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Thread: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

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    Default Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I've been playing guitar for almost 30 years. I just started playing mandolin and noticed that it requires more finger strength. I'm also dedicating more time and focus on tremelo picking than I otherwise would on the guitar. My biggest concern is if I get too involved with the mandolin will my guitar playing begin to degrade? I wouldn't think so. I would hope it could improve my finger strength and tremelo picking across both instruments. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I found that I tended to focus on the mandolin and not play my guitar. I keep trying to remind myself to play both, but in my case I need a lot more work on mandolin. That focus on mandolin skill development does reduce my guitar time. I do think, though, that I am slightly better on the guitar by way of my mandolin skills. All that being said, I still have to make sure my mandolin focus doesn't degrade my guitar skills because I don't practice my guitar enough.

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    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I actually think playing the mandolin is the best training tool/practice aide for the guitar out there. I started playing the mandolin because I saw that nearly every great flatpicker also played the mandolin, even if they only played it casually. Clarence White. Doc Watson. Norman Blake. Steve Kaufman. On and on and on. About the only one I haven't confirmed yet is Tony Rice.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I've found that playing mandolin strengthens my overall technique. It's possible to become rusty on guitar but at least for me my overall skill improved( i think)

  5. #5

    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    The precise flatpicking needed for the mandolin's narrow string spacing has made my guitar playing much less sloppy.
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    Quote Originally Posted by archerscreek View Post
    I actually think playing the mandolin is the best training tool/practice aide for the guitar out there. I started playing the mandolin because I saw that nearly every great flatpicker also played the mandolin, even if they only played it casually. Clarence White. Doc Watson. Norman Blake. Steve Kaufman. On and on and on. About the only one I haven't confirmed yet is Tony Rice.
    This is what I was hoping to hear. I've found with guitar technique, especially on electric guitar, you can get away with a lot of things and make it sound great with minimal effort (hammer ons and pull offs, less string tension, effects, etc etc). Since mandolin is quite new to me, and it's a completely different instrument, there's no way I should be approaching it with a guitar mentality. For one, the mandolin requires an incredible amount of stamina and precision to achieve good tone and clarity. The same is true on the guitar to a certain degree, but again, if you're playing electric guitar and have been doing it long enough, the "short cuts" will do the trick. There's no way to apply that on a mandolin and expect it to sound good.

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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I play acoustic guitar, and have found my mandolin playing has improved my guitar playing. Maybe because I am devoting more time to my instruments, but also I think the accuracy mandolin requires makes me more accurate on guitar, plus my pick technique has much improved on guitar since I have been playing mandolin.

  10. #8

    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    The precise flatpicking needed for the mandolin's narrow string spacing has made my guitar playing much less sloppy.
    That's awesome, glad to hear that! I've only been playing mandolin for 2 weeks, so as far is my flatpicking, it's too early for me to tell. One thing I have started noticing is my fret hand on the mandolin seems to have less tendency for "finger fly-away" - that is - the amount of distance the fingers lift off the fretboard. This has been a really bad habit I've had on the guitar, one that I've never been able to figure out how to remedy. I don't know if it's because of the smaller neck or if it's because the timing and precision required to get a good sounding fretted note on a mandolin demands your fingers to be millimeters above the string, but it's definitely a bonus.

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    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    While there are differences, learning a different instrument can help you with other instruments--you have to learn to come at things from different angles--and many of the skills are transferrable, even if it doesn't seem likely
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    One feeds the other. Ideas cross pollinate. The technique used to play plectrum instruments is going to be similar. Once you "get" strings, moving from one instrument to another becomes a little easier. Banjo with it's fifth string being under the players thumb is a hurdle but not insurmountable. Enjoy the process. R/
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I am of the opinion that there may be gains in musicality and ear training, and general musicianship, and similar overlap, but general they are different instruments, and you will get stronger at that which you practice.
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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I've been playing mandolin and guitar for a very long time and for the last 10 months or so have been concentrating on electric with my trio. Hadn't really worked on the guitar for years but had no problem getting in shape and even improving, some. My point is I really don't think it helps playing mandolin other than the pure exercise of mind, music, and body. They really don't correlate at all. Which in and of itself I think is the biggest plus. Makes you THINK!

  15. #13

    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    Been playing guitar for fifty years and mando for maybe five or ten. The guitar affects how I play mando, because I bring so much (too much?) guitar baggage to it.

    But the only effect mando has had on my guitar playing is that I've come up with a few songs on mando that I probably wouldn't have thought of on guitar. So mando hasn't affected how I play guitar, but it's had a slight effect on what I play.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    ... gains in musicality and ear training, and general musicianship, and similar overlap ...
    This is so true. Overlap in technique, and general gains in musicality, ear training and musicianship. Also, the new, cool little instrument may rekindle and fan the flames of love for music; can be inspirational which will aid in all your instrument playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    ... but general they are different instruments, and you will get stronger at that which you practice.
    This, too, is very true. You may find, as many of us do, that your love of the mandolin encourages neglect of the guitar. After all, mandolin playing demands its own focus, mandolins are easier to carry around, and casually practice anywhere, mandolins will give you a really cool, new sound. But they are smaller than guitars, tuned differently from guitars and sound differently than guitars, and require their own differences in technique. Guitar skills can get rusty, and tunes, riffs, licks and song lyrics can be forgotten over time. I find that when I want to gig with a guitar these days, I have to force myself to put in time to re-work guitar arrangements on the songs I choose. If I don't do that, and try to just "fly by the seat of my pants" with guitar these days, it doesn't go over very well.
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    opposite for me, was a long time guitar player ( rock and classical) and I was pretty good, and was just getting into flatpicking fiddle tunes on guitar when I discovered mandolin, pretty much put the guitar down and barely picked it back up for the past 20 or so years.
    However my guitar playing habits though show up in my mandolin playing.
    One thing that surprised me about mandolin versus guitar, in my many years of guitar education, I some how never picked up on arpeggios.
    On mandolin, especially in BG arpeggios are integral to playing.
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    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I think if you abandon the guitar for the mandolin, you will not improve your guitar skills by playing mando, but if you do continue to play the guitar or any other instrument, I think it will have a positive impact. At least that has been my experience for what it is worth.
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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    Learning good mandolin technique never hurts your guitar chops - particularly picking.

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I find that any instrument I am playing helps me with all the other instruments that I play . . . kind of like a cross-pollination of ideas, techniques and fresh approaches to an old style of playing.

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  23. #19

    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    At the moment my fingers get a little confused because guitar is one finger per fret.
    Normally this would be ok if I just played mando and then guitar but I play octave and then guitar and the fingerboard spacings are quite similar, though the style quite different. Over the holidays I’ve been playing a guitar that’s tuned in fifths which is fun but I don’t play it guitar-style.

    Rotating the wrist to get to the third and fourth string (on the octave mandolin) is a technique I don’t want to lose. This might happen if I play more guitar.

    I almost always play and practice mando with a metronome now, so of course my rhythm has really improved with guitar.
    Strangely, playing ukulele actually helped me with expression, damping and jig Dud Dud time.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Dec-30-2019 at 2:54pm.

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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    First of all, before you go much further, have you had your action checked? This is critical. Get Rob Meldrumís eBook. Itís free, just do a search for his contact info. A ruler and a set of feeler gauges will let you know of any issues. Two thousandths of an inch is significant. While not the easiest thing in the world, playing mandolin should not be taxing either. Make sure your mandolin is well set up.
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    Yes.

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    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    Learning music helps you play better period. Learning mandolin may not make you a world-class guitar player, but it will build your ear and finger dexterity along with an interesting insight on how to play the instrument (playing scales "backwards" on a guitar is similar to "forwards" on mandolin which can make for some fun patterns).

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    Registered User Mike Arakelian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    I’ve played acoustic guitar for many years, and the mandolin for six years or so. I feel the mandolin has definitely made me a better guitar player not only technically, but also in style. I’m not really sure why, but I’m happy with the result.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does mandolin improve guitar technique

    When i was taking violin lessons my teacher put me on a mandolin diet. Pure and simple, the violin is a very jealous instrument and refuses to be your second instrument. Playing mandolin was time not practicing violin.
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