View Full Version : Niles' Electric Mandolin method

Nov-16-2004, 1:10pm
Does anybody have this?

I'm mostly interested in the chapters on single string and double string bending and would love to see those chapters. I used to own the book but sold it in one of those "purge" sales. Now it's out of print and i wish I didn't sell it.

I'm looking to expand my electric mando arsenal of licks in those two areas specifically.

Thanks in advance,


Nov-16-2004, 1:27pm
I would love to get this book, I've never seen it though, just heard about it here.

Niles, if you are out there listening, would you please reprint it? I am certain you would be able to sell many copies.

Nov-16-2004, 2:11pm
I have it. I don't know how Niles would feel about my bootlegging it, though.

Nov-18-2004, 11:53am
Given that he's around this board, perhaps some kind of informal arrangement could be arranged with his involvement and consent? I'd *love* a copy, since neither Joe Craven nor Sam Bush are knocking down my door to teach me electric specific techniques...


Nov-18-2004, 12:20pm
I'd love to see and pay for that book again..even a photocopy...how about it Niles...can you photocopy some?

I dug into an old Robben Ford guitar book I have. He has a chapter on string bending; here is what he teaches I'll try and relate it to the Key of G and the Monroe chop position

1) Bend any note in the G minor pentatonic scale up to the next note

2) bend from the minor third to the major third (he credits this to Miles Davis):

so this would be bending the first fret on the A string up a half step

3) Bend from the Flat Seven up to the root:

third fret on the D string up to match the G note or any microtone in between

4) Bending to the sixth from the fifth:

so on the A string again bend the fifth fret up one hole step to (match the open E string for pitch reference)

5) bend the flat five up to the five;

again on the A string bend the fourth fret up to the fifth

Speaking of Sixths Robben likes to use the sixth note so you would play your normal Bill Monroe chop stuff but instead of hitting the F note hit the E note.....it gives the licks a bit of a brighter sound

Here's a guitar bend that I transferred over to mando.....

Bend the fourth up to either the fifth or somewhere in between:

so bend the A string third fret up 1/2 or a whole

It's the microtones in between the intervals that give that real blues thang...but I notice that underbending is way better then overbending. It's easy to overbend by mistake on electric mando because of the short scale length as compared to let's say a guitar

Anybody got any bending tricks to share?


Nov-18-2004, 8:41pm
What is the name of Niles' book?

Nov-19-2004, 10:42am
I try and do most of my bending from the fourth fret up, because I feel like I have more control and flexibility (the exception being Bb -> B on the G string playing G blues tunes.) So, if I'm wanting to bend from a B to a C on the A string, I'll likely play it on the D, bending from the 9th fret. Mechanically, I like to use two fingers for better control, and when I want to bend down to a pitch, I'm working on right hand muting with my middle finger to prevent the often cheezy up/down bend sound. I've found that my guitarist is a good resource on those sorts of tips, because so many of the techniques we use on electric instruments transfer nicely from guitar to mandolin.


Nov-30-2004, 1:05pm
Taboot, what gauge strings are you using, and how long a scale length is it?

Martin Jonas
Nov-30-2004, 4:04pm
Do you mean the 2-tape set Niles did with Richard Thompson in 1983? If so, it's called "The Electric Mandolin 1 and 2: Mandolin Theory, Technique, & Improvisation" (Courtesy of the official Richard Thompson homepage (http://www.richardthompson-music.com/album.asp?id=58)).

I'm a big RT fan, but unfortunately don't have that one -- it predates my interest in the mandolin by quite a bit.


Dec-01-2004, 10:18am
Truth be told, I don't know the scale length, it's a standard Ryder EM-44, doensn't feel unusual. Strings run from .38-.11, and they're just electric guitar strings that I buy individually.


Dec-02-2004, 12:54pm
Christion, Mmmmm an EM-44. I've been dying to get my hands on a Ryder for years. What's the pick-up configuration on yours?
The strings you're using are fat enough for an acoustic. Try .009, .013, .020w, .026w. I think you'll find bending strings won't require two fingers anymore. I've even used as light as .008, .012, .018w, .024w. It's a whole nother world. When they're this light, you gotta be real precise with your fingers to NOT bend them.

Dec-02-2004, 4:22pm
Yeah, that's my problem is that I over-play (I've got big fat strings on my Breedlove, which I hit pretty hard.) I switch instruments from song to song constantly, and can't yet adjust fast enough from one instrument to the other. It's one of my shortcomings as a player. I have tried lighter strings, (and I might actually be playing .36's on down,) but I prefer the warmth of the bigger ones. The pickups on mine are both split-coil humbuckers, I *love* the tonal range. If you're curious, she can be seen on Steve's EM-44 homepage, it's the natural finish example on the left.


Django Fret
Feb-10-2005, 7:51am
Does anybody have this?
I have a copy of this book and the two cassette tapes that came with it, and am now considering selling it.

Does anyone have any idea what the set would be worth?