Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 64

Thread: Strumming like guitar?

  1. #1
    Registered User mobi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    103

    Question Strumming like guitar?

    Is it possible to strum chords in mandolin like guitar?

    I understand mandolin is predominantly a melody instrument but can we do chord strumming somewhat guitar like (where one signs and strums chords in guitar)?

    I have seen people doing it but then the chord sounds quite different from those of guitars and I think guitar chords sound better.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    charlottesville, VA
    Posts
    1,116

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    One can do anything one wants with the mandolin. The instrument itself is perfectly capable of playing chords, single note melody, or any combination or permutation of the two. The only limits are the imagination and technical abilities of the player.

    That said, the frequency range of the mandolin makes it less useful for straight singer/songwriter-style vocal accompaniment than a guitar. One of the reasons that guitar and piano are so omnipresent as vocal accompaniment is that their timbre and range closely matches that of the human voice.
    Mitch Russell

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Va
    Posts
    2,499

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Yes the mandolin sounds different than the guitar, if it didn't we wouldn't need both. The major thing is sustain, if you are using mandolin as your accompaniment you have to use several chord shapes as well as runs and riffs to fill the gaps that a guitar doesn't seem to have with its longer sustain.

  4. #4
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    3,207

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    For me, an instrument an octave lower than the mandolin, like a guitar, octave mando or mandocello works better for vocal accompaniment. You certainly can accompany yourself on mandolin, and some do it pretty well. To me, it often comes out looking and sounding like an 'ukulele when people do simple strumming on a mandolin while singing.

  5. #5
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    4,460

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Well, simple mandolin strumming worked for REM on the tunes they used it on.

  6. #6
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    3,207

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Well, simple mandolin strumming worked for REM on the tunes they used it on.
    Yes, but there was more going on than just a mandolin strumming chords and a vocal. And they did play a lead-type riff on "Losing My Religion". I was really into REM when they first started in the mid-80's, don't listen to them as much now. At the outset they were kind of proto-grunge. Did they use mando on many other tunes?

    It is just my own bias, but I don't really care for the acts I've seen where a band member picks up a mando and plays it like a little guitar (four course down stroke strums, no real rhythm inventiveness, no arpeggios or single notes, etc.)
    Last edited by Mandobart; Jun-26-2016 at 11:07am.

  7. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Mandobart For This Useful Post:


  8. #7
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    5,099

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    I don't strum a mandolin the same way I do my guitar, with full chords, but I'll sometimes do a partial "strum" hitting just a few strings to sketch out the chords if I'm playing accompaniment to the pipes in a Scottish traditional session, or sometimes in an OldTime jam. As you noted though, for most things it's better suited as a melody instrument due to the higher pitch. Or in the case of Bluegrass, the percussive emphasis of chop chords.

    It's not a common instrument for vocal accompaniment, but if you use a combination of strum with some melody notes added, it can work pretty well. Here are two examples below. Both rely on an idiomatic approach to the mandolin so it fits the style of music, and the strum is broken up with melody notes. This takes full advantage of the mandolin's range and timbre:





  9. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to foldedpath For This Useful Post:


  10. #8
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    8,059

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    That's how I started. 25+ years ago I wound up in a church music group with four six-string guitars. Pretty boring. So I used a small bonus from work to buy an cheap mandolin. I learned some basic chords and that's exactly how I played it. It took me years to learn to be a "real mandolin player," whatever that means. Now I rarely play anything but melody, arpeggios, cross-picking and the occasional chop. I save my strumming for my OM and even then I listen to the ensemble and change up the pattern accordinagly throughout a tune. I never do the "metronome strum" that a lot of guitarists do.

  11. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to John Flynn For This Useful Post:


  12. #9
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    4,460

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    Yes, but there was more going on than just a mandolin strumming chords and a vocal. And they did play a lead-type riff on "Losing My Religion".
    That's part of it - the mandolin was used well in the arrangement.

  13. #10
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Upstate N.Y.
    Posts
    1,299

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Mandobart,,I agree with you,,now,its just my opinion, but one of my big peeves are rock guitar players who 'double' on mandolin,and really don't have much of a clue on what a mandolin really is. The peeve is watching them strum and hit it like their playing a guitar. On one side,, I'm sort of grateful that more bands are just making the mandolin a known instrument, but at the same time also playing it kind of all wrong..

  14. The following members say thank you to T.D.Nydn for this post:


  15. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Howell, NJ
    Posts
    24,812

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    One of my favorite examples of simply strumming a mandolin can be found on this video of Levon Helm strumming the mandolin.

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  16. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to MikeEdgerton For This Useful Post:


  17. #12
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Surrey, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,605

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    When I play solo, I do more strumming. When I play with a guitar player, I do more melody. Arpeggios and such do help
    Kala tenor ukulele, Mandobird, Godin A8, Dobro Mandolin, Gold Tone mandola, Gold Tone OM, S'oarsey mandocello, Gold Tone Irish tenor banjo, Gold Tone M bass, Taylor 214 CE Koa, La Patrie Concert CW, Fender Strat powered by Roland, Yamaha TRBX174 bass, Epiphone ES-339 with GK1

  18. The following members say thank you to Barry Wilson for this post:


  19. #13
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,805
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.D.Nydn View Post
    Mandobart,,I agree with you,,now,its just my opinion, but one of my big peeves are rock guitar players who 'double' on mandolin,and really don't have much of a clue on what a mandolin really is. ..
    OK, I have to relate my journey. Because it started a revolution in my head. I was exactly in agreement with you on this issue. The one for me was Steve Earle doing "Galway Girl", with these simple two finger chords and guitar like simple strumming. That's not playing the mandolin.

    But, I think it was Niles Hokkanen, right here on this forum, who called me out. I don't remember the specifics (I was so embarrassed.) But the gist of it is while Steve Earle was not playing the mandolin in a very mandolinny fashion, he was certainly playing music. He was much more musical than I was, here in my pseudo mando technique skweek. And, as I think I remember Niles pointing out - Steve Earle is there playing it on the stage, I am here at my computer commenting on it. So who is the one who "gets" it?

    Same discussion with Paul McCartney's "Dance Tonight", and Eddie Vedder's "Rise". They did not play very mandolinny, IMO, but they played a great deal more musically on the mandolin than I was playing.

    It brought me to realize that getting good on the mandolin is not the important thing. Getting musical on the mandolin is the important thing. And the extent that good mandolinny technique contributes, well that's great, but there is one heck of a lot that is missed when getting good at the mandolin is your only goal.

    Actually, if I were to man up about it, I owe a lot to Niles and his various comments on this forum, and I do appreciate his contributions, and his style of commenting. He is often the Zen Slap one needs at that particular moment.

    Nothing limits growth like thinking you know something. A full cup cannot accept any more input. You have to stand under to try and understand. All of that stuff.
    Last edited by JeffD; Jun-26-2016 at 8:02pm.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  20. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to JeffD For This Useful Post:


  21. #14
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Summit County Colorado
    Posts
    1,186

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    I love strumming my mandolin. My band just tells me to chop more

    I really like that song Atlantic city but I think it sounds better with the melody https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I0eZwpHtcK4

    "Nothing limits growth like thinking you know something." Nice! This should be the new MC sticker that every member puts on their case.

  22. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    12,246

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    There was a bluegrass band on the scene several/many years ago, mostly gospel based. They were good and fairly well-known, and the mandolin man did a lot of strumming in a very hip way, it fit perfectly. Forget their name, dagnabit.

  23. #16
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Howell, NJ
    Posts
    24,812

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    There was a bluegrass band on the scene several/many years ago, mostly gospel based. They were good and fairly well-known, and the mandolin man did a lot of strumming in a very hip way, it fit perfectly. Forget their name, dagnabit.
    Alan, this isn't the thread about forgetting things when you get old.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  24. #17
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,805
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    As a practical matter, to my taste, other than the chop and its various degrees and variations, I really like the ukulele strum on the mandolin.

    One of my favorite folk singer song writers, Jez Lowe, plays mandolin and sings in a very delightful unique style.

    Here is a great example, and great song.



    Oh, and yea, more musical and entertaining than anything my mandolinny technique can accomplish. I really know that I got the wrong things right, and I am working to move this boat in a better direction.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  25. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JeffD For This Useful Post:


  26. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    12,246

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Alan, this isn't the thread about forgetting things when you get old.
    Who are you and why are you looking at me?

    If I'm expected to remember every furshlugginer bg band to have come down the pike....

  27. The following members say thank you to AlanN for this post:


  28. #19
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Alvarado/Mansfield, Texas
    Posts
    4,003

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Musically I think it's always possible to turn a weakness into a strength. It's often expressed that the mandolin lacks in sustain - but in music, "empty space" can often be used to advantage. Maybe setting up a good strumming riff with some three-string chords and double stops and empty space, and throwing in a melodic lick here and there, would work very well for solo vocal accompaniment on mandolin?

    Ry Cooder makes that mandolin sound approximate the sound of old acoustic blues slide guitar riffs, and uses the unique mandolin tremolo technique to fill it out . . . sounds masterful to me. And Levon's strumming is perfect for accompanying his vocals. Great topic here with some wonderful examples.
    WWW.MARKGUNTER.NET
    ----------------------------------
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN

    ----------------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Blues Mando
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  29. #20
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,805
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    "Its not a weakness, its a feature."
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  30. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    12,246

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Jimmy Gaudreau made good use of strumming on the opening bars to What About Me, on his terrific 1989 release Classic J.A.G., Webco label.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Classic JAG.jpg 
Views:	144 
Size:	7.7 KB 
ID:	147618  

  31. #22
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Upstate N.Y.
    Posts
    1,299

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Jeff'D,,I agree with you,,I mean how can you not,,there are loads of people out there that are "musical" ,but not technical musicians. They pick up any instrument and make music however they can, right or wrong. I keep thinking of that guy that plays guitar with his feet because he ain't got no arms. It depends who you are. I'm not musical, I'm a technical maniac,,every instrument I play. But I can't write a darn song in my entire life, I don't know why. I played lead for a guy once who couldn't play at all, really, but he wrote a song every day, one a day. I actually think its some kind of magic or something to write a good tune. But I can play jazz in any key!!,

  32. #23
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,805
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    In order not to hijack the thread with a parallel discussion, I have blogged my thoughts, peripherally related to guitar strumming the mandolin, here.
    Last edited by JeffD; Jun-28-2016 at 12:27pm.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  33. #24
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    16,579

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    Irish Zouks are also GDAE, but have a Guitar like scale length, and are an Octave Lower than the mandolin.

    One of my picking buddies uses one as his vocal accompaniment..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  34. #25
    Registered User fentonjames's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Fenton, Missouri USA
    Posts
    378

    Default Re: Strumming like guitar?

    just sam and hoss. sailin' shoes -> crossroads



    1935 Gibson A-1 Wide mandolin
    Late 1800's Unbranded German fiddle

  35. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to fentonjames For This Useful Post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •