Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: What are you playing the blues on?

  1. #1

    Default What are you playing the blues on?

    An interesting topic came up in my mandolin lesson recently. I'm taking lessons with Compton, and our emphasis has been the blues alá Papa Charlie McCoy, The Two Poor Boys, Prater & Hayes, etc. Coming from a country blues guitar background, I understand that the instrument was just a tool, Charley Patton preferred his Stella to his Gibson cause it sounded "right" to his ears for what he was trying to do.

    You hear all kinds of mandolins in those old recordings, Nationals, Taterbugs, mail order catalog mandolins, and the banjo mandolin, which Charlie McCoy seemed to prefer.

    Just wondering what all y'all are playing the blues on?

  2. The following members say thank you to oliverkollar for this post:


  3. #2
    Registered User paulspafford's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    I use an Eastman MD515, but I make no claims to any kind of authenticity in my sound. It's just the mandolin that I have and love.

  4. The following members say thank you to paulspafford for this post:


  5. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Posts
    106

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    I'm using an F-4 or a Trapdoor banjo-mandolin. I also have an A-Jr strung up in octaves. I've always thought that Charlie Patton preferred the Stella because it was ladder braced rather than X braced.
    Tom Mylet

  6. The following members say thank you to Tom Mylet for this post:


  7. #4
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,275
    Blog Entries
    52

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    National RM-1
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  8. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JeffD For This Useful Post:


  9. #5

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Blues is my main genre and I usually play my dolas or my OM but I’ll run scales on the flattop in between songs if I’m getting frustrated

  10. The following members say thank you to urobouros for this post:


  11. #6
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    647

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    I play mainly on my two mandolins, a Godin A8, which I occasionally amplify, and an acoustic Espana. I like them both equally. I sometimes play older stuff (1920's, early 30's) on my Little Wonder banjolin with octave tuning on the G & D strings. To my tastes, the banjolin doesn't work as well for later blues, but is great for early blues, stomps, and rags. As was implied in the OP, the people I admire mostly played whatever instrument was available and affordable, nothing expensive, so if I start getting fantasies about some custom-made mandolin, I can overrule them without much pain.
    Last edited by Ranald; Jul-15-2020 at 12:24pm.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  12. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Ranald For This Useful Post:


  13. #7

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Thanks everyone for responding so far. I'm using my 2017 Duff A5.

    When I was learning country blues guitar and got heavily into it, I bought a 1923 Oscar Schmidt Sovereign. It definitely has "that sound" you hear on the old 78s. Although the instrument is half the battle.....technique is the other half. Which brings me to my next point.

    The reason I started studying black string band mandolin music is first, because I LOVE it, and second, to get my right hand in shape for Monroe style tremolo. I had already learned some Dallas String Band and Memphis Jug Band tunes, and wanted to dive as deep as I could into the style. I believe I'm at the point where I would like to get an instrument that has "the sound", although I realize "the sound" had no bearing on what the players of the '20's-'30's played. It was utility.

    So that's why I'm interested in what y'all are using.....thanks again!!!

  14. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to oliverkollar For This Useful Post:


  15. #8
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    647

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Quote Originally Posted by oliverkollar View Post
    Thanks everyone for responding so far. I'm using my 2017 Duff A5.

    When I was learning country blues guitar and got heavily into it, I bought a 1923 Oscar Schmidt Sovereign. It definitely has "that sound" you hear on the old 78s. Although the instrument is half the battle.....technique is the other half. Which brings me to my next point.

    The reason I started studying black string band mandolin music is first, because I LOVE it, and second, to get my right hand in shape for Monroe style tremolo. I had already learned some Dallas String Band and Memphis Jug Band tunes, and wanted to dive as deep as I could into the style. I believe I'm at the point where I would like to get an instrument that has "the sound", although I realize "the sound" had no bearing on what the players of the '20's-'30's played. It was utility.

    So that's why I'm interested in what y'all are using.....thanks again!!!
    No doubt, you're aware that black string bands often had a banjolin. This was in part for the volume in the pre-amplifier days -- it was hard to hear over the guitars, which is still a problem at jams. As well, some mandolin players wanted a banjo sound without having to learn to play the banjo. The bands you named had records, made more money than many blues players, and perhaps had some choice about their instruments. I can't remember clearly, but I think if you listen closely, you'll hear that both those bands have banjolins, or if you prefer "mandolin-banjos" (or manjos?).
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  16. The following members say thank you to Ranald for this post:


  17. #9

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    No doubt, you're aware that black string bands often had a banjolin.
    Oh yeah....I would say most of it is banjolin....Sounds like that's mostly what Papa Charlie played.

  18. The following members say thank you to oliverkollar for this post:


  19. #10
    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Warwick,New York
    Posts
    491

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    National RM-1
    I played a National RM 1 at a music store.It was great.

  20. The following members say thank you to mandolinstew for this post:


  21. #11
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Palmer, Texas
    Posts
    3,670

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Washburn A with mahogany back & ribs and spruce top. Been practicing bluesy licks, worked up a mandolin version of Kind Hearted Woman Blues based on RJ's original guitar style, and working through Steve James' lessons in the Homespun series. I think you could get the blues out of any decent mandolin ... you know, "the blues" is an ocean of stylistic nuances from player-to-player, region-to-region, decade-to-decade.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  22. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Mark Gunter For This Useful Post:


  23. #12

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    First off, I'm going to note that I actually use my Flatiron mandola for most things, including blues and jazz. However, I sometimes use my Hyde-made reso mandolin specifically for image.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	GWo3kPM.jpg 
Views:	30 
Size:	208.7 KB 
ID:	187650
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	wyUBFQq.jpg 
Views:	28 
Size:	190.6 KB 
ID:	187651

    It's a very effective instrument, and loud, while being capable of a full loud and quiet volume range. I use it most for classical repertoire, but it definitely holds its own against the National RM-1.

  24. The following members say thank you to Explorer for this post:


  25. #13

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    For the country blues like you have described, you can't go wrong with a Kalamazoo! I think the mandolins have a wonderful blues sound and are generally easy to find, to play and to set-up. I have some of them in chorus tuning for that old time sound, but still prefer to play with the standard set-up
    The Kalamazoo mandolin-banjo also has it going on ala Charlie McCoy, especially in a jam.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_0439.jpg 
Views:	25 
Size:	465.0 KB 
ID:	187654
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	meyer1.jpg 
Views:	22 
Size:	673.2 KB 
ID:	187655  

  26. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to GMeyer For This Useful Post:


  27. #14

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    I played a one-hour set on the street during "Crazy Daze", the single day of the summer when Main Street gets shut down to vehicle traffic and only foot traffic is allowed. Vendors set up on the street and the music store that hosts my trio's practice sessions asks that I play a one-hour set.

    For that outdoor gig, I use a National RM-1 and play a lot of ragtime and old style blues (e.g., St. Louis Blues, Beale Street Blues, River Stay Away from My Door). The National is great for ragtime and blues, but I also play other songs that I normally do with my Givens A-5. The resophonic really projects LOUDLY, which is what street music is about.

  28. #15

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    First off, I'm going to note that I actually use my Flatiron mandola for most things, including blues and jazz. However, I sometimes use my Hyde-made reso mandolin specifically for image.

    It's a very effective instrument, and loud, while being capable of a full loud and quiet volume range. I use it most for classical repertoire, but it definitely holds its own against the National RM-1.
    Wow! That Hyde is a nice looking mandolin, other than the fact it is an F style. How is it for holding tune across all the frets? My National needs to be tuned slightly flat on the nut in order for the fretted notes to be in tune. If I tune the nut to be right, then all the fretted notes are sharp.

  29. #16
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    3,068

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    My 1930's Regal resonator!



    (blues starts at 1:41)

  30. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Mandobart For This Useful Post:


  31. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ms
    Posts
    163

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    dunno, I've never had to have a certain make/style of instrument to play various genre's, I use the one mandolin I have to play whatever I want to play and it's ah plenty for me, same with guitars but then that's just me...

  32. #18

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    National RM-1. I only wish I could play it to its full capacity.

  33. #19
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Vintage 1948 Olds Studio.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	48.JPG 
Views:	16 
Size:	133.1 KB 
ID:	187768

  34. #20

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Quote Originally Posted by jacob View Post
    vintage 1948 olds studio.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	48.JPG 
Views:	16 
Size:	133.1 KB 
ID:	187768
    nice!!!!!

  35. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    LeRoy, NY
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Well, I'm playing an Eastman MD415GD, which is a spruce top (gold finish), mahogany combo, which is what you'll find with some many blues guitars, such as the Les Paul Gold top, which is solid mahogany. Is that why I chose it? No. It sounded better than the others in the shop, and it's my only one (other than a couple cheap starters). Plus, I'm not exclusive to playing blues.
    Last edited by Woyvel; Aug-18-2020 at 7:51pm.

  36. #22
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Ever wonder what did W. C. Handy - "The Father of the Blues" - play the blues on?
    In a gift from the past, a video with Ed Sullivan will show us.


  37. #23
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,275
    Blog Entries
    52

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil-D View Post
    National RM-1. I only wish I could play it to its full capacity.
    The full capacity of the RM-1 is beyond my reach. I can make some awfully wonderful sounds on it, some blues, some ragtime, and I can kill a fly at ten yards with an F#m chord.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  38. #24
    Registered User Joey Anchors's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    950

    Default Re: What are you playing the blues on?

    I’ve been using a Waterloo WL-M with flatwound strings.. best tone I’ve ever got for blues on a mandolin.
    2020 Waterloo WL-M “SOL”
    2006 Draleon Royale - “Claudia”
    Pyramid - flatwounds


    Blues Mando Social Group - member

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •