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Thread: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

  1. #26
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by GDAE View Post
    Why are you taking mandolin lessons from a violinist who is not a mandolinist? Surely in Irving there are teachers who specialize in mandolin?
    Good question. My teacher taught my son violin from 2nd through 10th grade. Over that time she and I became really good friends, and when I mentioned I was considering learning to play mandolin 4 years ago, she said she could teach me. I have had lessons from a couple of area guys. My teacher's kind of a diva and wasn't thrilled, but understands mandolin teachers add a dimension she can't. Neither of those other guys really worked for me, though, so I haven't stuck with them. I haven't found anyone else in this area. I've taken lessons in Nacogdoches from Jon Hall and he's amazing. I hope to take more lessons from him.

    On a side note, I know it would help me greatly if I had others to play with. My teacher is encouraging me to join a local (Grapevine) community orchestra in the fall, which I'm considering.
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  3. #27

    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    There's not really a question, here, but I'll respond anyway. Yes, I believe my teacher may own only one violin. It's a very high dollar instrument, I'm sure. Among other professional undertakings, she plays in the Dallas Opera Orchestra.

    One reason (and maybe THE reason) my teacher suggests I own one mandolin is the fact I'm musically challenged. I started learning late in life (I won't say how late) and it doesn't come easily for me. Maybe changing between instruments she thinks would be just one more challenge to overcome. She definitely is encouraging me to upgrade, and when I suggested the other day that I didn't deserve it yet (after 4 years), she was not happy with me.
    Why do you think you donít deserve an upgrade after 4 years? Any mandolin will sound and feel better than your current one. You have a budget of up to $3k, Iím partial to them but the Northfield F5S is a great value mando and thereís one in the classifieds right now for $2,500...NFI.

    Heck, upgrade to an Eastman or Kentucky for less than $1,000 at the very least. A better instrument will feel and sound better and will make you happy. TEHO but I donít see why you would limit yourself to a low level mandolin for 4 years.

    Also, there are plenty of teachers who Skype mando lessons, Matt Flinner has online courses that begin every few months. Take mandolin lessons from a mandolin player...your teacher should understand.
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  4. #28

    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Go for it Sherry, one excellent one and a spare for camping.
    And be thankful your teacher doesnít have MAS, otherwise it may reflect in the lesson fees.

  5. #29
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I'm in the same camp as your teacher - switching between instruments doesn't really work for me. I feel like I put a lot of effort into learning how to get the tone I want from my particular instrument, and switching back and forth throws me off my game somewhat. I got my Bryce A brand new back in December, and I decided that I would play it and only it for at least six months, just to be sure I gave myself an honest chance to bond with it. I just pulled the Northfield out of the case last week to give it a spin for the first time in months, and it really felt weird to me. It didn't feel like I expected or sound like I expected. It really drove home to me that i am an instrumental monogamist.
    Mitch Russell

  6. #30
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I'm curious as to why she feels this way. It would be interesting to poll the Mandolin Cafť membership and make a graph of years playing/number of instruments owned. I'm guessing it's a small minority that only has one by the time they are two or three years in.

    What is her position: that you should upgrade and then consign the Alvarez to the dustbin? That you can't have both an ff-hole and an oval-hole instrument? You can walk OK in different shoes, can't you? Same principal. The high heels that are great for weddings and funerals don't do it for volleyball. As far as learning to accommodate different neck shapes and fingerboard widths goes, this could be seen as a good thing, building flexibility.

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  8. #31
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I could never bring myself to trusting a classical violinist.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  9. #32

    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    The technique between violin and mandolin is quite different. With Skype and various other resources taking lessons from great teachers is wide open.

    As for buying additional instruments, if thatís what you feel you want, donít let anyone discourage you.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

  10. #33
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I love the sound most importantly, feel, vibe, neck shapes, inlays etc. On many different mandolins/guitars, so if you have the means get what you want. My wife is awesome, she has never gave me an issue on getting anything I want as she knows I buy or trade up for quality instruments! And also knows I can get my $ back in them or turn them into a healthy profit if we need the $! We have our bills paid and food and more toys for the kids than what I had for toys growing up! "I think that's the case with every parent nowadays to spoil their little ones, for sure if you yourself grew up poor and never had much" Life is short and full of hardships so I say get what you want and don't listen to anyone but yourself and what you want!

  11. #34
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Violins are different. You can 'adapt to' other violins but because they are smaller than mandolins, and that they don't have frets, the feel and your 'muscle memory' become quite important. Violin teachers (I live with one...), look at the long term goal of playing at a high level someday and at that level one really needs to 'bond' with the instrument and know it well. So your teacher is not 'wrong' in suggesting just one mandolin. It is just an effort to direct the student to better habits and higher skill levels.

    I play a number of violins as well as mandolins and a mandola and the practical answer is, yes, you do adapt. BUT you will play the better instruments more often. And the more you 'go back and forth' among instruments, the slower your progress towards a great 'feel' or relationship occurs. (We're talking decades, of time here...and so is the violin teacher). There is not right or wrong, just different perspectives.
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  13. #35
    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    Good question. My teacher taught my son violin from 2nd through 10th grade. Over that time she and I became really good friends, and when I mentioned I was considering learning to play mandolin 4 years ago, she said she could teach me. I have had lessons from a couple of area guys. My teacher's kind of a diva and wasn't thrilled, but understands mandolin teachers add a dimension she can't. Neither of those other guys really worked for me, though, so I haven't stuck with them. I haven't found anyone else in this area. I've taken lessons in Nacogdoches from Jon Hall and he's amazing. I hope to take more lessons from him.

    On a side note, I know it would help me greatly if I had others to play with. My teacher is encouraging me to join a local (Grapevine) community orchestra in the fall, which I'm considering.
    In my experience, teachers can be really good at spending their students' money. When I was studying saxophone in college, I was essentially forced to buy a professional instrument to remain in the program. In hindsight, I understand that my professor wanted to eliminate all chances of an equipment-based barrier to perfection.

    However, you also have to ask yourself what you want out of your lessons and your musical endeavors. Nearly a decade after graduating college, I have no need for a pro-quality saxophone. I barely play, and when I do, my equipment exceeds my current ability. I retain it as an asset, but the reality is that I should sell it now and eventually buy a used intermediate-quality horn.

    On the other hand, I've played an Eastman 515 in a successful regional band for 4 years. Nobody told me to upgrade from my '70s Pac-Rim beginner mandolin, and nobody is pressuring me to upgrade again. (I work a standard office job, by the way -- music is not my profession.)

    Hobby-based music should be about what you can afford and what you'll enjoy. Whether that's $500 off the shelf, or a $5,000 custom instrument, only you can decide. Those instruments can be made to feel the same, even if they don't sound the same.

    And, to the "main instrument" thing, I believe variety is the spice of life. I have 3 mandolins, a mandola, and several guitars of varying body size. None are worth very much money, but they all give me and my family joy.

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  15. #36
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    She Crazy.
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  16. #37
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    What is her position: that you should upgrade and then consign the Alvarez to the dustbin? That you can't have both an ff-hole and an oval-hole instrument? You can walk OK in different shoes, can't you? Same principal. The high heels that are great for weddings and funerals don't do it for volleyball. As far as learning to accommodate different neck shapes and fingerboard widths goes, this could be seen as a good thing, building flexibility.
    That's a good argument for anyone who has a selection of decent quality mandolins. In this case however, the OP is talking about replacing a cheaply made mandolin with a plywood top, currently selling for around $100 used, with a new mandolin in the $2,000 - $3,000 price range. The new one will, no doubt, have far better tone and playability than that cheap Alvarez, which could then be retired for use as a camping mandolin, boat mandolin, etc.

    There may be other considerations for the violin teacher, like a preference for "bonding" with one fine instrument. But in this case, the disparity in price and quality that is likely to be the case, makes it easy to understand the recommendation to stick to the better instrument.

    It would be different for someone buying a new mandolin in the $2-3k range and adding to a collection of other instruments of the same quality. That's not what's happening here.

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  18. #38
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    As a late comer to both mandolin and fiddle, I suspect that her advice is violin-centric. I've spent more time with my student fiddle than my "better" one and have learned how to draw better tone out of it. My upgrade would require significant dedication of time and effort to get out of it all that it is capable of. Mandolins don't seem to require the same level of acquaintance in order to produce pleasant tones. It's pretty easy and enjoyable to go from one to the other and I consider the exploration and appreciation of different instruments as part of the learning experience. I also enjoy them as works of craftsmanship. You've worked at your music and are dedicated enough to stick with a teacher. If you have the funds set aside, please don't feel that you have to wait five years before you deserve a better instrument.

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  20. #39

    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    For at least the hundredth time here, you don't need any amount of proficiency at all to buy a better mandolin. None. All you need is the desire and the money. There is no driver's test.

    There should be no other measure to ensure satisfaction other than progress, at whatever rate you are progressing. Young or old, beginner or veteran, progress should insure satisfaction. Trying to attain a certain level of ability should perhaps be a goal, but the focus on baby steps should in itself be your motivation.

    A friend is helping me with my playing, and to that end suggested some exercises, stating that he knew that slogging it out could be a chore. I thought to myself a moment, then told him I could not think of a time with an instrument in my hand that was anything but a joy, in and of itself a reason to play.

    Took up mandolin at age 65 on the instruction of my then three year old grandson. I average 2-3 hours a day.
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  22. #40

    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    One problem that can arise is from beginning students who have a reasonable, say 1200 dollar intermediate mandolin who feel that they are being held back by their instrument. It can be that the student is projecting their own inadequacies or blockages onto the instrument. They just need to be helped through it.

    Likewise I feel that many, many children are discouraged from continuing to play music because they have an instrument that any of us would find difficult to play or just doesn’t sound sweet.
    Actually I think I’m somehow against this idea of ‘children’s instrument’ -the instruments should all be good.

    Also, complimenting the instrument is often taken as a compliment of the player.

    Sorry, I don’t have any more arguments against MAS.

  23. #41
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Like someone mentioned earlier, I went for the identical mandolins in F and oval hole. I use them differently, and even like different picks on each one.

    The two mandos are 1 3/16th width at the nut, and I have a third mandolin of similar quality that has a 1 1/4 in fretboard at the nut. I really like the extra wide fretboard when my left hand gets a little tight, it helps me loosen up and keeps my left hand from cramping up. I have big hands and am a lefty playing right handed, so I am sensitive to what is going on with my left hand.

    I could see playing only one if you had a REALLY nice one, like a Nugget that was perfect, then I wouldnít want to play any others... just keep a different mando for the bar gigs.
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

  24. #42
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    BS ! Get what you want ( not need) if you can afford it ! Life is short ! I'm musically challenged also and didn't begin playing the mandolin until I was almost 64 ! So what ? 72 now and playing in a band ! Yes, the nursing home audience is forgiving however ! Own three and soon four top end mandolins and enjoy them all !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  25. #43
    Registered User jdchapman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    A better mandolin will make you want to play more. Variety makes you want to play more. You're a hobbyist, so enjoy the hobby for goodness' sake. Part of that enjoyment is exposing yourself to the broad palette of sounds mandolins produce.

    Almost every famous mandolinist I can think of plays multiple instruments, even the ones with house-priced Loars.

    On the Fretboard Journal podcast this week, the owner of Dream Guitars said steel string guitarists like mistresses (multiple guitars over time); classical guitarists like wives. Aside from the gendered phrasing, makes sense to me. Maybe the same with mandolinists/violinists.

  26. #44
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    I could never bring myself to trusting a classical violinist.
    But we classical violists are all right, aren't we?

    bratsche
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  28. #45

    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I think the idea of owning more than one instrument at a time or collecting is a relatively new concept. I say that having interviewed many older musicians and asking about what they played at such and such times in their careers. Almost all of them had one instrument until it was stolen or damaged (usually backed over by their own car after a gig by setting it down in front of the trunk and getting distracted -- happened to many musicians, believe it or not! Drinking may have been involved....) Also, some would tell me when they got a better instrument, they would trade in their old one toward the new instrument. Certainly money is an argument against MAS, but in the case of old musicians -- most felt one at a time was enough.

    The exception would be studio musicians who required difference sounds. The Beatles, for example, had a ton of instruments, but again, few musicians had that kind of success or funding available.

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  30. #46
    Registered User Al Trujillo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    She said I should not play more than one instrument, that they all have a different feel.
    Time to get a new teacher. TAS?

  31. #47
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by bratsche View Post
    But we classical violists are all right, aren't we?

    bratsche
    of course you are. What is more, violists are a permanently underestimated species, playing in the shadow of 1st and 2nd violins. In Concert footage, violists are what the cameras dwell on least. Tragic as this seems to be, it has saved them from the hybris of fame and spotlight attention. They have kept up their humanity.
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  33. #48
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    It’s better to focus on the music rather than the instrument. The, “Chase for sound” is endless! Yes! Get a top-tier mandolin. Get it setup. Then learn!

    My take? Bring it everywhere too! Then it’ll be there for the stories!

    I have a few. But I’d be fine with one!

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  35. #49

    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    While I have a lot of mandolins, I kinda agree with your teacher. I will favor one instrument at a time, and like to fully lock into it for the reasons she gave. I find that if they have similar setups and string spacing I can switch more easily. Switching is a skill of its own.

    Instruments can hold you back though, sticking with one like that would not be good.
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  36. #50
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    I used to worry about that a little bit, back when I was doing more gigs. The way I rationalized it, was that chances were pretty low that something would happen at the actual gig, so I wouldn't bother bringing a backup anyway (do many people here do that?).
    That depended on the gig - there were certain situations I wanted a spare mandolin in case of even a string breaking during a show.

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