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Thread: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

  1. #1

    Post Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    What made you choose the mandolin the many other instruments out there? Which isn't to say that we can't or don't play multiple instruments, but choosing an instrument is a big deal! Choosing an instrument means investing not only money but time in it. Was it a musician? Type of music? Sound? Feel?

    I find it hard to answer the question myself; perhaps it was a combination of all of the things I named above. I'm curious to hear what you all have to say!

  2. #2
    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Welcome to the Mandolin Cafe!
    I chose it for a number of reasons.
    While living in Westeern NC I listened to a station, WNCW, that featured a number of really great mandolin players. Sam Bush, Chris Thile, Tim O’Brien, etc. Often they would feature music that was not just Bluegrass, but brought in an eclectic blend of many types of msic. Most of which had a very positive sound. I was needing to adjust my music choices at the time, and found the switch to Americana, Newgrass, and otherwise to be a good place to go.
    Naturally I became drawn to the sound of the mandolin.
    I later was helped to understand the nature of the mandolin, and the fact that it is tuned in fifths. That you could move the chord structures vertically and laterally. I liked the ease of being able to make my mind wrap around that idea.
    The rest just fell into place. I love beautifull wood grain. I love to see the wonderful craftmanship of anything done very well. I like to understand what goes into an instrument being built, and how small differences in various materials can bring big changes that add variety to the end result.
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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I didn’t really put much thought into it to be honest, I’ve always liked the sound of the mandolin in a rock genre (think Battle for Evermore, Losing My Religion, Fairport Convention etc.). I certainly didn’t weigh out the pros and cons of the mandolin versus o5her instruments.

    Not a quite as simple as waking up one morning and thinking “I’ll learn the mandolin” but that’s pretty close.

    Of course if my taste had veered more towards Journey of the Sorcerer I’d be posting something similar on banjohangout this morning rather than here

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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    No one else was playing one where I live and it was easy to carry. We had 3 guitars in one of the bands I was in and somebody had to to something, a friend had one cheap. It was cheap too.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by lyi View Post
    What made you choose the mandolin ... Was it a musician? Type of music? Sound? Feel? ...
    Long story short: GDAE tuning.

  6. #6
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I had an interest since young, but never followed it up. It was a ‘some day I’d like to have a go at the mandolin’ thing until Feb 2009. I played ‘cello for about 15 years, but found that declined when I started working away from home, so was missing too much practice. The mandolin seemed a good portable option, so when I was going to be off work for at least 3 months for cancer treatment it seemed like a good opportunity to learn it as a distraction. Kind of “ well some day could become no day at this rate”. However I was too knackered while having treatment to do more than dabble, but towards the end of that year I gave it a good go and it stuck.
    Eoin



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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I was a long time guitar player who'd gotten heavily into the tenor banjo and irish trad music. I bought a cheap old Harmony mandolin as a birthday present for a friend and had fun messing around on it before wrapping it up to give to them. Moving from my farmhouse in the Irish countryside to a tiny apartment in Oakland, CA meant that late night tenor banjo playing was off the menu, so I got a mandolin of my own as a way to play slightly quieter and keep peace with the neighbors.
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    en kunnskapssøker James Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Early years played a guitar with no help. Ended up laying it on its back, used a slider and a pencil's eraser end to play it like a hammered dulcimer of sorts. Later got a dulcimer and immensely its sound even though I probably did not have it in tune. Got into boomerangs and that was my world.

    The Boomerang Man, Richard Harrison, sent me a booklet on how to build a didgeridoo out of PVC. Dinked around with that, was nothing serious though. Boom boxes were out in the 80's and I was out in the field flying boomerangs and listening to tunes.

    When family moved to the mountains I wished I would of thought of music and astronomy then, as was the perfect setting and I would of had LOTS of time. However I was into computers, IBM PC-XT being my first, recovered from salvage. Fought wildland fires off and on, and still did not once think about music.

    After moving to the valley, losing my father, our home, and later my mom, I bought a basic wooden didgeridoo. Bucket list of things I suppose as since could not afford to travel to Australia I would bring parts of it to me. However it was nothing more than a basic hollow tube with beeswax on the end, in the tune of D#. Still have it. ~ https://www.facebook.com/JackarooJim...7169187342571/

    Later on found that the world-renowned David Hudson made didgeridoos. Took over a year before he got around to making one for me - which is a family heirloom quality didgeridoo that would last me a lifetime and probably the successor's lifetime too, and beyond.
    This didgeridoo got me through the mourning process after mom passed on, and later got two jobs, a pocket didge to play when driving, and that was perty much it for me up until last year.

    Vicki Salerno, a Payette SDA member, brought in a tenor ukulele. One Saturday I drove to Weiser to Picker's Paradise and decided to get one. Big mistake I think. Ukulele and didgeridoo DO NOT mix.
    Philip Lipsky (SeidrSound) plays an Irish Bouzouki with his didgeridoo, along with a drum, ankle rattles, overtone flute, overtone singing, and lately a shruti box (no idea what powers it). So I would say that Philip reminded me of the mandolin that I researched back in my 40's when I was looking up a dulcimer and other folk instruments. Thought a lute would of been cool, but I liked the sound of the mandolin even though I did not know what a mandolin was.

    Unsure what drew me to the mandolin. Perhaps when I visited Pickers Paradise in Weiser for a ukulele that the mandolin became a subconscious suggestion? Had liked similar tunes in the past, but I always remembered the issues I had playing a guitar and not knowing if I could that probably ended my interest.

    And Philip kept coming out with songs and albums. Then decided, hey, maybe give this a try. Not sure exactly what lured me in again... but I did watch a lot of videos and would occasionally scour the internet for prices - which perty much ended that idea. Things were too expensive back in my earlier days, and were not much changes now days. Then one night found the Muscian's Friend was selling Rogue mandolin for $45+. Figured these were junk, but I decided to try one. And I liked it, even if I don't play well the sounds are invigorating!

    Then searched online for mandolin lessons, resources, and found Mandolin Cafe. Which led me on an adventure and I bought a Weber Y2K6 recently. Gave the Rogue to a missionary couple from Madagascar last week. Will see how they fared with it this Saturday (I hope).

    Why I lept on a higher price was from the MANY posts here about what to look for, quality, the works. And the deal came across, and by kismet (maybe?) I ended up buying one of them more expensive mandolins.

    I figured was like with the didgeridoo. What makes a didgeridoo is the crafter. You could have a basic hollow tube with beeswax on the end, or you could spend more for one crafted by someone that knows how to make one, and it will play WORLDS differently than a basic one. However, once you learn to master the techniques of a higher quality didgeridoo, you can then play just about anything.
    So figured if I buy a better mandolin then perhaps it can teach me how to be a better player. And this mandolin sounds WORLDS BETTER than the Rogue - although the two are different, O verses F, flat verses curved, mellow verses bark.
    • Seagull S8 • Weber Y2K6 • David Hudson Bloodwood Didgeridoo (C#) •

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    Registered User maudlin mandolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Thinking about an alternative to guitar, which I had played for many years, I came across an old mandolin in a somewhat sorry state at a car boot sale. Bought it, strung it up and took it from there.

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    In some ways, the mandolin chose me.

    Similar to pops1 - I'd always liked the sound of the mandolin and was in a band with 3 guitars.

    $15 Harmony Pawn Shop special was the gateway drug in early 1970s, played guitar mostly (except for a brief stint in a bluegrass band in the '80s) until mid 90s when I was again hanging out with too many guitar players and started progressively playing more mandolin. Today I'm playing mandolin in a mongrel folk/proto-swing ensemble and guitar in another music project.

    It's all good, as long as I can make music with some friends on a regular basis.

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    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Started on guitar but mando playing within a short time of that and well got sick of showing up to play and there would only be guitars! So the mandolin became my main fun time, still on occasion play guitar maybe for a few min. every year. Mandolin is just plain and simple FUN!!

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    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I am a life-long guitar player and love it. But, I also have loved Bluegrass music and fell in love with the sound of the mandolin. So, now I play both (as well as piano and bass) because mostly, I am a life-long student of music.

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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I was already a pretty decent whistle player when I received my uncle's old violin (he played classical, so it was a violin ;-) )
    I'd have to learn it on my own and didn't feel quite up to it at the time.I liked the sound of the mandolin and when I found out that it was tuned the same as a violin I thought it might be a good first step towards eventually learning the fiddle (which I'd use for Irish music, hence fiddle).Plus, I already knew how to pick a guitar. Got an inexpensive mandolin and had a blast with it. I got good enough to start going to sessions. I toyed with the fiddle a bit but never stuck with it. I did branch out to tenor banjo which I love. I play that as much or more than mandolin these days. I bring both to sessions and play whichever there are fewer of.
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Because it was the only musical instrument in the house when I started.
    ManjoMan

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Because I suck on violin!

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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I was born. Dad had a mandolin...

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I accidentally became a mandolin player. I grew up playing violin and bluegrass fiddle and still play. When I was about 13 I added guitar and electric bass. About 10 years ago my neighbor (who I jam with now and then) asked if I could restring an old cheapie Francisco mandolin he had. All I knew about mando was it was tuned like a violin and used in bluegrass. So I changed the strings and tuned it up and started playing scales and the next thing I knew all these old bluegrass fiddle tunes just started falling out of it. It was a lot of fun so a couple months later I bought an Ibanez M522 and joined a local bluegrass club. Now I have a few more mandolins, octave mandos, mandola and mandocello. Its a lot more fun and opened a lot more doors for me to be one of a dozen mediocre mandolin players vs one of a few thousand mediocre guitarists in my area.

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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I was looking for another instrument to record along with my guitar on my home recordings. After hearing a mandolin orange video on youtube, I decided that mandolin/guitar had to be the best sounding instrument combo I'd ever heard on that style music. $200 later I had a mandolin. Almost 5 years later I haven't recorded a thing. I spend all my free time playing mandolin

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    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    A moment of weakness....

    ...fueled by a conspiracy of a small but vigilant social media type fringe extremest group known collectively as--

    The Mandolin Cafe.

    Truly if it wasn't for the internet I would have never started. I could have been a free man. Just watching football and pretending to play golf or guitar or God forbid ukulele or something like the other 99.99%
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Registered User Mike Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Voice is my first instrument. I was singing harmony with a singer/songwriter and we played keg parties. The folks buying the kegs got tired of me drinking free beer. Told me if I had no instrument I was just another beer drinker and pay up. Went to a pawn shop in Wichita Kansas and the cheapest instrument was a flat top teardrop. Man, I loved beer in those days.
    Mike Snyder

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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I have small hands.
    Being right is overrated. Doing right is what matters.

  23. #22
    acoustically inert F-2 Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    When I was in junior high I had some friends who had a small bluegrass band. They didn't have a mandolin player. A cheap mandolin from Montgomery Wards and I was on my way.
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life." --- Mongo

  24. #23

    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Well I joined MandolinCafe for the Greek bouzouki talk and then unfortunately came into contact with numerous highly contagious MAS sufferers and here I am. I guess I find the small size yet fairly high volume and genre versatility handy.

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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Frustrated that my fiddling sounded like trash, I tried mandolin and found it much easier to get a pretty sound out of. GDAE tuning is also really intuitive, I find my fingers 'feeling' where the correct note is without much thinking.

  27. #25

    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    At my fiddle instructors suggestion. The fixed intonation of the mandolin assisted in learning the fiddle's fingerboard.
    Some tunes/songs sound better on mandolin. Some on fiddle. Some on banjer. Some on piano. Some on guitar. Some don't.

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