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Thread: Can I switch to mandolin

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    Default Can I switch to mandolin

    I play guitar and uke and don't know if playing mandolin is like playing a ukulele, just with more strings or if it is a totally new instrument. I've been thinking of starting to learn mandolin and was wondering if my guitar and uke skills would make learning mandolin easier. I also like to play songs from Bowie, Queen etc so can you play those on mandolin too?

  2. #2
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    It is a completely different instrument than either guitar or uke:

    The standard mandolin tuning is different than both other instruments, so if you want to use standard tuning your cording hand will need to learn to play differently.

    Flatpicking on mandolin is similar to flatpicking on guitar, only really different -- 8 strings in 4 courses instead of 6 strings or 12 strings in 6 courses, which does also affect your cording hand.

    Uke like finger-strumming isn't really found very often if at all on mandolin.

    I'd say if you want to play mandolin, expect the only thing at all in common with what you may already do is flatpicking, and even then there will be a lot of differences.

    That said, the best reason to play mandolin is because you like how it sounds.
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Yes, you can! But approach it as it’s own instrument, not an “upside down guitar.”
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    It is different enough from both that it pays to consider yourself with out useful experience.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    It really depends how well you know your fretboards on guitar and uke. For instance, if you know immediately what note is on the 9th fret of your D string on your guitar, then you know what note is on the 9th fret on the D string of your mandolin. Same goes for the G, A & E strings. Thinking as an upside down guitar, or more accurately, a bass, agreed, does not help too much (but definitely a little bit).But thinking about strings individually was extremely helpful for me to apply my guitar/bass knowledge to the mandolin. With this kind of thinking i was quickly able to locate any note on any string on any fret without effort or learning anything new. But i did know my fretboards, especially on bass, very well.

    So make friends with each individual string and get to know their unique personalites! Yes, they are part of a group on our instrument, but they are separate, “just as the pillars of the temple stand apart”, to quote Gibran.

    Or, more succinctly, a G string is a G string.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    I think Marty Stuart says he plays guitar like a mandolin- and that's what I feel as a flat picker. There are areas that are complementary but although in some respects, the mandolin is a lot less complex than the guitar, it is an extremely unforgiving instrument and I know many guitarists that gave up for this reason. I think you have to meet the mandolin on its own terms and not treat it like a guitar. There is no reason you cannot move from guitar to mandolin but it will take a bit of an adjustment and an open mind.

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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    You can find a way to play anything you want on mandolin. Sometimes that's a big part of the fun. I play LedZeplin, Devo, the Ramones, Prince, along with the fiddle tunes, old timey and bluegrass standards. You will come to realize what a powerful rythem machine a mandolin is.

    You should not try to think in guitar or Uke terms. If you flat pick, you will use all that technique on mandolin.
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  10. #8

    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Just do it!
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  11. #9

    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Aoqi View Post
    I play guitar and uke and don't know if playing mandolin is like playing a ukulele, just with more strings or if it is a totally new instrument. I've been thinking of starting to learn mandolin and was wondering if my guitar and uke skills would make learning mandolin easier. I also like to play songs from Bowie, Queen etc so can you play those on mandolin too?
    Hi and welcome, Aoqi!

    Good questions!

    A uke is a little guitar. A mando is a fiddle trapped in a little guitar's body.

    Though mandolin is very different than guitar - how it's tuned, how it's held, how it's picked - your guitar skills will help you enourmously.

    As another long-time guitar guy who's a newcomer to mando, though, I do agree with others that some habits are hard to change. Best advice I've gotten here is: do your best to learn the form, but don't let tradition rule you. As one of the folks here put it, mistakes repeated often enough become style.

    Anything you can play on guitar you can play on mando. It'll sound different - but that's why you want to learn the instrument, right? (That, and people looks so freaking cool playing mando . . . .)

    I'd start with "Rebel, Rebel." In fact, I think I'll give it a try myself today!

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  13. #10
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    A mandolin takes a lot more finger pressure. You're pressing down two metal strings at a time.If hand strength is a problem for you, I'd stay away. Otherwise,mandolin is a whole lot of fun.
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    I think the conceptual understanding of how fretted stringed instruments work will help, as will the dexterity gained from doing finger gymnastics while playing guitar/uke that a nonplayer wouldn't have yet. There is no harm in branching out to mandolin. You might even find yourself tuning the ukulele like a mandolin too after awhile.

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    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Try it! It's a fun and extremely addictive little instrument!

    However, remember that the Mandolin is a fretted fiddle, not a tiny guitar.

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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    I find mandolin playing helps my guitar playing, and vice-versa. I hold my pick the same way on both, and I prefer a thin pick (0.75-0.80) on both. If you read music, that is the same. But I find the mandolin is more fun than the guitar, even though I have been playing guitar longer. Also, if you go to a jam, many people are there with guitars, very few are thee with mandolins (just sayin').

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    It’s a new instrument for you, it will be DIFFERENT not, harder just new. I started out with fretted instruments playing old timey style banjo (and I’m not ashamed to say it) but, the mandolin “asked me” to learn. I was seduced by it and I’ve not looked back with any disdain for knowing a little bit of banjo, a little guitar, a touch of bass, but, the lure of the mandolin is genteel, explosive, sultry, driving...ad infinitum.
    It may not make your socks go up and down but, then again...

    Back when I started I liked it because you could play it in the front passenger seat of a VW Beetle and not irritate the driver!
    I let my girlfriends drive...
    That’s a different story!
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    Registered User Dave Fultz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    I played guitar for decades (almost 5). Ukulele for a decade, the mandolin since last July.
    i treated it as learning new chords and built upon that. It came easier than that. I was surprised. I’ve a long way to go but am having a ball with it.

    I play with some jam groups, and while there’s always several guitars, sometimes a few ukes, I’m usually the only guy on a mandolin. You will be heard distinctly above the others. That can be good or bad. Hopefully good.

    Theres one jam group I play with that has a couple other mandolin players that are basically upside down guitar players. They play a nice little lead now and then and that’s it. I’ve always been a rhythm player, so while they sit and wait for a chance to play a lick, I’m chopping along on the back beat or lightly strumming a tinkling little sound.

    Mandolin is like a uke in the fact that while it has a primary function in a couple types of music, you can indeed play anything on it.

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    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Nah..beware of the mandolin.

    It is a willful wench that will never leave you alone once you've tasted the nectar.

    The guitar is your best friend. The Uke is a cozy, cute puppy.

    The mandolin will be your master, never leaving you alone, always demanding more and more.

    More mandolins, more picks, more strings, more studies, more tunes, more and more...and....more...

    Beware...

    There's no coming back.
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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Hi Aoqi. IMHO you play a guitar or a uke. The mandolin on the other hand you finesse, and have to work a little harder to get a clean perfect sound. And there's few if any plucked instruments that have the octave range and the endless styles of music that can be played on the mandolin. So you should get one.

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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    I think the main difference you will experience is tactile. Mandolin has dual courses of high-tension strings that will laugh at your guitar calluses as they shred them off like a melodic cheese grater. Once your fingertips adjust you'll be fine. Like 'uke there are lots of easy two-finger chords on mandolin.

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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    Yes, you can! But approach it as it’s own instrument, not an “upside down guitar.”
    Your right hand will be at home. Your left hand may be lost for a while.
    Last edited by Elliot Luber; Feb-10-2019 at 10:34am. Reason: typo
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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Proper mandolin hand position is different from proper guitar position, it has metal, not nylon strings like a uke. and i believe the strings are under more pressure. they are different instruments. But if you already play guitar and uke, you have a mental advantage over people who don't play -- you know about how long it takes to master an instrument, you understand how necessary it is to build on the basics and get the basics right the first time, you should/may have better patience than someone who expects to pick up a new instrument and be perfect on it in a couple of hours. if you have the time and will to learn the mandolin, have at. and yes, you can play any type of music on it you want if you're drawn to a specific genre. plus you meet cool people who also play mandolin!
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    Mandolin has dual courses of high-tension strings that will laugh at your guitar calluses as they shred them off like a melodic cheese grater.
    My next band name: Melodic Cheese Grater.
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    I know from experience that it’s just as easy to suck at two instruments as it is to suck at one. I assume the same can be said about three vs two instruments. So I say go for it.

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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    I've discovered that as I improve on the mandolin, it helps my guitar playing.

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    Mandol'Aisne Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Aoqi View Post
    I play guitar and uke and don't know if playing mandolin is like playing a ukulele, just with more strings or if it is a totally new instrument. I've been thinking of starting to learn mandolin and was wondering if my guitar and uke skills would make learning mandolin easier. I also like to play songs from Bowie, Queen etc so can you play those on mandolin too?
    Nope. Sorry. We're full up!

    Seriously... Of course you can. And yes your other skills will help make the learning curve a little less steep. But do pick up a bit of elementary music theory, if you don't already know it. Theory will help you understand the similarities and differences in the tunings, ranges, and scales on each instrument. That will make it easier to play something on the mandolin that you already know on guitar.

    Playing techniques differ a little. So do look into that.

    Daniel

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    Default Re: Can I switch to mandolin

    Coming from guitar to mandolin:
    Chords might sound ‘off’ initially. It took my ear time to adjust
    Left hand angles some so fingers are more ‘down’ the fretboard than straight across frets like guitar.
    Starting with 2 and 3 finger chord shapes works fine for most genres.
    The best and most found mandolin instruction on the web for getting started is ‘fiddle tune’ based. Use it to learn basics even if you never plan to play fiddle tunes.

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