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Thread: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

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    Default New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    I bought a mandolin a couple of years ago. A cheap one since I wanted to experiment. I have played guitar on and off for nearly 30 years. (And I should be better, but oh well).

    I found some mando chords online and some are hand busters for the little neck and my hands. That's all I really know.

    How should I approach this similarly or differently than the guitar? (Bass players get all weird about guitar players that play a bass like a guitar. I'm sure you all have similar concerns). What to think about, what to avoid?

    Any good resources online?

    thanks

  2. #2
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    Mandolins are plucked violins, not little guitars. Great online resources including a classic Mike Marshall youtube for beginning ergonomics. Search for a player you like, there will probably be an online lesson somewhere. Artistworks and Peghead Nation are subscription sites, but there are plenty of free lessons around.

    btw, what kind of music are you wanting to play?
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    In a way it depends on what style of guitar player you were. If you were a chord-centric player, for example, you come with the prejudice that the melody is someone else's job. That music is a necklace of beads (chords) on a chain (melody).

    (I played woodwinds prior to mandolin, so i came with the opposite prejudice that backup chords and harmony were someone else's job.)


    It is not so much us getting all weird, its really that you will limit yourself. Some of that is inevitable, but if you conceive of a mandolin as being without limits, you will at least push back against the natural tendency to play guitar on the mandolin.

    So it might be good to start from the very beginning. Get Don Julin's great book Mandolin For Dummies. Pretend you have no clue as to which end gets hot first. Any lessons from your guitar playing will be a bonus of course, but pretend you know nothing.

    For example, fingering. Guitar is fingered chromatically - every finger gets one fret. Mandolin is fingered diatonically, each finger a whole note in the scale, i.e. each finger generally covers two frets. So right from the get-go there is a difference to wrestle out.

    I am betting that your adventure into mandolinning is, among other things, going to expand your guitar abilities. Life is like that.
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    I guess for mandolin, I'd like to play along with others. There's a jam where they do "old time" music. Gospel and easy bluegrass stuff. I took my guitar last time but with virus haven't been back.

    I play acoustic guitar and sing on top of it so do a good bit of rhythm. I play all sorts of stuff but what I have played on the mandolin has been more three chord stuff with all major chords. Sorta.

    After starting this thread I found a nice lady that had a bunch of videos pretty music exactly where I am...coming from guitar. I can chunk out some chords to match a guitar player.

    @Jeff D, what do you mean about each finger covers two frets? G and G# or something else?

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    Registered User Steve_Zee_64's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    Hi

    I have the same Background (coming from Guitar). I started Mandolin in December 2020 when our Company Band decided to try to cover Steve Earle's "Galway Girl".
    Of course I had to look for a Mandolin first and then figuring out the Chords and playing Technique.

    There are many many many Clips to find on Youtube "how to play this or that on Mandolin" and if you search for, you'll get quick into the Mandolin Stuff due to your Background.

    Good Luck & have Fun! :-)
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    There are as many different ways to play mandolin as there are ways to play guitar. Four finger chords are a pain when you first start playing mandolin. Double stops and three string chords work well rhythmically when played on the G D and A strings. Listen to some players and decide who's style you like and settle in. You will likely find either some lessons or tutorials available. Enjoy the process. R/
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    Similar situation here. Decades of guitar, then, while learning to flatpick fiddle tunes on guitar via Bryan Sutton on Artistworks (he’s an excellent teacher) somehow I made the connection to fiddle tunes on a mandolin. My initial search for lessons online lead to Mandolessons.com where Baron Collins-Hill had me playing Angeline The Baker in the first hour. His lessons are free with donation options. His style of playing and teaching is a good fit for me. And he has a a very long list of tunes to dive into. I’ve been sorting through them finding the ones that suit my beginner skill level. I would also add that it’s essential to have a properly set up mandolin to play.

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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    It's already been noted that a mandolin is not a little guitar played upsidedown. Hand position is also not the same as guitar. Good guitar technique is to have your hand perpendicular to the fretboard when playing. That's bad mandolin technique. You hold the mandolin like a fiddle/violin, with fingers at an angle (a quick way to see what it should feel like is to hold the mandolin up to your chin as if it was a fiddle and see where your hands lay along the fretboard. Try to copy that). As for two frets per finger, that means your left hand will use the first finger for the first two frets, the second finger for the third and fourth frets, that kind of thing. They're a lot closer together than guitar frets so it makes sense. Mike Marshall has a Youtube on how to hold the mandolin -- it's not a cheat or eye roll to watch it. a lot of people don't hold the mandolin correctly when they first start because they try to look at the fretboard while they play (also bad technique) which turns the body more horizontal than vertical. And depending on the genre, you may have to expand into melody playing instead of chording. Certainly for Old Time, mandolin players play melody a lot. I've played ITM (Irish Traditional Music) for close on 18 years and i know three (count 'em, three) chords, and they're all two-finger chords. And I never use them while playing in sessions except on the rare occasions when we're playing polkas. Mandolin also is designed for tremolo and that's fun to play around with as well. Stuff like hammer-ons and pull-offs and harmonics will translate from guitar so don't hesitate to add them to your mandolin repertoire. Moving to mandolin means you've opened up pandora's box --all sorts of stuff will fly out!
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    Registered User Marc Berman's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    Here's the Mike Marshall video -

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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    If you want to play melody, delve into fiddle tunes. They are a great help in learning fretboard positions beyond scales and arpeggios.
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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    I came from guitar to mandolin.
    My advice is to forget about relating your guitar to mandolin.
    Just take it as a totally different instrument.
    Learn the mandolin chords, and mandolin scales/arpeggios.

    Then get some tablature or notation of fiddle tunes to get some tunes under your belt.
    I have also found success at just learning mandolin tunes by ear while watching videos.

    I found that playing mandolin actually made my guitar playing better.
    For one thing, now that I am at home within the tiny fret spacings, I can zoom around on the guitar above the 12th fret with ease.
    I also started using the mandolin picks on the guitar which is an interesting experiment.
    I switch back and forth between mandolin picks and guitar picks.
    I do use the same 1.4-1.5mm thickness on all picks, regardless of mandolin or guitar pick shapes.

    It is an interesting journey.
    Make sure you spend time on both instruments.
    You will find that they compliment each other, and give you a new world of acoustic voices to use in your music.
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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    As a player of both guitar and mandolin, I appreciate all the good advice from the previous postings.

    I ask one more question to the OP:

    What style of mandolin playing do you want to learn, or, is there a specific musical goal?

    I ask because it may affect what mandolin you want to buy and exactly how you approach playing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    In a way it depends on what style of guitar player you were.
    ............

    So it might be good to start from the very beginning. Get Don Julin's great book Mandolin For Dummies.
    That's a good place to start (although to my personal taste and experience, there's not quite enough Italian style presented) since the book is a really good overall intro to mandolin.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mando...coming from guitar...where would you start?

    Thousands of members here were in your shoes at some point, guitar players drawn to the mandolin. It took me a year or so to sort of begin to find a mandolinny voice for myself, as in the beginning I just mostly tried to translate guitar riffs and licks to mandolin. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s only a start. Like JeffD says, don’t limit your thinking or attitude re: mandolin.

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