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Thread: Tips for fairly new Mando players

  1. #1

    Default Tips for fairly new Mando players

    Hey everybody, I am just wanting to hear some advice on the best way I can go about mastering the mandolin. Every little bit helps!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players


    Dave H
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    The good folks here will be happy to help out, but you'll get more precise guidance if you can narrow your stated goal down from "mastering the mandolin" a little.

    What style(s) are you interested in mastering?

  5. #4
    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Dec 2017
    Chesterfield, VA

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    Dave has it right...consistently spending time practicing/playing will improve your skills. I always tell new students to commit at least 15-20 minutes per day at least 4-5 times per week and you will improve and likely want to commit more time to it.
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

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  6. #5
    Registered User
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    Jan 2008
    Gainesville, FL

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    Like Dave said, practice, practice, practice. Learn some basics first such as how to make chords. Try picking out a melody that is familiar to you, something simple like the Happy Birthday song.Try to pick out a scale. Depending on what kind of music you want to learn get some CD's and try to figure out what key a particular song is in and then try to find some of the notes on the mandolin.
    If you know any mandolin players in your area see it they can show you some stuff; how to make chords, information about the fretboard positions and the like. Good luck and will have sore fingers, get frustrated and want to quit, but don't. The first time you can play along with a song, or join a local jam session, you'll realize all the work is worth it. Most important, this stuff is supposed to be fun but it does take some time to get there. Good luck.

  7. #6
    Registered User
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    Oct 2015
    Pacific NW, slightly outside BC

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    What level are you at now, what tunes can you play backup/melody to?

    Use the search box to search topics like:

    Picking / Fretting/right/left hand technique
    Theory: common chord changes, basic chord shapes
    Instrument setup
    Flat picks
    How to allocate time for practice sessions

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  8. #7
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
    KC MO

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    I returned to the mandolin after a lengthy absence (life got too busy, then Chemo slowed me down) and basically had to restart, learning chords, etc (I remembered open G, C, and D, lol). I spent a month re-learning the basic chords and the movable forms and got so I could play decent rhythm in any key. I then found a local bluegrass/country group that met weekly and began playing with them. Nothing like regular sessions to keep you motivated to learn new stuff!

    In the absence of a convenient local group, I'd suggest something like iRealPro. Relatively inexpensive app, has thousands of songs (chords, no melody) readily available. You can choose backing style (including bluegrass), then select the key, tempo, and number of repeats. Easy to enter your own songs, too. With this app (or something similar), you can get the benefit of metronome-type practice to make sure you're able to keep up a consistent tempo, you can start a song slowly and build up your speed, and you can practice your rhythm, fills, and solos. (Well, this app is easy for things like fiddle tunes. More complicated songs might be a challenge. I've mainly used it for fiddle tunes.)
    Doug Brock
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  9. #8

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    I can chop to most songs, still working on the minors. Also, I can pick out Angeline the baker and thats about it.

  10. #9
    Registered User
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    Oct 2009
    Central Illinois

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    I would think that it depends on what your definition is of "mastering" it is ! I will never master it but enjoying the ride !
    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 !

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  12. #10
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
    Beaverton, OR, USA

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    I don't know if the Newbies social group can provide a path to mastery but we all seem to be enjoying the search. Come join us!
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog:

  13. #11

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    If there was one thing I could tell you, it would be invest in a good mandolin. Spending $1200 or so on a used A style Silverangel, Weber Gallatin, summit, etc. will do the following, first of all, you’ve committed yourself, second, you won’t have any excuses about the quality, and most important you will find yourself playing more. Significantly more. If this amounts to an extra ten to twenty percent more, over time the difference in proficiency will be dramatic. You did say you want to master the mandolin. So if it takes twenty years to do that, you will have cut your time down to 15 or 18 years. Pretty significant.
    Silverangel A
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  15. #12

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    As has been mentioned PRACTICE!

    I also would recommend lessons, you'll learn a lot, and having a teacher to bounce questions/ideas off of can help your playing dramatically.
    When I first started plying 3 years ago I had already been playing guitar for 30 years, so scales and chords came relatively easy, what didn't was playing the mandolin like a mandolin and not a guitar. I did Skype lessons with Nate Lee, and learned a ton. (no financial interest)

    I also recommend listening to and playing along with your favorite music. Even if it's just chopping along. It's a great way to practice.

    Lastly, playing with other people. It really puts you on the spot and it'll help you learn how to make musical decisions on the fly.

  16. #13
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Upstate New York
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    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    I don't know how much beginner you might be, so apologies if I misjudged.

    I would say that if your mandolin is playable, and you know how to tune it up, you are ready to attend a jam session. Of course you will not know how to play many/any of the tunes, but listen, as you sit things out, absorb the atmosphere, tell everyone you are a beginner (and watch them fall all over themselves wanting to help you), maybe record some tunes on your cell phone that seem interesting.

    Then attend regularly. Between jams try stuff out, get some lessons,peruse the internet for instructional youtubes, have some of your new found friends show you stuff, whatever is your learning style. But all the time keep attending the jam regularly.

    You will be amazed how quickly you will start making progress. Amazed, as in huh? wha? amazed.
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  17. #14
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Sydney, Australia

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    It's not a little guitar - its strum is different, and its sound and role is different. Concentrate on the right hand.

    Try and learn the intervals. And chords. And scales.

    Don't set unrealistic goals. Want to play 'She'll be coming round the mountain' in three days? It might be possible, but it might take you a week.Want to play like Chris Thile? That might take some time.

    Think about what you want to play. This ambition may change as you learn.

    Have fun.

    Have fun.

    You are playing one of the most versatile instruments. Have fun.
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  18. #15
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Mar 2017
    Bozeman, MT

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    Lessons from someone, and many someones, who are knowledgeable. Yourself as the teacher is choosing someone who don't know diddly about what you don't know!
    Also try to gig in a band that plays a lot. I was in a band for over a decade before I started to really get it. It is a constant growth experience if you apply your self, and few will actually be "Masters".
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  19. #16

    Default Re: Tips for fairly new Mando players

    Thanks for all the advice! I actually just attended a jam at a local coffee shop this monday. There were a ton of exremely skilled mandolin players. They even put me on the spot and made me sing a tune; I defintely had a lot of fun. My goal this week is to brush up on a couple of the songs they were playing so I can join in next week!

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