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Thread: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

  1. #1

    Default Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    I've been playing guitar for a couple of years but always wanted to tackle the mandolin. I found a good price on lightly used Loar LM520VS. However, it's not been played in a couple years and includes zero accessories. Suggestions on what you'd consider must-haves (strap, case, picks, fresh strings, set-up, lessons, etc.) and preferred brands? My best guitar investment was lessons and I plan to do the same with the mandolin. Any suggestions on e-instructors to supplement?


    (BTW, this site was a God-send when I started researching what mandolin to buy. Donation definitely on the way!)

  2. #2

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    A setup first. You can try it yourself, member Rob Meldrum has a great ebook available:

    Then strings, strap and some picks. The larger triangles seem to be the go to for most users, grab a Dunlop ultex if you can find one. Then explore all the possibilities out there, or look into the traveling pick sampler here:
    Girouard Custom Studio A Oval
    P.W. Crump OM-III

  3. #3
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Saint Augustine Beach FL

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    Welcome to the Cafe!

    Peghead nation seems very popular here for on line lessons.......

    There is also a "newbies" social group here on the Cafe in the social group section....

    Others can offer advise on cases, straps and the like.

    Have fun!

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  4. #4

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    What's next? Soon enough you will want another one! lol I agree this site is extremely helpful. It guided me to a Kentucky KM-1000 that has taken me a little time to grow into, but has become my main gigging axe and has that bluegrass sound. I love it.

  5. #5
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Beaverton, OR, USA

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    I'll throw in a suggestion to check out Baron Collins-Hill's free lessons and tunes at And if you don't have TablEdit or TEFview software, get one or the other and then visit's tune library.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog:

  6. #6

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    Yep, good setup and

    D'Addario makes a very small tuner that fits a mandolin headstock nicely.

    A leather bootlace makes a dandy strap. So does Lakota Leathers or Bailey.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  7. #7

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    Thanks for all the help...much appreciated!

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    For hard shell cases, check out Gator’s oblong one. Have had one going on 15 years now that still looks new. Well, except for the stickers Also have a Travelite that’s a great everyday case that houses my main mandolin. Neither are flight cases, but they’re inexpensive (compared to a Calton) and offer excellent day to day protection.

    There are several good clip on tuners out (I have a Snark and an Intellitouch mini), but none are as accurate as the Peterson Strobo phone app (base price 10 bucks). The app won’t work well in really noisy environments, but for playing at home, church, etc, it’s a gem!

    Welcome to the obsession!

  9. #9
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    Welcome. TKL or Gator make good cases. It depends on how much weight you want to carry around. D'Addario is a manufacturer of quality strings a good one to start with is the their EJ74 or if your fingers are tender EJ73.
    Straps as stated above can be purchased or made from a boot lace... I used a leather one for years.
    The thing about lessons is that the teachers teaching style has to suit your learning style. Take your time in selecting a teacher. And setup your mandolin. Rob Meldrun's book will get you started on the right path.
    Play daily even if it's only for thirty minutes. The additive daily effort produces better results than two hours on a weekend. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  10. #10
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    "A setup first. You can try it yourself, member Rob Meldrum has a great ebook available:"

    If your mandolin was originally purchased from a dealer who did a setup, and has only been lightly played,it may not need a setup. The Meldrum book will help you evaluate if it does or does not need any work.
    For wooden musical fun that doesn't involve strumming, check out:
    Handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    the most important thing about any instrument, particularly those of the fretted kind, is playability - action and intonation. this includes putting on a new fresh set of strings in the gauge that will be best for you and no one else. you can trial different picks. that's about it. get that done and then play it a LOT. nothing else required or needed.
    Mandolins are truly *magic*!

  12. #12

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    Take one step back. It's a mandolin

  13. #13
    Celtic Bard michaelpthompson's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Arvada CO
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    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Leonard View Post
    A setup first. You can try it yourself, member Rob Meldrum has a great ebook available:
    +1 on Rob Meldrum's book. You need to focus first on whether it needs a setup and this resource will help you understand your instrument much better. If it hasn't been played for a while, new strings would be a good idea, but don't take all the old ones off at once or you'll HAVE to reset the intonation. That floating bridge gave me a problem when I switched from guitar as well.

    Don't get too carried away with accessories. I used a strap made of raffia (paper twine) for a while and gave it to a friend. I think that's a couple of years ago and he's still using it. Everybody seems to have their own idea about picks. You'll need to try a bunch and see what you prefer. Borrow from a friend when you can, just to try them out, or visit your local music shop and buy a few different ones.

    Case is also fairly subjective. A lot depends on how you use it. You want to take it on an airplane as checked luggage, it needs to be bulletproof, but as a carry-on, a gig bag fits better. Many people use the gig bag primarily, so that's a good place to start and you can get one fairly cheaply.

  14. #14
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Redwood City, CA

    Default Re: Just Bought 1st Mando...What Next?

    Oh, and be sure to get a capo. Just kidding!

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