View Full Version : Simon Mayor

Feb-12-2005, 6:16pm
Trying to broaden my horizons, I ordered Simon Mayor's New Celtic Mandolin CD. #

In addition to the overall quality of the performance and the songs, I like these things about it:

Mandolin is very prominent - in the bluegrass world it isn't unusual to find a CD by a mandolinist that is really just another group instrumental.

Variety - Occasionally an all (or mostly) instrumental CD sounds good but if aren't listening closely (say while driving) you look down and you are on song six and they all sounded the same.

From the perspective of those two aspects, which of his other works are similar?

Mike Buesseler
Feb-12-2005, 6:30pm
Tim, I'd guess they are all great. I have Mastering the Mandolin. GET IT. It is the best instructional book I own, and I probably have 30. Also, if you have a question along the way in any of his books, give him an email. He has answered every one of mine. Besides being a musical genius, he is a great, funny guy. THE BEST, IMHO.


Feb-13-2005, 7:00am
Tim, I'd guess they are all great. I have Mastering the Mandolin. GET IT. It is the best instructional book I own, and I probably have 30. Also, if you have a question along the way in any of his books, give him an email. He has answered every one of mine. Besides being a musical genius, he is a great, funny guy. THE BEST, IMHO.

I agree. Simon's books are wonderful, and as stated his sense of humor is great, not to mention the sounds he gets out of his mandolin.

Mike Crocker
Feb-13-2005, 8:10am
Buy 'em all.

I had an impromtu one-on-one with Simon a couple of years ago and learned more about playing mandolin in an hour than I had in the previous ten years. He's brilliant, and funny, but he doesn't mind sharing his ideas either. I got some fingering, articulation, and embellishment ideas from him that would have taken much longer to figure out on my own. His own compositions are very good and I believe will someday be standard repertoire for the mandolin. He can do it all live too, and make it sound fresh every time.

Buy 'em all.

Peace, Mooh.

Michael Wolf
Feb-13-2005, 9:57am

I'd recommend "Mandolinqents". The selection of songs that varies from Mozart to "Sally's Gardens" via "Cheek to Cheek" is lovely, and so is the voice of Hillary James. I find the music humorously and grandiose at the same time and I like that.


Feb-14-2005, 4:14am
I have Mastering the Mandolin.

So have I (Santa brought it!). It is a good book. I've been dipping in and out of it but intend to sit down and work through it systematically. I had braced myself to unlearn a lot of what I thought were bad habits that I'd developed trying to coax a good tone out of a cheap mandolin. In the book my "bad habits" are described in detail as alternative techniques (including the pencil grip for the pick, angle of attack, using the blunt end, left-hand fingers pointing at my nose and not parallel to the frets etc.) I wish I'd had this book about five years ago. It would have meant I'd never have got frustrated and laid off playing the mandolin. Still, never mind eh? I've got it now.

I've only emailed Simon once and didn't expect a reply but got an answer the very next day (in less than 24 hours actually).

I also bought "The Mandolin Album" on which Simon plays nearly all the instruments (that must have been some recording session!). I'd recomend that too (a lot of eltic folk, some classical and some of his own tunes).

steve V. johnson
Feb-14-2005, 2:26pm
Where is a good place in the USA to order these materials ? All my Google searches show Euro shops...



Feb-14-2005, 3:07pm
Both Mid-Continent Music (http://www.midcontinentmusic.com) and Elderly (http://www.elderly.com) carry several of his. #I've used Elderly for CDs, haven't used the other.

Martin Jonas
Feb-16-2005, 8:37am
I'll second (or third) the recommendation for "Mastering The Mandolin". Great book. When I started the mandolin, I learned the basics from his first book "The Mandolin Tutor", which I also found to be very well-written and easy to follow. Unfortunately, many instrumental tutors are very poorly presented and worse than useless (I still have no idea what the authors of "Mandolin Fretboard Roadmap" want to say). "Mastering The Mandolin" takes things much further, but is equally clear. Two things to be aware of: there is effectively nothing on chord-based rhythm playing in any of his books; and there is a gap in the natural progression of things between "Mandolin Tutor" and "Mastering The Mandolin", specifically in that the latter assumes you know how to apply decorations, which the former doesn't introduce. That gap is filled in parts by the book "The Irish Mandolin"; however, I found that book to be not quite a clearly presented and intuitive to follow as the other two.


Mike Crocker
Feb-16-2005, 11:14am
Martin...That would be "The Celtic Mandolin"?

There are some footnotes and comments in his book of tunes "The New Mandolin". There are videos too which might be useful.

Peace, Mooh.

Martin Jonas
Feb-16-2005, 11:19am
Martin...That would be "The Celtic Mandolin"?
You are absolutely correct. Simon's book is "The New Celtic Mandolin", and my previous comments relate to this book. "The Irish Mandolin" is a tutor by Padraig Carroll, which I was given as a gift a while back, but found less interesting and less well-written than any of Mayor's three book.


J. Mark Lane
Feb-16-2005, 9:38pm
I concur with the suggestion that you would want to get all of Simon's CD's. My personal favorites are "The Mandolin Album" and "The Second Mandolin Album." I think "The Mandolin Album" is probably the next logical progression from "New Celtic Mandolin," in terms of accessibility and getting to know the artist. "Mandolinquents" is quite good, also, as is "Winter with Mandolins" (billed as a Christmas album, but imo really just a great album). The only one I don't have yet is "The English Mandolin," but I intend to order it.

The material with his partner Hillary James is also very good, but be prepared for the fact that this is a different kind of material. "Duos" is closer to what you might expect than "Laughing With the Moon." But both are as much Hillary as Simon. Hillary is very talented. It's great stuff, and lots of mandolin family instruments are played by both of them (plus Simon is quite the fiddler).

Simon and Hillary have a website:


Elderly keeps a good selection of their work, as does Bill Hamilton (see http://tinyurl.com/573rj ). I like to support Elderly because they are a sponsor of this site, but I generally would prefer to order from Bill whenever I can. So I would suggest doing that.

I haven't worked with much of the instructional material that Simon offers. But I do have both the book and the video of "New Celtic Mandolin." Both are good. I am on a particular learning program (self-designed) right now, so I'm not venturing much. But I incorporated "Waynesboro" into that program, and I learned it from the video. Nice tune.

Simon is indeed accessible. He was Guest of the Week on CoMando a while back, and his appearance is logged at:


During that discussion, in response to something I said, he emailed me and we had a nice exchange. Very nice guy.

In my opinion, Simon Mayor is one of the two or three best mandolinists alive today.


Feb-16-2005, 11:08pm
Having produced Simon and Hilary in concert, I can say that without a doubt, they're both highly talented musicians doing what they want to do and enjoying themselves immensely. Very friendly and kind people. I would love to see them record with Ostroushko and/or Blake, but I don't think that's their cup of tea.


Feb-17-2005, 6:28am
J. Mark -

Thank you. #Since I can't find these in local stores, the decision is how many to buy in my next purchase. #Buying them all makes sense based on minimizing the shipping costs. #However, I have had bad experiences with buying more CDs based on what was an artist's "experimental" recording and finding the rest of their work was not what I liked.

Mike Crocker
Feb-17-2005, 9:17am
I was discussing this topic with a friend and we were musing that we've seen Simon (and Hilary) probably a dozen times in formal concert settings, as many times in workshops, have their recordings, books, and videos, spent a few casual moments with them at festivals, was allowed to videotape a performance once, and we still never tire of them! Funny, sincere, personable, and all that talent too.

The recordings are consistently good in part because Simon does so much of the arranging and production, never mind writing and playing. When you hear his solo and accompaniment guitar you get a sense that his grip on harmony and arranging goes beyond his command of mandolin. His ears are better than most.

Not that it matters, but my favourites would be "The English Mandolin" and "New Celtic Mandolin". I also made a home burned cd of just Mayor compositions from the first 80 minutes of them that appear on the first few cds, for studying his compositional style. I end up playing that cd as much for pleasure.

Peace, Mooh.

Bob DeVellis
Feb-17-2005, 9:54am
Although I very much like Simon's playing, Hilary's singing isn't my cup of tea. It's sort of a music hall turn-of-the-century style that I don't find particularly appealing. This is very much a comment on my feeling toward that style and not a personal criticism of Hilary. I bet she's great fun to see in a live performance and I certainly recognize her talent, but I much prefer those albums on which Simon goes it alone or only with instrumental accompaniment. You might want to get a sample of her vocal style to see how you like it before ordering every CD they've done.

Feb-17-2005, 11:11am
bobd- Good point. #She does sing on one song on the CD I own.

Feb-22-2005, 5:29am
I went to see Simon and Hilary play at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, with Fairport Convention, on Sunday evening. It was a great evening, and I spent far too much on merchandise, including Hilary and Simon's latest CD "Laughing with the Moon".
I love Hilary's singing on this, and I think both Tim and bobd would have no stylistic objections in the case of this CD. There are a mp3 clips at Simon and Hilary's website. (
Other highlights include Simon's arrangement of Carolan's Concerto and some traditional style compositions by Simon - The Reel thing and Fireflies.
I haven't completely absorbed this album yet, but initial impressions are enough for me to wholeheartedly recommend it!


Bob DeVellis
Feb-22-2005, 9:47am
Jon - You're right. I listened to the clips and enjoyed her singing on the two with vocals. She sings in a much more, I guess, traditional style here and it works very well.

Feb-25-2005, 5:29pm
Have you guys seen Simon Mayor's Mandolin techniques in the magazine Acoustic tis on its second issue? its nice to see hope the Mag goes from Strenth to Strenth

Mandolin-AL http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Feb-25-2005, 6:04pm
Thanks, Mandolin-AL, for this lead.

Folks: You can read the article, now posted HERE ( at Simon's website.


Martin Jonas
Feb-25-2005, 7:40pm
As it happens, the article is based one one particular example early in the book "Mastering The Mandolin", so if you like that approach (and want to have the illustrations and notation to go with it), then that's the book for you.


Feb-26-2005, 8:30am
Wonder if Simon ever comes in here and reads the boards ....that would be cool lol


Feb-28-2005, 12:33pm
Thanks for all the input. #I ordered "The Mandolin Album", "The Second Mandolin Album", "The English Mandolin", "Duets" and "Mandolinquents". #I've listened to each and have no regrets.