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

  1. #51
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    My mandolin journey doesn't seem to match anybody else's, from what i can see.

    Oddly enough, I don't believe I ever knowingly knew what a mandolin was, what it sounded like or who played it when I picked it up. I ended up with one because it looked like a lute. I learned to play it as a single line melody instrument because I owned it and came from several instruments that were single line melody instruments (flute, recorder). I didn't actually know anybody who played mandolin until a coworker, about 10 years ago, admitted he also played mandolin and, when I asked his suggestion for a new instrument when my bowlback became unplayable, he pointed me to the cafe -- where I learned there were F styles, A styles and other iterations, including mandolas, mandocellos, mandobasses and banjolins, and that mandolins were part of a standard bluegrass band (I had enjoyed bluegrass music but never paid much attention to it or what the bands involved). And, being interested in classical music, I learned about mandolin orchestras and the top classical players. For me, it's always been about the music, never about the instrument except that it's what I play the music on ...
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  2. #52
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Complete fluke:

    To make a very long story short - two weeks before my son turned 6, he came to me and said 'I want a mandolin for my birthday, and I want YOU to teach me how to play it.' Two days later I bought him a mandolin, then proceeded to teach my myself a few chords . . . and within 48 hours I was hooked. I still haven't mastered all of those chords from 20 years ago, but I'm still having fun.

  3. #53
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    "Some people claim there's a woman to blame. But I know..... it's my own daxx fault."

    Actually, there was a woman to blame. Really, to thank. And I still have that mandolin.

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

    The David Grisman recording of Minor Swing. The high school jazz station played it and I fell for the sound.
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  5. #55
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    <<Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?>>

    Like others here, really "in addition to". <snip>
    I think this is right. By the time I was 13 (i.e., when I got my first mandolin), I was already playing trumpet and guitar - well, singing in church too.

    I was really raised on music!


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  6. #56
    Registered User Pete Summers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Interesting stories here. Mine is probably much less so. For me, I had know idea what a mandolin even was until in my late 20s when I happened to stumble across an imported bowl back in a TG&Y store for $25. I thought it was a lute (which I suppose it is in a way) and I just bought it on impulse for no particular reason except I liked its looks. So once I had it, I went to my local music store and bought the Wm. Place Mandolin Method and started playing.

    When I discovered that the fingerboard was the same as a violin I got a cheap fiddle at a pawn shop and tried to play some of the old time tunes I was learning on mandolin from the Mel Bay Bluegrass Mandolion Method. From mandolin to fiddle is a natural progression, as is the other way around. Now I switch back and forth between them.

  7. #57
    Registered User GrooverMcTube's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Here's my story:

    When I was a kid my mother married a musician - violist. He came with two kids - one a year older, one a year younger. Together with my older brother we were a quartet, all one year apart. We all had to learn the violin. I hated every minute of it. However, I did acquire dexterity and the ability to read in the treble clef. When I reached 5th grade, I was allowed to select another instrument. I have no recollection as to why, but I chose the cello. I hated every minute of it. I did learn how to read the bass clef.

    Fast forward to when I was 18 and a buddy of mine sold me a very poorly set up acoustic guitar (an Empro). My amazing ability to play screaming solos on the air guitar did not translate over to the Empro. (Mr. Viola had long since left my mother for one of his students and both of his kids had left as well.) I bought an Ibanez acoustic when I was about 20 and the Empro became kindling.

    I evolved myself into a fairly competent rhythm guitarist but I never did learn how to play lead on the guitar. I hooked up with a bass-playing buddy in a couple of basement bands and bought a Les Paul. I was the rhythm player/vocalist. Sadly, we never made it out of the basement.

    About 5 years ago I decided to buy a bass. Ended up hooking up with a guitar-playing buddy in another basement band. I was the bass player/vocalist. The guitarist was a great player, and I evolved into a competent bassist. Sadly, we never made it out of the basement.

    About a year and a half ago, a buddy of mine gave me a piece of wood that I always thought had an electric guitar in it. When I brought it home I realized it didn't have the real estate for a guitar, but it might work as an e-mando. So I joined the Café and bought all the parts to build the e-mando. I still haven't finished it, but probably will once the weather gets a bit nicer. But I decided that if I was going to build a mando, I'd better learn how to play one. So I bought an Eastman 315 about 8 months ago. I don't know if it has something to do with playing the violin as a kid, but I am much better at playing melody on the mando than I ever was on the guitar. From some of the posts I read on the Café, I'm not doing it right, but I have a short repertoire of mando songs that I think sound pretty good - mostly country and rock. My wife hates the high pitch of the mando, so I usually practice with a modified felt pick.

    So I alternate between guitar, bass and mando pretty much on whichever whim strikes me. Latest mando tune is "You Were Always On My Mind". Had to learn an Am, Dm and Fm, but I haven't been playing long and it is evolving. It's a lot of fun. I learn stuff from the posters on here. So thanks for that. Now I'll go pick up my mando, a bass or a guitar and see if I can't further this journey...

  8. #58
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Another "in addition to". Still consider myself primarily a guitarist for old-time and most Scandinavian folk music.

    After my prior band collapsed, was looking for a new outlet to play Scandinavian music. Some friends were starting a band with the intent to pass along Finnish folk music. Showed up at the first couple practices with my guitar. Then noticed that the mandolin player was really good, and has a trove of great fills and counter melody lines. Decided last April that I needed to start playing mandolin to help learn and preserve the tradition he has helped create. Can't say I'm any good at it yet. But been spending most every free minute the past 10 months trying to learn.

    Full disclosure - about 10 years ago tried playing mandolin. Unfortunately hand problems at the time, as well as being too well established on guitar in the old-time music community conspired to make me give it up after a short period of time.
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  9. #59
    Registered User jdchapman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    My freshman year in college, a couple of friends and I started a cow punk band. I bought a mandolin because we were in CT, and unlike back home in Roanoke, most folks didn’t know what it was supposed to sound like when played well.

    Then I fell in love with it.

  10. #60
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Hah, you mean I have to choose?

  11. #61
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I had enjoyed the way David Lindley played violin on Jackson Browns records and thought the mandolin would be the bridge between what I was already playing on guitar. But I got hooked and never attempted to "cross that bridge".
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  12. #62

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

    For me it was to get girls. Everybody knows that chicks can't resist a mandolin picker. After more than 20 years....well, I'm sure the ladies will be calling me any day now.
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  14. #63
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I'd been playing guitar for many years. When I was helping someone move out of their house, I found a mandolin in the corner of her basement. Covered in years of dust. I asked her where she wanted me to put it and she said to keep it. That was about 20 years ago and I've barely played guitar since.

  15. #64
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I wanted to spend a bunch of cash on a tiny Instrument that's impossible to tune. Mandolin, bingo.

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

    I have always loved the mandolin as an instrument but never considered playing it myself. I got into it accidentally. At a very young age I was introduced to the recorder at school, and I really wanted to play a musical instrument. Unfortunately I had a bad experience with the impatient and bitter teacher, so I came away thinking that I wasn't smart enough to play a musical instrument. That changed when I accidentally picked up drums at the age of thirteen, finding that I already had a natural feel for percussion.

    However, I still thought other musical instruments were beyond me. Couldn't read sheet music, and that early bad experience had a lasting effect on me even though I didn't realise it. I picked up ocarina in my early twenties. I then spent years learning how to make them and refining my craft. I now make them professionally but rarely have time to play them.

    I got into mandolin through researching and setting up a mandolin I bought for my best friend. She wanted to play and having always loved the mandolin I greatly encouraged it. I went with her to the local shop to try some out but they were well beyond her means. I researched my socks off on here and found Rob Meldrum's setup book. I couldn't afford much but I got her something equivalent to the Rogues recommended here and set it up for her. Through doing that I learnt so much and decided I wanted to learn/play too! I've been learning to read sheet music alongside, and I've been very happy ever since ^^

  18. #66

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

    I had played guitar for almost 20 years when I first picked up a mandolin. I was really into fiddle tunes and started getting fairly proficient at them on the guitar. I noticed that the mandolin just made more sense to me; It was more intuitive. Now I have a hard time pickin' fiddle tunes on a guitar because I spend almost all my time with a mandolin instead.

    Also, mandolin is more better...

  19. #67
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    After our blues band broke up around 2006, I started basement jamming with our guitar player and a friend of his. They were playing mostly alt country stuff, and I was playing 12-string guitar since they both played 6-string. I decided that 3 guitars was one too many, so on a lark I bought a mandolin. It was a cheap Rogue, but it was an MAS carrier and I caught the bug. Now its just me and my guitar player playing and singing in a duo. I still play some bass and guitar, but I mostly consider myself a mandolin player, and that's what people usually want me to play when I sit in with them, so it works out well.
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    TBI survivor Richard J's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    For me it was all about what I have the ability to use without using 4 finger chords. After surviving a traumatic brain injury, music therapy is the key to my ongoing recovery. Playing a mandolin became the best thing I can do for short-term memory. Trying to remember a new song, an hour after I played, 3 hours later, 5 hours later, a day, a week, a month later, etc. Plus a mandolin sounds so pretty.
    I think, therefore, I pick.

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  22. #69

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

    The price. I'd been playing guitar for maybe 45 years or so when a friend asked me if I wanted to buy a mandolin.

    I said no, thanks, she said "Fifty dollars," and I said "Sure, what the hell!"

    It was one of those Fender A-style electrics. Turned out that playing it was a hoot. The one problem: my pick always tapped on the pickup, making a constant annoying clicking sound. So I started upgrading, and the rest is rock 'n' roll history.

    I'll never develop as much automatic access to scales as I have on guitar, but working on getting there is always fun.

  23. #70

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

    Oh. Replying on another thread, I now recall why I chose a (my first) mandolin: went to college and pared down to what I could carry; I traded my D-50 guitar and hardshell case for a flatiron pancake that I tossed into my backpack (without a case).

  24. #71

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard J View Post
    For me it was all about what I have the ability to use without using 4 finger chords. After surviving a traumatic brain injury, music therapy is the key to my ongoing recovery. Playing a mandolin became the best thing I can do for short-term memory. Trying to remember a new song, an hour after I played, 3 hours later, 5 hours later, a day, a week, a month later, etc. Plus a mandolin sounds so pretty.
    That's very moving. And I agree--the mandolin she sounds pretty!

  25. #72
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    My first intro to music was my mom's classical piano playing. Since before I can remember, I wanted to play like she did. She put me in lessons when I was 7 (in 1976), but I quickly lost interest due to her super structured method of making me practice with a kitchen timer as soon as I got home from school every day and not letting me pick out melodies by ear. So I quit after finishing the agreed upon one year of lessons. Later on, a college roommate had an acoustic guitar, could play a few chords on it, sang a few songs, and had never taken a formal lesson. I wanted to be able to do what he did so I started learning to play acoustic guitar. At the time, I was a fan of MTV era "unplugged" rock and the mandolin was a great fit for that. So I impulse bought a cheap Washburn mandolin on a whim in 1993 and immediately fell in love with everything mandolin. Mandolin playing then opened up other genres of music to me.
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I originally learned how to play classical violin and was looking to get into bluegrass, but found I just couldn't swing on the violin. So I switched to playing the mandolin because I wouldn't have to learn to new tuning and fingering.
    Later, I decided to try the ukulele because it seemed to be such a fun instrument. I think it's almost impossible to pay a sad tune on the ukulele. But the reentrant tuning drove me crazy, so I switche back to mandolin with its much more logical tuning.
    Interestingly, I've recently gravitated back to classical music, but this time on the mandolin.
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  27. #74
    Registered User JonDoug's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    Immediate cause: inheriting my Dad's early 40s Gibson mandolin. He played because he liked playing mando better than the violin he had lessons in as a kid.

    Lasting cause: I like playing mando more than the banjo I was playing at the time. I'm no multi-instrumentalist: the banjo is gone.

  28. #75
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    Default Re: Why did you choose the mandolin over another instrument?

    I chose the mandolin as an adult in my 30s. I had played French Horn 6-9th grade and nothing since. A friend encouraged me to learn something and I had been volunteering at a Folk Festival for a few years and enjoyed Old Time music and grew up with SOME bluegrass. I liked mandolin based on it being obscure (everyone plays guitar - how boring). It was that or open back banjo. I think what pushed me over the edge was sitting right next to Chris Thile while he jammed with other musicians. I was captivated.

    I don't regret my choice at all.

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