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Thread: Mandolin to fiddle

  1. #1
    Registered User Cochiti Don's Avatar
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    Default Mandolin to fiddle

    At a moment of possible insanity, I figured that I could complicate my life even further by learning the fiddle at 72. I only just started the mandolin 8 months ago. My thought was I could do both because of the GDAE fingerboard. The violin , of course, is a much more complex beast but what the hey, it was a good deal to purchase (last week). There’s no fool like an old fool I guess.
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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Enjoy in good health. I don't think age factors in it if you fancy trying.

    The mandolin is powerfully addictive. I think the fiddle would be more so. Enough that I shy away from it. That and I've heard my bowing hand and that was not good. Harry Callahan had it right. "A man's gotta know his limitations"

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I thought the same thing, many years ago - but when I lifted the violin fretboard up to my chin, I had a complete physical block on the fingering . . . somehow, the angle of my hands against the violin just completely threw me, and after a few short months the violin got sold. Hopefully you will fare much better than I did - keep us updated.
    I recently finished a new homemade 4-song EP of original solo acoustic songs; (sorry, no mandolin content this time). If you are interested in a FREE copy, feel free to send me your address via Private Message, and I will be glad to send you one. Trust me, it will be worth the price!


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  6. #4

    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Violin/fiddle is definitely a different beast, but mandolin skill does apply and going fretless is not as difficult as it seems.

    It has been awhile since I put any effort into fiddle. From what I recall, I could play very basic tunes within a few days (mary had a little lamb, twinkle twinkle little star). Taking it to a level where I could jump in and Jam with players, never happened. Having not practiced for a decade has left me with the ability to be good at evaluating setup and tone, but not really being a player.

    I still say, go for it! I have seen some players in their 70's learn to play and be acceptable, which is no small feat considering how many years it takes to be good.
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I have always recommended that if you wanted to learn fiddle, play a mandolin first. Within two months I was playing fiddle for square dances. Haven't touched it much since I moved up here, way too many fiddle players and few mandolins. Always killed my back anyway, but a fun instrument.
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  10. #6

    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Two thoughts from my limited experience. I play (attempt) mandolin. First instrument and did not start playing until my mid 50's so slow going. When I started I was having a hard time playing rhythm. So I thought that it maybe easier to play rhythm on guitar. So I bought a guitar messed around with it for a few weeks and quickly determined that I needed to focus on one instrument if I was going to be decent. So the guitar went to a happy owner.

    My daughter plays in the orchestra and took fiddle lessons for about 2 1/2 to 3 years and I know a few fiddle players. So other than messing around on my daughters fiddle a little my experience has been watching others. I believe that you either have a natural bow hand or not, yes it can be learned but the good ones have it. I think you could have no sound and only watch someone's bow hand and tell how good they are. You have not frets so intonation can be a problem. There are some pretty good players that have a hard time being spot on. My daughter has a really good ear and her intonation is near perfect, darn kids. At least someone in the family has some musical talent.
    So on the one hand I would say that if you want to try it go for it. You might want to rent a fiddle for a few months to see how it goes. On the other hand at your station in life if you were to get to be good on one instrument I would think that would be a pretty good accomplishment.
    Good luck

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  12. #7
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Don - If you want to try your hand at playing Fiddle - go for it & enjoy it. Age is no barrier to enjoyment,whether you're good ,bad or mediocre. If you want a fiddle,you might search your local area ads. Fiddles of 'not so fantastic' quality were made in their 1000s years back, & often many of then are offered for sale at very low cost.

    As MikeZito mentions - the left hand placement is vastly different. The left hand really needs to come over the top of the fiddle to enable you to finger the notes correctly. There are dozens of YouTube clips demonstrating Violin playing to look at,
    Ivan
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    Registered User Michael Neverisky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Playing melodies on the violin will come quickly. Learning to work the bow to sound like a fiddler is, in my opinion, where the fun and challenges will be found. Go for it.

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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I too got the bug about three years ago, Don, and I can beat you by a year on the age front. I would say that it is a very frustrating instrument to take up, even for those of us who play mandolin. I joined a local fiddle workshop and would not have got anywhere without the great input from the young tutors we have had. it is just such a different experience - no frets, bowing techniques, left hand placement, etc, but it really makes you work to try to get a good sound out of it. An experienced local fiddler kept telling me that as a mandolin player I should find the fiddle easy to take up, till I finally handed him my mandolin and asked him to have a go, on the grounds that he was an experienced fiddler, so the mandolin should be easy. He conceded that there were huge differences he had not realised!
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    There are a few recent threads on the subject. Do a search.

    I picked up mandolin and fiddle at the same time almost 44 years ago. My advice is to get yourself a teacher if even only for a few lessons. Also find others at your stage to play with or else a slow jam or a group workshop. Have fun.
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  19. #11
    Registered User Cochiti Don's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    Don - If you want to try your hand at playing Fiddle - go for it & enjoy it. Age is no barrier to enjoyment,whether you're good ,bad or mediocre. If you want a fiddle,you might search your local area ads. Fiddles of 'not so fantastic' quality were made in their 1000s years back, & often many of then are offered for sale at very low cost.

    As MikeZito mentions - the left hand placement is vastly different. The left hand really needs to come over the top of the fiddle to enable you to finger the notes correctly. There are dozens of YouTube clips demonstrating Violin playing to look at,
    Ivan
    It turns out that Eastman makes a line of fiddles that are quite good. The one I bought sells new for 500, but I got it for 185. It needed some minor repairs but it’s a sweet one.
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I agree with you, a moment of insanity !!
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  22. #13
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Well ... yeah ... Fiddle is a jealous mistress ... a bow is not a pick .... 1/16 " is a great distance on a fretless instrument ... take a few lessons from a teacher as poor habits are easy to develop and hard to break ... buy a mute ... there are soooo many things to learn from intonation to rosin build up to hydration to well to good music. be patient listen to and watch all the fiddlers you can. There are many different ways to play a fiddle well... find yours. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  24. #14

    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I think I'll go for the record for mediocrity. So far I suck at electric bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, uke, square neck resonator, steel, pedal steel, shaker, tambourine, and now mandolin. If I learned a little fiddle, I could expand my suck factor to viola, cello and acoustic bass too.

    Only thing keeping me from going for it is there is always some hot shot who does all that and brass instruments too.

    Seriously, good for you. I thought I was pushing the envelope starting mandolin at 64.

    Reminds me of my favorite Grandpa story. He planted an avocado tree when he was 84. My mother asked him if he knew they took 7 years to bear fruit. He told her avocados would taste just as good when he was 91. He ate avocados off that tree for six years.
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  26. #15
    Registered User Cochiti Don's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    I think I'll go for the record for mediocrity. So far I suck at electric bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, uke, square neck resonator, steel, pedal steel, shaker, tambourine, and now mandolin. If I learned a little fiddle, I could expand my suck factor to viola, cello and acoustic bass too.

    Only thing keeping me from going for it is there is always some hot shot who does all that and brass instruments too.

    Seriously, good for you. I thought I was pushing the envelope starting mandolin at 64.

    Reminds me of my favorite Grandpa story. He planted an avocado tree when he was 84. My mother asked him if he knew they took 7 years to bear fruit. He told her avocados would taste just as good when he was 91. He ate avocados off that tree for six years.
    Ha! Great response. Imagine if you didn’t try at all at those instruments. I’m old enough not to care about comparisons to masters.
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  27. #16

    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I started with violin as a kid and started mandolin much later. I would also recommend starting with a teacher, preferably one who plays both instruments to help you even more. I would also suggest getting a good mute for the fiddle until you get the basics down. Playing along with songs you like/know will help you get more proficient, and build your confidence to play with others. Hope you enjoy the journey!

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  29. #17

    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    If longevity assumes not-entirely-optimal dimensions, one of them would NOT be having to justify, to self and others, sitting around and fiddling about! Also, when you get older you get to reflect more, whether or not anyone else is interested..

    As a kid I was lucky to be studying guitar and sax. Yet, there were other instruments and idioms I very much wanted to explore. Among those was fiddle. It (bow to string) is just one of those essential, primary experiences.

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  31. #18
    en kunnskapssøker James Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Have you tried the Hurdy Gurdy? They sound wonderful!

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    en kunnskapssøker James Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Least with a Hurdy Gurdy is that you don't need a bow hand like with a fiddle, and many different HG artists go for various types of music, some fast, like...
    • Seagull S8 • Weber Y2K6 • David Hudson Bloodwood Didgeridoo (C#) •

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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Chochiti Don: as someone who has played fiddle forever, I'd suggest that you try to find a good classical violin teacher who is fiddle friendly (they're not all), and take violin lessons for several months. Your left hand should come good with a bit of playing, but getting a good sound basis for the bowing arm will stop you getting held back by avoidable bow arm problems that , if that makes sense. Once you get the fiddle going, as a mandolin player you'll know accompaniment patterns and partial chords that many fiddlers struggle with. Have fun!

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  37. #22
    Registered User Cochiti Don's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by James Miller View Post
    Have you tried the Hurdy Gurdy? They sound wonderful!
    No, I’ll check it out thanks
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  38. #23
    Registered User Cochiti Don's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by James Miller View Post
    Have you tried the Hurdy Gurdy? They sound wonderful!
    They seem to always play in a minor key. Can you cahacge that ?
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  39. #24

    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I learnt mandolin to help me with my fiddle. Call it an intonation model. Or "where's the Doe-Ray-Mee?"
    It's a game of paying attention. If your intonation is off, by ear, move you finger until it's on. Also a poorly played note, played quickly, is not as bad as a poorly played note held for a full beat. Embrace the fretlessness. Embrace the bow. This tune will call for a mandolin, While another will call for a fiddle. And Bob's yer Uncle, you've got it covered!

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  41. #25

    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by Cochiti Don View Post
    They seem to always play in a minor key. Can you cahacge that ?
    Sure, that's simply a matter of note choice and drone/pitch arrangement; gurdys can be diatonic or chromatic, vary as to how many drones and what pitches, etc.

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