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Thread: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

  1. #1

    Default Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    I'll admit that the main reason to post the following video is to highlight the great old Uncle Walt's Band.

    But there is a mandolin-related theme to this post. During "Getaway" (roughly 15:40-18:30), Champ Hood treats his violin like a mandolin, including a break at 17:10 with a tremolo at 17:20.

    Are there other artists of note who did the same thing regularly? What about the inverse: playing a mandolin with a bow in violin/fiddle style?

    Whether you have answers (or care about the answers), I hope you'll get a kick out of this old video of a group that should have had seen greater success in its day.


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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    That hair tho! I imagine it’d be tough to interchange the two as the strings lying on the same plane would make it hard to bow all but the E and G strings, and the opposite would be tough on a violin! Tough to strum more than two strings, I’d imagine! Pretty cool though!

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    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Great band, great memories . . . and a cool way to pick the fiddle. Maybe he was using a felt pick? Tremelo didn't totally work, but hats off to him for going for it.

    When we were cleaning out the house after my mom passed away a year ago I found a couple of Uncle Walt's Band albums I had given my parents back in the day and brought them home. Never really analyzed what made their sound so unique but it strikes me now that they have 2 high tenors singing (in gentle falsetto?) over the lead, which nobody else was doing. Great stuff!
    Clark Beavans

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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    I've seen many fiddlers pick a tune on the fiddle, using fingertips but not a pick. I've done it myself. However, I've never seen anyone strum chords on a fiddle, as Champ Hood does. It's not easy to do. As Annieka pointed out, fiddle strings aren't on a plane. The middle strings are higher than the outside strings. While bowing, we usually play one string at a time, sometimes two. There's a tricky and high-speed way of playing a chord by racing the bow across four strings, but most styles of fiddling don't incorporate that (French-Canadian does). I thought that Hood must be playing only two strings, but I see that he covers at least three, making the performance even more impressive. He must be using a pick, but, as tree suggests, a soft one. Fiddlers don't put fingers on the strings between the bridge and fingerboard, where he's playing, as fingers get sticky, and sweat mixes with rosin which is not good for strings. This and his hand position suggest he's using a pick. I suspect Hood plays mandolin as well as fiddle. A fiddler wouldn't likely come up with this style of playing.
    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.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Quote Originally Posted by MK in NC View Post
    ...Are there other artists of note who did the same thing regularly?...
    Vassar Clements.



    The duet between Clements' fiddle and Hartford's cheeks has to be one of the greatest in history...
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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Vassar Clements.
    The duet between Clements' fiddle and Hartford's cheeks has to be one of the greatest in history...
    Could you please post the link for and name of the video, Allen? I'm getting a blank space.
    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.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    Could you please post the link for and name of the video, Allen? I'm getting a blank space.
    Original Aereoplane Band - Holdin' .
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    I have a friend who can play some mean clawhammer fiddle.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Thanks for that, Allen. It's great seeing Vassar and John back in Hartford's hippie days. I saw him live (solo) at the Riverboat in Toronto around that time. I recall him saying, "People ask me if this song is about dope. No. It's about William Holden, the actor." Looking at his face on the video, I think perhaps that's not the case. Vassar certainly does a good job of picking the fiddle. He's doing this the usual way, playing individual notes and not chording. It's hard to tell if he's using a pick or not, but he picks fiddler-style, up the fingerboard, away from the rosin.
    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.

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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    I've played my violin like a mandolin, with a pick and everything. It's not satisfying. Mandolin sounds better and is way more fun to play than a violin played like a mandolin.

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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    I (not seriously) strummed a couple chords on my friends violin years ago... they thought I was some kinda musical wizard playing two or three notes a once.

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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Those boys from Carolina they sure enough could sing.

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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Well..............great showmanship, but not always a great sound, IMHO. Vassar had a much better feel for it than Champ. Mostly sounds like a mandolin with worn out frets!

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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    As much as I like Champ Hood and Walter Hyatt, having lived in Austin for many years, I have to vote for Andrew Bird as one of the best in this category.



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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Thile did some finger picking fiddle on at least one of the Goat Rodeo tracks...can't remember offhand which one and no time to look now as I'm at work, but I don't recall him going full mando plectrum style on it...

    Looks like a couple of nice vids I'll check out later, thanks for posting guys!
    Chuck

  23. #17

    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Champ's son Warren also plucks the fiddle with a mandolin style in a present-day version of Uncle Walt's Band's "Getaway."

    Watch it here.

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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    I used to pick my violin with a guitar pick along to the radio years before I found out what a mandolin was. It's much better on an instrument designed for it.
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    Default Re: Playing the violin like a mandolin (Champ Hood)

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    As much as I like Champ Hood and Walter Hyatt, having lived in Austin for many years, I have to vote for Andrew Bird as one of the best in this category.



    He is who I thought of too. His ‘Giant of Illinois’ opens with him playing the violin like a mandolin or uke. I had to see him doing it before I knew it was a violin.
    ...

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