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Mandolin Mondays #213 w/ Special Guest Radim Zenkl

Rating: 9 votes, 5.00 average.
Make way for the Czech Republic Mandolin Legend Radim Zenkl! Check out this jaw dropping original composition played on his Custom Capek wide-neck F5 mandolin. Radim uses his own unique technique here, the "Zenkl style," in which he uses two fingerpicks, enabling him to play both the tremolo melody and crosspicking accompaniment. Hard to believe all that sound is coming from one guy!

Radim comes from the former Czechoslovakia, where he had a classical upbringing, in his teens he discovered bluegrass and moved to USA in 1989. He released his US debut CD Galactic Mandolin on David Grisman's label Acoustic Disc in 1992. The same year he won the Winfield Mandolin Championship. During the last 30 years, he has collaborated on stage or in studio with the top players of the acoustic music scene and has recorded number of solo CDs, each focusing on a different theme or style of music. He is a current member of the Modern Mandolin Quartet (mandola) and the Ger Mandolin Orchestra (mandolin and mandola).

Radim also tours solo and his worldwide performing and teaching credentials include guest appearances at prestigious musical institutions such as the Berklee College of Music in Boston and Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. His instructional DVD Mandolin Primer was released on Homespun in 2015. Besides the mandolin he also plays a variety of ethnic flutes and the didgeridoo.

Many of you will know that Radim had lost his house of 15 years, along with many musical instruments, hand written manuscripts of original music, and much more in the Paradise, CA "Camp Fire" (November 8, 2018). Radim says: "The response of the music community was amazing, thank you all again for your support and care! 'First Flight of the Phoenix' was written soon after the fire, reflecting on the process of starting out again, rising from the ashes like the mythical bird phoenix."

Be sure to connect with Radim at the following links below for more information about his music:

And as always, tune in next week for more Mandolin Mondays! Until then...

Happy Picking!

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  1. Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
    Welcome, Radim. Hope all is well in your life after losing your home to the California fires.
  2. William Smith's Avatar
    Great sounds from that mandolin, is it me or is that neck extra wide? Almost looks like a guitar width? I don't think I ever seen a mando neck that wide?
  3. Scotter's Avatar
    That was fantastic! I love the thumb and fingerpick technique. And, yeah, just how wide is that neck?
  4. Jim Imhoff's Avatar
    We hosted Radim's house concert in our little Oregon town of Independence; a small but enthusiastic and appreciative audience. I was thrilled to have him play my Gibson K4 mandocello in duets with Tim Connel. I need to point out that along with the dazzling technique, what I love best about Radim's playing is the sweet lyrical tone he gets on quieter melodic works.
    Hope to get another mandocello lesson the next time you pass through Oregon!
  5. DougC's Avatar
    What an interesting piece. Glad to see Radim's out there playing and having fun.
  6. greenoak's Avatar
    Wow! Really nice piece and interesting technique!
  7. BrianWilliam's Avatar
    Incredible. I thought my phone was glitching during that last tremolo. Bravo!
  8. Alfons's Avatar
    Innovative technique and beautiful music!
  9. Europick's Avatar
    Hi everybody,

    Thank you for your kind comments! The wide neck on my mandolin - I have big hands (probably should have been a bass player :-). I started on a regular sized neck and played it for about 10 years (I had Krishot F5). When I moved to San Francisco in 1989, I met a classical guitar player who also had a mandolin, though with a wide neck. I tried it and liked it right away, since more space allowed me a variety of fingering options, specially for chord melody arrangements, and resulted in cleaner playing and a better connection with the instrument. For example, with the wider neck I am able to play fifths with two fingers on the inside strings without muting the outside strings. Around that time I saw a picture of Keith Harris on the front page of the Mandolin World News, who also had a mandolin with wider neck. So I ordered my next mandolin (A style, built by Steven Andersen) to have the wide neck and since that time all of my mandolin family instruments have the wide neck (Capek F5, Breedlove mandola and others).

  10. Jan Skovajsa's Avatar
    Dear mandolin friends,

    firstly, many thanks to Radim for the beautiful new composition! I really love it. Actually, Radim's playing was one of the reasons I started to play mandolin. I highly recommend to check his recordings, in particular, album called Czech it out, that contains many beautiful arrangements of central and east European traditional melodies for the solo mandolin and as well as the album called Galactic Mandolin, that is just necessity for the true mandolin nerds :-)

    I cannot resist to mention that the "Zenkl style" is Radim's unique variation on the old Italian mandolin technique called duo-style. There is a classical mandolin pick used in Italian duo-style while Radim uses plastic thumb pick and an altered plastic finger pick.
    There are a few brilliant players who learnt Radim's technique in the Czech Republic. One of them is a great player, mandolin builder and Lloyd Loar Era restoration expert Miroslav Vana of the Vana Mandolins. Listen how this technique sounds on the Lloyd Loar F5 mandolin:

    Updated Jan-31-2020 at 3:55pm by Jan Skovajsa