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Thread: Left hand

  1. #1

    Default Left hand

    I went to a concert last night in an intimate setting to see a very gifted mandolinist (a very gifted trio, really). I have never seen anyone play the mandolin with such skill in person. I took note of how she holds the mandolin.



    I've been playing mandolin for 10+ years and I'm doing it all wrong!

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  3. #2
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left hand

    My guess is she probably played classical guitar before mandolin as that left hand technique looks like that. One way to do it, neither wrong or right.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Left hand

    I think she said she came from violin and cello but also did mandolin pretty early on and likes it best, feels most at home there. That was pretty obvious while watching her play the fiddle. She's very skilled at the fiddle but the mandolin seemed to put a light in her eyes.

    I think her left hand position is likely superior because I doubt she has any injuries or pains playing that way and obviously, it allows for a lot of freedom of movement. I put my hand up against hers and my hand is small and hers is the same size as mine but the way she holds it makes her fingers look longer than the way I hold my mandolin. I am going to try to learn from watching her, if I can.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Left hand

    I played violin as a child and cello as an adult.
    That's how I play mandolin, it just feels right to me.
    I still play poorly anyway and I have no idea what is correct.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Left hand

    Notice how well anchored her instrument is on her legs.


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  8. #6

    Default Re: Left hand

    I watched both and her thumb is always on the side of the neck, not behind it so it is not pure classical technique which positions the thumb behind the neck most of the time.

    Moving from guitar and playing mandolin for the first time starting a few weeks ago I had a breakthrough yesterday when I stopped using the thumb at all which worked much better than what I had been doing, nailed the G chop chord cleanly for the first time. Playing around watching her I can see that using the pad at the base of my thumb to swivel behind the neck also seems promising. No thumb may work for me because I have large hands. whether it is what she is doing or not, I'm going play with swiveling on the thumb base pad behind the neck while using the thumb for steadiness rather than strength.

  9. #7
    Registered User Carl23's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left hand

    Looks similar to where I'm ending up.
    the first knuckle on my thumb is on the point of the "v" on the back of the neck.
    would be interesting to see if she is doing the same (hard to tell in the video)

    the tip of her thumb ends up being above the neck, but I can't see the "contact point".

    I tend to play with my thumb more underneath my hand. I am slowly moving it up as I play more. I suppose I will likely end up something like her's as I work through the ergonomics of it.

    Generally I am finding this position way more relaxed than the thumb on top grip. As others have said, hand size and shape probably have a lot to do with it.

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Left hand

    In her bio it states that she is a classically trained violinist.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Left hand

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg P. Stone View Post
    In her bio it states that she is a classically trained violinist.
    She certainly doesn’t hold her mandolin in an analogous manner.
    Play it like you mean it.

  12. #10
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left hand

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    She certainly doesn’t hold her mandolin in an analogous manner.
    Judging from the videos, I am going to have to disagree. You can see Ashley Broder's thumb peaking up from the neck, meaning it is constantly above the center of the neck. And her fingers are coming at the fingerboard from an angle, not parallel to the frets. It is more "violinistic" than not.

    I see her thumb is bent backwards, which is kind of different.
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  13. #11

    Default Re: Left hand

    Yeah, I was thinking the neck was a little deeper into the hand. Looked at a Yehudi Menuhin Youtube to clearly see I had it wrong after your comment.

    Now I need to rethink my left hand, again
    Play it like you mean it.

  14. #12
    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left hand

    I'm obviously not getting it. What's unusual about how she holds the mandolin?

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  16. #13
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Left hand

    That looks like a really efficient technique, no excess movement and relaxed, nice piece of music. Thanks for posting this.
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  17. #14

    Default Re: Left hand

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    Notice how well anchored her instrument is on her legs.
    At the house concert where I saw her she mostly played standing up. Either way she doesn't do what I do with the left hand which is brace my hand against the neck at the base of the right index finger, something I also do when I play the violin. Over time this is causing me problems.

  18. #15
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    Default Re: Left hand

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg P. Stone View Post
    I watched both and her thumb is always on the side of the neck, not behind it so it is not pure classical technique which positions the thumb behind the neck most of the time.
    it does?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgQaHtuSBCg

  19. #16
    Registered User Carl23's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left hand

    One thing I've noticed is that I do not anchor on the pad of my thumb, but on the first knuckle.

    If you have a long thumb (long pad) it could extend beond the side of the neck this way, making it ambiguous as to whether it is on the side or back.

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