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Thread: What made you start playing mandolin?

  1. #76

    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Wow! Such interesting stories on this thread!

    I started playing piano as a little girl. Although music wasn't my major, I spent a lot of time hanging around the music department in college so I could use their pianos when no one else was using them for practice time. I also had a work-study job in the music department cataloging all the LP records (no CDs way back then). To make the time go faster, I listened to the kind of music I was indexing that day. Lots of early baroque with lute and harpsicord. There was something about the sound that I just loved. It's hard to explain, but I just loved the sound of it. As I went through the different musical periods of classical music, I'd listen for the mandolin from all the composers who wrote music for the instrument. Then, finally, listening wasn't enough. I wanted to do it! I started out with bowlbacks. I plinked away on them for many years, learning to play a few tunes, but not a real concentrated effort to learn. One day I realized that I was getting older and knew that if I wanted to ever play the mandolin, I'd better get going. About then I saw an old Gibson A hanging on the wall of a music store...and the beat goes on. I see it as something I do for myself, hearing those sounds that only can come from a mandolin, just brings joy to my life. My only regret is that I didn't get serious about it sooner.

  2. #77
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Dave Swarbrick with nods to Dave Pegg, Richard Thompson, Ry Cooder and Martin Jenkins.



    I really would have prefered to have played Swarb-style fiddle, but the squawking on one when I tried was so horrendous that I opted to go with the mandolin instead as an interim step to future fiddling (and/or to go guitar.) Toss up between wanting to play fiddle like Swarbrick (still among the top-5 favorite fiddlers) and guitar like Richard Thompson and John Renbourn.

    NH

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    Mandogal Barb Friedland's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Cottingham View Post
    One word: Ripple
    Ripple as in the song or the beverage?
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  4. #79
    'Nother Registered User Jeff Richards's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    I was riding in the car with my younger brother. We were talking about life in general and musdic came up. I talked about the few classes of guitar and piano I had taken in college. He was surprised and asked what instrument I would want to play if I ever had an opportunity. Would I continue the piano or guitar? I had been listening to a lot of diverse music, and for some reason, the mandolins that I heard intrigued me the most, so I said "the mandolin."

    A few weeks later it was my birhtday. My brother and I were sharing an apartment at the time and he came home all excited to show me what he had gotten me as a gift. It was a Flatiron pancake.

    Definitely a cool brother.

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  6. #80
    Registered User man dough nollij's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb Friedland View Post
    Ripple as in the song or the beverage?
    MD 20/20.


  7. #81
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Got interested in bluegrass in college, played banjo (badly). After discharge from the Army, wanted to start a band with my brother John and my friend Bob, who played banjo (well). Found two mandolins in my grandfather's attic (Gibson A-1, B&J Victoria bowl-back), decided I was the mandolin player in the band. Played badly but enthusiastically. Thirty-nine years later, play less badly, still enthusiastically.
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  8. #82
    Registered User Andrew Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    When I was a freshman in high school my older brother came home from college with the first major Nickel Creek album. I distinctly remember listening to the sound of Chris Thile playing some sweet rhythm mandolin on The Fox and fell in love with the mandolin. I picked up a guitar instead and played that for about 5 years, but never got very good. I didn't start playing the mandolin, however, until about 8 years later (i.e. last September). I was walking around Nashville shortly after moving here and saw a guy outside of a pizza place with a mandolin case. I though to myself, if there is ever a time and a place to pick up the mandolin it is here in Nashville. About a week later I went to Gruhn's and picked up my first mandolin, and I have been loving it every day since then...

  9. #83
    Registered User Mike Crater's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    I'd never played a stringed instrument, but fancy myself as being a singer. I headed out to the local guitar shop to buy a ukulele, just to mess around a bit. There were the mandolins, hanging on the wall in all their sexy splendor. The mandolins spoke to me, and I was smitten. Four years and five mandolins later, we're still in love.
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  10. #84
    Spencer Sorenson Spencer's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Hearing a tape of my fiddle playing.

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  12. #85
    Registered User Stephen Lind's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    played guitar for 50+ years and always wanted a small one that i could love but
    never did find one that was quite right

    about a year ago one of my students gave me a mandolin and i discovered that it wasn't really a small guitar i'd been looking for

    it was the mandolin

  13. #86
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    I got my first electric guitar when I was 11 years old and my misspent youth and adulthood were spent playing in punk bands, both in Ireland, and then the States when I moved there in '95. Then in 2002 I spent 8 months back home fixing up an old farmhouse in East Galway and one evening a programme came on the telly about traditional music and regional fiddling styles - I got the notion to maybe try learning the fiddle, and when I returned to the States I found a decent cheap one on craigslist. Took some lessons, got ok on it, but it didn't really grab hold of my interest the way guitar had when I'd started playing it way back when. Then in 2006 I moved back to my farmhouse in Ireland and upon learning that the tenor banjo was tuned the same as fiddle I thought it might be a good way to learn more tunes for the fiddle. I ordered an entry level tenor banjo online and while waiting for it to arrive I happened to be in a music shop in Dublin and a friend I was with pointed at a mandolin and said "Hey, try playing that..." so I sat down with it and picked out one of the tunes I knew on fiddle. Couldn't stop thinking about how fun it was to play that mandolin the rest of the day, so when I got back home I started researching them online, found the cafe, and also the mandolin.org site and via both of those read all kinds of good stuff about The Acoustic Music Co. and discovered it was located in Brighton, where a good pal of mine lived and who I was long overdue to visit. A rather hasty visit was planned and I ended up returning with a Jimmy Moon flat top mandolin. I was completely obsessed with trad music and dividing my time between the banjo and mandolin (and completely neglecting the guitar) but then the mandolin started to get neglected because I upgraded my banjo to a 1920 Stromberg open back and started taking tenor banjo lessons with Angelina Carberry, one of the best banjo players in Ireland in my opinion, and all of my focus was going there.

    I returned to the States last May (the Jimmy Moon mandolin and my guitars having been sold to help fund the trip) and quickly discovered that apartment living and banjo playing were not exactly a love match (at least not as far as my neighbors were concerned!) I was in a local music shop one afternoon and saw a little cheap old Harmony mandolin on the wall - at the time I thought it would be a cool birthday present for a friend of mine who's birthday was about a month away. So for that whole month I was plucking away on that mandolin and there was no turning back. I ended up giving it to my pal a month late as a belated present because I couldn't bear to be mando-less while saving for one of my own. It's totally taken over as my main instrument now - I play every single day for at least an hour or two and more at weekends. And of course the MAS affliction wasn't far behind: I have a Weber Aspen II, a Redline Traveler on the way in a few weeks, and a Pomeroy A-4 will be arriving in June (did have to do the old catch and release with an '85 Flatiron 2M though, which I'm still having a wee twinge of regret about...) I still love the tenor banjo, but as you good folks all know, there is just something so addictive about the mandolin!

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  14. #87
    Registered User groveland's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Fifths tuning.

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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    1965, maybe? Rob Winston, talented friend of mine in Plandome, NY, built a mandolin out of oak. It didn't sound too bad, and it was durable. Neither of us could play it, but we tried pretty hard. Then we heard "Temptation Rag" as played by Artie Rose on the "Ragtime Jug Stompers" record, and we knew what to shoot for.

    Off to college in Wisconsin a few years later, where I played with John Stiernberg. His brother Don would visit and play mandolin, bass, guitar, fiddle, and dulcimer (!) with us. He was good right out of the gate, folks, and he didn't sound like anybody but himself. Thanks to him, I got interested in trying to write mandolin tunes, something I've had fun with ever since.

    I have been lucky in the "Friend" department...
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    The first time, in my teens (maybe 1974), was because a friend had one and I was intrigued. It didn't last more than a couple of months because I approached it like a guitar if I remember.

    The second time was in my thirties when I thought celtic mandolin was cool, played in a celtic style group, had lots of performance and recording opportunities, and needed something else to play (as if keys, guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, autoharp, melodion weren't enough, LOL).

    Since then I've kept at it. Still play some celtic, hymns, classical on it. If the world wasn't so guitar-centric I'd get more mandolin.

    Peace, Mooh.

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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Being a non-playing individual, I had threatened on many occasions to learn the banjo. That was after begrudgingly going to see the Lee Mace Ozark Opry as a youngster on family vacation. Then Mick Jager and "Hey You Get off of My Cloud" really started to sound undesireable.
    Three years ago I told the story to a friend and he went into another room in his apartment and brought out an old Harmony in mint condition. I still have it, along with a few more (mas).
    The rest is history.
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  18. #91
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    A friend of mine in high school handed me a bowlback and told me how to hold it and where to put my fingers and how it was tuned.

    I learned the notes by tuning my Dad's banjo like a mandolin, and getting out my beginner clarinet music books I hadn't looked at since fifth grade. Once I could read I pursued every scrap of sheet music I could find. Didn't matter what music it was, I tried everything.

    My ear training was to put on my parents LPs, with about $1.50 worth of quarters to slow them down. I would drop them exactly a fifth in tone, and then try and play the music down a string. Once I had the fingerings, I would move up a string and plunk away. I played things like "Never on Sunday" from the movie sound track, "El Solo Toro" from Herb Alfred and the Tijuana Brass, the hit from the Prime of Miss Jean Brody sound track, anything I could find.

    I was playing like that for several years before I ever met anyone who also played mandolin, or ever heard a mandolin on a record. Never heard of bluegrass or Bill Monroe, or anything till much later.
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  19. #92
    Registered User KyleBerry's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    I just started playing less than a week ago. I have liked bluegrass music for a long time. I never really could play any musical instruments. I started playing piano about 6 months ago, and I love it. It came so natural to me, and I taught myself. I was really infleunced by a someone from my church, who is also a member on here. I tried to play guitar for a little, but that didn't work. But when I picked up a mandolin I had an amazing feeling. The guitar felt akward, but the mandolin felt natural.

  20. #93
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    ... My ear training was to put on my parents LPs, with about $1.50 worth of quarters to slow them down. I would drop them exactly a fifth in tone, and then try and play the music down a string. Once I had the fingerings, I would move up a string and plunk away. I played things like "Never on Sunday" from the movie sound track ...

    I was playing like that for several years before I ever met anyone who also played mandolin, or ever heard a mandolin on a record. Never heard of bluegrass or Bill Monroe, or anything till much later.
    This explains so much! (Not!) But I do recall on the taboo thread you mentioned you came to bluegrass later in your mandovelopment, and now I see how. Me, I started by applying the instrument I could play to the music I liked (rock and blues), and discovered bluegrass much later. But I like your analytical approach, and the precise slowing down of records is just brilliant!

    Never forget "Never on Sunday!" That and "Santa Lucia" and other "schmaltzy" selections are great attention-getting devices while bandmates are tuning or deciding what to play next or otherwise stalling. There are great double-stopportunities on the chorus ...
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  21. #94
    Registered User drewgrass's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    i got a cheap fender mando from my grandparents for christmas 4 years ago. i was playing guitar in a country band. it was getting less country all the time with mesa boogies and what not. my grandparents always had bluegrass records when i was growing up. for the first year i did not play it much. i took it on a trip to the lake and had a campfire jam with guitars and i was hooked. quit the band the next day . mas kicked in and ive been buying selling trading to get better ones every since. its been one of the best decision ive ever made. for some reason playing bluegrass and gospel tunes have helped me straighten up my life. this music can heal people

  22. #95

    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Mine is simple... Sam Bush!

  23. #96
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    One reason: the tone of the instrument. I had been working on learning guitar, but wasn't all that into it. Then a friend brought over a mandolin that someone had loaned to him. I sat in a chair and played chords on it and thought "Man, this is so much easier than guitar AND I like the tone better!" A couple months later, after doing some research on the Cafe, I bought a Weber special edition oval from The Mandolin Store. Can't wait to get home and do some picking!
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  24. #97
    Registered User Bob Andress's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    Like many others here it was Grisman. A bit of Dead Head who was given a copy of Not For Kids Only. And I aint been right since. Thanks Jerry and Dawg!

  25. #98
    Registered User Tracy Tucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    A friend of mine was learning to play banjo and wanted someone to play with, so I chose the mandolin after really noticing its use on some tracks I was singing with at church. Fast forward 3 years: I'm still playing, and he's not! lol

  26. #99
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    I was jamming with some new friends, five of us "struming" on guitars and someone trying to sing lead. I told them "we need a lead iinstrument! I had my Brother's old 1948 Gibson A style at home so I came back the next week jam session with the mando and played my first song, "Red River Valley" and just kept on going and have been playing six years now and love every minute of it, practiceing, playing in groups and jams. I never picked up the guitar again. I play old country and Gospel. Other instruments I play are keyboard, dobro, fiddle and starting banjo now. Joe

  27. #100
    Registered User Dan Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: What made you start playing mandolin?

    A freind and I saw Jethro Tull in concert in high school and the warm-up band was Steeleye Span. We later saw Steeleye Span as the headliner at a small club, 'Ebbets Field' in Denver. The use of mandolin in traditional Celtic music was my first introduction to the instrument. Not too long after that my friend hands me his father's old Sears Silvertone mandolin and ask me to learn how to play it so we can begin to play folf and bluegrass music. Hanging at the Denver Foldklore Center in the 70's, the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival, predecessor to Rocky Grass, they all came into my life about the same time, so it was a collection of circumstances that sent me in the direction of learning to play the mandolin. The journey continues.. Dan
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