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Thread: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

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    Default Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    After moving from guitar to mandolin I think I have a decent grasp of technique.
    But are there any prices I should study or technical excersices I should do to get used to playing the instrument. And is there any repertoire that I SHOULD know/learn.

    Also Iím hoping this is the right area of the forum to post this in. Iím sorry if it isnít.

    -Ross

  2. #2

    Default Re: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    The answer to your question requires a few questions before it can be answered, in my opinion:
    1) what type of music do you hope to play on the mandolin? Classical, bluegrass, jazz, old-time, rock?
    2) how proficient were you on the guitar?
    3) can you read music or will you need tablature?

    A great place to start with any instrument is exploring scales. There are lots of resources on the web to find exercises to help learn scales.

    Also remember that the mandolin is tuned just like the violin, so many of the beginning violin books provide great music (if you can read music) to practice on the mandolin.

    IMSLP has a number of old mandolin tutors and method books available for free download. They're all aimed at classical mandolin playing, but that has been a good place to start especially if you concentrate on clean technique, accurate picking. With good classical technique you're set up well to explore any of the other genres.

    Because the frets are much closer together on the mandolin, it's important not to think of the "one-fret/one-finger" concept of guitar playing. Classical mandolin method books will teach you proper finger position and which notes fall on which frets and which fingers to use.

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    Default Re: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    Thanks for the reply.

    To fill in some background information I have a degree in guitar playing and have played professionally in the past. I can also read sheet music well enough.

    I am looking to play both classical and bluegrass maybe a little jazz as well.

    Thanks for the advice I might try and seek those books out.
    Iím asking mainly to streamline my learning as Iím new to mandolin and havenít the foggiest where to start.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rossjcw View Post
    Thanks for the reply.

    ...... I have a degree in guitar playing and have played professionally in the past. .......
    This may sound a bit weird, but my tip would be this: "Whenever you pick up the mandolin, attempt to forget what you know about the guitar". By that I mean, while the basics of fingering and pick use might be similar/the same, the melodic presence and chord "sounds" are different, and you probably wont get as much "mandolin" sound as you could achieve if you attempt to play it like a mini-sized, different-tuned guitar.

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    Default Re: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rossjcw View Post
    I am looking to play both classical and bluegrass maybe a little jazz as well.
    Classical is mostly learned from traditional method books, a good teacher, playing in a mandolin orchestra, etc.

    Bluegrass is largely an ear tradition, although there are plenty of staff notation and/or TAB books to use when learning.

    Jazz means a lot of things to different folks...you'll need some of that classical technique such as playing in all keys, etc.

    Anyway, I am prejudiced and suggest beginning with classical mandolin , as all the technique can be applied or adapted to other styles of music.

    Quote Originally Posted by dhbailey View Post

    IMSLP has a number of old mandolin tutors and method books available for free download. They're all aimed at classical mandolin playing, but that has been a good place to start especially if you concentrate on clean technique, accurate picking. With good classical technique you're set up well to explore any of the other genres.
    This is good advice!

  7. #6

    Default Re: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    Jazzmando.com

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    Default Re: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    In addition to Simon's recommendation for Jazzmando.com I must say that I've been thoroughly enjoying the book 'Getting Into Jazz Mandolin' by Ted Eschliman (who runs jazzmando.com). The Four Finger Closed Position (FFcP) system he developed is a mandolin specific approach to simplify playing the instrument in all keys.

    As an introduction to classical technique I have found August Watters' (professor of ear training at Berklee) 'Exploring Classical Mandolin - Technique and Repertoire' to be very helpful.

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    Default Re: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rossjcw View Post
    After moving from guitar to mandolin I think I have a decent grasp of technique.
    Ummm...
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  12. #9

    Default Re: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    I think its typically useful to get some competent instruction in the beginning, even only 1 or 2 sessions, to manage the ergonomics. Maybe that can be managed online with videos from Mike Marshall, Don Julin or Chris Thile.

    Mandolins are not little guitars, they are more like plucked violins. Left hand fingering is not the guitar analog, its the violin. Managing the pick is often a difficult task for players. Tremolo is a separate subject all to itself. For exercises, I like the Cassis Harvey violin fingering studies (Amazon) to develop the left hand.

    Have a good time.
    Last edited by Bill McCall; Nov-25-2019 at 4:09pm.
    Play it like you mean it.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Starting to study mandolin, where to start?

    Here’s the tremolo technique. This is one of the hurdles that you have to jump to be reasonably proficient with the mandolin.
    Three days after watching this vid finally I ‘got’ it. Up until then I hadn’t thought it was important.
    Good luck.

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