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Thread: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

  1. #26

    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Well, it's not my primary instrument, as that honor is reserved for the fiddle, and has been for 20 years. But, after a number of occupational injuries that made my normal level of playing (time and ability) far lower for a while, I realized that there could easily come a time when the mando becomes the primary. That was a couple of years ago. I'm still not able to play the fiddle as much as I used to, so it's becoming closer to 50/50. Someday I will be too old and decrepit to play the fiddle, or even do fine melody picking, but at least I will still have something I can play some chords and backing on!

  2. #27

    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by FiddlerJohn View Post
    I was a Fiddle/Violin player for over 30 years and had to retire because of a shoulder injury. Mandolin was an easy crossover because the fingering and tuning is the same and is much more ergonomic to play.
    What type of injury was it, may I ask? Mine was a partial rotator cuff tear. I can still only hold the fiddle comfortably for a set amount of time, then the front of my shoulder burns....my experience was similar. I hadn't played my mandolins all that much in the previous 8 years, but all of a sudden it became the go-to instrument. Definitely more comfortable to play, and casually.

  3. #28
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    When I realized I was not excited about playing the banjo! I still like playing some OT banjo from time to old time. And of course playing some guitar too. But, I LIKE playing mandolin.
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  5. #29
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    I finally stuck with guitar at age 14 after several fits and starts. About 40 years later I picked up the mandolin. It's been 4 months and I'd like it to be my primary instrument, but, heck, I don't know if I can hack it yet. It's not like I can go to an open mic night these days and test my chops. But I fell in love with it even though I'm not much of a bluegrass, old-time, or Irish music fan.

    Since "guitar players are a dime a dozen", I wanted to do something different, learn something new. It's a little less stress on my shoulders, and a smaller thing to carry around.

    I also find, though it might just be me, but chord melodies come a little easier for me on mandolin than guitar.

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    much more a melody instrument than guitar. I have learned about myself an ability to recall melodies. I have a simple vocabulary on mandolin. I just like to call up all the melodies in my head. The mandolin lets me do that!

    I still play a bit of guitar. That said, music therapy for me always includes my mandolin. It's just good for me.

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  9. #31
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Probably only in the past year plus, with two bands where I play mandolin. Yes, I still own some guitars and will play them at jams and even gigs when needed.

    But if I think about music these days, it's based around the mandolin. It's also the first instrument I'll grab when wanting to noodle on tunes.

    Mandolin also helped me expand and realize there is a lot more out there than just American old-time and Swedish folk. Learning French Canadian, Finnish, Upper Midwest and other music styles has really kept me going. Especially now.
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    Rush Burkhardt Rush Burkhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    I came to that realization in "66, when, to keep playing in a band with my friends, who played guitar and banjo, my choices were fiddle, bass or mandolin! Fiddle: at the time, strangling cats; bass: try getting a bass in a two-seater; mandolin: hadn't tried it; small, tuned in 5ths., chick magnet(?)!
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  11. #33
    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Guitar is my main instrument, having played it many decades before touching a mandolin.

    But....

    Had things worked out differently.....
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  12. #34
    MN Mandolin Orchestra Benjamin Gieseke's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    For me, it probably happened about 4 years ago in 2016 when I left my last job at a church that included a music component. I had wanted mandolin to be my primary instrument for years, but the demand in the circles I ran in was overwhelmingly for guitar. Once I left that job and especially after I joined a mandolin orchestra a couple of years later, the mandolin definitely grew into my main instrument.

    Still love and play guitar, and considered that my main instrument for a long time, but coming from a violin background mandolin has always been more intuitive. Plus, after a few years of hauling at least a guitar, amp, and pedalboard to every gig, that tiny instrument in the corner starts looking reaaalll good....
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  13. #35

    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    I am just now realizing the mandolin is my main squeeze.

    I started playing guitar at 12 and -- except for a long break when kids and work and Little League, etc., took over -- have kept at it. Last year brought a new infatuation with banjo.

    So this year, at 70, I picked up the mandolin for the first time and seem to have lost almost all interest in the guitar. Now I find myself plotting ways to sell off most of my seven guitars just to justify another mandolin purchase.

    I think what attracts me is the how the mandolin lends itself to working up chord melodies of familiar tunes. Lately I've spent a lot of time just noodling up a version of "Wayward Wind," and it's just plain satisfying.

    Jim

  14. #36
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    I'm mostly known for banjo playing, then lately double bass. I also play at Dobro, but I'm really just a novice with it. In comparison with banjo and double bass, I'm almost never found playing mandolin in public...

    Until this year, that is. With the current virus situation, where I'm only publicly playing through online resources, the mandolin has become my go-to instrument for a number of reasons:

    1) It has a more pleasant voice for computer mics with online services.
    2) It can produce a less staccato, more sustain-like tone using tremolo, which helps reduce the effects of hardware and distance related latency.
    3) It is smaller, lighter and easier to work around while dealing with keyboards, wires, headsets and other computer related items, especially in a crowded music room.
    4) While I love playing banjo, in my opinion if you have more than 2 of them in a 5-10 person jam, they tend to start sounding obnoxious, especially if some of the players are not volume and touch sensitive. You can have a lot of mandolins in a jam before they start sounding obnoxious.
    5) Also in my opinion, a jam and for that matter a band, needs to have only one bass. Again, multiple mandolins is usually not a problem.
    6) Not that the banjo cannot be a very nice solo instrument, but with its voice the mandolin makes an excellent solo instrument.
    7) With more and more time playing it, I'm becoming more and more at home on the mandolin. I've never played it for my main band, and am starting to really want to.

    I still consider banjo my primary instrument, but I will probably be wanting to play mandolin more and more. It's become my first choice at home now, and may well become my first choice in public once the virus situation is over.
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  15. #37
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Like so many others, guitar was my main instrument after giving up violin at age 14. I played semi-pro until life got in the way, but always played guitar. First picked up a mandolin and pedal steel in 1973 because we had a guitar-heavy band, but didn't start playing mandolin regularly until about 1985 when I joined a bluegrass band. As one of two guitar players, I could change a broken string the slowest, so got the mandolin. After that band broke up, I went back to playing guitar until the late '90s when ai found myself in a group of several guitarists trying to learn swing tunes. Picked the mandolin up again then and learned 3-string voicings; no looking back.

  16. #38
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rush Burkhardt View Post
    I came to that realization in "66, when, to keep playing in a band with my friends, who played guitar and banjo, my choices were fiddle, bass or mandolin! Fiddle: at the time, strangling cats; bass: try getting a bass in a two-seater; mandolin: hadn't tried it; small, tuned in 5ths., chick magnet(?)!
    Hah hah, when I was a teenager, I probably would have been attracted to the mandolin player (because of the mandolin). Something different, and I liked that.

    On the main question, I wanted a mandolin for many years, and almost bought one a few times. Played clarinet through high school, had an electric bass for about 6 months at the end of my senior year (but nobody to play it with, so I didn't go too far*), and a semester of piano in college (my parents had an (almost aways poorly tuned) piano at the house).

    I'm pretty obsessed with mandolin right now, but still haven't really played with anyone else, due not only to not being very good yet, but also the whole pandemic thing. Hoping to start with my brother, who's a pretty good guitar and bass player.

    Sue

    *BTW, my brother, who has the bass now and played it in some in gigs when he was younger, says you don't need anyone else to play electric bass. But I didn't think about that back then, and he was a kid at the time.

  17. #39
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    A long time ago. I was in high school band. Playing woodwinds.

    Socially, guys were getting more attention if they played guitar. It was the time between playing Neil Young and playing James Taylor, and it really helped if one had that emotionally unavailable look. (Think Don Johnson as Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice).

    I wanted that. But I was a real contrarian and therefore I picked mandolin - hoping in some vague way to be the cool among the cool. (While I wasn't sure if it could be done with mandolin, I knew it could not be done with clarinet.)

    I did not grow up with bluegrass in the air, I didn't even really know what a mandolin sounded like and it would be a few years before i ever knowingly heard a mandolin recording.

    A friend who played lower brass in band, and took violin lessons at home, handed me his bowl back mandolin and told me how it was tuned. And I was hooked, and never looked back.

    In my home there was an old banjo my father had traded for in his youth. I tuned it in fifths, and found my beginner clarinet book, and taught myself how to read music on the mandolin. If this goes here, than that must go there, type of thing. My dad got me a Terada arch top f hole mandolin (from a television repair and band instrument music shop) and I have never looked back.
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  18. #40
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    A long time ago. I was in high school band. Playing woodwinds.

    Socially, guys were getting more attention if they played guitar. It was the time between playing Neil Young and playing James Taylor, and it really helped if one had that emotionally unavailable look. (Think Don Johnson as Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice).

    I wanted that. But I was a real contrarian and therefore I picked mandolin - hoping in some vague way to be the cool among the cool. (While I wasn't sure if it could be done with mandolin, I knew it could not be done with clarinet.)
    .
    So did it work? For sure clarinet is a fairly nerdy instrument

    Sue

  19. #41

    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    (horn and bass clarinet)

    (the great HB on clarinet at 18:00")



    Any instrument is 'only as good as' the music being played upon it. Clarinet has an excellent voice.

    Admittedly, I too disregarded the clarinet as 'nerdy' back in grade school, and opted for sax. Later as an adult, I picked up a clarinet and out came pouring the blues. Today I play clarinets more than any stringed instrument except for violin/fdl.

    *Same with accordions - an instrument I despise when deployed in schmaltz. But I play blues, forro, balkan, etc.
    Last edited by catmandu2; Aug-06-2020 at 1:27pm.

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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    In bass groups I'm primarily a saxophone player. In saxophone groups I'm primarily a mandolin player. In this group I'm primarily a bass player.

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  23. #43
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    Any instrument is 'only as good as' the music being played upon it. Clarinet has an excellent voice.
    Ah...clarinet.

    I'm from New Orleans, home of jazz clarinet.

    Plus, stuff like Klezmer, Turkish, Balkan, polkas, even English Country dance, all show the power of the clarinet.



    The back of my head many years ago on a wedding gig. I love clarinet...I wish I played it better.

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  25. #44

    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    When I happened upon my first double stop.

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  27. #45
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    I guess I opened a can of worms clarinet-wise. I wasn't putting down the clarinet at all. As a kid I picked it for its sound and for the fact that you often got to play the melody. I'd still have one if my nephews hadn't broken it. I've also looked at them on craigslist, etc. recently. I guess I meant nerdy from a kids in school perspective. mea culpa.

    Sue

  28. #46

    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Nah, I'm not admonishing anyone! I just like the instrument - some of my favorite players and writers use bass cl particularly..it's one of my favorite instruments. Some folks play Bach and stuff on em but I've not done so as I have other means. I'm aware not everyone likes outre stuff but these guys are taking the stick through some paces The audio stinks but there're some great textures and interesting instrumental combinations..

    I'll get off the mndln thread now!

  29. #47
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Nothing wrong with the clarinet. It's used in Finnish music too. Our band has one occasionally. If the person has the free time to play with us.
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  31. #48
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    At age 63 when I began my mandolin journey !!
    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 !

  32. #49
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: When did you realize mandolin was your primary instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nbayrfr View Post
    When I happened upon my first double stop.
    Yeah, that can be a good motivation. When I was a kid, playing (rather badly) with a bunch of others of similar ability, we all played a single melody line, but in some cases it was a counter-melody or harmony. Together, the different notes were what drew me in further.

    It took a long while to figure out how to play my own melody and that harmony on just one single mandolin - required a few contortions and sliding up and down the neck. But that sound is worth it.

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