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Thread: tunes for electric mandolin

  1. #1
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    Default tunes for electric mandolin

    I picked up a Mandocaster on a whim. I consider my myself somewhat beyond a beginner but not quite intermediate, and am looking for a few fun tunes that work well on an electric (so probably not bluegrass). Any suggestions?

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    I struggle with this. I picked up a Fender MandoStrat before the prices went up, and I love messing with it. But even after thinking hard about it I have yet to find a niche where the electric is the go to choice. I am getting good at loud angry fiddle tunes, and a couple of classical pieces I put the fuzz box to, but thats it.

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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    For me, "tunes" aren't where it's at – all the Irish Trad I play is on acoustic.
    The electric is for rock, jazz and blues, niches where electric guitar wears the trousers.

    If you play it like it's an electric mandolin, it's going to sound like an electric mandolin, which can be pretty cheezy (standard G and D chords especially, anything with a high mediant) – if you learn "the chords" of a song but play standard mandolin voicings, ouch. (Western Swing's the exception, of course – Tiny already paved that path.)

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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    Tiny Moore Mandolin method has a bunch of tunes in it.

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    Registered User mandrian's Avatar
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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    Hi Dave,

    I’m getting into electric more these days. My choices reflect my opinion that a solid body electric mandolin (5 string in my case) is always going to sound as much guitar as mandolin.

    Two tunes I’m learning just now are both played by Julian Lage ( check you tube ). They are Nocturne and Cryin’. I think they both sound great on electric mandolin.

    I also am playing some classical pieces that have been stuck in my mind for decades, Cavalieri Rusticana and Dances With Wolves. Check out The Guitar Corporation on ITunes to see how they would sound. I’ve used them as the basis for learning these pieces.

    Regards,

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    Tiny Moore Mandolin method has a bunch of tunes in it.
    I've been trying to find that for years - do you have a spare?

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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    I gig with the electric as much as they'll let me, which in Sydney is more than you think, but never exclusively - I wish I could.

    I have a four string.

    Firstly, the voicing are fine - it's the strumming - you need to be careful with mandolin rhythm techniques.

    Songs that sound great: (and if you want some lessons, DM me...)

    Any jazz standard: Fly me to the moon, lady is a tramp, Summertime, Giant Steps, Spain, etc
    Laps in Seven - Sam Bush
    Stop the Violence - Sam Bush
    I saw her standing there
    Little Wing
    Brown Eyed Girl
    California Girls
    Funk - stuff like Prince - Kiss, James Brown, Papa's got a brand new bag, Thank U Valentin' me be myself, Rich Girl (Hall and Oates), all work nicely.

    Jim Richter's tips and trick for mandolin, available on Kindle and iTunes has some really good stuff.

    Chase up Tiny Moore, and Jethro Burns for more jazzy stuff.

    Don't be scared to overdrive it, use a way, or a delay. I'm not a fan of modulation - chorus or phaser or flanger on a mandolin doesn't work for me, but they might work for you.

    Pretty much, any song you like can be played, but some won't work as well as others... Plug in, turn it up, play. Have fun!
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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    Songs that sound great
    Van Halen's Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love – play the solo all on the D string.
    (On a 4-string, use the open G for the low E in the intro lick.)

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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    My idea for electric was to use it for chord melody on standards, which is very much a work in progress for me. lol

    There's another Tiny Moore book, might still be in print, that I like playing tunes out of on my electric. It's Merle Haggard presents Tiny Moore's Swinging Texas Fiddlin'. It's sort of like playing tunes on a telecaster instead of a D18-unexpected but not bad.

  11. #10
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    For me, "tunes" aren't where it's at – all the Irish Trad I play is on acoustic.
    The electric is for rock, jazz and blues, niches where electric guitar wears the trousers.

    If you play it like it's an electric mandolin, it's going to sound like an electric mandolin, which can be pretty cheezy (standard G and D chords especially, anything with a high mediant) – if you learn "the chords" of a song but play standard mandolin voicings, ouch. (Western Swing's the exception, of course – Tiny already paved that path.)
    I entirely agree. And that is the problem. In musics where the electric guitar wears the trousers, there is already an electric guitar, or the expectation of an electric guitar. The electric mandolin will always come across as almost a guitar. Much easier to get a guitar, capo high and tune it in fifths.

    What Tiny did was really revolutionary. He made a musical space where the electric mandolin is the king. Where guitars are jealous.

    I have been exploring the arena of electric folk. (I need another name for it.) My models are a couple of bands from the past, Steeleye Span, and Malicorne. Maybe some Fairport Convention, Pentangle. There is a continuum to explore.

    What they did was tastefully incorporate the relative power (and majesty) of electric instruments into a traditional folk arena, and deliver something interesting and great, where every voice was important. But wow, that is a narrow narrow niche.

    Some space where loud angry fiddle tunes are not entirely inappropriate.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  12. #11

    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    Jeff, I've spent years going to open mic/blues jams trying to find the electric mandolin's rightful role in that guitar-dominated genre, and feel reasonably successful in having accomplished that holy grail:

    Listen to almost any Sting tune – there's a guitar part or two moving around, and there's a keyboard part that just drones a high root and a fifth of the key for the entire song. There's been some songs at jams that I played entirely with one hand, just going D-A-D-A or A-E-A-E or G-D-G-D all the way through, and boy, did that make everything sound cool, just the right amount of the missing spice. To my ears, two guitars and an electric mandolin sound better than three guitars most of the time.
    On the other end of the spectrum, there's a whole world of neglected parts at those jams just 'cuz there's no horn section, there's no keyboard player, there's no female backup singers – all those parts are just crying to be played, and they usually sit comfortably in the mando's range.
    And then there's this: people don't judge you, they judge the instrument. Play a smokin' solo on the guitar or sax, and folks will say Hey, you're really good. Play a smokin' solo on an electric mandolin and folks'll say Hey, that thing sounds amazing. It's a pretty liberatingly ego-less situation.

    One final tip: bring your own amp. Because of the mando's high range, a 15-watt head and a small cabinet (a Celestion Blue's the best, and the cab can be just big enough to contain it) will keep up with those 30-40 watt Fender combos, and it won't take up hardly any room. The benefit is that you won't have to wait your turn using the "house" amps like all the guest guitarists will, and if you're adding just the right stuff, the keyboard drone or the essential horn parts, they'll let you play all night.

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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    I agree it doesn’t fit into any conventional music very well, except for Western Swing. And it’s conventional in that genre only because some great musicians played it. I like playing tunes on it anyway. Cheese is good. I have the fender reissue four string tuned down a 5th.

  14. #13

    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by John Soper View Post
    I've been trying to find that for years - do you have a spare?
    Mark Gunter recently posted pdfs on his website.

    http://www.markgunter.net/good_stuff...ndolin-methods

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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    I think electric Mando works just fine for gypsy and jazz standards as well as Western swing.

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    Mark Gunter recently posted pdfs on his website....
    I like Mark's stuff, but sharing material that's copyrighted is more than problematic, especially on this site.
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  17. #15

    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    For that good ol’ Celtic Rock groove...mandostrat with auto-wah, slight delay and not sure what else...
    https://youtu.be/fiWvXpIQdKk

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    Folk-rock. "Garry Owen" on low-tuned electric 5-string.

    https://soundcloud.com/user-643522979/garry-owen

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    Default Re: tunes for electric mandolin

    Talking Heads?

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