Another old newbie

  1. Old Man In
    Old Man In
    Just joined the group so I thought I'd better say something.
    I've been a guitar player for nigh on 55 years, played Irish Bouzouki for about 11, and to celebrate surviving to the three score and ten, took up the mandolin 8.months ago. To my surprise I found it relatively easier than I expected although having the bouzouki in GDAD tuning threw me a bit.
    What does worry me somewhat is reading that it takes twenty years to master an my age!
    However, this forum seems to be full of good people with good ideas and advice so I think I'll stick with it.
  2. HonketyHank
    Well, I'm three score and twelve, picked up the mandolin three years ago, and am having a lot of fun. I don't expect to master it, which is good because then I would probably get kicked out of the Newbies group.

    Welcome to the bunch!
  3. MikeZito
    First and foremost - at this early stage do not put any unnecessary pressure on yourself to worry about 'mastering' the mandolin . . . just take it one lesson, one lick, once chord and one song at a time - and let the pieces fall together naturally.

    In mid-April of this year, I will hit my 20 year mark on the mandolin . . . so I'm very glad to hear that in just a few weeks I will go from being a talent-less newbie, to being a master! Woo-hoo!
  4. SOMorris
    Welcome Old Man (there are several of us old men here!).
  5. Old Man In
    Old Man In
    Thanks for the welcome and the advice. I know, it's like eating an elephant - one bite at a time. fortunately for me, long years of playing strings means I don't have the finger soreness problems and as I play mainly ITM, chords don't come into the equation, that's what the bouzouki is for.
    My main problem at the moment is getting used to the smallness of the mando after playing big things. Like the frets are so close together and the neck is so short; also I'm finding that now and again I'm hitting other strings at the same time as the one I'm supposed to be hitting so the question is am I picking too hard, too deep or what? I would be really grateful for any comments on this.(I'm using medium D'Addarrio strings on an Oakwood "Original" and tend to favour Dunlop 88 picks)
  6. HonketyHank
    OMI, I think you are experiencing what most people experience when they move from a wide neck to a skinny neck and I also think it gets better with practice. You should be able to get some applicable right hand technique instruction by searching youtube for Mike Marshall instruction videos. He's got some good 'sample' videos. Mike teaches that you only use about an eighth of an inch on the tip of the pick. That's pretty hard at first and if you are using more, chances are you are digging instead of brushing which kills speed or accuracy or both.

    There are lots of good instructional videos out there, not just from Mike Marshall. In the free category, I like Baron Collins-Hill at I have also bought material from Mike Marshall through homespun and from Brad Laird.

    You could also post a short video of you playing a scale or something and we could try to see what we can see. I can say that for me, I still work on getting a brushing stroke instead of a digging stroke.
  7. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    "My main problem at the moment is getting used to the smallness of the mando after playing big things. Like the frets are so close together and the neck is so short"

    I bought one just on a lark in 2014 ... It was old (1915), a cheap bowlback, and looked cool. I figured out a tune I play on guitar and fixed it up a bit, then gave it to a friend. A year later, I gave in to the nagging desire to hear that sound again and bought another one and started trying to learn it, like you're doing. Even though it seems impossibly little, you might find it very addicting ... and you'll have to re-train yourself to play well on it. I'm still working on it, and couldn't do without my mandolin.

    You're just experiencing common mechanical issues that come with adjusting to the mandolin. Follow Henry's advice above, and practice, practice, practice. You'll be hooked.
  8. Ellsdemon
    I will agree with what has been said in regards to picking in such tight quarters. Cross picking exercises will help you can more knowledge and motion memory. It won't happen overnight, over the weekend or even or the next month, like Mark said, practice, practice practice. I'm sure most of us here still run into that problem, the good ones just make it sound like it was suppose to be that way.
  9. bbcee
    @Old Man In, I second Henry's suggestion to post a short video, if you're able.

    One of the nicest things about moving over to the mandolin is this site, and especially this forum; we're the nicest people we know

    Seriously, this is a super supportive forum, there are no chips on shoulders or bones to pick here. We're happy to offer you advice, based on us having made your same journey.
  10. Philsf51
    I just started about 8 months ago as well. After playing guitar most of my life. I am 68 I don't know what that amounts to in the score system. I have to say that after taking lessons, playing, practicing, learning Bluegrass Standards I opened up my guitar case and couldn't believe how big it was! How wide apart the frets were and how much I had to move from one position to another. I remember I wanted to get a new guitar with a wider neck. Heck I'd like a guitar with a smaller, shorter neck now. Good luck, mandolin's a lot a fun and way easier than guitar.
  11. bbcee
    Heck I'd like a guitar with a smaller, shorter neck now.

    @Philsf51 - that's called a tenor guitar!
  12. Old Man In
    Old Man In
    Hi Guys, Sorry I've not replied to all your suggestions for a while but life keeps getting in the way!. Re my picking problem, I did a quick video of myself and watched what the right hand was doing and also tried playing in front of a mirror, very instructive.The answer seemed to me that there was too much motion in the right arm like I was playing guitar. Instead of playing from the wrist I was moving from the elbow. Since then it's been practice whenever I've got a moment. Not playing tunes as such but just getting that right hand in the correct position and picking away.
  13. FredK
    Sorry I didn't say welcome to you sooner, Old Man In. I'm 60 and just picked up the mandolin 2 years ago. Coming from a guitar background, I understand the elbow movement. Sounds like you are on the right track by watching your technique. Doing just that along with taking online courses with Mike Marshall, Sharon Gilchrist and a few of the free sites has helped me with my technique. IMHO - at this stage of the game - it's more important to have fun with the mandolin and enjoy it than to master it. Happy picking!
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