Got A Mandolin for Christmas

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
6 years ago
253 posts

Hi Lisa -Now that's a GREAT photo!!!!!!

I'm just learning tremolo - it is THE sound of the instrument after all Grin.gif I have found a couple of good lessons on Youtube - one of which talked about angling the pick slightly just by rocking your thumb so it glides over the strings and doesn't catch. The other talked about the wrist action, matching your tremolo speed to the speed of the metronome beat, and getting the whole arm totally relaxed so it i just a loose, quick. non stressedwrist action. All seem like good tips. I'm working on double stop temolo too - as I really love that sound and there seems to be a lot of it in the old bluegrass tracks I'm listening to.

Dave - that's lovely playing Smile.gif I've certainly not reached the key of A pentatonic blues page in the book yet! 109.gif

Robin

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
6 years ago
1,139 posts

Dave, I love the button you're sportin' there! Oh, and the playings nice, too.Smile.gif




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
6 years ago
1,685 posts

Robin, I have several lovely mandolins from waaay back almost 20 years ago when I was learning to play it. I wish after several years of playing I could have sounded halfway as good as you do right now! I think you sound terrific already!

have you learned to do tremolo yet? That's one of the most wonderful things about the sound of the mandolin, and is beautifully incorporated in any style you might choose to play- traditional, folk, 'old world' European ethinic, bluegrass, klezmer, even modern pop and jazz styles. To me, tremolo is the icing on the cake of mandolin playing. I learned how to play the Puerto Rican cuatro (learned actually in the mountains of PR) before trying mandolin, by the way- the traditional cuatro uses a lot of tremolo.

Here's a fun old pic of me (in back) with one of my mandolins- my 1915 Wurlitzer....lol!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
6 years ago
1,139 posts

Robin, although I hardly ever play it anymore, I, too,picked up a Kentucky A-style mandolin a few years ago (I also splurged for the one with the solid top, but there is a model without it, so it is not quite the cheapest model) and played it regularly for a while when I shared a house with a guitarist far better than I. That instrument has a very balanced sound, though not as much punch perhaps as the real expensive mandolins.

But I think you are underestimating your abilities when you say there are no crossover skills. That fast and steady right hand you have developed is what's enabling you to jump right in and play some bluegrass chops as part of a rhythm section. Someone without your experience would have to play for a long time to be able to do that. And your general understanding of the music will eventually encourage you to add filler or small solos here and there. You will very soon start translating musical ideas from the dulcimer to the mandolin and eventually vice versa.

You seem to haveconcrete goals with the mandolin and I have no doubt that you will achieve them, but even if you don't take up the mandolin with the same enthusiasm and mastery that characterizes your dulcimer playing, I would bet in the long run, playing the mandolin will make you a better dulcimer player.

And your description of serious practice is a heartening one.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
6 years ago
253 posts

Hi Rick - yep it is a lot of fun!

I think that having a very specific goal really helps to move skills forward (the goal for me is to play the mandolinin our band's set at gigs on roughly 20% of the set by the end of 2013 - so I need a least 5 tunes at stage performance level on the instrument), each little bit of practice time is focussed on taking little steps forward towards that goal. Also, I always expect to struggle a little whenever I practice. If I'm not struggling to do something new then I'm not learning anything. So whilst practice is 'fun' for me on all my instruments that 'fun' comes from meanngful, results focused practice. Ican rememberthat Stephen Seifert put up a quote somewhere from a pro musician that was something along the lines of "The more I learn to play my instrument the harder it gets to play". I think that's because each new skill learned opens up more doors of possibility and is also stacked on previous skills - so you just end up building one skill on top of another that are all running consecutively.

We have a great metaphor for this phenomena in our village. Coming out of the back of the village we have an old cattle and sheep drovers road going up over Cadair Idris to Dolgellau - it is called the Ffordd Ddu or 'Black Road'. Quite a few of us from the village will mountain bike the 'up and over' on a regular basis. The 1000ft climb to the top takes about 40 minutes from the valley floor. We all comment how, despite cycling the road regularly for many years, the climb never gets any easier! We just do it a little faster some days or a little slower others, and generally faster than when we first started - but the feeling of effort remains the same. And this is how music practice should feel -the feeling of effort should remain high despite your skill level. The goal of practice is to physicallychange the way you play. If you are not working every time you pick up your instrument on changing the way you play by the time you put it down then your practice time is ineffective.

Robin

Rick Kennedy
Rick Kennedy
@rick-kennedy
6 years ago
18 posts

Sounds like you are having fun, Robin--I mean, I think that I can hear it in your playing even though you are getting used to the instrument. Watching/listening to old Bill Monroe clips on YouTube is always fun for me, so I hope to hear some more from you on the instrument.

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
6 years ago
253 posts

356_forums.jpg?width=721

Well I've been playing mandolin for a whole3 weeks now!!!! The model I have is a Kentucky KM140 (the bottom end of their range). It has a solid spruce top and maple laminate back and sides. The general construction was actually pretty good and the neck angle excellent. The frets had been leveled but not re-crowned - so I did that job and a fret polish. I popped a set of Gibson monel strings on it, cut the nut, set the truss rodand set-up the bridge intonation and height. Knowing nothing about mandolins I took the set-up measurements from Gibson's standard mandolin set-up (5/64ths bass side @12th and 3/64s treble side @ 12th) and it plays like a dream Smile.gif What I love about the instrument is just how much fun a mandolin is to play Grin.gif

Here's a sound clip of an improvisedlead break for Wild and Wicked World that I'm working on. As expected after such a short time I'm still veryclumsy with the instrument in my hands! Hopefully everything will feel more natural as we get more 'hands on' time together!:

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
6 years ago
253 posts

Thanks !

Rick, I don't think that the two instruments, dulcimer and mandolin, are complimentary from a player's perspective as there are no cross-over skills that I can see- the mandolinis a very different instrument to handle. I have a big advantage coming new to the mandolin over many beginners; and that is that I know the music I want to achieve very well. I've played dobro in a bluegrass band for about 7 years and so have stood next to a mandolin player for many, many hours watching what they do and hearing the part the instrument plays in bluegrass music. I have also played dulcimer for many hours with a mandolin player (The Kitchen Sessions) although for much of the time he switched to mandola or tenor guitar.

So my mandolin practice is focussing on the physical - getting really confortable with the instrument in my hands as quickly as I can. I have no intention of becoming a great mandolin player but if I can reasonably knock out chops, fills and the odd lead break at a steady standard for bluegrass band gigs then that will be just fine. I play exactly those parts on dobro - chops, fills and lead breaks - so it is the physical techniques of the mandolin that I have to concentrate on. For example the act of playing chops, in time, on the off-beat, to drive the band along I have already completely wired on dobro, and for the last 18 months or so since our mandolin player left the band I have taken up that role to an evengreater extent. So on mandolin I have focussed on getting my instrument hold,pick grip, strum technique and 4 finger chop chords practicedmost because for85% or more of the time I spend with the instrument in my handson stagemy primary job will be classic mandolin chops to drive the band along. I need to work out some kick-offs, a couple of turnarounds, a few finishes and some lead breaks to whatever tunes I switch from dobro to mandolin on (I'll probably use a lot of vibrato double stops on my lead breaks as they look flashy, sound bluegrassy and eat up time - and are far easier than intricate fast runs!!!!!!!) - and that's going to be about the sum of my mandolin playing Smile.gif

Robin

RavenMadd Garcia
RavenMadd Garcia
@ravenmadd-garcia
6 years ago
41 posts

knock em out

Rick Kennedy
Rick Kennedy
@rick-kennedy
6 years ago
18 posts

Photos? Grin.gif Love to see you holding a different instrument. Kind of wonder if the two instruments (MD and mandolin) are complimentary... You continue to surprise!

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
6 years ago
253 posts

No - I've not seen that one. I must case up a copy Grin.gif

R N Lackey said:

Good for you, Robin. Nice to see someone unafraid to take on a new instrument. I'm sure you'll be posting video of your mandolin technique really soon! Oh... have you heard the Baldissari/Schnaufer Appalachian Mandolin/Dulcimer album? I'm sure you have, but just in case 67.gif

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
6 years ago
445 posts

Good for you, Robin. Nice to see someone unafraid to take on a new instrument. I'm sure you'll be posting video of your mandolin technique really soon! Oh... have you heard the Baldissari/Schnaufer Appalachian Mandolin/Dulcimer album? I'm sure you have, but just in case 67.gif

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
6 years ago
253 posts

My youngest son bought me a Kentucky make A Style mandolin for Christmas and said "I thought that you may be able to play this in your band". We lost our mandolin player about a year ago, but picked up a fiddler Smile.gif

I really wasn't sure if my left hand with its finger damage would cope with a mandolin but 2 weeks in and I seem to be managing to reach everything I want to OK. In fact, the 4 finger G and D chords may be a little easier with the top section of your first finger missing (not that I'd recommend it 109.gif ).

YouTube has been great. I watched Bill Munroe on Christmas Day to get an idea how to stand and hold the instrument and use a strap. I did a full set-up onthe instrument.In the past two weeks I'veworked my way through stuff like pick grip and technique (I bought a load of mandolin picks and have tried different styles - at present the Wengen 1.00 is my fav for tone and handling),easy chords, bluegrass chop chords, scales, vibrato, simple riffs and solos, double stopsand played as many old time tunes in differnt keys as I could work out. This evening I took the instrument to band practice and had 3 hours of flat out bluegrass speed chops standing next to the bass player (boom chick heaven 3.gif ) plus I was being chucked solos on each tune (which I played really badly Frown.gif ). There's nothing like peer pressure from the rest of the band to sharpen up your playing!!!!

It looks like we may have a gig on Friday - if we do then I'll give the instrument its first stage outing for a couple of tunes 113.gif


updated by @robin-clark: 02/26/19 02:58:34PM