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Thread: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

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    Default Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    I received the Breedlove that I purchased from the classifieds today. So, after tuning it up, I started trying out my fingers and a flat pick.

    1) I watched a few videos on playing and I think they mentioned that your fingers should reach over the fretboard at a 90 degree angle. My hand found it's comfort spot with the fingers at a bit angle from the high E to down to the G strings. Is that a habit I need to break?

    2) Pick angle? My reading and video watching made the angle of the pick a rather important thing. I didn't seem to have trouble with it from how I hold it and attack the strings from guitar playing. Maybe I've been playing mandolin friendly all along. To make sure, does anyone know of a good demo if the angle I should be trying to have?

    3) It was rather hard to get a nice clean note above the 14th fret or so. Any tips to make that work out better?

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    1) I watched a few videos on playing and I think they mentioned that your fingers should reach over the fretboard at a 90 degree angle. My hand found it's comfort spot with the fingers at a bit angle from the high E to down to the G strings. Is that a habit I need to break?
    Most people will recommend that you come across the strings, like a fiddle, as opposed to perpendicularly, as you would on a classical guitar.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    2) Pick angle? My reading and video watching made the angle of the pick a rather important thing. I didn't seem to have trouble with it from how I hold it and attack the strings from guitar playing. Maybe I've been playing mandolin friendly all along. To make sure, does anyone know of a good demo if the angle I should be trying to have?
    If you have flat picking experience, there is nothing particularly unique to a mandolin. Watch some John Reischman videos and realize that there is no fixed rule to pulling great tone.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    3) It was rather hard to get a nice clean note above the 14th fret or so. Any tips to make that work out better?
    While I am tempted to joke that there is no money above the fifth fret, I would simply advise to make sure that you are arching your fingers and fretting with your fingertips as you come across the strings.
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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    I'm surprised as well that making chords beyond a few fingers is difficult. I have a 12 string guitar, so it's not the pairs of strings. I'll check the setup, since I downloaded the setup guide from the forum.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    Due to the short scale length of a mandolin, getting clear notes past the 14th fret is going to be a problem. Nature of the beast.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    I've found that it's hard to break a lot of my guitar habits. For instance, more often than not, I use finger picks for mando, because that's what I'm used to on guitar. Bonus: I can tremolo twice as fast with finger picks as with a flat pick.

    The moral: It's good to learn from those who know, but don't let playing it wrong stop you from playing it at all!
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    Great tips in this video from Sierra Hull regarding tone - she touches on pick angle and where to pick:




    Mike Marshall talking about right and left hand technique here:

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    Jill, those are exactly the videos I was thinking of posting. Lots of useful info there. Mike Marshalls video helped my right hand technique a lot.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    I've had mine almost a year now and awhile back I noticed I was more able to fret higher on the neck a few months into it. I've decided that's because my calluses are a little different now so that there's a little protrusion at the fingertip that can depress the string without getting past the fret.

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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    Getting clean up the neck can be tough unless you have Thile-esque spindly fingers (not meant to be a criticism, his fingers just fit better than fingers shaped like mine), but youíll get there with practice. Even with his made for mando hands Iíve seen Chris shift his position so that his fingers are coming almost straight down the FB when he gets close to the end. That angle prevents the upper portion of your callouses from deadening the strings. Of course I canít play like him, but Iíve tried that approach just messing around and it works well.

    Also, as your fretting hand moves up the FB move your picking hand closer to the bridge to help maintain a more consistent tone.

    The above videos are very good. Google ďChris Thile pick holdĒ for more info on his grip and angle. Of course, thereís not one correct way that fits everyone, despite Chrisís assertion otherwise in that video. John McGann, RIP, who was a professor at Berkeley in Boston, advocated a similar angled approach as well.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    OK, my left hand is OK, but I may need to see if I have the right pick angle.

    The thing I find I have to keep checking is where I am picking between the fretboard and bridge. The darn thing is so short, I find my hand wants to be down on the bridge.

    After wanting a few videos again, it does sound like when you get up the frets a good ways the tone isn't as clear and ringing as the first position. Maybe I'm assuming more out of the instrument

    I did order a new set of strings because.... that's all. I just want some shiny new strings to hear the mandolin at it's best.

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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    OK, my left hand is OK, but I may need to see if I have the right pick angle.
    This is the video that CES recommended:



    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    The thing I find I have to keep checking is where I am picking between the fretboard and bridge. The darn thing is so short, I find my hand wants to be down on the bridge.
    Thereís good bite down by the bridge and more richness up over the end of the fretboard. Explore the entire terrain.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    After wanting a few videos again, it does sound like when you get up the frets a good ways the tone isn't as clear and ringing as the first position. Maybe I'm assuming more out of the instrument
    Balance across the fretboard and up the neck is often a characteristic that separates the good from the great instrument.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    I did order a new set of strings because.... that's all. I just want some shiny new strings to hear the mandolin at it's best.
    Do you like the sound of shiny new strings on your guitars? I certainly love how they feel under my fingers but prefer the tone when they have settled in and the brightness has rolled off a bit.
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  15. #12

    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    I put on a set of EJ73s and the clarity down the next is much improved. Probably due to new strings and lighter gauge strings. I'm not sure what gauge was on it before but it was noticeably bigger. I had to do a double check to make sure I didn't have the wrong string in the set in my hand to replace the low strings.

    On a guitar, some strings are too bright or metalic sounding for the first bit and settle in to a warmer tone. The new strings aren't jumping out at me as too metalic. The mandolin natural tone sounds sort of that way, to my years of guitar ears.

    I watched the Chris Thile video before. He looks very uncomfortable standing stock still.

  16. #13

    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    Hi. I notice you have a Hogan F5> I just wondered if you could comment on it please. I know someone who owns one but I've never played and he is a long way from me. They read well. Even a private message to me to avoid this chat getting in the way of the Breedlove one. Many thanks. Jimmy (UK)

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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    Lots of good advice here. My advice is to follow all of it. OK, not exactly, but do pay attention, and take from it what works for you.

    Just two bits of hopefully helpful advice, observations really, gleaned from personal experience. I'm mostly self-taught, so take with a few grains of salt.

    Right hand - I tend to keep the pick vertical to the strings. And I often "rest" my wrist - not hand, though perhaps the heel - on the bridge. This places the pick just below the soundhole - the sweet spot to my ears - and diminishes exhaustion. I don't mean plant the wrist there, but let it rest lightly.

    Left hand - It doesn't matter how far your fingers contact the fretboard below the fret, as long as they don't go above the fret. You needn't worry about trying to fit your fingertips between the frets. It's about impossible for most people, anyway. Try trimming your fingernails at a point where they can contact the strings along with or even ahead of the flesh. That may help them fit better, and even exert more pressure (per square inch/cm) on the strings, for a cleaner strike.
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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    The one thing I gleaned from Sierra's video was that I may need to press very close if not on the fret and not well back of it, as I might on a guitar.

    I'm working on learning the major and minor scales, now. I figure the mandolin is very much a single note instrument in most cases, so I need to know my way around the fretboard. The nice thing is there is not a lot of room to have 5 different patterns of a scale, like on the guitar, so the learning curve will be shorter.

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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    fwiw, i've noticed that my callouses from playing the mandolin are not the same place as my-husband-the-guitar-player. once your callouses shift, you may find fretting higher than first position a little easier.
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  20. #17

    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    The one thing I gleaned from Sierra's video was that I may need to press very close if not on the fret and not well back of it, as I might on a guitar. ....
    You should be playing close to the fret on the guitar also, not well back of it. Playing mandolin has helped clean up my guitar technique in a lot of ways.

  21. #18

    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    While changing the strings, I learned the best tool to get the new string going in the right direction, as it comes out from the tail piece is the loop end from one of the old strings.

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    Default Re: Now that I have actually tried playing one.. a few questions

    If you check out FFcP, (four finger closed positions) there are several closed position scale patterns that are valuable. They are of course portable, both up and down, and across the neck. I found it useful to get or figure out a closed position scale pattern for starting on each finger.
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