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Thread: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

  1. #26
    Registered User f5joe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    Never loan your mandolin to a "pro" who forgot his mandolin.
    Amen! Lesson learned many years ago. Although Doyle Lawson can borrow anything I have.
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  3. #27

    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    Doyle could do some damage with all those rhinestones/sequins on his jackets.
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    It’s interesting, if I had a really expensive instrument and I knew that at some stage I would sell it on, then each scratch is money or work lost, so my attitude would definitely be different. Now imagine I’d lent my mando to Bill Monroe and he had left a deep scratch in it during his last concert. Then in order to prevent the scratch from being covered up by lesser scratches, from Thile or others, then I’d probably keep it in a case on the wall.

    And again what if, years ago, my clumsy (but pretty) girlfriend had bashed up my mando and yet in time I mellowed and ended up marrying her? Hmmm. And, smiling with nostalgia, I’d say to her, ‘remember, Honey, when we were courting and you bashed up my mando?’

    Well that probably wouldn’t happen, but love can be strange.

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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    Most of that is in the hands of the player however imho.
    This is my problem with listening to someone else play any mando - I feel that what I hear is the player much more than the instrument. I'm also not one who asks to play someone else's instrument, because it typically feels strange to play an instrument that I haven't spent any time with. But then I tend to be an instrumental monogamist - I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the best tone out of the one I have.
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  7. #30

    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    I went to a Bluegrass Jam in January. There was a couple of gentlemen there with guitars. One was an older Ovation and the other was one he had built himself.

    I offered both of them an opportunity to play my Takamine 12 string. They returned the favor by allowing me to play their guitars.

    If someone ask straight out if they can play my instrument I will more than likely decline. But if they offer up the opportunity to play theirs, I will offer in kind.
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  8. #31
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by rstaight View Post
    I went to a Bluegrass Jam in January. There was a couple of gentlemen there with guitars. One was an older Ovation and the other was one he had built himself.

    I offered both of them an opportunity to play my Takamine 12 string. They returned the favor by allowing me to play their guitars.

    If someone ask straight out if they can play my instrument I will more than likely decline. But if they offer up the opportunity to play theirs, I will offer in kind.

    I think you may be onto something. I suspect that another player is more likely to trade mandolins with you in a jam, at least for a tune or two, than he or she is to loan you their mandolin for while just to check it out. That's basic psychology. An exchange of hostages, so to speak...

  9. #32
    Registered User Steve-o's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    I think you may be onto something. I suspect that another player is more likely to trade mandolins with you in a jam, at least for a tune or two, than he or she is to loan you their mandolin for while just to check it out. That's basic psychology. An exchange of hostages, so to speak...
    A problem arises, however, if the hostages are not treated with equal care.

  10. #33
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    I once asked a famous musician if I could look at his mandola. He said “No” - I wasn’t a member of the audience, I was running the sound desk for his band. (He was a bit of a pratt - when he arrived at an after-show party, people were watching a video of the band. He was so upset - because he was wearing the same shirt!)

    At another show, the first act’s banjo player’s bridge collapsed in the dressing room just before he was due to go on stage. Here, use this one, said the late Tommy Makem; as he handed him his gold plated Gibson Mastertone.

    Just be careful who you ask and how.

  11. #34
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve-o View Post
    A problem arises, however, if the hostages are not treated with equal care.
    Yeah, that's the problem with that idea, right? In the story I posted above, if that guy had a guitar I was interested in and we traded guitars, I'd still have this big 'ol scratch in my Santa Cruz. You just don't know with an absolute stranger.

  12. #35
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    These threads drive me a little crazy. I have expensive instruments that I treat with respect but play the hell out of. They have play wear and some dents, dings, and scratches because....they get used for their intended purpose! If you see me out and about you’re welcome to play whatever I have with me as long as you haven’t had more to drink than I have!

  13. #36
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    I have cheap (ish) instruments - Epiphones, Washburn, and a Gretsch, and a JBovier solidbody. I've had a player who told me he'd had his mandolin custom made in Nashville comment on my tone - and asked what did I have? I told him, and offered him a go. He declined, but he was clearly impressed with the tone. (THat's a mando too which is very sensitive to strings - bronze, not nickel or monel, or coated). Usually, I say yes, if they seem careful and ask politely.

    I'v always loved the story of Bill Monroe walking into his dressing room, and someone is playing THAT mando. Monroe says, 'here, let me show you something.' He's handed the mandolin. He puts it in the case and walks out.
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  14. #37
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    The other thing is that I get sick of people having a go, and playing metal, like 1) it's the most clever thing in the world, and 2) that somehow diminishes the mandolin.

    When they're done, I generally take it back and play some Sam Bush or Chris Thile licks. That shuts them up.
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  15. #38
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    Glad to give people I know a chance to try any of my instruments. And you can get to know someone pretty well, in a few days at a music camp or festival.

    Strangers, not so much. All my instruments are scuffed and worn, most bought used and used vigorously while I own them. I don't need to worry about the "first scratch;" that occurred in 1940 or thereabouts.

    Still, there are late-night inebriates whom I've refused access to. Case-by-case basis, IMHO.
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  16. #39
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    These threads drive me a little crazy. I have expensive instruments that I treat with respect but play the hell out of. They have play wear and some dents, dings, and scratches because....they get used for their intended purpose! If you see me out and about you’re welcome to play whatever I have with me as long as you haven’t had more to drink than I have!
    I have that same perspective on how I treat my own instruments. There are a few small dings on my mandolin, and more signs of wear on my acoustic guitar because I've had it longer. Instruments are meant to be played, not treated as precious objects. But there is a difference between scratches I've put on there, and scratches from a total stranger.

    I mentioned up-thread what happened to my Santa Cruz when I handed it to a stranger at a jam. Now every time I pick up that guitar -- 10 years after he did that -- I can't help but see that big 2" scratch on the soundboard. Right next to the G string where he dug in with the pick. It would be an honorable battle scar if I had done that, but it was a total stranger who abused the guitar. So my perspective is a little different. I will gladly trade instruments with someone I know, or have gotten to know well enough over a few days at a workshop or music camp. Not total strangers.

    Maybe you haven't had that particular experience yet. If you have, and you're still generous enough to hand your instrument to total strangers, then my hat is off to you. You're a better man than I am.

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  18. #40

    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    The other thing is that I get sick of people having a go, and playing metal, like 1) it's the most clever thing in the world, and 2) that somehow diminishes the mandolin.
    Made me think of my days working at a guitar shop. We got in a new at the time "reissue" of a 50's Gibson Moderne -- supposedly the futuristic shaped electric guitar that Gibson designed in the 50's, but never released, 2 humbuckers, the whole bit -- what did I play on it to my small audience of guitar shop gearheads?...............

    Wildwood Flower!

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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    It all depends on the person (you and them). If they offer, I'll give them a go. It's how I got hands on a Loar signed instrument once.

    I know how I treat things. The loaner won't. I won't know how the recipient will treat things. I just figure most people are decent and respectful. I make that evaluation on how our interaction goes prior to handing over. I see instruments as working pieces of art/craftsmanship. I love hearing my mandolin played by more talented players.

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  20. #42
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    While not extremely valuable, most of my main playing instruments are pretty rare, I care about their condition, I'm pretty OCD about keeping them clean, and I'm very particular about my setup, so I'll only let a few people play them depending on how crowded things are, and on how they exhibit their playing experience on their own instruments. Damaging a borrowed instrument is a bad experience for everyone, so I'm very selective about the person and the situation.

    My mandolins are sort of a special case, they both use a non-standard open tuning (GCEG), so when requested about trying them out, grinning, I usually tell interested parties they can't play them unless they play 5-string or plectrum banjo, or squareneck Dobro, and know their necks really well; that often gets them curious, and then I'll explain about the tuning. If an experienced player still really wants to try one of them just to hear how it sounds, if it's not too crowded, and if they commit to being respectful to it, I'll let them try it out for a short time.

    While mandolins are generally among the more fragile instruments, both of my mandolins have a ToneGard, armrest and pickguard, so unless someone is really a wild picker they won't damage them by playing. That said, I've been in a few situations where I didn't even want my instruments out of the case.

    I generally don't ask to play someone else's instruments. I like my own setup. If offered, I may try a few riffs, or even sit-in for a jam on someone else's double bass, but that's about it.
    Last edited by dhergert; May-03-2019 at 10:51am.
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  21. #43

    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    I typically don’t ask to try other mandos in jams, but occasionally I do get asked as folks are often unfamiliar with my Ratliff. During the day I often share, but not at night. I understand people drink sometimes and I don’t want my judgment to falter.

    But at workshops I may ask if the vibe is right.
    Play it like you mean it.

  22. #44
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    In the past, I asked several players, if I could check out their mandolin. I never failed to mention that "I won't scratch it". Among the players I remember well were Kevin Lynch, John Reischman, Butch Waller, Ron Thomason, Gary Burnette, David McLaughlin, Tom Rozum, Butch Baldassari, Ronnie Reno, Darryl Wolfe and Mike Marshall. All of them freely handed me their valuable F5 to pick some; really fine fellows.

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  24. #45
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    I can't count the number of times I've admired someone's $10,000+ mandolin and have them just hand it to me. Some have been professionals. Kind of freaks me out and I'm afraid to play much. I don't own anything in that rarefied strata but I have shared my Pava with enough people that I should be a commissioned salesperson. And I am a big fan of the "hostage method": sure, can I try yours too? Only time I ever had a problem was once I loaned my guitar to a guy who tuned it to some strange tuning I like to call BAGDAD and then handed it back just as I was supposed to go on.

    Real Mandolin people can always tell another mando nerd.

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  26. #46
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    I'd wait for informal jams and not ask during instructional time.

    Be prepared for your ask. Beyond all the excellent suggestions above, consider some other concerns.

    Did you just apply bug spray/sun screen/nasal material to your hands? Go wash them first. Wearing a belt and play righty? Let folks see that the buckle is a bit off-center left when you're playing. Had a couple drinks? Don't ask. Never heard of a maker or don't have a sense of the instrument's value or significance? Ask or better yet, do some homework first.
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  28. #47
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    Default Re: Mandolin Try-out Etiquette

    I've traded mandolins in jams more times than I can remember. In each case, mine came back to me in the same shape as when I handed it off. The irony is that I got a new guitar once and an old friend came over to see and play it. He was a lefty, but played like a righty. He also wore a watch on his right wrist that was the size of Vermont. In minutes he scratched a week old guitar. He was my friend, so I simply asked that he remove the watch. He said "huh, why?" and his wife explained it to him.

    The good news is I'll always be able to blame the first scratch on someone else.
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