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Thread: Jamming-What to do?

  1. #1
    Registered User Mike Scott's Avatar
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    Default Jamming-What to do?

    I searched on this and came up empty. Iíve generally played (badly) dobro for my main jamming instrument, but can no longer play it for some stupid physical issues. I have on occasion played mandolin at some jams. Since I sold off my dobros I thought I may learn to flat pick guitar and make it my main jamming instrument. My thought process is that I am kind of shy, rarely lead a song and rarely take a break. Thereís usually a 2x guitar to mandolin ratio, so easy to just blend in. As a mainly finger picker (20 years +) on guitar Iíve been working on flat pick accompaniment and some simple melodies for a couple of weeks and all is going well. I now need to decide guitar or mandolin to take to be my main jammer. I know itís my choice. I know some will say take both (not happening-hauling a dreadnought, mandolin, chair, etc is just ridiculous).

    So, to get to the point. For those whoíve faced this how did you pick (no pun intended)? What was your thought process? Just curious.......
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  3. #2
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    Listen to the others carefully?

    Bend may have some high powered players ...

    happy to drop any one not fast enough ( bicycle group ride analogy)
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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    I was in almost exactly your position 10 years or so ago.

    I also am primarily a finger picker on guitar. Capable enough to play basic breaks on melody while I keep the song going. But despite being able to flatpick pretty good rhythm guitar with standard bass runs and some fills, I absolutely can’t get my head around single note leads.

    Given the high guitar to everything else ratio at jams I also took up mandolin. Epic fail. Now I can play rhythm and basic fills on mandolin too. Still can’t play a lead on either instrument without trying to fill in the rest of the chord at the same time.

    So – my recommendation: Ask yourself (and test it) whether you can get past your fingerpicking background and mindset to actually play single note (I include double stops etc) leads. If you can, concentrate on the mandolin. The guitars overload at jams issue won’t go away.

    If you can’t, stick with guitar and see if you can take some breaks using finger/thumbpicks with patterns you already have ingrained.
    ssjk

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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    What if you lay off the guitar completely for two months at least? Practice really simple tunes at very slow speed. Think about the title, what does the tune mean to you. Concentrate on your expression, tone volume changes, and if your rhythm is good, do rhythm and timing changes and major/ relative minor swap ARPEGGIOS based around the chord changes in the tunes. Then find musicians who have good timing and who will slow down and listen to you play.
    Then break out!
    A lot will be understanding that you have a place just because you are there.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Jun-29-2019 at 10:32am.

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  9. #5
    Registered User Mike Scott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    I can play melody Ok on mandolin. Not to be obtuse or argumentative, my question is NOT which to play, how to get there, etc. I just want to blend in. I can take breaks, have taken breaks, but prefer not often do so. I’m interested in the thought process used to decide which instrument one has decided on and how they got there

    Thanks for the replies so far!
    Last edited by Mike Scott; Jun-29-2019 at 10:20am. Reason: Spell check-ack!
    Thanks

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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    It was easier to learn chords on Mando, especially as I expanded to different musical styles with more complex chords.
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

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  12. #7
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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Scott View Post
    I can play melody Ok on mandolin. Not to be obtuse or argumentative, my question is NOT which to play, how to get there, etc. I just want to blend in. I can take breaks, have taken breaks, but prefer not often do so. Iím interested in the thought process used to decide which instrument one has decided on and how they got there

    Thanks for the replies so far!
    Got it. I take the guitar. I never take a lead or a break. Easy to blend in. Easy to add a different voice by capo and play up the neck. Easy to add interesting backfill and keep myself interested by using fingerpicks to be heard without amplifying.

    Not particularly interesting for me to chop along on mandolin, although I can. Guitar a bit better for non-BG/tradtitional material as well.
    ssjk

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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    If -- as you say -- you "just want to blend in" and avoid all lead breaks (and not sing or otherwise engage), then to flatpick, you'll either be playing backup as (1) a bass/chordal accompaniment on the guitar (boom-chuck, boom-chuck on most tunes, and boom-chuck-chuck on waltzes), OR (2) chop chords on the mandolin, hitting the offbeats (chuck). The guitar offers a bit more here, IMO, in a bluegrass or oldtime setting.

    So, I would opt for playing guitar under such circumstances. As for "guitar overload," this actually might work to your advantage if you're seeking to keep a low profile.

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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    One reason I decided to learn mandolin is that in the jam sessions I attended with guitar, which seldom had more than a single mandolin, I found myself playing mandolin style rhythms because that felt like what was needed. I've found many other reasons to play mandolin since I got one four months ago, but that was my original thought process.
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    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    I play guitar and mandolin. Guitar was first but mandolin is my primary instrument. I play guitar to accompany my solo performing but in a jam I like to play mandolin. Lots and lots of better guitar players usually at jams but mandos are much rarer. Even if I don’t take a break I’m still adding more than I would if I brought my guitar. I’m just getting to the point where I could take a simple break but if I didn’t want to, I could lay back and play rhythm or in a loud jam I can unobtrusively practice a bit of melody w/o any pressure. Also, mando is nice and portable. I also love the logical tuning for playing chord melody in any key...

    But this is just me. Play what YOU are drawn to.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    I know the OP said he wasn't looking for advice on which instrument to pick between guitar and mandolin, but I'll toss in an idea anyway. Why not try an octave mandolin?

    OMs are guaranteed to blend in well with guitars. Maybe a little too well, due to the darker timbre. You can play partial chords that complement what the Guitar Player Army is doing, and capo into different keys if you need to. Players like Tim O'Brien, Sierra Hull, and Sarah Jarosz have made the OM a more visible instrument in Bluegrass and Country, so it shouldn't be anything that isn't acceptable at a local jam.

    I have an OM but I don't bring it to jams (Irish/Scottish sessions in my case), because it does blend in and get buried too easily by the inevitable guitar player at a session. For a unison melody format like that, I prefer the mandolin, with a brighter sound that has half a chance of being heard among all the fiddles.

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    Don’t over think “what should I play” if you’ve never been, you have no basis for knowing what might fit you better. I think, take which ever you’re most comfortable with the first time, get a little comfortable with the people. It’s supposed to be a fun learning arena, let the jam tell you what to do. It might take a few visits. You can’t go into any jam that you have not instigated and not feel a little intimidation, that’s part of the fun. The guitar player in my band used to host a jam at the “garage Mahal” weekly, several members of the cafe have been to those. I know that there is always a little trepidation when I go to play with a bunch of folks I don’t know more than passingly.
    You should go and your feet a little wet, get a feel for it that will allow you to get to know some folks and then you can get more comfortable when you decide to add in the second instrument. People will be much more supportive when they get to know you a little.
    Well, that’s the way I view jams.
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    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    When I started attending a local jam, I took both guitar and mandolin at first, but now I just take the mando. It is not only easier to take just one (particularly the smaller one), but I want to get better at mandolin (I am a lifelong guitar player), so I decided the best way to do that was to commit to just taking the mando to the jams. I am getting better at the mando fairly quickly as a result.
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    Hmmmm sorry to hear about your loss of ability to play your slide resophonic music… forty years ago I took up with mandolin because there were just too many guitars at any jam I went to. I took up with a fiddle seventeen years ago because my ex gave me one a decade and a half before and it just called to me. Not nicely for a long time but I persisted. Banjo and slide guitar never quite caught on in my house... no real reason I enjoy hearing either played well. Go figure. Anyway I told you that to tell you this. I carry three instruments to any jam I go to. Two are in a backpack case and the chair I keep in the truck has a handle and a pad on it. There is also a small bag attached to the double case that will hold a bottle of water , carafe of coffee or half pint … depending. I rarely go to a jam where there are no guitar players , but it has happened. Occasionally I just feel like playing a guitar … so I do. Often these days there are multiple mandolins at a jam so I just hang with my fiddle or my mandolin if the mood strikes. Mostly I just try to fit in with the music. Whatever is lacking I try to supply. So go hang out and play as and what you will ….. Lastly with a slide ear you might want to take up with a fiddle. But do buy a mute when you do. Your house mates and ears will thank you. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Jamming-What to do?

    Do you like old-time music? No breaks, so it's much easier to blend into the background, unless you are THE rhythm guitarist, in which case, your playing will make or break the jam. Mandolin players in old-time jams mostly stick to the melody, along with the fiddlers, although I have been around some mandolinists who play amazing old-time rhythm backup, which does not usually involve chops.
    Last edited by wormpicker; Jun-30-2019 at 2:44pm. Reason: typo

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