.

Jan-25-2006, 11:47pm
I would get the Fiddler's Fakebook - fiddle version, with music notation.

Jan-26-2006, 10:31am
Here's my suggestion:

You can't get just one book....I have I think almost all of the books mentioned and have learned something from every one of them. Playing fiddle tunes on the mandolin has made my right hand so much better on the guitar as well.

OK if I HAD to pick ONE for an INTRODUCTION to bluegrass mando I think I would stick with Roland White's.