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Thread: You Newbies Have It Made

  1. #1
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    Default You Newbies Have It Made

    I read the thread about finding accompaniment tracts to help learn to play. It made me remember a different time, the time I was learning. Our slow down was dragging a finger on the record which changed the pitch. The mandolin I had was barely playable, there was no Pac-Rim mandolins, you played a Gibson or you played junk. The only "electronic tuner" made was a Conn strobe, as big as a small bass amp and cost hundreds of dollars. Books on learning to play mandolins were non-existing as was any help on the Internet or apps on phones, heck I don't even remember any means of self education on music theory. In spite of all these handicaps there were quite a few people that learned to play, people like Monroe, Duffy,Rector,Bugsby,Wakefield,etc oh and also me though maybe not as advanced as those mentioned.

    I don't mean to sound bitter, I have had fun on my mandolin journey wouldn't change a thing about it. My dad played and it was something that we did together until he died,I played a show with him 2 weeks before he died. I guess I'm just remembering how things were and stopping to appreciate how they are now, and telling those starting their journey now just how good they have it (LOL)

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I'm with you mandoplumb! These guys have so much more access to the world than when I started in '73! The amount of information alone found on this site is volumes greater than the sum of what we had heck then. I was so happy with a miserably set up Harmony mandolin! Then I upgraded to a Kalamazoo KM-11, and finally the availability of my Alvarez! I bought it sight unseen, I was parking part time at the music store and was helping a buddy tar his parents roof when I got the call it was in! I will remember that day the rest of my life! It's the gravy train for all the great instruments, support products, and sources today!
    I remember wearing records gray trying to figure out what was going on!
    If this site had been conceived then, who knows, I might have done something far better with the oh, so fascinating world of the mandolin!
    Thanks everyone for sharing experience, knowledge, opinions, ideas, and kinship on this little forum! And thanks to Scott et al for all your food work keeping this under a watchful eye!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    Ya, ya, and you had to walk uphill to school, both ways, right?

    If I had started in my teens, I surely would have been using the finger drag trick, and hunting for 8 track recordings of mando music. As I just started last year, I will use every bit of technology I can to aid me in this journey. After all, that is half the fun for me! Like anything, finding the right tech, separating the wheat from the chaff, is a necessity. I'd rather think of this as being smart rather than spoiled.

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    Gary
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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    HA!! Thanks for the memories!

    When I started guitar in '63, there wasn't yet a Guitar Player magazine or any of its many imitators, and it would be 3 decades before Acoustic Guitar appeared. That huge "Music" section at Barnes & Noble? There wasn't one... or the store!

    Other than thru actual teachers (that nobody I knew could afford), the only educational materials were the Mel Bay books at the local music store. Heck, because I didn't know any better AND because Santa Clause bought 'em, they're the reason that I read notation today!

    I clearly remember my first almost-lesson, when a far-more-mature college kid at the (long gone) Sam Ash store in Hempstead, NY, taught me to play the Ventures' "Walk Don't Run". Whoa, a barre chord?? That was eye-opening stuff!

    And yep - the Internet WAS really slow back in the '60s!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    No, school was pretty easy to get to I did not like going and actually I was about fifteen when I started. I don't think Mandoplumb and I were saying it was like walking to school when the snow was as deep as telephone poles. Just that "You young whippersnappers" have so many more resources to draw from. Nothing more, nothing less.
    Amen Ed, the weber net was so slow it was called print and mail took days, weeks or even longer!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Registered User Steve Jeter's Avatar
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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I started playing guitar in 82 , the year the Guitar for the Practicing Musician debut,ed Mostly workied things out by ear, vocals too, got some funny results sometime.

    definitely more info easily available now,, but maybe so much that folk don't set down and learn how to do one thing well , before goin on to the next. I know a bunch of guitar players that don't actually know a entire song with lyrics. They know the hook and snippets. I beat Rock you like a Hurricane,, to death. but learned song structure , moveable chords etc. my 2 worth

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I started on guitar in '73. We had an old reel-to-reel tape machine that could be slowed down to speed. Helped to learn things but as it was an octave lower and slower there were (ahem) issues with playing at tempo. Still, it was all we had and I made work - though learning string bending (as in BB King) was interesting.

    When I started on mandolin I was definitely able to get to mediocre in a short period of time with the tools available today.

    Still, wouldn't change a thing.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mandolins: Michael Kelley LFN-E, Ibanez M150 w/Baggs Radius (tuned to F)
    Guitars: Martin DX1E w/Fishman Aura (external), Baby Taylor, Ibanez Artwood 12 string,
    Epiphone Les Paul w/Fralin pickups, G&L AST

    Ukuleles: Kala KA-15S soprano, Cordoba 20BM baritone

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    Mandoplumb, this is just a thread about the "good ol' days" is all . . .

    "You Newbies Have It Made" - I agree, but we ALL 'have it made' in that sense, no matter you've been playing for 50 years, you can have access to tools, information and equipment that is mind-boggling.

    As to "people like Monroe, Duffy,Rector,Bugsby,Wakefield,etc", Bill Monroe is a great example - he had local musicians, uncle Pen and Arnold Schultz to learn from. How much do we know about Arnold Schultz? I'd give up all the internet backing tracks to be able to learn fingerpicking blues guitar directly from Arthur Schultz.

    I started guitar in around 1968, started also learning a bit about music in elementary school band a couple years before that, but I appreciate what I can study and learn of virtually any style of guitar from the internet these days. I was playing with some buddies and said to one, "Man, I'm dependent on the electronic tuners; wouldn't be without one, but back in the day I tuned by ear with a pitch pipe most of the time." And he said, "We all did. But we dang sure wasn't tuned 440."

    I am a "bare-azzed" newbie on mandolin, but not born yesterday, and yes, very much thankful for the resources available these days.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
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    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
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    - YouTube Stuff

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    yes, information is much more accessible now.

    yes, the low end instruments are much, much better....

    but for the most part you had a much better mentor willing community than there is now. Are some out there that still will mentor? yes, are there as many that will do it just to help someone learn and for love of the music/instrument? I don't think that there are.

    yes it is easy to get lessons now but a true mentor... not so much.
    "we should restore the practice of dueling. It might improve manners around here." -Edward Abbey

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    One thing I will comment on about the newbies is that the ones that I have been around at jams etc seem to want to learn everything right away and not take it slow and easy, also they mostly seem only interested in playing the complicated songs and not the more simple ones that us old timers learned on...At a jam session in Florida about four mandolin "newbies" all seemed to want to out pick the other fellow, they were very talented but had no idea about sharing the breaks with others and backing off when they did allow someone else to take a break...I do see some posts on here that suggest that they sort of stay in the background until they feel that they are up to par with the other pickers and that is good advice but they have to step up some time....

    Myself I did have a neighbor that played everything that had strings on it and he helped me a lot along with meeting with Buzz Busby and swapping what I knew on guitar over to the mandolin, `twasn`t easy by any means but I was determined to do it and am so glad I had to struggle a bit because now I enjoy playing much more than if it had of just came naturally....

    Great post and a lot of good comments....I like it...

    Willie

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    I guess I'm just remembering how things were and stopping to appreciate how they are now, and telling those starting their journey now just how good they have it (LOL)
    Easy there, Grandpa, there's a flip-side to how easy those kids today have it. When I was learning guitar lo those many days ago, if it wasn't in the Mel Bay book's you didn't learn it. Yeah, we tuned with pitch pipes, a piano, or our ears. But at least it gave you an excuse.

    As I begin my mandolin journey, if I suck then it's all on me. There's no excuse for my mandolin to be out of tune when even a $20 Snark does a passable job. There's no excuse for not knowing a scale pattern. No excuse for not having some means of slowing down a song while keeping it in the same pitch. Can't blame the instrument, what with perfectly playable Pac-Rim instruments out there.

    Nope, if you can't play and sound good doing it, it's because you didn't put in the time and effort.

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    Registered User Paul Cowham's Avatar
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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I know what you mean although learning the mandolin is still a challenge (at least for me), anyhow, this thread reminded me of this Monty Python sketch a little (in the nicest possible way)


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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikestew View Post
    Easy there, Grandpa, there's a flip-side to how easy those kids today have it. When I was learning guitar lo those many days ago, if it wasn't in the Mel Bay book's you didn't learn it. Yeah, we tuned with pitch pipes, a piano, or our ears. But at least it gave you an excuse.

    As I begin my mandolin journey, if I suck then it's all on me. There's no excuse for my mandolin to be out of tune when even a $20 Snark does a passable job. There's no excuse for not knowing a scale pattern. No excuse for not having some means of slowing down a song while keeping it in the same pitch. Can't blame the instrument, what with perfectly playable Pac-Rim
    instruments out there.
    Nope, if you can't play and sound good doing it, it's because you didn't put in the time and effort.
    .

    If you are looking foe an excuse you can find one. Even then if you didn't sound good it was because you didn't put in the effort maybe the effort was to learn to tune, learn to play an instrument that required a lot of effort to note, dragging a vinyl record to slow it down whatever it takes to sound good. That is not different from today, you do whatever it takes to sound good. I don't mean to say that it isn't work to learn to play today, I started trying a fiddle several months ago and after 50+ years of playing music the fiddle or the unknown is work and I'm using everything I find that helps. The point I was making is it's so different now, the subject line is sort of tongue-in-cheek.

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I'm happy to have all the resources that we have today, but sometimes I think it actually makes learning more difficult. With so many books and tabs available, it's easy to neglect your ears. Makes reaching short term goals easier, but hurts you in the long run. It's easy to get into the trap of thinking you need a new book or DVD. The next one is always the one that's going to get you where you want to be. If I learned half of the stuff from the books and DVDs that I have, I'd be a monster mandolinist. In the past, you had a handful of classic tunes to work with. Now I have over 1000 tracks of Bill Monroe alone. It's almost paralyzing. Thanks to the Cafe (which is a great resource), you can also spend more time talking about mandolins, mandolinists, books, strings, picks, bridges, etc than actually learning how to play. The resources are great, but you still have to use them properly.

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    Quote Originally Posted by Peewee View Post
    I'm happy to have all the resources that we have today, but sometimes I think it actually makes learning more difficult. With so many books and tabs available, it's easy to neglect your ears. Makes reaching short term goals easier, but hurts you in the long run. It's easy to get into the trap of thinking you need a new book or DVD. The next one is always the one that's going to get you where you want to be. If I learned half of the stuff from the books and DVDs that I have, I'd be a monster mandolinist. In the past, you had a handful of classic tunes to work with. Now I have over 1000 tracks of Bill Monroe alone. It's almost paralyzing. Thanks to the Cafe (which is a great resource), you can also spend more time talking about mandolins, mandolinists, books, strings, picks, bridges, etc than actually learning how to play. The resources are great, but you still have to use them properly.
    Good post. This reminds me of when someone asked Pete Sampras how he'd teach his kids to play tennis if they were interested. Pete said he'd get them some wood racquets and make them learn proper technique. No modern equipment until they first learned how to hit all the shots properly.

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Leonard View Post
    Ya, ya, and you had to walk uphill to school, both ways, right?
    In the SNOW!

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I'm not sure. I've learned more Monroe style mandolin from my instructor in the past 3 months than I did using online resources for 3 years.

    Met my instructor at a flea market. Online resources are good and all, but nothing beats learning from a very experience picker.
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I'm not sure. I've learned more Monroe style mandolin from my instructor in the past 3 months than I did using online resources for 3 years.

    Met my instructor at a flea market. Online resources are good and all, but nothing beats learning from a very experience picker.
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

  31. #19

    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    A different world, back then, but a good world! (musically speaking) I love the internet and forums like this and free lessons and access to information, it's great! But, I also like being one of a few musicians in my small town, back then. Learning from the Mel Bay books and Peter Wernick's banjo book. Going to live concerts just to watch the musician's hands and see "how they did it!" It was like a secret world, known only to a few -- "hey come over, I just got the new Norman Blake album....." Listening to it in disbelief with joy and amazement. A world of Mugwumps, Gruhn flyers, and Mandolin Cafe catalogs. And what exists today online, existed only in my imagination -- or what I thought it might be like. Yep, we are spoiled TODAY!

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I know I'm glad that I'm learning now. It would have been good to know people who could have encouraged and led me on a musical journey back then, but there's no time like the present for catching up.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

  34. #21
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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    Interviewer: "Well, Grandpa, congratulations on turning 100 today! Bet you've seen a lot of changes in your time!"

    Grandpa: "Yeah, and I was agin every one of 'em!"

    Best change since I started (on banjo) in 1961: availability of a choice of affordable instruments -- largely due, for better or worse, to the development of instrument manufacture overseas. When I was starting, there were Harmony instruments, Silvertone if you bought them through the catalog, and not too much else. Mandolins were basically used Gibsons, Harmony Montereys, maybe a Strad-O-Lin or two kicking around. Plastic-shell Harmony banjos, wood-shell Kays that were about the same quality. More guitar choices, but nowhere near what's available now.

    Second best change: availability of electronic tuners. Many people here use pitch-pipes now? Or an "E" tuning fork to tune the 1st and 6th strings of your guitar, then tuning the other strings to those? I remember watching Mike Seeger tune his Autoharp to about five different harmonicas. If you go to a jam or a sing-around, you can be pretty sure that all the musicians are at "concert pitch," or close.

    Third best change: videos. You can not only hear, but see, nearly any song or tune you want. Information gets exchanged easily and instantly. Research is infinitely faster. I have a file drawer full of songs and tunes on paper, words and notes. I have a shelf of songbooks, tune books etc. accumulated over a half-century. They sit unused 95% of the time. If I want to learn a song or a tune, it's Google first, paper sources a distant second.

    Related to this is the cliche "on-line community" where you can get many questions answered, friendships started, arguments undertaken and (sometimes) even settled. There may not be as many "on-site" mentors as some found in the past, but there are a helluva lot more mentors behind my computer screen.

    Negative changes? Yeah, there are some. Costs have certainly gone up; my $1500 F-5 from the '80's might well be unaffordable for me now, and pretty clearly I'll never own a Lloyd Loar Gibson F-5. The bucks that I make playing here and there have not "inflated" with anywhere near the speed of the prices of instruments and gear. (Though I would make an exception, to some extent, for accessories like tuners, and even for PA gear -- when I started, it was pretty much the Shure Vocal Master or nothin', and now there's a bewildering variety of options, all better than what I could have in the '70's.)

    And the proliferation of alternatives to live music has restricted performance options; karaoke, DJ's, etc. have made it a bit harder for a band or a solo to get that "regular gig" that used to anchor the schedule. Plus, as I said above, the level of compensation for live performers, if you're not the Big Star, has sure not kept up with prices. Thirty years ago, I used to come home from a club gig and be glad I made $50; now, I come home from playing a farmers' market or a seniors' residence, and I'm glad I made $50. Luckily, neither then nor now was I expecting to live on my music income.

    Long-winded enough? Point is -- at least one point -- in any era or environment, the musicians with passion, who wanted to learn, grow and create, found ways to do so. I'd say overall it's a bit easier now, but in 1961 I was "bitten by the bug" and determined to get involved in music. I did, my friends did, and people are still doing it today.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I'm pretty sure I have sweaters that are older than some of you people.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    Marge Simpson: Grandpa, are you sitting on the pie?
    Grandpa: I sure hope so.

    I remember picking up and dropping the needle on the slowed-down-to-78-rpm turntable....a lot.....

  39. #24
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    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    ........and, for this, I feel blessed.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Stiver A style (eagerly awaiting spring 2020 arrival)
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Spare canoe paddle)
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)

  40. #25

    Default Re: You Newbies Have It Made

    I will add, from a slight angle to the thread, that the modern instrument building also gets a completely different trip from modern times! I started building harpsichords in '72 and except for Frank Hubbard's "Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making," there was just about zero information on building Harpsichords and Clavichords. I read that book twice a week for months and visited every pathetic museum collection I could find from coast to coast. The rest was trial and error, iteration after iteration, and an occasional visit to a builder who was a year or two ahead of me on the same journey. The internet of that era was the "Whole Earth Catalog" and the sources it pointed to.

    Learning music growing up in farm country was a similar "figure it out for yourself" affair. After having learned music in the school of hard knocks where the walk was, indeed, uphill in both directions, the internet is like getting to go to heaven a little early!

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