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Thread: General Mandolin Post

  1. #51

    Default Re: General Mandolin Post

    I never heard guitar or banjo players obsess over the minute details of everything guitar or everything banjo.
    When the Flatpick-L list was going seriously the guitarists most definitely did. In fact that list blew up in a big brawl over some petty disagreements and was never the same again. Some of it was political discussion, some was personalities but at least one part of it was a banjo player getting mad over banjo jokes on the flatpicking list. I have not been involved in the UMGF but from what little I have looked at it the obsession is there too. Fingerpickers become obsessive over instruments, alternate tunings(there are hundreds), nail care, technique, repertoire, everything.

    The banjo players I know are quite obsessive over their instrument. It is their life. In a couple cases quite literally as they have made it their life's work. They are quite obsessive about detail on their banjos. They are concerned with head tuning, string brands, bridge styles, thumbpicks, fingerpicks, Scruggs or Keith tuners, how Earl did it, flat top vs archtop, Gibson vs Stelling, railroad spikes or fifth string capos, melodic vs Scruggs style vs chromatic vs clawhammer, alternate tunings, and on and on. Some of them tolerate banjo jokes, most listen but do not laugh, a couple will argue back or walk off mad.

    I won't even get started on fiddlers except to note that they spend 50 dollars or more per set just for strings. Think about it.

    And if you have ever been around anyone at all serious about singing that is a whole 'nuther world. Singers can be, well how do I put this, uhhhh "interesting" to deal with.

    Musicians all have their quirks. Anyone who is serious about it fusses about the details. Mandolins are not unique in that.

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  3. #52
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Jun 2019
    Balama, Mozambique, Africa, Earth

    Default Re: General Mandolin Post

    Well, I'm a mandolinist, a flatpicker, a fingerstyle picker, a banjo player, and a fiddler. I'm not super obsessed with making my instruments perfect (mainly cuz I don't have the time) although I know enough about most of those subjects to argue about them as though I cared. I don't spend that much money on fiddle strings though. I laugh at most musician jokes, if it's a banjo joke, I laugh as a mandolinist. If it's a bassist joke, (I play that too, and drums a little) I'll laugh as a guitarist. I do have some quirks probably, but probably my biggest is that I don't care that much that all my instruments have an inch of dust on them, despite being played daily, and that's because there's nothing I can do about it due to where I live
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  4. #53
    Registered User
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    Feb 2011
    Conneaut Lake, PA

    Default Re: General Mandolin Post

    Carl’s post made me think of this whole issue in another way. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it sooner. I was a music major in college and although I was concentrating on an eventual career in education, all of us music majors were performers as well. Some of my classmates were aspiring to be professional musicians. And professional music is extremely competitive. When many of the “plum” gigs have an opening (major service bands, big city symphony orchestras, etc.), there can be hundreds auditioning for the same spot. And my college music groups were a microcosm of that. Limited openings, auditions required, very competitive. Set up that way deliberately, no doubt, as training for the professional music world. In an environment like that, everyone obsessed over every detail looking for something that would give them an edge. A different mouthpiece? Different reed? Better instrument? Change of embouchure? Different warm up routine? On and on. Looking for anything that might make that tiny difference that could mean making it, versus not making it. It kind of reminded me of a swarm of ants all fighting over the same crumb.

    So, it seems to me this obsession over details is a sort of infection that has spread from the professional music world into the amateur/hobbyist world. We can’t help ourselves. Musicians are kind of hard wired to be competitive.

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

  5. #54
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States
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    Default Re: General Mandolin Post

    I had a chance to play a Loar signed mandolin. I still sounded like me. For some people chasing the dragon (perfection) pays off. For me (a hobby player) it's just spending money and diminishes MY happiness. I see the same gear mania in cycling and with cameras. I feel the same thing sometimes on a ride if I pay more attention to my tracking watch than my ride. I'll feel the need to perform faster when I don't have a goal or commitment and must remember, I'm out because I love the ride.

    Ultimately, I think you gotta work with what's comfortable for you. There may be players and instruments that must be within very precise specs. Others may have less fastidious requirements. Ideally, you can remember that you both love the music (if that's the point) and focus on that. If not, pick with others. There's a lot we can learn from music about cooperation and collaboration. Comparison is a thief often. Find your happy and then share it with the world.

    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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