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Thread: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

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    ************** Caleb's Avatar
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    Default How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    For many years the mandolin would feel awkward because I was so used to playing the guitar. Somewhere along the way that switched and now the mandolin feels more at home in my hands than the guitar does.

    I play a (wonderful) dread and lately I’ve been feeling like it’s too big, and the edge digs into my arm a lot (the look of an armrest bothers me so much I doubt I’d be able to deal with it). This never happened in almost 30 years of guitar playing. I can’t help but think playing so much mandolin has made the guitar seem too big.

    So I’ve been thinking of getting a smaller guitar. This is a bummer because I really love the one I have.

    Anyone else notice your guitar life change because of the mandolin?
    ...

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Not in my case. My guitar playing intertwines into my mandolin playing which I like and helps in hearing notes in a variety of genres. But then Iím a home player nowadays so itís whatever suits my wants/needs going from one instrument to the other. Iím still learning my way around on my mandolin but guitar is my home base

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    I've been playing mandolin for several years, but much more intensely in the last year (for obvious reasons). I come from a classical piano background, and I mostly play classical and Irish music on mandolin.

    I've tried learning guitar a couple times, and it just never sat well in my piano brain (or piano hands?). I picked up guitar again more recently after having studied mandolin so closely for a year, and I'm finding that I'm actually starting to get the hang of it!

    I think the mandolin helped me understand on a deeper, more conceptual level the two-dimensional nature of the fretboard (as compared with the one-dimensional nature of a keyboard).

    Comparing mandolin to guitar, it took me a while to get used to the different angle of the fretting hand. Also, because of the closer tuning, the way I think about positions on the neck is slowly changing. I never particularly liked learning chords on mandolin, and they seem to make a little more sense on guitar.

    I'm guessing a lot of guitarists on here learned guitar before mandolin. Anyone else go from mandolin to guitar?
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    I don't play guitar any more unless I'm absolutely forced to. Like driving a semi instead of a sports car.
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    Anyone else notice your guitar life change because of the mandolin?
    Only inasmuch that mndln impelled me to tenor/plectrum banjo, which I played for 10 years (instead of guitar). These days, the only guitar I still play with any regularity is flamenco - all the other styles I've played over 50 years have been subsumed by fiddle and harp.

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    I had similar happen to me. Played guitar for 50 years, then started playing mandolin seriously and barely touched a guitar for 6 years. It felt awkward when I picked up a guitar, especially a dreadnought. Fortunately I have some electrics and even bought a small body acoustic, which feels a bit smaller in my lap. I recently joined a "for fun" band just to force me to play guitar more often. There is a great deal of familiarity in holding and playing an instrument on a regular basis. I think all you need to do is give more playing time to your favorite dreadnought and you will be fine.

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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Pretty much eliminated it. When I pick up my 12 string, which is very rarely, I wonder how I ever fingerpicked it. Once in a while I will play rhythm on a 6 string, just to fill out a small group.

    Of course they had sat in cases for ~30 years before I took up mandolin. Life gets in the way.
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    I was a finger style guitar player for 40 years or so. I took up the mandolin and became a flat picker. I have both Martin and Breedlove Dreadnought guitars. I can play them but I find myself playing my Auditorium bodied Taylor instead because it's thinner and this last year I picked up a semi-hollow body electric because everything started to seem too big. I understand the issue.
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I wonder how I ever fingerpicked it
    I continue to neglect guitar in my own life. Once I really got interested in mandolin, the first couple years I hardly ever practiced or learned anything on guitar, but I still used it when playing out at pickings or open mic nights because I'd been doing it over 50 years and I was not comfortable on mandolin ... but my guitar skills began to erode a bit. Then, when I started playing the mandolin more out, and gigging with it a bit, over time I just quit fooling with guitar much.

    These days I play in a duo with another guitarist, who also plays keyboard and harmonica from time to time. I have to play both guitar and mandolin, and it's often a struggle with one or the other. I find I have to practice more on guitar because I really have to exercise my skills to get up to speed again. That said, it can be done.

    A couple of years ago, I sold all my guitars except one. I didn't keep my favorites. I kept a smaller Gretsch slot head 12 fret model. It's size is better for me now, though I have less neck up high to play with.

    Caleb, as far as comfortability is concerned, I have two suggestions. The first is to try some parlor size guitars. The second, if you don't already do it, is to use the more classical guitar stance: Rest the guitar on your left leg instead of the right leg like most folk musicians do. I made that adjustment years ago, it doesn't take long to get over the initial awkwardness, and you may find that it is more comfortable. Less of a problem with jumbos or dreads eating into your arm with the corner of the bout.
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    I sort of learned guitar, bass, and mandolin all at the same time in my early teens circa 1971.

    That's why I can't say that mandolin changed my guitar playing, as my skills evolved on both instruments pretty much simultaneously...and am still learning both.

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Mark Gunter, great suggestion on holding the guitar differently. I’ll give that a shot tonight. I also like 12-fret guitars, but on occasion I will get way up the neck for solos. The other day I was playing ‘Patience’ by GNR and found myself up around the 15th fret or so for a few of the notes.

    If it weren’t for the fact that I enjoy singing songs, I’d probably never pick up a guitar. I can sing a bit with the mandolin, but the guitar is just better for songs.
    ...

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Playing mandolin has greatly enriched my guitar playing, I think. It seems like two different areas of my brain are communicating so that when I learn something on one, it isn't long before it crosses over to the other. This is mostly with fiddle tunes though I have learned some more complex guitar things on mando. Also, I tend to prefer smaller guitar body sizes these days.

    Right now I have a couple of pretty amazing 00's that seem to be able to do anything my D28 can and look forward to even more adventures with parlor sized guitars

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    After being a fingerpicking guitarist for many years, my relatively recent attention to the mandolin has had one major benefit: I finally can hold on to the pick long enough to use it for guitar playing. I guess I was just too lazy before to really develop my pick skills on the guitar; it was just too easy to play fingerstyle. I continue to play both families of instruments. I have various types of guitars to play, depending on the tune and just about all the sizes of mandolin (no mandobass....yet!). Each instrument has it’s appeal, even some of the unfairly maligned “lesser” brands such as Harmony.

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Yes, I rarely play guitar nowadays. Mainly when needed. And that's also the only time when I'll practice guitar. Have so much to learn on the mandolin that working on guitar has to take a back seat.

    Then again, when I got serious about guitar, that meant putting away the basses I used to play. Haven't owned one of those in over 25 years now.

    Also really cut back from having 6 or 7 guitars at a time to 3 (4 if you count an electric in the closet that hasn't been out in 2 years). I still get GAS though. None of my guitars have been owned for more then 3 years. But also don't see changing them any time soon.
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Yeah, it made me stop playing guitar entirely for about 10 years! Between 2008-2018 I never touched a guitar and for the first time since I was 11 years old I didn't even actually own a guitar - crazy! Not even sure what made me pick the guitar up again in 2018, but I ended up getting a Breedlove Revival OM, and then my '69 Martin 00-18. The way the mandolin has influenced by guitar playing is that I think my guitar playing is much cleaner now, after all the years of mandolin my picking is more accurate.
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    I've played guitar since I was 10, I'm 69 now and have never, would never, could never remotely abandon my first and always love (guitar). I keep 3 instruments out all the time, my acoustic, my archtop and my mandolin. I don't stay in the same mood for long thankfully, I may be in a folk/traditional mood and play my acoustic or mandolin each all day or I may be in a bluesy or jazzy mood and play my archtop for days on end. Those 6 strings are heaven and I love the funkyness my mandolin brings to a lot of tunes in different genres and it's soothing melody but I would never ever neglect what each instrument brings to my life...I'm ah musicholic from old traditional in blues/folk to western swing to country to new orleans to soul to rhythm and blues to funk to swing to jazz so I need the sound of different instruments...each has their purpose and place in my life...

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Mandolin changed my guitar playing in that, it made me not play the guitar anymore... not that I played that much to start with
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    I have played guitar for 50 years, mainly bluegrass rhythm while singing. Some flat picking but not my main emphasis. About twenty years ago started playing mandolin and that became my main instrument in time. It took quite a while to loosen my grip with the left hand because playing bluegrass guitar required more down force. Or so I thought. The mandolin requires a much gentler touch and that bad habit took a long time break. In fact I still have to work at it.
    As for guitar I still play, just not as often, and I found my guitar "grip" has loosened considerably. A nice benefit from playing mandolin.
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    I was a guitar player for about 35 years before I took up mandolin (13 years ago). I was a decent intermediocre guitar player. I had been a fiddle player for about 40 years before I took up mandolin.

    Since starting mandolin everything musical has improved. I play guitar and fiddle better and enjoy playing them more.

    I started learning guitar leads and licks because of playing the mandolin. I started learning more chords/double stops and more rhythmic styles on fiddle because of playing the mandolin.

    I've also gone to much thicker guitar picks.

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Ha ha! I agree with Don. I played guitar for years before getting a mandolin. Now I never get out the six string unless it’s for a multi-track project. I recently got a clawhammer banjo and I’m getting some benefit in my mandolin playing by some additional control over my wrist and forearm, but that’s a different topic.
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    but but but it can be one of your bestest friends...

    Mandolin changed my guitar playing in that, it made me not play the guitar anymore
    Now I never get out the six string
    Yes, I rarely play guitar nowadays
    If it werenít for the fact that I enjoy singing songs, Iíd probably never pick up a guitar
    Pretty much eliminated it. When I pick up my 12 string, which is very rarely
    I don't play guitar any more unless I'm absolutely forced to.

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    I went a long time not playing guitar, but not because of the mandolin, but harmonica. While I play mandolin every day I have been playing finger picked guitar much more and enjoy it a lot. After 35 years of not playing much guitar I am glad it is in my life again. I did some solo gigs on guitar before all the craziness went down after 35 or so years of not playing guitar. It was great. No reason not to play both, I also still play the harp and banjo. Quit the bass tho, my hands won't let me do that any more. It's all fun and I will keep doing it as long as I can.
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Learning mandolin opened up more playing opportunities, thus expanding my knowledge of all the instruments I play. Bass especially, and that relates back to guitar.

    Ensemble playing is an opportunity to learn all of the parts and how they correlate.

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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    Yeah, it made me stop playing guitar entirely for about 10 years! Between 2008-2018 I never touched a guitar and for the first time since I was 11 years old I didn't even actually own a guitar - crazy! Not even sure what made me pick the guitar up again in 2018, but I ended up getting a Breedlove Revival OM, and then my '69 Martin 00-18. The way the mandolin has influenced by guitar playing is that I think my guitar playing is much cleaner now, after all the years of mandolin my picking is more accurate.
    Hey Jill,

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: How has the mandolin changed your guitar playing?

    Must not be too many bluegrass players responding here. Most all the Bluegrassers I know and play with are multi-instrumentalists - covering at least 3 of the following: guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass and banjo regularly in our jams over the years.

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