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Thread: Finger style Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Finger style Mandolin

    In the "favorite Electric Mandolin Albums or Artists?" thread there was this video:



    First of all ... WOW. Very cool stuff.

    So, my question... how many artists use finger style on the mandolin?, and how would one get started on this?

    <sarcasm> Clearly I do not have enough to work on already. </sarcasm>

    Carl

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  3. #2
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    Wow, that's some hot playing. Must be something special in that salad dressing, I guess.
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  5. #3
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    My friend finger picks his Bouzouki. Its neat!

    https://youtu.be/EX5IBSqRsCY

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  7. #4

    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    My guess is not a lot. My second guess is that any player you see using finger-style on a mandolin, did it first on another instrument. It simply would not work well without amplification.

  8. #5
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    Wayne Henderson (famous guitar builder and picker) plays mandolin using banjo picks.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgV6aY73ISQ
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  9. #6
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by dadsaster View Post
    My guess is not a lot. My second guess is that any player you see using finger-style on a mandolin, did it first on another instrument. It simply would not work well without amplification.
    Bingo!

    Because I *was* a guitar player steeped in fingerstyle guitar technique when I came to mandolin, I first learned the "proper" technique with flatpick. At some point in that journey, I got interested in a special Breedlove model that was briefly offered -- Radim Zenkl 4-string mandola with a humbucker. Wider string spacing at the bridge, just 4 strings so your fingernails don't hang up in the double courses, and a humbucker to amplify the tone. It was a great instrument, had it for a few years. Here's what it looked like:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    If you search YouTube, you may be able to find clips of Radim Zenkl playing his version (all-black, I think). The ones I saved are no longer online.

    Anyway, great instrument, and it worked fine for fingerstyle. Better than a "normal" mandolin because it solved the problem of fingernail hangups and amplification. In the end though, I decided that the amplified tone was just too close to what I could already do on an electric guitar, and I missed having more strings for moving bass lines.

    So that's my exploration of this idea, for what it's worth. I don't think mandolin family instruments are really ideal for this technique, and a lot of that has to do with leaving out the thumb and enough strings for a low bass line, which is a huge part of fingerstyle technique (from a guitar perspective, anyway). I pick my mandolin and octave mandolin with a flatpick, and save the fingerstyle stuff for my guitars.

  10. #7

    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Wayne Henderson (famous guitar builder and picker) plays mandolin using banjo picks.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgV6aY73ISQ
    I've thought about this, and have some banjo picks. I actually have had more luck playing with the pads of my fingers. but then I do have thick calluses there because of my history of drumming. Cool "brush" like sound, but would definitely need amplification for performance.

    Once I have more skill/experience I might try the picks again for volume.

    C

  11. #8

    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    I think the problem with a direct application of the guitar technique is just as you say, the top 2 strings are mostly for bass parts.

    However I do think there is some potential here. More of a complicated comping/arpegiation function. (granted the video above is obviously an advanced player doing a bit more)

  12. #9
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    If my memory serves, The Dawg used to recommend trying finger pickin'.

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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    Quite a few banjo players have played a mandolin with a 3finger roll I guess for the novelty of it. They didn't use amplification. It works for something different but not as a style, the mandolin limits it too much. To finger pick as a guitar would be even more limiting in my opinion.

  15. #11
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    I've messed with fingerpicking on the mandolin since the late 70's. Mississippi John Hurt stuff like "Casey Jones", "My Creole Belle", Doc Watson's "Deep River Blues", "Angi" and other stuff I pulled from Happy Traum's guitar column in Guitar Player or some of his books on Oak like Finger-Picking Guitar Styles.

    Over the years, I have published some fingerpicking material in back issues of The Mandocrucian's Digest and in books like Hot Licks For Hor Picks.

    For straight acoustic fingerpicking like Mississippi John Hurt, Mance Lipscomb, etc. you get more out of it (sustain, depth, volume) from the larger member os the family: mandola, OM, cittern. And if you are singing, it's usually better if the accompaniment tends to stay below the vocals.

    Anway, doing some of that will break you out of the "single-line" thinking. And, you don't necessarily have to be a banjo or guitar player (previously) to put this stuff on a mando. I didn't/wasn't.

    The way to go, imho, is the hybrid pick+finger(s) right hand used by many country Tele players (James Burton, Albert Lee) and guys like Richard Thompson. It was one of the othe guitar techniques (along with RH muting, pinch harmonics, vibrato) I picked up from RT when he walked me through String Bending 101 and 102. Pinched doublestops (and triplestops) have a distictive sound/attack which is impossible to get with just the pick...so if you want that Bakersfield sound or steel guitar feel....

    Also, adding in a finger or two will allow you to do skipped string octaves (2-x-0, 4-x-2 etc) and really smooth out and speed up all your crosspicking and banjo rolls. Som guitar players will use the flatpick on one string, and the middle and ring fingers "banjo style" (substituting for thumbpick-index-middle). Personally I'll use the pick and the middle finger for three-string rolls. If I've got to grab triplestop chords on something like "Oye Como Va", then the ring finger gets added. - You need those simultaneously sounded chord notes on that Latin stuff or it just doesn't sound right.

    Another thing with the rolls - I always thought the 'drone' on the "e" string was overbearing volume wise (conventional McReynolds style). Using the middle finger for that top note takes it down to a less jarring level and to a softer tone.

    Ultimately, there should be no distinct separation between, flatpicking and fingerpicking or flatpicking/pick+fingers. You'll want to be able to shift between the two at will to exploit the attack, tone, volume differences/options for the benefit of the tune/solo.

    Incidentally, after that period I was entertaining myself by playing left-handed, I found that it was like I had also practiced my RH fingerpicking/pick+fingers a whole lot, just by default.

    Yeah, I'm sure there are those skeptical when I talk about some of this stuff , now and in the past, never having heard me play live or on records. Well...here's an (15/16-year) old unreleased solo mando track I uploaded to Soundcloud. There's pick+finger in there at times, along with a lot of other electric guitar techniques (vibrato, bending, muting) and other stuff I lifted from various Asian instruments like koto, shamisen, pipa.

    https://soundcloud.com/user-64352297...ts/mando-stuff

    Niles H

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    Registered User maudlin mandolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnywoS8u-FU
    Here is Kym Warner playing for the Mandolin Mondays blog on12th February. He switches between hybrid, flatpicking and fingerpicking

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  18. #13
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    ..here's an (15/16-year) old unreleased solo mando track I uploaded to Soundcloud. There's pick+finger in there at times, along with a lot of other electric guitar techniques (vibrato, bending, muting) and other stuff I lifted from various Asian instruments like koto, shamisen, pipa.

    https://soundcloud.com/user-64352297...ts/mando-stuff

    Niles H
    Man, that's some great tone and beautiful bunch of technique from 15/16 years ago. Good stuff.



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    Registered User rockies's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    How have all of you missed the amazing Radim Zenkl and his finger picking on mandolin?? And no he doesn't need to be amplified. I saw him in concert in venues where he played amazing chord melodies.
    Dave
    I believe he lost his home in the California wild fires this year.
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    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    I had the good fortune to take a workshop with Radim Zenkl last month, just a few days after his home burned to the ground. He played "Lara's Theme" finger style, shaping the melody in tremolo and picking out a counter melody accompaniment on the lower strings. If I hadn't been sitting five feet away, I wouldn't have believed it was possible. Gorgeous playing.
    1988 Reno mandolin, Trinity College mandola, Kentucky KM 272 oval hole mandolin, a few bowed string instruments and some stray woodwinds

  21. #16

    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    I had the good fortune to take a workshop with Radim Zenkl last month, just a few days after his home burned to the ground. He played "Lara's Theme" finger style, shaping the melody in tremolo and picking out a counter melody accompaniment on the lower strings. If I hadn't been sitting five feet away, I wouldn't have believed it was possible. Gorgeous playing.

    !!!

    Wish I could have seen that. I'm still working on flat picking. :-)

  22. #17
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    Me too, Carl. The workshop was on right hand technique, exactly what I was looking for. Zenkl is an excellent teacher and a lovely human being. If he's in the area, sign up!
    1988 Reno mandolin, Trinity College mandola, Kentucky KM 272 oval hole mandolin, a few bowed string instruments and some stray woodwinds

  23. #18

    Default Re: Finger style Mandolin

    Louise,

    I just did a quick search for him on youtube... lots of stuff!

    Sadly I'm at work and can not listen... looks like another late night for me.

    :-)

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