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Thread: Retirement Beginner

  1. #1

    Default Retirement Beginner

    Never played an instrument. Getting ready for retirement. I would like to pick up the mandolin. Is this a reasonable idea or should I consider something else? If not crazy, what would be s good one to start with.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    It will depend on your level of comittment. If you are crazy to learn, you will learn. If you can carry a tune in your head you can learn. There are a lot of great learning resources on the Cafe. Congratulations on retirement.....it is major fun.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    I tried to play guitar earlier in life say around 30 something and enjoyed it, but never got good enough to call myself a guitar player.
    I like you have recently retired and have picked up the mandolin trying to use mandolin café and Don julins mandolin for dummies a great book. I feel like I'm making good progress but really need some one to play with but any rate I'm really enjoying the process. Hope you do Too.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    To be any good on the mandolin, you pretty much have to be retired, too young to work, or just never show up at work.


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  6. #5
    Registered User Zissou Intern's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    It's never too late! Even without past musical experience, you can learn mandolin, or any other instrument for that matter.

    The question is: How much do you want to spend for a mandolin? There are many options at all price levels. Also what type of music do you want to play? Celtic or old time or bluegrass or classical?

    This is where many people will recommend that you buy an A style, because the scroll will cost you money. I say buy whatever style makes you happy. Aesthetics play an important role in motivation.

    Give us some more information, and we'll give you lots of advice!

  7. #6
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob byk View Post
    Never played an instrument. Getting ready for retirement. I would like to pick up the mandolin. Is this a reasonable idea or should I consider something else? If not crazy, what would be s good one to start with.

    Thanks
    Not a crazy idea. I started playing 14 months prior to retiring with no prior instrument skills and a novice ear. I started by purchasing a book titled "Teach Yourself to Read Music". This turned out to be about a two week process for me. Not Rocket science. I would advise you as a beginner to not bother learning tab unless you have a great memory.
    I then purchased Alfred's book titled "Teach Yourself to Play Mandolin". I first learned the fret board by associating the fret board with notes on the paper and then copied from the computer "Two Finger Chords" to memorize. Again, not rocket science.
    Then came what was and is the harder part for me. Getting my fingers to do what I see on paper with timing that can mix with other players.
    I play two to 3 hours a day and it is coming along after 18 months. I have no illusions that I will ever be a Chris Thili or Peter Ostrusko, but I sure do enjoy it. I have now gotten to the point where my musician friends are asking me to join in.
    I play mostly melody with some chords, double stops, and tremolo mixed in.
    My next goal is to learn how to change keys for a piece that I learned in a different key from what my friends are playing. They now change to whatever key I learned a song in to accommodate me.
    But jump right in with gusto. You will not regret it.
    One other thing. Buy a beginner mandolin that is better than a toy and make sure it is well set-up. I was into it for about two weeks before I picked up a bottom of the line Eastman 305. What a difference! I had to have one. I still use my 305 as my jam and travel mandolin. It plays and sounds well. But MAS did set in and I purchased a Collings MT which I pine for when I'm traveling.

  8. #7
    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    The mandolin is not just the "right" instrument to learn; it is the PERFECT instrument --

    * Convenient size and light weight for easy transport.
    * Easy to learn basic songs because of logical tuning.
    * Sweet tone backed by tremendous power.
    * Used for both melody and rhythm.
    * Welcomed in virtually every form of established music.

    Steve

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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob byk View Post
    I would like to pick up the mandolin.
    For me the picking up was easy. The putting down not so easy. It can be an addiction - just so you know

  11. #9

    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Thanks again, as far as price, I wanted to make sure that I can do it first. I am interested in Bluegrass. Any recommendations for a decent beginning instrument, or do you think this is the wrong thought pattern?

  12. #10

    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Also new to discussions online

  13. #11
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    That is a loaded question that will bring lots of opinions. For my 2 cents worth I would look for an Eastman 305. You can get one brand new from vendors advertising on this blog for $479 with a great set-up or find a used one in these classifieds for about $300.00. As I stated previously, I really like mine as it plays great and sounds well, though I am partial to my Collings because it does everything a little bit better. But, I could have bought five Eastman 305s and gotten change for the cost of a Collings.
    Also for my two cents worth of thought. An A style will give you a lot more mandolin for the money than an F style. If you are buying it for yourself buy an A style. If you are buying it for other people to admire, buy an F style.
    Again, you will hear lots of opinions on this.

  14. #12
    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob byk View Post
    Thanks again, as far as price, I wanted to make sure that I can do it first. I am interested in Bluegrass. Any recommendations for a decent beginning instrument, or do you think this is the wrong thought pattern?
    You will find hundreds and hundreds of threads about this. You can spend many happy hours reading the nerds argue, or just order an Eastman 305 from a reputable shop.

  15. #13
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Just Do It! You won't regret it!
    Jim

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    Registered User edandjudy3946's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    I'm retired and now I fall asleep with my mandolin in my chair and when I wake up I jump immediately to Daybreak in Dixie. Has anyone seen my wife ? Seriously do what you want as far as an instrument choice itself goes. If you don't make progress you can try something else. I failed at tightrope walking and white water rafting and now I love the mandolin.
    Blessings from the Smoky Mountains

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    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    You didn't fail at whitewater rafting; you're still alive.
    I started when I was over 55. The purpose is fun and I have a whole lot of that.
    Bill
    IM(NS)HO

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  21. #16
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Playability is perhaps more important than price of your first instrument. Now, those two things are definitely linked such that a very inexpensive mandolin may NEVER be really playable. As a result, I would suggest $500 as a beginning price. You should also buy from a dealer who will make sure the mandolin has a proper "set up". That is where all the small adjustments of string height, nut slots, neck relief etc are done so as to enhance "playability" and tone. All the great people who advertise here will serve you well. Just don't go into one of the big box music stores and buy whatever they have.
    Personally, I recommend the KM-505 made by Kentucky. Other good brands are Eastman, J Bovier, The Loar. These are all made in China.
    As far as American Made manufacturers, there are Gibson, Weber and Collings followed by many wonderful small builders. Prices vary greatly beginning around $1000 and going up into the mid 5 figures. Then there are vintage instruments, of which the best, in my opinion, are the old Gibson mandolins made before 1940.
    Are you confused yet? Don't be, it's just that most of us here have a terrible disease called MAS (mandolin acquisition syndrome).
    Jammin' south of the river
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    My albums: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/album.php?u=7616

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  23. #17
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenS View Post
    The mandolin is not just the "right" instrument to learn; it is the PERFECT instrument --

    * Convenient size and light weight for easy transport.
    * Easy to learn basic songs because of logical tuning.
    * Sweet tone backed by tremendous power.
    * Used for both melody and rhythm.
    * Welcomed in virtually every form of established music.
    Add to that

    - mandolin is not so popular or well known. There is no established role to try and fit into. You don't have to pretend to be an otherwise unemployable rocker, or a deeply caring folkie, a lounge lizard entertainer, to cool for school jazz player, you can just be yourself and have fun.

    - mandolin players have no groupies, so there will be no drastic life altering temptations.

    - there is no big payola for gigantic success, so no big disruption to established lifestyles.

    enjoy. It is addicting.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

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  25. #18
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    . . . - mandolin players have no groupies, so there will be no drastic life altering temptations.
    Don't listen to him Bob. They are out there, if you know where to look.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1..._as=subscriber

  26. #19

    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    I'm 60 and just started mandolin lessons. Have played fiddle for quite a while but they are completely different instruments. I always say, why not give it a good try and see what happens. Others gave good advice since they've been at it a while. Commitment, practice, feel the music, enjoy, and don't worry if it takes some time to learn what you want to learn. There sis no rush. The addiction is a good one. I would try banjo, too, but they are too heavy! Also on my list to try is cello. I know, not a bluegrass instrument oh well. Maybe celtic?

  27. #20

    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    A reputable person - family owned shop with a reputation for bluegrass (Hatley Family Band) - bought my first mando from him http://www.ronspickinparlor.com
    http://www.ronspickinparlor.com

  28. #21
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    I'll provide an alternate take on the question. Start by writing down your ten favorite songs. Can you close your eyes and sing them all the way through? What is the "anchor" instrument for the songs (piano, guitar, mandolin, tuba, etc.)?

    Do you like to sing? Do you currently sing in a group? What kind of music do they sing?

    Think all of this through to help determine the best instrument for you. If you love bluegrass and most of your songs were in that vein, then the mandolin would be a great first instrument. If you were singing James Taylor, The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, a guitar might be your best starting point. Showtunes? Piano rears its head but takes a long time to get any mastery, so I would recommend... ukulele! If you don't like to sing and want to play a supporting role with lead breaks, mandolin goes to the front of the line.

    For me? Guitar is my main instrument and I play mandolin maybe 5% of the time. Not enough time to get really good on the mandolin. But my big passion is singing (both alone and with friends) and playing a wide variety of music (acoustic rock, folk, jazz, American Songbook standards, a few hymns) and writing eclectic music.

    For a rank beginner on a budget I would recommend the ukulele and use Youtube for lessons on how to play your favorite songs. You'll know in a month or two whether the uke is for you, but more importantly you will also know whether any stringed instrument like a guitar, mandolin, or banjo is where you want to go. You'll also figure out whether you like to play instrumentals or songs you can sing, whether you like playing solo or in a group.

    I'm a budget-oriented guy and I find that most inexpensive instruments can be made perfectly playable with a two-hour investment in setting them up. I had visitors for the weekend and a budding guitartist asked where he could buy a guitar like my Rogue because it was so much easier to play than the $750 guitar his wife bought for him last Christmas. He couldn't believe it when I told him I bought the Rogue guitar and mandolin two-fer package from Musicians Friend for $99 including shipping! The key was in performing a great setup on each instrument.

    My point is, it is easy to start your muscial journey on a budget. Once you get to a certain level of proficiency you will want to buy a better instrument. And if you never reach that level and drop the dream for a newer shiny-er dream, you're not putting a big chunk of money into a closet or attic.

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  30. #22
    Registered User Sven the Impaler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    How about banjo? Or bass? Both may be easier to get your feet wet on.

  31. #23

    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    I was struggling between the banjo and mandolin. Was told mandolin would be easier to get my feet wet.

  32. #24
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    By all means go for it! If you've never played an instrument, you have no idea the joy and satisfaction it can bring, especially when you get to the point where you can play with others.
    You don't need to spend a fortune. Keep an eye out here on the classifieds for a good used instrument, and make sure it has a good setup. You can always upgrade if and when you feel the need. Be patient with yourself-- you WILL sound awful at first and will face many frustrations along with the fun parts.
    You say you're torn between banjo and mando. Once you learn mandolin, playing a tenor banjo is a relatively easy transition since they're tuned the same.
    For wooden musical fun that doesn't involve strumming, check out:
    www.busmanwhistles.com
    Handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods.

  33. #25
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retirement Beginner

    Well you are the right demographic.

    Nothing says, "I have low T but I haven't given up yet", like picking up the mandolin.

    Ukelele might be easier, but you'd pretty much have to admit you're done.

    Starting guitar at this age, well that just means you're taking supplements and thats so cliché isn't it?

    And starting banjo now almost certainly means dementia's already set in.

    Yeah, mando is about right. Go for it.

    I'd start looking for a used Eastman MD 305 or a Kentucky KM 150.

    You're going to need an extra practice room with soundproof doors.

    Enjoy !
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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