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

  1. #101
    Registered User Miltown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Andy Statman. Not that I'll ever sound anything like him.

  2. #102
    Registered User Grizzly Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I primarily play the 5 string banjo, and have for about the last 50+ years. Always found Mandolins to be a bit irritating! For me playing the Mandolin is "a little hair of the dog." That said, I really like the portability of the Mandolin vs the banjo.
    If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a vet.

  3. #103
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I play Canadian old-time (quite different from Appalachian and southern old-time) and Cape Breton music on fiddle. I also have a love of blues. Having heard fine blues on ukelele, I picked up one sitting around the house, learned a few chords, and took an afternoon workshop. I enjoyed playing, but thought that if I'm going to put effort into it, I might as well try mandolin since it has the same tuning as a fiddle, so I'd have a head start. A friend loaned me his "tater bug" that he seldom played, and I liked playing it. But, since his mandolin's bowl and my midsection were more or less the same shape, that instrument wasn't the best for me. My buddy also also introduced me to the music of Yank Rachell, then there was no turning back -- I've discovered a great many other blues mandolin players since.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfYMsRzVFXQ

    I bought a Godin A-8 flat-back, which is electric but has a fine acoustic sound; I play it almost exclusively un-amped. Recently, I bought a 1923 Little Wonder banjolin (banjo-mandolin) with the same GDAE tuning, from a woman who was great to deal with, on Mandolin Cafe Classifieds. I especially like this instrument for playing ragtime, American C-19th folk, and early blues. I was inspired in this purchase by the following video, with Bill Foss playing a banjolin variation called a "commodium", and by advice from its inventor, Keith Cary.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQy1om865I0

    I still play fiddle as well as mandolin almost daily, but a few factors make the mandolin very attractive. I like the sound of the mandolin. It's not hard for a fiddler to learn, though the right-hand is a challenge. It's physically much easier to play than the fiddle. Since I was starting the instrument in my sixties after a few injuries and some arthritis, this was important. However, the violin requires considerably less finger pressure. As well, the spacing is different on the instruments, so there is a learning process. Furthermore, there are numerous fine guitar players around, with a fifty-year head start on me, whereas playing mandolin is often a novelty in a session, even if I'm no master. I've learned that the mandolin's tuning, in fifths, is special. By keeping my fingers in the same position and moving across or up and down, I can always create another chord -- if you watch the guitar players, they have to jump all over the place. Interestingly, because of my fiddle background, I'm better at picking than chording, whereas most players of lute-family instruments (guitars, ukes, banjos, etc.) begin by chording, so they're sometimes impressed by my ability to pick, while I'm thinking, "I wish I could chord that." Finally, the differences in note-playing on violin and chording on mandolin teach me a great deal about theory and how music works that I wasn't getting from just fiddle.

    I also fool around with a Serbo-Croation instrument called a "prim", a small tamburitza, another lute-type instrument. That's a whole other story, involving hanging out with Serbs in high school. However, I love the fiddle and mandolin, and usually play different styles of music on both, but sometimes overlap with blues on fiddle or old-time on mandolin.
    Last edited by Ranald; Feb-10-2018 at 8:00pm. Reason: typos

  4. #104

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

    Quote Originally Posted by peterleyenaar View Post
    I came from a fiddle background , ...
    Likewise.

    Quote Originally Posted by peterleyenaar View Post
    ... the right hand, that's where guitar players have the advantage, ...
    Well... IMO, guitar picking-hand technique is more of a problem and hindrance to progress, on mandolin.

    The hand position is different.

    I think it's easier to learn flatpicking on a mandolin *before* ever touching a guitar, that way you don't have to unlearn guitar technique.

    Slow tunes, probably doesn't matter. But (for example) fast fiddle tunes will show up any inefficiencies in picking hand technique on mandolin.

    Oddly though, the reverse of that does *not* seem to apply - mandolin picking-hand technique seems to transfer quite well to guitar. But just not the other way around.

    IMO, FWIW, YMMV, 2c, etc.

    ------------
    Full disclosure: The first thing I ever tried to use a normal flatpick on, was a mandolin. I already played fiddle, and years prior to that dabbled briefly in badly-played goose-quill dulcimer. Mandolin was smooth sailing *after* I got over the usual beginner tendency to grip the pick too tightly. My dad (who played mandolin, among other things) told me, "Hold that pick so loose that if you turn your hand sideways, the pick almost falls out." Before trying his advice, I was thinking "Well that sounds like a dumb idea, it's not even logical," but I went ahead and tried it anyway, and to my surprise, that was all it took to make the pick behave itself. I'm guessing the reason *why* that works, is because it allows the fingers to make occasional 'micro-adjustments' while playing.

  5. #105

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly Adams View Post
    ... Always found Mandolins to be a bit irritating! ...
    Lol. You probably have good high-frequency hearing. If my own playing is any indication, the high-pitched E-string notes have the most potential for causing irritating sounds. Same as on fiddle, now that I think of it.

  6. #106

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

    Mandolin was number 4 for me. I started on banjo, then went to guitar, then bass guitar, then mandolin. I still play them all, though I'm a master of none.

  7. #107
    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    With any instrument, the way it feels when I hold it is important--even if every thing else is perfect--if that feel is off--I won't buy it.
    PArt of that is an intangible.
    I am not referring to playability--although it is connected.
    Playability can be improved in most cases--but feel is feel.

    AFter that--yes playability & sound are important--as is condition.

    As well as price & availability.

    I have an Epi Mandobird
    I wasn't specifically looking for an electric solidbody mandolin, but it was on the radar--I knew I liked them--so when I found a used one on sale for a price I couldn't refuse (Had the cash on me at the time--well gift cards & cash) I couldn't pass it up.
    My original plan was to wait for a local stores rental sales (lower prices on 30 day rentals)--rent one & see if it took hold or not.
    Then decide which one to get.
    But before the next rental sale--well I found the Mandobird & that, as they say, was that.
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

  8. #108

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

    Howdy and welcome to the mando world.

    True story...I was the second guitar player in a Kingston Trio style band in the early 60's. We wanted to be a Bluegrass band, so the guitar players flipped a coin, I lost, and became our mandolin player...We all chipped in $35.00 for the Korean Kingston mando, and took it to the Blue Guitar in San Diego to learn how to tune it...no internet back then.

  9. #109
    Registered User Seatosky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Found an old bowlback with a broken neck in my granfathers attic that was very obviously a decent instrument as opposed to wall ornament. Seemed a great shame that it wasn't being played so i found a luthier and got it fixed. Fell in love with the sound and portability (i can play guitar, but my local session is in a tiny pub where elbow room is at a premium). Still learning, but i really enjoy it.

  10. #110

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly Adams View Post
    I primarily play the 5 string banjo, and have for about the last 50+ years. Always found Mandolins to be a bit irritating! For me playing the Mandolin is "a little hair of the dog." That said, I really like the portability of the Mandolin vs the banjo.
    I'm also a long time 5 string player. I can't say I ever found the mandolin to be irritating,but it wasn't until maybe 5 or 6 years ago that I ever gave it consideration as something to learn. Now that I record my own music, I needed something more than guitar and banjo. Fiddle is out of the question until they make one with frets. I do play bass guitar though.

  11. #111
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    45 years ago I was unable to accept a ride, while hitch-hiking with my guitar ,
    offered by a nice woman in a small sports car,
    because of the size of my instrument..



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  12. #112

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

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    45 years ago I was unable to accept a ride, while hitch-hiking with my guitar ,
    offered by a nice woman in a small sports car,
    because of the size of my instrument..




  13. #113
    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I'm a Bass player and the mandolin was a challenge to see how small an instrument I could play along side without getting confused.
    I never fail at anything, I just succeed at doing things that never work....


    Fylde Touchstone Walnut Mandolin.
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