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Thread: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

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    Default Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    I figured out that beginners could learn on the 4 String Electric Mandolin because the single strings (at lighter gauge), easier action, & slightly smaller size would really make it easier to play, as far as barre chords go:https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/10...g?v=1571359975

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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    s11141827 , I think a 4 string mandolin is good for learning the notes on a mandolin fretboard. It would also be helpful with chords and positions. The caveat to my mind is if you want to go on to a traditional mandolin sound (i.e. 8 strings) and style of playing, you'll have to learn the feel of an 8 string, for tremolo especially. My 2 cents....

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    If you start on a lightly strung 4 string solid body electric mandolin you can learn chords, some tunes, some picking basics. But when/if you switch to an acoustic double course mandolin you'll have to re-learn how to fret cleanly, how to pick and chop, how to get a good tone, and toughen up your fingers and calluses.

    Not saying it won't work, but if your goal is to ultimately play acoustic mandolin with other people in a jam, starting out on a 4 string electric could actually hold you back/slow you down.

    I'm not sure why recent posts keep talking about barre chords on the mandolin. There are 4 courses of strings. Most of us have 4 fingers on our fretting hands. The mandolin neck is 1-1/4" wide or less. There is no need to barre.

    Now on my wide necked 10 string mandola or 10 string mandocello sure I use barre chords. But mandolin? No.

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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Why not?

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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Can a beginner learn to surf on one of these? Sort of...
    Seriously, an electric mandolin won't allow you to work on acoustic instrument dynamics.
    The ability to play from quiet to loud based on how hard you pick. It applies to playing
    rhythm, fills and solos. I wouldn't want to miss this as a beginner. Using dynamics is part
    of developing a personal style.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    I learned on a four string banjo, borrowed from my Dad, and learned to read beginner clarinet music.
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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Can beginners learn on a 4 string electric mandolin? Yes, they can learn how to play a 4 string electric mandolin. It's a different instrument than an 8 string acoustic mandolin, if that's what you're really asking, and each instrument requires a different technique to produce the sounds associated with it.

    The notes are in the same place, and they're in the same place as on a violin as well. I suspect that the answer to your question lies in what your goals are.
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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    Can beginners learn on a 4 string electric mandolin? Yes, they can learn how to play a 4 string electric mandolin. It's a different instrument than an 8 string acoustic mandolin
    And.. not just different from an 8 string acoustic but same holds true for an 8 string electric.
    Last edited by Pittsburgh Bill; Dec-29-2021 at 12:57pm.
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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Yes!

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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Nobody can learn no part of nothing on that thing. A proper electric mandolin has 5 strings, upon which one can learn many things, and is the instrument of choice of many pros.

    Given all the discussion of problems in amplifying acoustic mandolins, I’m surprised anyone plays them anymore
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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Nobody can learn no part of nothing on that thing. A proper electric mandolin has 5 strings, upon which one can learn many things, and is the instrument of choice of many pros.

    Given all the discussion of problems in amplifying acoustic mandolins, I’m surprised anyone plays them anymore
    I am new to electric mandolin so my opinion is just my opinion and perhaps not the most enlightened. I find that what I have learned on an acoustic 8 string to be transferable to an electric but am not convinced that it would work the other way as well. I never did like using my installed pick-ups in my acoustics and always preferred to play through a mic, which admittedly was not always convenient or easy.
    Now, for the electrics. I find them to be another dimension and fun to experiment with the different sounds I am able to obtain. Though the one sound that I don't even come close to obtaining with an electric is the sweetness of tone I get from acoustics played unamplified. As for 5 string electrics being the choice of professionals, I guess my only response to that is I am an armature and this may be why I liken a 4 or 5 string electric to sound like an electric guitar and not a mandolin.
    Just saying, "my humble opinion".
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    They’re really good for learning left hand, right hand coordination.
    Lots of exercises, one is to Play FFcP only using your fret fingers, no picking. Because it's electric you can do hammer on's really easy and practice getting the rhythm spot-on using a metronome.

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    Registered User MandoMack's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    I am using an Epiphone Les Paul Pee Wee with a capo as a 4 string electric mandolin. It works great! I played at the pub last night to rave reviews.

    The capo is placed at the 4th fret and then tuned in standard mandolin tuning. The result is a very nice electric mandolin with a 16 inch scale and a humbucking pickup. No cutting, drilling required. Could easily be a 5 or 6 string mandolin. It is for sale in the Classified ads.Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by MandoMack; Jan-14-2022 at 1:06pm.

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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    If you start on a lightly strung 4 string solid body electric mandolin you can learn chords, some tunes, some picking basics. But when/if you switch to an acoustic double course mandolin you'll have to re-learn how to fret cleanly, how to pick and chop, how to get a good tone, and toughen up your fingers and calluses.

    Not saying it won't work, but if your goal is to ultimately play acoustic mandolin with other people in a jam, starting out on a 4 string electric could actually hold you back/slow you down.

    I'm not sure why recent posts keep talking about barre chords on the mandolin. There are 4 courses of strings. Most of us have 4 fingers on our fretting hands. The mandolin neck is 1-1/4" wide or less. There is no need to barre.

    Now on my wide necked 10 string mandola or 10 string mandocello sure I use barre chords. But mandolin? No.
    Actually you could restring your Mandolin w/ really low tension strings such as Thomastik Medium Tension Precision Strings, just so that it's easier. Or even better get yourself a Ukrainian Domra Prima (essentially a Steel Strung Cremonese Mandolin):https://www.ebay.com/itm/302624115089 the scale length is an inch longer than a Standard Mandolin (around 14 in.) so it really is a good compromise between tone & playability.

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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel Glassman View Post
    Can a beginner learn to surf on one of these? Sort of...
    Seriously, an electric mandolin won't allow you to work on acoustic instrument dynamics.
    The ability to play from quiet to loud based on how hard you pick. It applies to playing
    rhythm, fills and solos. I wouldn't want to miss this as a beginner. Using dynamics is part
    of developing a personal style.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    That's no longer the case they now use dynamic sensitive pickups.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    I figured out that beginners could learn on the 4 String Electric Mandolin because the single strings (at lighter gauge), easier action, & slightly smaller size would really make it easier to play, as far as barre chords go:https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/10...g?v=1571359975
    Here's an Acoustic 4 String MandolinClick image for larger version. 

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ID:	201058

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    Default Re: Can beginners learn on a 4 String Electric Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    s11141827 , I think a 4 string mandolin is good for learning the notes on a mandolin fretboard. It would also be helpful with chords and positions. The caveat to my mind is if you want to go on to a traditional mandolin sound (i.e. 8 strings) and style of playing, you'll have to learn the feel of an 8 string, for tremolo especially. My 2 cents....

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    It can be done on both instruments remember? Also (there are 8 String Electric Mandolins too which use really low tension strings to maximize playability) they make 4 String Acoustic Mandolins:Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	201059 this 4 String Ukrainian Domra Prima is essentially a Steel Strung Cremonese 4 String Mandolin with a circle shaped body.

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