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Thread: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later?

  1. #26

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Quote Originally Posted by rickbella View Post
    I started playing, completely self-taught, when I was about 20. I kept at it for 7 years before putting it down for more than 30 years. I picked it up again when I was in my late 50s. I'm now 72 and am better than ever. This time around, I took classes, lessons, workshops. I should have done that the first time .
    I'm coming from an almost music-less background. I played drums in middle school but never stuck with them. Then in my mid 20's I started to half ass teach myself bass. I learned Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads and Like a Hurricane by Neil Young with the help of a be friend. I'm going to try and take advantage of every source I can learning the mandolin..

  2. #27

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Had piano lessons as a kid, then played guitar in a high school rock band. Didn't play much until I got to attend the Telluride festival in my late 30s. Discovered the mandolin at 40. Immediately hooked. Took RockyGrass Academy workshops with Butch Baldassari, John Reischman, and a few other masters. Still hooked a couple decades later.
    2010 Heiden A5, 2020 Pomeroy oval A, 2012 Girouard A Mandola w ff holes, 2001 Old Wave A oval octave
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  3. #28
    small instrument, big fun Dan in NH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    I bought my KM-250 back in 2020 in the midst of Covid. I was 55. Noodled around for a good while with youtube videos & books. Started ftf lessons with a gigging mandolin player earlier this year.
    Eastman MD-514 (F body, Sitka & maple, oval hole)
    Klos Carbon Fiber (on order)

    And still saving my nickels & dimes & bottle caps & breakfast cereal box tops for my lifetime mandolin.

  4. #29
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    I think I was around 57 when I started. I'm 79 now. I bought an Oscar Schmidt for $100. I went to a Fender, then a Breedlove, another Breedlove then to a Gibson F5L. I still have them all. Those Breedloves were pretty good and I'd have no problem going back to either of them. These are both American-made in Bend, OR.

    I still play a lap steel and an autoharp once in a while. I used to make dulcimers (hammered and lap) and I still play them every once in a whille. I'd rather be set on fire for 15 minutes than make another hammered dulcimer. And, it takes longer to tune one than it does to make it.
    David Hopkins

    2001 Gibson F-5L mandolin
    Breedlove Legacy FF mandolin; Breedlove Quartz FF mandolin
    Gibson F-4 mandolin (1916); Blevins f-style Octave mandolin, 2018
    McCormick Oval Sound Hole "Reinhardt" Mandolin
    McCormick Solid Body F-Style Electric Mandolin; Slingerland Songster Guitar (c. 1939)

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  5. #30
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    If you are new to music, I will say that, for me, learning the Nashville Number system and how the chords and notes relate to each other was a game changer. I didn’t learn it until I was playing bass at my church, and that crew is a classically trained pianist and a couple of former pros; frontman had a top 100 country hit in the 80s and has done some touring and lots of session work; and the lead guitar, played for the IGCMA artist of the year, Kevin Rowe and the Prodigal Sons, and was nominated instrumentalist of the year by the same - good players, way beyond me. They got me onto the number system, and it changed the way I approached every instrument since, and made learning mandolin so much easier than my early days on guitar and banjo, where I did the typical thing - learn songs, leads/breaks more than anything else, and follow up with the chords; but I never learned why and how to view music in a relative way. I’m sure everyone learns differently, and I’m not big on a ton of theory; but if you can count, you can learn the Nashville Number System. I think all teachers should teach it far earlier. Learning songs is fun, so hooking a new player with that is great; but I wish that tiny bit of theory had been introduced to me earlier in my musical career; and I took a college classical guitar class and piano lessons, banjo lessons, etc. I’d follow a beginner tract, like Sharon Gilchrist’s Peghead Nation or Banjo Ben Clark’s beginning mando - I know Ben Clark teaches the number system on his site. At least for me, it was literally life changing to understand, and the camps and jams you will attend in the future will almost mandate that you know it.

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  7. #31
    Registered User Ed McGarrigle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    I started playing guitar at about 39 years of age. I had just defended my dissertation and wanted to do something I really wanted to do — play an instrument. I had some mandolin lessons , too but never got very good at either guitar or mandolin. When my son nailed my index finger with a line drive when I was throwing him batting practice I wasn’t able to play for a couple years and everything I knew just kind of dwindled away. I hadn’t played anything for years.At the start of the pandemic I got reacquainted with mandolin and although I didn’t remember a thing after at least a 12 year absence at age 69 I’m starting to get the hang of it.

  8. #32
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Quote Originally Posted by jryp17 View Post
    Yeah. One of my goals is to just get competent enough to go to a local bluegrass jam circle at a local place here on Sundays. Nothing more, really, at the moment.
    I encourage you to start attending the jam now. Don't wait or put it off. Sometimes if a person waits until they think they're "good enough" to play with others they end up never going to a jam.

    I started music in grade school and have played stringed instruments all my life. I've had private lessons, group lessons, used books, CD's, DVD's, many hours of focused practice, etc. for musical instruction. The SINGLE BEST THING that has improved my playing, timing, rhythm, singing AND enjoyment of music has been regularly attending jams with other players.

    Don't put off attending a jam until you reach some arbitrary level. Start right now and you may be amazed at how quickly you'll progress compared to isolated practice.

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  10. #33

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I encourage you to start attending the jam now. Don't wait or put it off. Sometimes if a person waits until they think they're "good enough" to play with others they end up never going to a jam.

    I started music in grade school and have played stringed instruments all my life. I've had private lessons, group lessons, used books, CD's, DVD's, many hours of focused practice, etc. for musical instruction. The SINGLE BEST THING that has improved my playing, timing, rhythm, singing AND enjoyment of music has been regularly attending jams with other players.

    Don't put off attending a jam until you reach some arbitrary level. Start right now and you may be amazed at how quickly you'll progress compared to isolated practice.
    Thanks for the advice. I already attend them occasionally but I'll start taking my mando when I get it and see how it goes.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by TX2AK View Post
    If you are new to music, I will say that, for me, learning the Nashville Number system and how the chords and notes relate to each other was a game changer. I didn’t learn it until I was playing bass at my church, and that crew is a classically trained pianist and a couple of former pros; frontman had a top 100 country hit in the 80s and has done some touring and lots of session work; and the lead guitar, played for the IGCMA artist of the year, Kevin Rowe and the Prodigal Sons, and was nominated instrumentalist of the year by the same - good players, way beyond me. They got me onto the number system, and it changed the way I approached every instrument since, and made learning mandolin so much easier than my early days on guitar and banjo, where I did the typical thing - learn songs, leads/breaks more than anything else, and follow up with the chords; but I never learned why and how to view music in a relative way. I’m sure everyone learns differently, and I’m not big on a ton of theory; but if you can count, you can learn the Nashville Number System. I think all teachers should teach it far earlier. Learning songs is fun, so hooking a new player with that is great; but I wish that tiny bit of theory had been introduced to me earlier in my musical career; and I took a college classical guitar class and piano lessons, banjo lessons, etc. I’d follow a beginner tract, like Sharon Gilchrist’s Peghead Nation or Banjo Ben Clark’s beginning mando - I know Ben Clark teaches the number system on his site. At least for me, it was literally life changing to understand, and the camps and jams you will attend in the future will almost mandate that you know it.
    I had never heard of the Nashville number system until you mentioned it. I'll have to go read about it and learn about it later

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  12. #34

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    This is a fun thread to read. I just started playing a few weeks ago at 37. I had picked up a fiddle to learn along with my kids while they were learning. I just didn't love it as much. I've always loved the sound of the mandolin and figured if I'm going to put in the time to learn an instrument I should pick one I really love. Haven't done much with music since I was a kid and played the clarinet. The mandolin has been so far really fun to play and a fairly intuitive instrument. The community is awesome too and has loads of great instructional content especially compared to the fiddle world.

  13. #35
    Registered User BillWilliams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    I started last year when I was 75 and now play weekly at gypsy jazz sessions with pro players who are much better than me but are very welcoming. There are lots of good guitarists, bass players, sax, trumpet and violinists around here but no other mandolin players so that maybe is an advantage. Plus I aim to learn the heads of interesting tunes that others aren't playing so that although my improvising is not stellar and usually limited to one chorus on each tune, I am bringing something useful to the gig or jam.

    Attend occasional bluegrass jams too.

    Played guitar all my life which helps. I had individual jazz lessons locally (with a jazz guitarist as there are no other mandolin players) that were very useful but the most important incentive that keeps me improving is playing in jams - partly because you don't want to embarrass yourself too often (bound to happen occasionally of course) and also the buzz of being on a stage or in a room playing good songs and seeing listeners who are really listening and enjoying it.

  14. #36

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    I began learning how to play a mandolin after I purchased a Flatiron Festival A in December 2001 at age 61. I began learning how to play a guitar when I was in high school and the 5-string banjo when I was 36. I had a fiddle for a while, but learned I prefer fretted instruments. I still have a GTR banjo, a Martin D28 and a Gibson Master Model F5. I'm now 83 and still play the mandolin and guitar on regular basis.

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  16. #37
    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Itís never too late to start learning anything (well, except maybe learning to behave!); just never enough time to learn about all the interesting stuff out there.

    I was lucky to grow up with a mom who played piano and violin. I played clarinet (bass clarinet!) in school and got my first guitar at the end of high school: a horrible plywood box. Despite this impediment, it started me on a lifetime of noodling around, impressing girlfriends (hint: write them a song!), and making my life infinitely much better - plus a GAS addiction. Started getting serious about mandolin about 5 years ago and have now contracted MAS as well (love those Webers!)
    Click image for larger version. 

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    MAS fortified by being retired, a widower, the pandemic, and the Cafe classifieds! (My truck is almost 30 years old, so you can guess where my priorities lie).

    Iím in the old geezer stage of my life, but still plan to learn to play the stand up harp (OíCarolan!) and the African Kora. Go for it and donít get discouraged!
    Last edited by Denis Kearns; Nov-22-2023 at 1:53pm.

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  18. #38

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Long time guitarist. Picked up mando at 58.
    Love it. In fact, now my main player.

    Dived in with fiddle tunes, now messing with choro.
    I wish I'd started earlier TBH but mandolin just wasn't ever on my radar until I started
    to learn BG flatpicking during the pandemic.

  19. #39

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    In like June 2020, when I realized I'd be spending a lot of time at home, I bought a $100 mandolin and a $100 guitar, having never played either, at 45 years old. I've made some pretty considerable upgrades in both my playing and my equipment since then! I'd always wanted to play music but never made the time before that. It's not the worst thing in the world though, because after 25 years of working way too much, I have plenty of money and a renewed sense of what I value spending my time doing. I'm good for a beginner, and if that's as good as it gets, it's cool with me, because I really enjoy playing music now!

  20. #40
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    I started guitar seriously at 19. Bass at about 24. Mandolin about 40.

  21. #41
    Registered User David Rambo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    I started in my 60's.
    "Put your hands to the wood
    Touch the music put there by the summer sun and wind
    The rhythms of the rain, locked within the rings
    And let your fingers find The Music in the Wood."
    Joe Grant and Al Parrish (chorus from The Music in the Wood)

  22. #42
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    When people ask me when I started, I tell them I have been playing a lot longer than it sounds.
    A talent for trivializin' the momentous and complicatin' the obvious.

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  24. #43
    small instrument, big fun Dan in NH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I encourage you to start attending the jam now. Don't wait or put it off. Sometimes if a person waits until they think they're "good enough" to play with others they end up never going to a jam.

    I started music in grade school and have played stringed instruments all my life. I've had private lessons, group lessons, used books, CD's, DVD's, many hours of focused practice, etc. for musical instruction. The SINGLE BEST THING that has improved my playing, timing, rhythm, singing AND enjoyment of music has been regularly attending jams with other players.

    Don't put off attending a jam until you reach some arbitrary level. Start right now and you may be amazed at how quickly you'll progress compared to isolated practice.
    If you can play the open chords G, C, D, E, and A then you can play at a jam. Sneak in F, Dm, Am, & Em and you'll pass as an old hand.

    As was said earlier, look into the Nashville Number System. That shows you how chords fit together into keys.

    I found my monthly acoustic barn jam on meetup.com. Not bluegrass. A lot of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, CCR, Jimmy Buffet. And a whole mess of blues. I had only been playing guitar for six months after a 30 year layoff when I started attending.

    We sit in a circle and take turns calling songs. The song caller is expected to lead the playing & singing. After a few verses & choruses, we pass the solo around the circle. When it gets back to the caller we finish the song, then on to the next person in the circle.

    When it got to be my turn I'd just pass. I'd sit in the back, and wouldn't even play with a pick. Just lightly strummed with my fingers and tried to keep up with the chord changes. And before long I could keep up, and sing along while playing, and my chord vocabulary had REALLY expanded.

    Now I'm playing mandolin instead of guitar, I'm still not taking solos yet, but I'll usually call one song per jam (something like Move It On Over or Jambalaya or Cotton Eye Joe).

    You really do improve quickly by playing with other people. Plus it's just so much FUN.
    Eastman MD-514 (F body, Sitka & maple, oval hole)
    Klos Carbon Fiber (on order)

    And still saving my nickels & dimes & bottle caps & breakfast cereal box tops for my lifetime mandolin.

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  26. #44

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    I started with a Mid Mo back in 2001 when I was about 36; I got more serious about it last year when I bought a vintage A Jr. Probably unlike most, I didn't come to it from bluegrass or the desire to play bluegrass. I'm a huge jazz and Prog rock fan and that's what my guitar playing (I've been at it about 40 years now).

  27. #45

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Quote Originally Posted by raceon4 View Post
    This is a fun thread to read. I just started playing a few weeks ago at 37. I had picked up a fiddle to learn along with my kids while they were learning. I just didn't love it as much. I've always loved the sound of the mandolin and figured if I'm going to put in the time to learn an instrument I should pick one I really love. Haven't done much with music since I was a kid and played the clarinet. The mandolin has been so far really fun to play and a fairly intuitive instrument. The community is awesome too and has loads of great instructional content especially compared to the fiddle world.
    Yeah. I've already found this community helpful. I've been watching a lot of Mando lessons while waiting on mine to get in. I'm really ready to start messing around on it..

  28. #46
    Registered User JiminRussia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Does ďrestartĒ count? I played a bunch of bluegrass back when I was younger, about 30 or so years ago. Life sort of got in the way and I realized that the $200 per week that I was averaging playing music, just wasnít going to work out for me long term, so I just quit. I put down my instruments and didnít touch a string for thirty years. Well, to make a long storyÖ.. I found myself at 73 years old and an organ transplant patient (liver). Because of the transplant I take an immunosuppressant to prevent my body from rejecting the new liver (well it was new to me 14 years ago). In any respect, I was in for a very, very long sentence of house arrest due to the pandemic, so I bought a guitar to help pass the time. I had such good success with the guitar that I decided to get a mandolin too. I was shocked to find how much and how little my fingers remembered. Not my brain, mind you, but the muscle memory was still there, at least partially. I canít for the life of me remember how to make even the basic cowboy chords, but I can pick out the melody for half a dozen fiddle tunes. I still find that curious.
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  29. #47
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    The wording of the OP is open to interpretation, so herewith my contribution:
    Accordion at 6 (4 years)
    Clarinet at 10 (7 years)
    Saxophone and electric guitar at 14 (3 years)
    Bassoon at 15 (7 months)
    Electric bass at 16 (10 years full time, I still pick it up off and on for jams & Dad bands)
    Lo-o-o-ong time away from music
    Classical guitar at 36 (5-6 years)
    Lo-o-o-ong time away from music
    Mandolin and octave mandolin at 71 (two years, so far)
    A couple years in, now, and still learning!
    Ratliff F-style Country Boy
    Eastman MDO-305 Octave Mandolin
    Kentucky KM-272

    I donít know what I want to be when I grow up.

  30. #48

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Sounds about like me. Iíve had a fiddle for 23 years that Iíve never really learned to play. I intend to try to have more success on the mando. I have a cheap rogue but my wife bought me a nicer one that I have to wait till Christmas for. Iím hoping she doesnít wrap it until close to Christmas :-).

  31. #49
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    I started the mandolin in my early 40's but I'd been playing guitar since I was 11 and started the tenor banjo (also tuned GDAE like mandolin) a couple of years before mandolin so that was a big help too. Once I picked up the mandolin I became quickly obsessed and regularly played 2+hours a day, more on days off.
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
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  32. #50

    Default Re: Any others here that started their mandolin/instrument later

    Bought my first mandolin Last year at 70 year's young.Eastman 515.I play mostly American Old Timey/Irish.Had a little experience playing Tenor Banjo previously .Im really enjoying the experience Its the most positive pursuit ever.
    Tire2.

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