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Thread: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

  1. #1

    Default Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    I am hoping for advice on how a newish player is viewed by the group showing up to his/her first few jams with an entry-intermediate level instrument vs. higher level instrument.

    The context is that I own two mandolins and consider myself only slightly better than a beginner at this point. I know my chords quite well, but am still committing scales to memory and only know a few songs by heart. I come from guitar so my hands have years of movement / timing experience but this is a new instrument for me. I own one mandolin in the $800 range and another in the upper $2k range. The more expensive instrument has better palyability and sound, but I could work with either.

    My concern is that my nicer instrument far exceeds my current ability which I feel a little embarrassed about. I purchased to inspire practice and for me to grow into over time.

    Which mandolin should I bring as I leave my home and start playing in the wild with other people soon? I would prefer to play my nicer one, but don't want to come off as cocky, or generally be viewed in a negative light by anyone or turn anyone off. I just want to make friends and find people to help me grow musically. I realize I may be over thinking this but don't know jam culture, and wanted to be respectful and ask this group for their advice before I show up to my first jam. Thank you!

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Take the one you clearly want to.
    Don't worry about others of course and anyone judging you based on your instrument isn't a friend you would likely want anyway.

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  5. #3
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Quote Originally Posted by barbera View Post
    ...
    Which mandolin should I bring as I leave my home and start playing in the wild with other people soon? ...
    I'd say bring the mandolin that you find easiest to play. You'll play better on it no matter how well you feel like you play.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
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    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    I am going to play devil's advocate and suggest you bring the less expensive mando. For the simple reason that you want to be concentrating on the music and not be distracted by worrying about how you are perceived (rightly or wrongly).
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    I am in agreement here. The one that plays better will be easier and more fun, I bet it sounds better too so everyone else will enjoy it more. Who knows another mandolin player may ask you if they can try it out and a new friendship come from it.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Life is short.

    Always bring your best instrument and give it your best effort.

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  13. #7

    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    I've never heard someone comment negatively on another's instrument in a jam. I got a really nice mando about 3 months into learning and I got nothing but compliments on its sound and look and people wanting to play it for a song or two.

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  15. #8

    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    I'm a new-ish player getting to jam much more these days. One thing that's helped me is reminding myself that most of us are way more busy thinking about ourselves than other people.

    And then it follows that in all likelihood--as long as I'm not being disruptive--everyone else at the jam is thinking about *their* playing, not mine. I find that very liberating.

    You also might be surprised at how few people other than committed mandolin players know about the different makes/models and where they fit into the hierarchy of value.

    So my opinion is that as long as you're a pleasant, polite presence who's making an earnest attempt to contribute to the jam and observe all the usual etiquette rules, no one will think about you enough to compare their perceived value of your instrument to your (current) level of playing.
    It's not that life is short, but that we waste so much of it.

    --Seneca (paraphrased)

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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Bring either. And absolutely don't worry about anything. It's a jam. It's supposed to be fun. You are a newbie. Most musicians will respect that and try to be helpful. Congratulations for your first jam! It is a priceless moment. Just enjoy it completely and don't worry about anything. Play along where you can, don't hesitate to not play if you don't know the tune or chords. Yes, you are over thinking it. My first few mandolin jams I just tried to chord along and that was enough for me, and I didn't play on every song. I was not fined or thrown in jail. Nobody gave me a wedgie. It's all just for fun.

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    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Your guitar skills will stand you in good stead, as it's often helpful to read the chords the guitars are playing and translate them to the mando. As for fancier vs. not-fancier mandos, it shouldn't matter a bit. (But an f-hole model will cut through the haze better than an oval, if that's what you want [and you have a choice].)

    D.H.

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    Registered User haggardphunk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    I dont prescribe to any notion that the price of your instrument should positively correlate to your ability.

    Most musicians know it's much easier to learn on a nicer instrument. The playability alone is worth it.

    Bring the mandolin you enjoy playing more.

    And quite frankly, upper $2k isnt even all that much in the world of mandolins.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    The biggest mistake that parents make when they have kids that want to learn an instrument is to buy them one that is cheap and unplayable. I get it that you might not want to hand the kid a $3000.00 mandolin but giving him the one you bought on shopgoodwill.com for $25.00 may not play well enough to keep their interest.

    The same concept goes for us as adults. Play the one that you like to play and don't give a second thought to what anyone else thinks. If you like the more expensive mandolin then take it.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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  23. #13
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    By all means take the one you prefer to play. I have met a few , very few, cocky players at jams. Go to have fun and learn and you will. Enjoy the process. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  24. #14
    small instrument, big fun Dan in NH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Bring the one you enjoy playing.

  25. #15

    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    If I were at that jam, or any jam, I'd want folks to bring the best instruments they own. Jam folks are instrument fans. I've gotten to see a lot of nice instruments at a jam that I never would have seen in a music store & was grateful to the owners for bringing them.

  26. #16

    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The biggest mistake that parents make when they have kids that want to learn an instrument is to buy them one that is cheap and unplayable. I get it that you might not want to hand the kid a $3000.00 mandolin but giving him the one you bought on shopgoodwill.com for $25.00 may not play well enough to keep their interest.
    Off topic... That's why those $199 Michael Kellys were such a blessing while they lasted. Thanks again for the heads up on that deal.
    And back on topic... An outdoor/autumn/campfire type jam, I'd rather bring the Kelly than the Duff. Just my opinion.
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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  28. #17

    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    Off topic... That's why those $199 Michael Kellys were such a blessing
    I'm honestly surprised nobody makes a decent $2-300 flat top. Seems like it should be a no brainer for one of the entry level asian makers.

  29. #18

    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    No one cares how you play, they only care what you play!

    I kinda joke, but most folks are in their head on their own stuff, and will be looking for an excuse to say something to the new guy (or gal) and a cool Collins or a nice Kentucky, so it might be a good icebreaker. I've never looked at someone askance for having a fun toy, and I doubt there are many who do.

  30. #19
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Yes, you are overthinking it. Take the good one. Except for us mandolin nerds no one would care that you are playing a better instrument. In fact if nothing else a mandolin nerd might admire it. All of us start learning at one time in our lives so just enjoy playing.
    Jim

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    I’d like to say take the expensive one but two things:
    You don’t know how wild a new session (for you) is going to get.
    Is it in a bar, a park, a metro station?

    And with the cheap one, people wont expect too much for you. Have fun!
    -in any case people around you probably won’t hear a difference between the two instruments.

  32. #21

    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    +1 for bringing the one you enjoy playing more. The worst that could happen is someone asking to try it out!

  33. #22
    Registered User Willow20's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Take the less expensive one, you have enough to worry about and keep taking the less expensive one until you get comfortable.
    PS You are worrying needlessly, been there done that.

  34. #23
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    Quote Originally Posted by barbera View Post
    The more expensive instrument has better playability and sound
    Id bring that one.

  35. #24
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    I used to struggle with this myself. Should I bring my 100-year-old Gibson that sounds really good but risk worrying about damaging it, or bring my beater that will survive just about anything and plays OK but maybe not look very impressive? Should I be more concerned about the sound or the look, the playability or the durability? Then it dawned on me - they were the same instrument, so I went with it.

    Anyway ...

    Yes, you're probably overthinking it. Overall, being able to play well and sound good is the main thing. That doesn't necessarily mean "bring your best one," because you might spend too much time worrying about its safety and not be able to focusing on your playing - which is how you really want to present yourself. It occurs to me that your $800 one is still probably a pretty decent instrument. It's not a $100 Johnson or $60 Rogue. I suggest bringing this to the jam, at least for the first time, and see how well-behaved people are. If people act respectful and considerate, and there isn't a whole lot of drunk or sloppy behavior, then you might feel more confident to bring the $2K one next time. Generally speaking, you'll impress people better with good playing than a good instrument. And I wouldn't worry about people judging you as being somehow unworthy of owning an expensive instrument. Anyone with that attitude isn't worth paying attention to.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  36. #25
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embarassing Question - Which Mandolin to Bring to Jam?

    There are times when I bring more than one upright bass. If you can't decide, bring both mandolins...

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