Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: I'm finally "getting it"!

  1. #1

    Default I'm finally "getting it"!

    I've been playing mandolin on and off for 10+ years. I'm mostly a guitar player, who's played all kinds of guitars, in nearly all music genres for the past 35 years. I was a classical guitar performance major in college in the '80s, and have played 1,000-2,000 paid gigs in country/rock/metal bands, done my own solo nuevo flamenco material, smooth jazz covers, etc, etc.

    I "GET" guitar and have for many years. But as much as I've loved the mandolin and learned the notes (I used to learn Bach violin partitas from sheet music, learned new grass by ear, etc), and as much as I loved the instruments (I've had 5 or 6 mandolins) I never really GOT mandolin. I was trying to relate to the instrument through my lifelong guitar-centric nature.

    But after a couple of year absence from mandolin, I got back into it last month... and bought an Eastman MD515 mando, and then an MDO305 octave a few days later, and then an MDA mandola a week after that. And this time... I've let go of trying to relate to the instrument(s) as a guitar player, and am just laying-back and trying to accept it as its own thing. And it's working! I'm now feeling less "stiff" in my playing, and I'm fighting things less. I feel as though I've made a real breakthrough here and am on my way to actually feeling like a mandolinist... instead of a guitar player who fiddles around on mandolin and knows some tunes. Don't get me wrong... my journey has only begun and I wouldn't dare hold myself up as being any kind of an expert. But at least I'm not feeling frustrated. Part of what I had working against me is that I've always been a bit of a perfectionist. The guy who inspired me to even pick the instrument up is Chris Thile. Since my guitar history was so long and varied, and my abilities developed over three and a half decades... it's hard for me not to feel frustrated about falling so utterly short as an instrumentalist. It felt like completely starting-over. But that's only half-true. I'm a musician, with knowledge about music in general. But the tuning and the mindset is completely different. That mindset really is key... because once I fully accepted that difference and embraced it (rather than seeking to be a guitar player with a mandolin sound), it was then that I finally felt like I had begun the journey to becoming a mandolinist.

    P.S. I love the mando, octave, and mandola equally... and switch back and forth between them a lot. But I'm finding the mandola to be the perfect compromise for me. Octave scale is a stretch for my small hands, but mandolin seems to be pretty cramped. The mandola loses some of those sweet highs of a mando, but adds some of those sweet mids of an octave. And fits my left hand just right. But I love all three and intend to keep playing all of them.

  2. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to Red_Label For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    KC MO
    Posts
    300

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Very good!

    When I bought my first mando about nine years ago, the symmetry of the mando fretboard was such a joy for me, whether playing chords or double stops or single-note lines. And after hauling acoustic guitar cases around for decades, I now smile every time I put the small mandolin case in the car!
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD505, MD315
    Martin HD-28, D-18GE
    CA Guitars "Bluegrass Performer" (carbon fiber)

  4. #3

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    That's cool They are different instruments.

    IME, there is that moment when you finally feel that you are in control of, have power over, and making the instrument sing. It's quite exhilarating, and empowering; the sudden realization that you can make the instrument sound "like it's supposed to," like a natural act.

    I recently experienced this as well (different instrument) and several times in my life. It's quite a moment - when you attain that level of proficiency or mastery of a tool and its applications, and suddenly realize it.

  5. #4

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Quote Originally Posted by flatpicknut View Post
    Very good!

    When I bought my first mando about nine years ago, the symmetry of the mando fretboard was such a joy for me, whether playing chords or double stops or single-note lines. And after hauling acoustic guitar cases around for decades, I now smile every time I put the small mandolin case in the car!
    I hear ya there! I'm so tired of lugging guitar and PA stuff around. Hell... I put six acoustic guitars up for sale yesterday because I'm tired of taking care of TWENTY acoustic instruments alone (not to mention electric guitars). It just gets to be a drag, that distracts me from actually PLAYING them. I see that you have a CA guitar. I just sold a CA Cargo a few hours ago. Great little guitar! I used to have two of them. But alas, I prefer the tone of wood. The CA guitars sounded great, but were missing the woodiness that all of my other guitars have. They were great for not having to humidify or worry about temp changes though!

  6. #5

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    That's cool They are different instruments.

    IME, there is that moment when you finally feel that you are in control of, have power over, and making the instrument sing. It's quite exhilarating, and empowering; the sudden realization that you can make the instrument sound "like it's supposed to."

    Agreed! Before, I was going through the motions, playing the notes. But they felt sterile and soulless. I'm finally starting to make the instrument sound cheery, but at the same time giving it real punch and volume. Sort of like swinging a golf club. If you try to kill the ball, it's not going to have the power you're going for. If you relax and just SWING... you can really hit it.


    It is worthy of note that even though those crossing over from other fretted instruments may feel like they've got a leg-up on those who pick mando as their first stringed instrument... it can really be a hole to dig yourself out of. Again... I know music theory and practical application of music, and my finger tips are calloused and I know how to use a pick. But in some ways, I was starting with more baggage to shed than a total newbie to playing would be. They get to start out with a clean slate. If in the future I am asked by fellow guitarists about how to make the transition... I'll probably say "just FUG-GED-ABOUT-IT!!!" (literally!)
    Last edited by Red_Label; Jun-07-2019 at 3:48pm.

  7. The following members say thank you to Red_Label for this post:


  8. #6
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    KC MO
    Posts
    300

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Quote Originally Posted by Red_Label View Post
    I hear ya there! I'm so tired of lugging guitar and PA stuff around. Hell... I put six acoustic guitars up for sale yesterday because I'm tired of taking care of TWENTY acoustic instruments alone (not to mention electric guitars). It just gets to be a drag, that distracts me from actually PLAYING them. I see that you have a CA guitar. I just sold a CA Cargo a few hours ago. Great little guitar! I used to have two of them. But alas, I prefer the tone of wood. The CA guitars sounded great, but were missing the woodiness that all of my other guitars have. They were great for not having to humidify or worry about temp changes though!
    I have the CA Bluegrass Performer and it seems to have a more traditional sound than many of the other carbon fiber guitars (but then that was the goal of the engineer behind CA Guitars, Ellis Seal). I had played different Rainsong guitars, and though they had a pretty sound, they sounded less woodlike than the CA.

    Back when I bought mine, Tim McGraw's guitarist Bob Miner was playing one and I've seen pics of him on stage with it. In an interview, he said that he would dare other musicians to turn their back and then try to pick out which was the CA vs another good wooden guitar.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD505, MD315
    Martin HD-28, D-18GE
    CA Guitars "Bluegrass Performer" (carbon fiber)

  9. #7

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Well, it's relative. For me (having the same background - classical, flamenco, and all kinds gtr), I found it smooth. But I was also accustomed to skinny necked banjos and fiddles, which possibility facilitated.

    The Lindley axiom - all just "one" guitar - speaks to the ease of transposition among them; if a person has a feeling for the technique, idiom, etc...

    *and, like you, I really liked mandola for several years - especially for jazz..

  10. #8

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Congrats, mando has slowly been becoming my "main" over the years, not sure why exactly except perhaps because I have stuck with it and am getting good enough to enjoy playing it.. Similar to you, I have a mandola on order, If I could handle the transposition I could see it becoming a goto also. It's a long-scale 18" E-mandola to be restrung as an OM as the next experiment.
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  11. #9
    R-5, MT & A1 ('12. '13) lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,595
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    I have played guitar for 56 years and consider it a part of me. The mandolin has been in my life going on six years and I find myself drawn to it. I have had to schedule my guitar practice alternating days just so I don't neglect it! Thanks for your post and I'm happy for you!

  12. #10
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,755

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Accepting an instrument for what it really is is essential. It opens up all the options.
    The same applies for accepting one's own personality, which is an interesting connection because the ideal instrument is an extension of one's personality.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  13. #11
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,872

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Welcome to mandolin world...a as a guitar player too, I appreciate all your comments.

    It's all about the tuning and scale length! and picks...but you get picks.

    Well, I wish the differences in guitar and mandolin were so simple as my last sentence. But in a way they are similar in that they are fretted instruments that share a G, D A, and E string. Oh, and the size!

    But it's the tuning pattern that is the issue. Unless you are a "crafty guitar" using New Standard tuning, instruments tuned in 5ths are not what a guitar player or bass player is used to.

    I assume that the gigs you played gave you experience with a pick that was not part of classical guitar training.

    And as you'll find, the octave mandolin and such have similar scale lengths to guitar, and the fingerings will feel more like home, as mandolin is like playing a good way up the guitar neck in terms of fret spacing and possible fingerings.

  14. #12

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Bottle that and I'll buy some!

  15. The following members say thank you to Charlie Bernstein for this post:


  16. #13

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Amen to all that's been posted thus far. After about 50 years of playing guitar I picked up mandolin about 4 years ago and am loving it. Once I got over the dreaded 'death grip' on the neck that too many of us guitar players bring to mando, it's become a joy. I'm finally considering myself a mandolin player, rather than someone who can play mandolin. I own all of the acoustic guitars I have ever wanted so now it's time to start on MAS!

  17. #14

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Quote Originally Posted by Leester View Post
    Amen to all that's been posted thus far. After about 50 years of playing guitar I picked up mandolin about 4 years ago and am loving it. Once I got over the dreaded 'death grip' on the neck that too many of us guitar players bring to mando, it's become a joy. I'm finally considering myself a mandolin player, rather than someone who can play mandolin. I own all of the acoustic guitars I have ever wanted so now it's time to start on MAS!
    After fifty years, I haven't graduated - still just a guy who plays guitar - and, now, mando.

    I spent an hour or two yesterday ferreting some new-to-me mando blues patterns, and the thing really does open up some stuff that isn't right there on guitar.

    And I realized: one big difference between guitar and mando is that guitar improvising requires a few difficult, irregular patterns, while mando improvising requires a lot of easy, regular patterns.

    (That is, requires. You can heap a whole lot of extra stuff on both!)

    On we go!

  18. #15

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard a bass guitar played by a guitar player. Many don't have a clue what a bass is supposed to do in a band. When I started to play bass, I listened a lot to the Carol Kays of the world and their knack for what I call inventive simplicity. Even early Paul McCartney covering Chuck Berry songs always threw in some few simple unique passing notes. This is hard to do.

    So you have to aproach any instrument with a mindset of what it does in context. That is really half the battle.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  19. The following members say thank you to Br1ck for this post:


  20. #16

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard a bass guitar played by a guitar player. Many don't have a clue what a bass is supposed to do in a band. When I started to play bass, I listened a lot to the Carol Kays of the world and their knack for what I call inventive simplicity. Even early Paul McCartney covering Chuck Berry songs always threw in some few simple unique passing notes. This is hard to do.

    So you have to aproach any instrument with a mindset of what it does in context. That is really half the battle.
    Guilty. I play bass as well as mando, but also describe myself as someone who can play bass....not yet a bass player!

  21. #17

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    A friend played in a band with Daryl Jones , of Sting and Rolling Stones fame, in his high school days. I asked what made him so good. He could play like Jaco Pastorius or never venture beyond root five if that was what was needed. Never played a wrong or extra note.

    It takes a certain personality to do that, but it makes or breaks a band.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  22. #18

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    I have mad respect for the players who ONLY play the perfect notes (or the perfect space)... who are capable, virtuoso shredders, but have the restraint and vision to play exactly what's right, and never a note more. Basically, the players who don't fall prey to ego. I'm still working on that.

  23. #19

    Default Re: I'm finally "getting it"!

    The top studio guys can play anything. I saw Chet Atkins do a show with Larry Carlton. Larry Carlton used Chet's band, studio vets all. They were sight reading Carlton's charts, right there in concert. Including the drummer.

    These guys were in their mid sixties and you just got the feeling they could do Van Halen, do Frank Zappa, or Carlos Jobim, or anything else.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •