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Thread: New Guy

  1. #1

    Default New Guy

    I’ve been looking for something to do after work to help me “wind down. So I decided to try playing the mandolin. My dad plays harmonica, guitar, dobrow. I thought I would try something different. I searched around and decided I wanted an F style mandolin, but a local guy recommended an Eastman MD305 as a starter instrument. I have had it for a week.after a few you tube lessons I can play 3 chords and strum a little. But my fingers are bruised and the more I play , the worse they get. Could not compress the strings down this morning after 15 minutes.
    Any advice.

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  3. #2
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy

    Welcome to the Cafe, Bassmedic. I'm not a technician, so others may give you more help there. All I can suggest is that you experiment with the angle and pressure of your fingers. I did have to build up calluses. You'll find a supportive bunch here.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  4. #3
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy

    Take it to a good shop and have the setup confirmed/done.

    If you haven't played any stringed instruments before, there will be a period of soreness until you get some callouses built up, but nothing too painful.

  5. #4

    Default Re: New Guy

    I have never played anything except drums in jr high

  6. #5
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    Default Re: New Guy

    Even if your mandolin is set up well as a beginner you will have sore fingers. Back in the 60's when I got my first guitar I played all night. My fingers were so sore I put balled up tape on them to keep playing. Have your mandolin checked out for the setup and enjoy.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  8. #6

    Default Re: New Guy

    I am a beginner also. I've been playing about as long as you have, maybe a day less. Here is my take as a complete noob: From what I have been told by many who play and by a couple of professional luthiers, the set up is all important. If the instrument is not set up properly, it will make the strings hard to press. Find a place that can do that.

    Having said that, a little soreness is normal to start. My fingers were only slightly tender, and even after a week of playing they are still a tad tender, but not so much I cannot enjoy playing for an hour at a time.

  9. #7
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy

    You've been playing one week? Don't give up - getting callouses on your fingertips takes time. It takes me about two weeks to build up callouses on my fingertips and fingertips are sore for about three or four weeks.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Eastman MDA315, Silverangel Econo A #446
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  10. #8
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy

    Welcome. You're in for a lot of fun and satisfaction.

    If your mandolin's setup is good and you're still having pain, try a set of light strings to help you acclimate.
    For wooden musical fun that doesn't involve strumming, check out:
    www.busmanwhistles.com
    Handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods.

  11. #9
    Registered User Dave Fultz's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy

    Calluses will someday come.

    I just started playing mandolin in July. It as been the most enjoyable musical journey I have ever been on. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

    ============
    ~Music self-played is happiness self-made
    ——————————
    Loar LM-590
    Kentucky KM-272
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  12. #10

    Default Re: New Guy

    Paying your dues! Those first few days are brutal on the fingers. It gets better with time but takes months before you don't notice any discomfort.
    Robert Fear
    http://www.folkmusician.com

    "Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
    " - Pete Seeger

  13. #11

    Default Re: New Guy

    Even after forty some years of guitar playing, I found mandolin to need a more vertical finger approach. My very well developed callouses only covered one of the two strings, so I had to enlarge them.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  14. #12

    Default Re: New Guy

    I got callouses on 3 fingers!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm doing much better. Thanks for the encouragement because I was just about frustrated when I initially posted.

  15. #13
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    Default Re: New Guy

    Bassmedic; ain't our wild, wacky world fun. Some of the frustration never goes away as we try to stretch our skills and develop new ones. Have fun.

  16. #14
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy

    It will help say if you use a lite string gauge when starting out, maybe also a silk and steel-they are easy on the fingers.

  17. #15

    Default Re: New Guy

    Just make sure you are using the tips of your fingers so you get callouses in the right spot. After four decades of guitar playing, I thought sore fingers were a thing of the past, but mandolin is just different enough, I had one of the two strings just off my callouses and had to develop a bigger area.

    Make sure your nails are very short.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
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  18. #16
    TBI survivor Richard J's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy

    Don't forget Rob's set-up book:

    Re: Mandolin Set-up E-Book by Rob Meldrum
    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and I will email you a copy for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    Rob
    I think, therefore, I pick.

  19. #17

    Default Re: New Guy

    I started with light gauge elixirs and action so low it had a little fret buzz and I ignored it until I got callouses and all the chord changes and barre chords were easy. Then I got a better mandolin and switched to medium gauge strings. It was still a bit of a challenge but the calluses were already there so there were no sore finger tips.

  20. #18

    Default Re: New Guy

    Also, as a new player as well, it can be tempting to over-practice (if you believe there is such a thing). Just try to have fun and give it a break when needed. Which can be hard when playing is so much fun haha. Chances are you'll have quite a long time improve, so don't try to learn in a week. Plus your technique and habits will most likely end up more well rounded if you don't try to rush things. I'm sure, as we all have, you've ended up on mandolessons.com. Which is a good resource for what it's for. I mean it's free and not too bad so might as well right? Enjoy your pickin'!
    Just me and my Eastman MD315!
    And we're hungry to learn

  21. #19
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    Default Re: New Guy

    As mentioned, setup. Two things hard squeezers have in common are 1) ergonomics are not efficiently allowing accurate movement and relaxed finger use, and 2) fretting isn't right up against the fret. The further away from the fret you push, the more pressure is required. When fretting and especially when shifting, learn very slowly. Look at exactly where the fingertip should go. Move fingertip exactly to that spot. Practice without hesitation. If you hesitate, you're too fast.

    When I actually performed on classical guitar, I would work through a 10 minute exercise on this type of thing every day. Eventually I could pretty much go anywhere on the fingerboard with confidence without looking. Taking 3 days off would really show up in loss of accuracy!

    Aim-directed movement, within a position and in changing positions.

    Or take up the violin. None of those pesky frets, and a great big stick to beat at it with!
    Stephen Perry
    www.giannaviolins.com - Primarily violin family
    mandovoodoo.com - Acoustic blueprinting
    South Side Chicagoland

  22. #20
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy

    When I started playing guitar seriously back around 1975 I would ice my fingertips to kill the pain so I could play longer. I played until I bled.
    Never say "bouzouki" to a TSA agent...

  23. #21

    Default Re: New Guy

    I've played for three whole days now and put a new set of light strings on it the first day. When I used to play guitar regularly I kept a foam rubber finger exerciser in my desk which I used several times a day. that helped a lot.

    My fingers aren't sore but that's probably means I'm not practicing enough. After a month I plan to move to medium flat wounds which are the easiest medium strings on your fingers.

    Hang in there. We're both climbing the hill.

  24. #22
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    Default Re: New Guy

    Sore fingers and hands was part of it for me. Looks for ways to make it better and don't over do it, it gets better.

    There are methods to check the nut cut/string-height (in first position) yourself it see if it is an offender.

    My hand used to go numb. For me(I think) it was learning to play with less fretting pressure on strings. I still use too much fret pressure chording but nowhere near as fierce as when I started.

  25. #23

    Default Re: New Guy

    When your fingers are too sore to play, or you just want to practice when you don’t have your instrument, picture the fingerboard in your mind and ‘play” the chords and the melodies you have learned in your head. By imagining them they become even clearer than just by playing them. Learn a scale, then see that scale in your minds eye and ‘play’ it in different places on the fingerboard. It might be a little tricky at first, but once you start to get it you will have it forever and you can practice anytime, anywhere, instrument or no instrument!

  26. #24
    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy

    I agree with all the great answers above. I will contribute similar thoughts from my perspective. You described the bruising of the fingers perfectly. I have played guitars for 56 years and every time I get a new mandolin or guitar the feel is a bit different, and even I, with such old calluses, get sore fingers because the different height of strings, neck shape etc., can cause soreness for a few days until I acclimate. I always tell my guitar students, if you can just get through those first couple of weeks, the pain will turn to joy. Sometimes you have to take a 2 day break. Recently, I added plastic finger picks for guitar because my nails will no longer endure the picking of steel strings. I boiled the picks because they were squeezing my fingers in a way that felt very much like bruising. I managed to adjust the shape to be less tight and painful, but I still had to endure the time while the calluses built up. You are not alone. Keep playing and you will be rewarded!

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