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Thread: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    My teacher is a classical violinist, not a mandolinist. I mentioned to her I plan to buy a better mandolin ($2 - $3K) after playing 5 years, but will keep my current instrument (Alvarez 100) for playing outside (or whatever). She said I should not play more than one instrument, that they all have a different feel. I suspect there is a lot of disagreement with her advice among the Cafe folks. Does anyone AGREE with my teacher?
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Not me! It’s your money and you want to buy something, no one should get in your way!
    Yes, they all feel different but, we learn to adapt, it’s what we do!
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    Registered User Roger Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Your teacher is correct, they all have a different feel. That said, it does not mean one can't adjust and go from one to another.
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    The fact that they all have a different feel is a major reason to own more than one instrument, in my opinion. I've been in situations where a wide neck is great for some things and a narrow neck is better for others.
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Well …. I suspect at a certain level , higher than mine, moving from instrument to instrument would impact the touch and by that the tone , which with a different instrument would not be the same anyway, a player would get. Yes the response is always different from instrument to instrument even those "manufactured' and set up by the same person. All different all siblings or close cousins. BUT that is the very reason to own and play more than one … I favor my model 5 but it is in no way my A5L …. no comparison. Play On! R/
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I have C shaped necks, slight V shaped necks, flat fingerboards, raidused fingerboards, different width nuts, and enjoy them all. I can effortlessly move back and forth and enjoy each for what it is. I wouldn't get married to just one mandolin, think of the fun you could be missing by diversity.
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    For me is is perfectly natural for you to change or add to your mandolins, as your playing progresses. That does not necessarially mean that your mandolins have to get 'better' or more expensive - it is just that as you continue to learn and play, certain aspects of your playing are likely to change . . . perhaps you will start to play with a lighter or heavier touch; your idea of what constitutes 'good tone' will change, or perhaps the genre of music that you like to play will necessitate a change of instruments; (i.e.; a Gibson F-5 might be great for bluegrass, but perhaps not for Italian tarantellas). Any of these things could easily rank among very legitimate reasons why you would need/want a change of instruments, or least own a variety of them.

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    It’s not just the feel; it’s also the tone.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    The best argument I can think of for sticking to one mandolin, is if your available mandolins are in a "vertical" range of playability, build quality, and tone ranging from entry-level to much better instrument.

    If that's the case, I think there is a strong argument for sticking to your best mandolin so there is nothing holding you back. A better instrument will tell you more about your own limitations, and you'll have more room to grow into the potential it offers. It's always been my goal to play the very best instrument I could afford, so I can't blame anyone but myself for lack of progress. I'm guessing this might be your teacher's motivation in recommending you stick to the better instrument.

    On the other hand, if you have a collection of mandolins that are all of equal high quality, then it's more of a "horizontal" choice. You might want to swap between them for variety of tone, or different genres of music.

    Personally, I tend to gravitate more towards the first approach, with the goal of playing the best instrument I can afford, and not spreading out my limited funds into instruments of similar quality. I still play the first mandolin I ever bought almost 12 years ago, a nice Lebeda F5 with a redwood top. I spent something like $4,500 USD on it, because I knew from 30-odd years of guitars what handmade, small-shop instruments were like.

    It's still my only mandolin. I haven't succumbed to MAS because this Lebeda mandolin does everything I could ask for. Sure, I'ld like to own a Gilchrist or a Nugget, but after 12 years I don't think that would make me a better player. I'm still working on that part.

    That doesn't mean I don't enjoy "horizontal" tonal variety! I just prefer to take a wider step outside the tone of a mandolin. So I also play an octave mandolin, steel string guitar, nylon string guitar, and lately a bit of wooden Irish flute. That scratches the itch for wanting different sounds, without needing a bunch of expensive mandolins that are only slightly different from each other.

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I wonder if your teacher only owns one violin. Maybe it's different with fiddle players, but all the fiddlers I know have multiple instruments. They all feel different, they all sound different, and they switch back and forth at will.

    Guessing why your teacher prefers that you stick with a single student instrument could be an entertaining game; maybe the teacher suggested that instrument and feels wedded to it; maybe the teacher likes the tone; maybe the teacher thinks you're interested in a change with the hope you'll play better and doesn't agree; maybe the teacher doesn't play mandolin and thinks the change from one instrument to another is more catastrophic than it is -- but i can pretty much guarantee that the violin your teacher plays is not the one they started out on. They may be using their own criteria for moving on to your case -- or they may be the kind of person who thinks you need to master a specific instrument before moving on, not realizing the different tones different genres of music ask of their adherents ... but actually, the only one who can tell you why is your teacher. Why not ask?

    The experience of many of the people here is that there are many reasons to keep an instrument and many reasons to move to another, but it's all about personal preferences. Even if your teacher thinks what you have is "good enough" there's the chance another instrument will make you a better player if for no other reason is a new instrument renews enthusiasm and that's a big chunk of wanting to improve.
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  16. #11

    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I suspect your teacher, being a pro is coming from the perspective that with one main instrument you get familiar with all its tendencies and you eventually become one with it. Some of those violins are pretty spendy...

    Iím am fortunately not afflicted with MAS, I am so satisfied with my Northfield that I canít imagine getting another F style unless something happened to it. I started with an Eastman 315 knowing I would upgrade and I did after about a year...not sure why you have put a 5 year limit on yourself, you should get a better mando when you can afford it/find one you like - maybe a bargain will pop up in the classifieds and youíll miss it...

    I would argue against MAS from the financial aspect...in general youíre going to lose money buying and selling instruments.

    If you can afford it go for it, it doesnít matter what anyone else thinks.
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    A good part of the "point" of the instrument is variety. Limiting oneself to one mandolin means cutting oneself off from other sonic/cultural experiences.

    I also doubt that a good mandolinist would be unable to perform at his highest level if playing more than one instrument. There is not so much nuance in mandoplaying as in fiddling. Differences in frets, neck size and shape, setup and so forth can all be eliminated at the professional level by having varied instruments built to one's personal preferences and specifications.

    Despite their being chained to bows, professional violinists are more inclined to be picky than mandolinists.

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    My teacher is a classical violinist, not a mandolinist. I mentioned to her I plan to buy a better mandolin ($2 - $3K) after playing 5 years, but will keep my current instrument (Alvarez 100) for playing outside (or whatever). She said I should not play more than one instrument, that they all have a different feel. I suspect there is a lot of disagreement with her advice among the Cafe folks. Does anyone AGREE with my teacher?
    I think this is more of a particular issue with classical violin players, in that it's a fretless instrument, they play ALL over the neck, and most prefer to get familiar with the scale length, neck dimensions, etc. of a particular very fine instrument.

    Remember how much money those folks typically invest in a violin!

    If you play a fretted instrument, the need for such micro-precision when fingering is not anywhere near so extreme.

    Also, many if not most mandolin styles do not use the higher positions very much - in some cases hardly at all or never. Classical violinists use a lot of upper positions, and the need to be precise is extreme in orchestral situations.

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randi Gormley View Post
    I wonder if your teacher only owns one violin. Maybe it's different with fiddle players, but all the fiddlers I know have multiple instruments. They all feel different, they all sound different, and they switch back and forth at will.
    That may not be universal for fiddlers. The two local fiddlers I know well, play only their best instrument while still owning a few others as backups or loaners. One is a local violin/fiddle teacher I used to be in a band with. He keeps extra violins on the wall of his teaching studio, but always uses his single best one for teaching and performance.

    The other fiddler I know is my Significant Other, who plays one made for her by a local luthier. She was able to spec the finish and general goal for tone, and go to his shop to pick out the wood for the back. So there is some emotional attachment there, as well as just being a very nice fiddle. It should be, for the $10k price range. She has a couple of other fiddles, like her student violin from when she was a kid, and another that she picked up for around $2k when she got back into playing as an adult. She only plays her best one though. For the kind of music we play together -- Irish and Scottish trad -- there isn't really a high demand for variety of tone.

    The other fiddlers around here I don't know that well, only from session playing. I'm pretty sure the leader of one session is playing only her best one, because it lives in a pricey carbon fiber case. Not sure about the other players. Maybe they're swapping from a wider selection at home. It's hard to tell, with all fiddles looking more or less alike.

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I think she's saying that because she's a classical violinist! I've found it's most common for classically-oriented people to use one main instrument, in contrast to players of other styles and genres and their associated instruments.

    I've played the same viola for 20 years now, though I do have another one for "backup" purposes that I fortunately haven't had to use much. I also have a violin, five mandolas, a couple mandolins, a guitar I converted to an octave mandolin, and 4 different ukuleles (tuned in fifths, of course). But I have no desire for any more violas. I am definitely wedded to the one I play, it feels natural, like an extension of my body when I play it, and other ones would feel and sound "strange" in my hands.

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I know some folks that prefer one instrument. Others that prefer a few, some that have many. It works for everyone. All my mandolins have different tones. And I switch around depending on what I want to hear and works for the musical situation. My Collings MT will never sound like either of my Gibson oval holes. Yet each works in it's own way.
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Why are you taking mandolin lessons from a violinist who is not a mandolinist? Surely in Irving there are teachers who specialize in mandolin?

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    While I am not an adherent to the "beater" theory here in Texas its not a bad idea to keep the best instrument indoors. For this purpose I have an Eastman 515 that I've played for about 10 years. The Pava is generally reserved for indoor events locally. There was a bit of an adjustment learning to play with the bigger frets, and yes, there is an adjustment going between the two, but that is seldom necessary and after a while adjustment period is only about 20 minutes long. Not a fiddler, but I suspect the nuance between instruments and bows is more profound than Mandolin.

    Buying the best instrument you can afford saves a lot of money when comparing new instruments with the old. If you are happy you will stick with it.

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    I wouldn't worry about it too much. When you get your upgrade, you won't be playing the old one much. Sure, for a while you'll take your old mandolin out to jams and bars, but soon enough you'll end up with all kinds of justifications why you should play your new one. The old one will be relegated to snow camping trips.
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    So, you’re up the creek if something happens to your one mandolin then!?

    I’m reminded of the theory that a pianist can only be heard at his/her best when playing at home because every time they play “out” they’re faced with playing an unfamiliar instrument. Also, I often hear people nit-picking about the exact with of fretboard etc but, as far as I’m concerned, there are distinct advantages in being able to swap easily from one instrument to another. Personally, I find no difficulty going from mandolin to mandola to OM to guitar.

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    If it's an argument made on behalf of playing feel then one solution might be to have a couple different mandolins from a maker whose work you really like.

    For instance I have an F4 and F5 from the same maker (Gavin Baird). The F5 is longer than the F4 but they have the same neck shape, fingerboard, etc. so feel physically pretty similar. But they sound different and produce different emotions so it's great to pick up one or the other depending on music, context or even mood.

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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I think this is more of a particular issue with classical violin players, in that it's a fretless instrument, they play ALL over the neck, and most prefer to get familiar with the scale length, neck dimensions, etc. of a particular very fine instrument.

    Remember how much money those folks typically invest in a violin!

    If you play a fretted instrument, the need for such micro-precision when fingering is not anywhere near so extreme.

    Also, many if not most mandolin styles do not use the higher positions very much - in some cases hardly at all or never. Classical violinists use a lot of upper positions, and the need to be precise is extreme in orchestral situations.
    Quote Originally Posted by bratsche View Post
    I think she's saying that because she's a classical violinist! I've found it's most common for classically-oriented people to use one main instrument, in contrast to players of other styles and genres and their associated instruments.

    I've played the same viola for 20 years now, though I do have another one for "backup" purposes that I fortunately haven't had to use much. I also have a violin, five mandolas, a couple mandolins, a guitar I converted to an octave mandolin, and 4 different ukuleles (tuned in fifths, of course). But I have no desire for any more violas. I am definitely wedded to the one I play, it feels natural, like an extension of my body when I play it, and other ones would feel and sound "strange" in my hands.

    bratsche
    I agree with both of these posts. I am basically a one instrument musician. I have often said, "The wand chooses the wizard." I play my Dudenbostel almost exclusively. I own a Breedlove Quartz as a backup mandolin (for use when my luthier is adjusting my main mandolin, or in case I break a string in the middle of a set). I will also use the Breedlove in situations that are too loud for my clip on mic. In that case, I will plug in the Breedlove.
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    So, youíre up the creek if something happens to your one mandolin then!?
    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?). I wouldn't leave a backup mandolin in the car, so it would just be one more thing I'd have to carry and stash somewhere during the setup.

    If something happened before a scheduled gig that took my one mandolin out of commission, I could shift to octave mandolin for the gig. Or lately, the OM and flute (maybe).

    For home practice and enjoyment, I have the OM, a couple of guitars, and the flute to keep me happy if the mandolin is out for repair.

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  41. #24
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Wow. Lots of great responses here. I'll take questions one at a time so I don't get (more?) confused.
    This space reserved for 5 year mandolin gift to self.

  42. #25
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any arguments AGAINST MAS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randi Gormley View Post
    I wonder if your teacher only owns one violin. Maybe it's different with fiddle players, but all the fiddlers I know have multiple instruments. They all feel different, they all sound different, and they switch back and forth at will.

    Guessing why your teacher prefers that you stick with a single student instrument could be an entertaining game; maybe the teacher suggested that instrument and feels wedded to it; maybe the teacher likes the tone; maybe the teacher thinks you're interested in a change with the hope you'll play better and doesn't agree; maybe the teacher doesn't play mandolin and thinks the change from one instrument to another is more catastrophic than it is -- but i can pretty much guarantee that the violin your teacher plays is not the one they started out on. They may be using their own criteria for moving on to your case -- or they may be the kind of person who thinks you need to master a specific instrument before moving on, not realizing the different tones different genres of music ask of their adherents ... but actually, the only one who can tell you why is your teacher. Why not ask?

    The experience of many of the people here is that there are many reasons to keep an instrument and many reasons to move to another, but it's all about personal preferences. Even if your teacher thinks what you have is "good enough" there's the chance another instrument will make you a better player if for no other reason is a new instrument renews enthusiasm and that's a big chunk of wanting to improve.
    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.
    This space reserved for 5 year mandolin gift to self.

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