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Thread: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

  1. #1
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    People,

    i can't help observing...over and over and...(over again) how mandolin players hunch over their mandolins, intensely staring at their FRETBOARD!

    What is so frikin' fascinating about the dang fretboard that they have to hunch over and stare with beady eyes at it? Just look at the photo on the front page of Mandolin Cafe RIGHT NOW!! Mike Marshall et al! I see it OVER and OVER but am I the only one??

    Good grief, get a mirror all ready!!



    PS...Come see me, Jack Bowers on Keyboard and Steve Larkin on Base in concert at the upcoming San Francisco Festival of Mandolins on April 23, 2017. Also, we will also be doing a workshop before the concert with the topic being, "Playing in ensemble with a mandolin player"!! (We have played together over 10 years in various venues.)

    And while I'm at it we will be performing at the Stanford Hospital Bing Concert Friday, 4/21 from 12:30 to 1:30 in the Atrium with the additional guest star, Ron Borelli, accordion extrordinair. We will feature Italian music.

    Finally, on Saturday, April 22, the trio will play from 6:00PM until 9:00 at the amazing Italian Casa Nostra restaurant in Ben Lomond, CA. (Above Santa Cruz, CA)

    Photo by Ed Hensley http://www.edhensley.net
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    Last edited by Billy Packard; Mar-20-2017 at 11:15pm.
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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    Are you an insult comic or something? If you are, I guess that could be considered funny by some. If not, pro tip, insulting your intended audience is not a great way to get people to turn out to your gigs
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    Registered User Pete Braccio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    I hunch over my mando now because a couple have gotten away from me. Four Rigels, a Breedlove, two Webers, a Godin, a Beard, and others that I can't remember right now. I don't want to loose any more!
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    I think it's an Italian heritage. All these bowlbacks wedged between legs and belly in a foetal position so they don't roll away. It's also a classical device for hidden concert promotion.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    It's not just staring at the fretboard to find the notes. If anything, I'm staring at the ceiling, trying to remember how a fiddle tune starts.

    I blame genetics and better nutrition. When we play seated, our torsos are longer than they used to be, when these instruments were designed. I'm 6'2"" tall myself. Therefore, I hunch over when playing a tiny instrument like this when sitting in a chair. I use a strap to keep the neck angle high, but I still hunch over because I like having the lower bout resting on my thigh.

    If I was a foot smaller in height, I wouldn't hunch over as much when I play, and my back would be a lot happier after playing a 3 hour gig or session.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    I don't think that Billy is intending to insult Mike Marshall or anybody else for that matter. Mike Marshall does indeed recommend leaning forward over your mandolin while practicing. It's one of the beefs i have with experts telling you how it 'should be done'. However,MM only recommends doing that while practicing in order that you can see & hear clearly what you're doing & how it sounds - common sense. The fact is that if i did that,due to severe lower back pain,i'd be walking around for the rest of the day bent double. We all have to adopt a posture that's ''good / easy for us''. It's the same with ''this is the correct way to hold a pick'' - go tell that to John Reischman.

    Personally,i'd say that MM only recommends leaning forwards while sitting down. That seems to be his standard way these days & very likely just what Billy & myself see in his video clips.

    I'd also say that i see banjo & guitar players do exactly the same thing,it's not just mandolin players. In order to see what i'm doing on the fingerboard when i'm sitting practicing,i tilt the top of the mandolin slightly upwards. When i play standing up,i rely on the side dots for guidance,like most of us.
    I'll add that if MM recommened standing on your head to play,if i thought i'd become as good as him - '' heads down folks ! '',
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    That's a pretty lame attempt at faking a themed thread - then turning it into a blatant promotion for gigs.

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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron McMillan View Post
    That's a pretty lame attempt at faking a themed thread - then turning it into a blatant promotion for gigs.
    Featuring a photo of a fine upstanding straightbacked Billy P (presumably) holding a mandolin!

    I think it's a good question though. I have a long back and suffer from chronic back pain.

    These days, I consciously try to straighten up and breathe properly while playing.

    However, playing in sessions etc, with that posture, one's own mandolin is practically inaudible. So I hunch so that I can hear what I'm playing. One ear is cocked to the sound hole which tends to leave one's eyes about level with the fretboard.

    The other piece of the solution is to use a light strap and keep your mandolin high up on your body. the low-slung guitar gunslinger pose just leads to pain for us long-backed short-armed types. And a Toneguard to allow sound out the back more.
    Bren

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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    I, too, appreciate the observation. and also find the 2nd half of the post a bit off-putting...

    I hunch - like them pickers on the homepage -, when seated and (to a lesser degree) when standing. I find it makes me more in tune with getting down on the thing and playing those gorgeous notes. I've seen videos/photos of me and I must say it looks a bit odd. Playing on stage, into a mic mitigates that posture somewhat.

    Oh, and this phrase Good grief, get a mirror all ready!! I believe needs to read:

    Good grief, get a mirror already!! If not, it sounds like:

    "All ready? All set? Let's go! Look at me! Look at me!" But, maybe that's the intent...

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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    What difference does it make, I hunch over, you stand straight, I hold my mandolin directly in front of me, you hold yours to the left of your body. Are we posing for the " best " form or are we making music?

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    What difference does it make, I hunch over, you stand straight, I hold my mandolin directly in front of me, you hold yours to the left of your body. Are we posing for the " best " form or are we making music?
    In the long run, posture can affect health. Here is Steve Hackett, who hunched over his Les Paul all his life, and has developed a pronounced humpback with a craned-forward neck.

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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    No pick, no strap, no hunched back. Maybe that's the answer


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    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    A lame-ish attempt at sardonic humor, I confess.


    I hunch sometimes too, it just happens. I get sore pretty easily so 'sitting up' is mandatory for me, I hurt if I don't.


    And I'm very fond of Mike Marshall both as a leader in our mandolin world and a great guy. And stellar father of two small children. And a devoted family man. I am definitely a fan of MM!

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    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    I do use a strap when I play, couldn't do without it.
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    A strap is far more use than a tie.

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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    However, playing in sessions etc, with that posture, one's own mandolin is practically inaudible. So I hunch so that I can hear what I'm playing. One ear is cocked to the sound hole which tends to leave one's eyes about level with the fretboard.
    .
    I do that at large sessions too but in my case I put my good left ear to the mandolin which leaves me staring at the knees of whoever is sitting to the right of me
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    In the long run, posture can affect health. Here is Steve Hackett, who hunched over his Les Paul all his life, and has developed a pronounced humpback with a craned-forward neck.
    But look at all that hair!
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    I have a hunch the original post was not about the hunch. But it made me curious enough to open and read the promo. But if it is about the hunch, I don't get it, never have seen it in regular playing, just in serious practicing. Probably not something I would have taken notice of. Although if they had beady eyes it would freak me out enough to take notice.....but you got me, I opened the thread to read where it was going...

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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    [QUOTE=Bertram Henze;1562432]In the long run, posture can affect health. Here is Steve Hackett, who hunched over his Les Paul all his life, and has developed a pronounced humpback with a craned-forward neck.

    We don't know that is what caused it. I had an uncle that stood just about like that and he never hunched over an instrument in his life. I know what we do for aliving and the way we use and abuse our bodies will come back to bite us in later years, but a couple or three hours a day may contribute to problems such as this butbi don't thinkit causes it. In my uncle's case it was a spinal defect that showed up in later years but probably from birth.

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    What hunch?

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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    I hunch over my mandolin so I don't hear people asking me stupid questions.

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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    Last night I went a little crazy and binge watched Mike Marshall - Chris Thile duet videos. Brilliant music, and kind of fun to see how they have both grown, but...

    In light of the present topic, their hunching is almost iconic. I hadn't really noticed it before, and now I can't un-see it. One might think they had been folded over and stuck in suitcases left at the train station over night.
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    Certainly osteoporosis produces the so-called "widow's hunch" so that's also a thing.

    as for hunching in general, a lot of people hunch over their phones. I happen to sit up straight when I type, but I've long noticed I'm an exception. it may be one reason why, after more than 40 years of typing, I don't actually have issues with my hands/wrists. My only brush with carpal tunnel was directly attributable to fretting the mandolin. So I now try to have good posture while playing. Of course, as has been noted, I'll hunch when practicing, especially when I'm trying to read sheet music imperfectly written/copied. And I'll occasionally hunch over to hear my mandolin if one of the strings sounds off. So there are hunches and hunches, I'd say.
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    Are you an insult comic or something? If you are, I guess that could be considered funny by some. If not, pro tip, insulting your intended audience is not a great way to get people to turn out to your gigs
    Seriously! This is the second time this week...Aaron Weinstein posted that video about standing ovations that I found insulting as an audience member now this.

    I come here to the Cafe to get away from all the nastiness...(sigh)...
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    Default Re: Why do mandolin players hunch over their instruments?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
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