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Thread: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

  1. #1

    Default Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Hello everyone,

    I'm new here and am starting to pick up the mandolin. I have a fairly robust background in music. I play the saxophone, as well as the piano and have sung in choirs. My experiance goes to the extent of playing a few semesters in my University's jazz band. Therefore, when I pick up a "how to play mandolin book" at the music store it seems like I have to riffle through pages upon pages of music fundamentals I already know. I know the importance of practiceing proper technique, especially from the onset, since that is what establishes in your muscle memory. I'm eager to play and have already started practicing, but I don't want to get too far along by the time I actually do finish reading a "how to" book. I was wondering if any of you could give me a rundown on the essenial techniques and forms I need to develop early on, or at least point me to a source that can do this for me with a minimal amount of "general music fundamentals".

  2. #2
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    jazzmando.com

    FFcP techniques is a great start

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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Google to get the sheet music to Raffaele Calace's: 2 preludio op. 49,, get to learn it and play it entirely,by the time your finished,you will know every feasible mandolin technique there is....

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by gfugal View Post
    Hello everyone, I'm new here and am starting to pick up the mandolin. I have a fairly robust background in music..saxophone..piano..sung in choirs..
    Just curious, was your earlier music/instrumental education DIY or a more formal process?

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

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

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pepe View Post
    Just curious, was your earlier music/instrumental education DIY or a more formal process?
    I had formal piano lessons until Junior high then self-taught myself from there on out with that instrument (still not the best piano player). All throughout high school I had private lessons for the saxaphone, then didn't feel the need to continue those when I started collage. I was on the jazz band at my local university for a few semesters playing saxaphone (not lead chair or anything) but got quite a bit of instruction from the teachers as well as took an improversation class they offered. I aslo did some combo playing with the university for 3 semesters since I couldn't fit the Big-Band into my schedule anymore. I love saxaphone, but would love an instrament I could self accompany myself singing. I could do that with the piano but it is in no way portable. I could have done the guitar, or ukilalie, but my admiration of Chris Thile's music inspired me to try the mandolin.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    I should also add that I've already obtained the mandolin for Dummies book, so hopefully that, this site, as well as other reasources like mandolessons.com will hold me over for the time being.

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Original and best https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...=1#post1621379 click on the black square to download it.

    The Dummies book is good, as is mandolessons.
    - Jeremy

    Wot no catchphrase?

  10. #9

    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by B381 View Post
    jazzmando.com

    FFcP techniques is a great start
    Thanks looking it over now

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post
    Original and best https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...=1#post1621379 click on the black square to download it.

    The Dummies book is good, as is mandolessons.
    Downloaded. It looks like a short succinct read too. Exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks!

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  12. #10

    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    It's fascinating how transferable learning one thing can be on the mandolin, especially with FFcP. Like literally all the major scalls can be covered with 4 fingering positions? This makes the potential for improvinzing so much simpler, whereas on the saxaphone every scale is a different fingering.

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by gfugal View Post
    Thanks looking it over now

    - - - Updated - - -



    Downloaded. It looks like a short succinct read too. Exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks!
    If you do get on with Leone the exercises can be found in the French edition (they are in notation, I believe so you don't need to speak French) available here http://www.mandoisland.de/bilder/sch...l#.WuGzvdYh2_4
    - Jeremy

    Wot no catchphrase?

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by gfugal View Post
    I had formal piano lessons until Junior high then self-taught myself from there on out with that instrument (still not the best piano player). All throughout high school I had private lessons for the saxaphone, then didn't feel the need to continue those when I started collage..
    Sounds like you've got a thorough grounding from both sides of the fence and will have no trouble evaluating and using self-teaching resources. I recently heard an old interview w/Bill Monroe who, when asked about the mandolin vs the other bluegrass instrumentation, said there was far more music in the mandolin and fiddle than all the rest, or something to that effect. Hope you have a blast w/yours!

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    I already have a couple questions. Leone mentions that the right hand's middle, ring, and pinky should be lifted up and out of the way vs I assume in a loose fist. However, I've also been seeing on here that you should be playing in a way that is the most efficient using the least amount of muscles that aren't necessary. I feel keeping those fingers up requires more effort on my part than having them naturally lay in a loose fist. Unless I anchor my pinky on the strike plate thing, then that feels more natural.

    Which brings up my second question of whether anchoring is acceptable. I understand not using an anchor when strumming chords and such but for picking melodic phrases it seems to help me increase accuracy and reduce fatigue. Whether I anchor with my pinky or the base of my palm just beneath the bridge it's about the same for me, depending if I'm in a loose fist or not. Loose fist I anchor with the base of the palm, three fingers up I want to anchor with my pinky.

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by gfugal View Post
    I already have a couple questions. Leone mentions that the right hand's middle, ring, and pinky should be lifted up and out of the way vs I assume in a loose fist. However, I've also been seeing on here that you should be playing in a way that is the most efficient using the least amount of muscles that aren't necessary. I feel keeping those fingers up requires more effort on my part than having them naturally lay in a loose fist. Unless I anchor my pinky on the strike plate thing, then that feels more natural.

    Which brings up my second question of whether anchoring is acceptable. I understand not using an anchor when strumming chords and such but for picking melodic phrases it seems to help me increase accuracy and reduce fatigue. Whether I anchor with my pinky or the base of my palm just beneath the bridge it's about the same for me, depending if I'm in a loose fist or not. Loose fist I anchor with the base of the palm, three fingers up I want to anchor with my pinky.


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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.


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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    You can watch my ergonomic videos here:

    http://www.petimarpress.com/mandolin...%20videos.html
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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    I worry about how I hold the pick - but I'm beginning to just work with the way I feel good holding it!

    An observation on the videos though - they are all filmed from the front. If you're looking at yourself holding the pick, then you're looking in the opposite direction, and see a different view. An outstanding video would be one that shows holing a pick from the mandolinist's point of view. (headcam?)

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Martin View Post
    You can watch my ergonomic videos here:

    http://www.petimarpress.com/mandolin...%20videos.html
    highly recommend these. I go back and rewatch and re adjust
    2012 Weber Bitterroot F5.

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by sportsnapper View Post
    An observation on the videos though - they are all filmed from the front. If you're looking at yourself holding the pick, then you're looking in the opposite direction, and see a different view. An outstanding video would be one that shows holing a pick from the mandolinist's point of view. (headcam?)
    Here you go!


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    Registered User Kevin Stueve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    So I've watched Catrina's video and Chris's video each multiple times. I feel like they are describing 2 different approaches between your index finger and your pick. Catrina's is more of pick between pad of thumb and pad/side of index finger. Chris's is more pick between pad of thumb and side of index finger at first knuckle, which Catrina seems to argue against. Or am I misinterpreting Chris's
    2012 Weber Bitterroot F5.

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    That's great - just what I meant. All tutorial videos should be like this - because the same applies to the fingering too! I'm with Catrina too - perhaps it's the european way of doing things?

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Stueve View Post
    So I've watched Catrina's video and Chris's video each multiple times. I feel like they are describing 2 different approaches between your index finger and your pick. Catrina's is more of pick between pad of thumb and pad/side of index finger. Chris's is more pick between pad of thumb and side of index finger at first knuckle, which Catrina seems to argue against. Or am I misinterpreting Chris's
    You are correct, they are advocating for two different approaches that look very similar. Caterina is advocating for a pick hold that is closer to the pad of the finger or maybe the "corner" between the pad of the index finger and the side of the index finger. Chris is advocating for a pick hold that is more on the side of the first finger.

    Neither is right or neither is wrong and they both look very similar. However, I have noticed that the side of the finger feels very different than the pad or even the "corner". It makes a big difference in the way I play and how I orient my hand with respect to the mandolin. Although, as Caterina points out, I can switch back and forth between the two without much of an issue and often do without realizing it.

    I have noticed that classical mandolin players tend to hold the pick closer to the pad of the finger while bluegrass players hold closer to the side. Although that's a generalization that doesn't apply across the board.

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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevo75 View Post
    You are correct, they are advocating for two different approaches that look very similar. Caterina is advocating for a pick hold that is closer to the pad of the finger or maybe the "corner" between the pad of the index finger and the side of the index finger. Chris is advocating for a pick hold that is more on the side of the first finger.

    Neither is right or neither is wrong and they both look very similar. However, I have noticed that the side of the finger feels very different than the pad or even the "corner". It makes a big difference in the way I play and how I orient my hand with respect to the mandolin. Although, as Caterina points out, I can switch back and forth between the two without much of an issue and often do without realizing it.

    I have noticed that classical mandolin players tend to hold the pick closer to the pad of the finger while bluegrass players hold closer to the side. Although that's a generalization that doesn't apply across the board.
    thanks after 40 years of guitar and 3 years of mandolin have recently been re evaluating my pick hold.
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    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    I think as long as you're somewhere in the ballpark of what Chris, Caterina, and Mike Marshall are demonstrating for pick hold you're fine. Which one ends up being best for you (side of the finger, corner, or pad) depends on your personal preferences and your unique anatomy.

    There are some really weird looking pick holds out there that seem to work for those folks (Drew Emmitt is one of them), but probably shouldn't be encouraged for someone new to the mandolin.

  29. #25

    Default Re: Essential Mandolin Techniques.

    So looks like all the videos are advocating for a loose fist contrary to what Leone suggests. No one pinky anchors, so I'll throw that out the window. I'm still not sure whether anchoring the base of your palm is acceptable. Mike sort of suggests it but prefaces "ever so lightly". Christina also looks like she might but just a little. I'm don't think Chris is, but he's also the only one standing.

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