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Miniature Orchestra

  1. 10-String News

    Another Buchanan has arrived, and it has new design features, mainly in the bracing, that make it sing. It also has an installed Headway undersaddle pickup, which sounds pretty good for a piezo. This model is the premium HE4 with supposed mandolin-specific EQ. With the right amp settings it is workable as the sole sound source. I tweaked it slightly by making a new saddle that was a bit tight at the bass end, so that its movement would be limited. This tamed the too-present C course. A heavier ...
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  2. Going It Alone

    Just as I was getting the hang of covering pop songs and Americana in my acoustic duo, my partner has had to relocate out of state for family reasons. I am not optimistic about finding a similar congenial relationship of two baby boomers that like the same stuff, and certainly not quickly. I am instead considering a solo act.

    I donít like the acts that use rhythm machines, backing tracks, looping and such. I prefer to hear people perform live, as themselves. For myself, it is that, ...
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  3. Duo Debut

    My duo has its first real gig at a local winery this Sunday. Although we provided music at a memorial celebration, and have sat in at a few open-mic or similar situations, this is a longish gig at 4 hrs, and will need all our song list. Probably we will each offer a solo tune or song to stretch things. It will be the first actual market test, so to speak, of our mandolin-bass duo.

    I'm confident it will go well--we have been invited back to other settings. My partner, Tracy, will play ...
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  4. My First Mandolin Symposium

    I am looking back at my first Mandolin Symposium, and enjoying the memories of hearing and seeing great players at close range, teaching and rehearsing, and showing why we refer to them as great. I am thinking of new friends, such as Al, Bill, and Kaden, Eugenio and the nice homme francais from Nice, Alan and Amy, and of course Steve, Pete, and Patrice. Too many other names to recall; I am counting on Steveís email list to help maintain contact until next year. Caterina described feeling a letdown ...
  5. Why I don't play guitar

    My girlfriend asked me, "Why not play guitar?" That is, why work so hard at this little mandolin thingy when I could just play that big thing everyone uses?

    It is true that the world of popular and folk music is awash in guitars. It is also true that classical guitar is much more visible than classical mandolin. It is also true that jazz guitar is very popular. But I don't think in 4ths, I think in 5ths, and I was never able to feel comfortable with guitar tuning. So my ...
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  6. Letter From Shanghai

    On tour with my day job, missing my lady, preparing to head on to Beijing, after Taipei and Hong Kong. Although I have been doing this for way too long, this time around I am carrying my 10-string, which means I am never bored or wondering what I should do to pass the time until the bus leaves for the show or airport.

    The air outside is horrible, but I am a happy camper, practicing my tunes in the hotel. An advantage in bringing the mando is its demure voice, not inherently loud, ...
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  7. Miniature Orchestra

    My Long Road To Mandolin

    I wonder if I could have arrived here sooner; there were periods where I was working on related efforts, like folk guitar (60s) rock guitar (70s) bluegrass (80s) and so on. But I started musical life as a violin player. After hearing my amateur mother and friends play chamber music, I begged for lessons at age three, and was granted my wish the following year.

    When I was older, my mother encouraged me to listen to and buy dance records so ...
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