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I'll never learn mandolin because....

11 Apr 01 - 09:59 AM (#438023)
Subject: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Bedubya

I,ve been putzing around with the mandolin for about 20 years now, but have never learned to play it very well. About a dozen old fiddle tunes and a little backup are the extent of my abilities. The primary reason is that I have a hard time praticing with it. Every time I sit down to practice, the unaccompanied sound of the thing starts annoying me after about thirty minutes. I have a decent mandolin, a Flatiron, so that's not the problem. I think an unaccompanied Lloyd Loar F-5 would get on my nerves as well. I enjoy playing it on the rare occasion when I have a competent rhythm guitarist around to add some mids and bass, but that doesn't happen often enough. I suppose I could record my own rhythm tracks and play to them, but that seems a bit like wanking to me. I can practice 5-string banjo or hammered dulcimer for hours without accompaniment. It's just the mando that grates.

Not really sure why I'm posting this. I doubt there's anything anyone's going to say that will change my taste in tonality, but have at it anyway.

Cheers,

Bruce


11 Apr 01 - 10:13 AM (#438039)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: jeffp

My wife also dislikes the sound of an unaccompanied mandolin. She can't really articulate why, she just does.

jeffp


11 Apr 01 - 10:52 AM (#438076)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Whistle Stop

Bruce, you can always play along with records, or (even better) with other musicians. Some folks may not consider this "practice," but if it's a choice between doing that and giving up the instrument, I'd give it a shot.

Frankly, I've always wondered that about a lot of instruments. Keyboards and guitar can sound pretty complete by themselves, because they're polyphonic, and because they cover a fairly wide tonal spectrum. Most other instruments do not have these qualities -- as a guitar player, it's a wonder to me that anyone sticks with them.


11 Apr 01 - 11:12 AM (#438092)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: catspaw49

ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!! Man oh man.......did you ever hit the nail on the head!!!!...............and I never realized it til now, which is really funny (and shows just how dumb I really am).

I guarantee I am worse than you are Bedubya as I claim the title worst can only be applied to me. I realize that I can't practice the things I should to improve technique because as much as I love the thing in a group, I hate it by itself! Soooo..........instead of working on the real stuff, I'm chucking in a CD within minutes!!! Like you, I love Hammered and it is still a fine stand alone as is guitar and most others, but somehow, mandos just don't "get it" by themselves. Its really self defeating too since to play with a group you need the technique that you get only marginally by playing along with a CD. Kinda' reminds me of Professor Harold Hill's "Think System" in The Music Man in a way...........

Thanks for the enlightenment!!!! Maybe now that I realize it, I can do something about it.

Spaw


11 Apr 01 - 11:35 AM (#438108)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Rick Fielding

Bruce. I HEAR YAH! YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

...but before you give up in disgust....

Several of my students are mandolinists. They run the gamut from rank beginners to working professionals and they ALL the problem you mentioned. I have a solution. IT WORKS. TRUST ME!

Get a Yamaha Keyboard, with "record" function. They are about 300 bucks (give or take a hundred). I don't mean the "serious piano" keyboards, I mean one of those "bells and whistles" kind, marketed for the amateur who wants to play simple stuff with a full orchestra in the background.

Mine has a "loop" function which repeats any chord pattern I play, over and over again. Even if you can't play a note of piano, you can learn "one finger" stuff.

Just pick a beat and tempo, push "record" and play something (just the one finger chord) in C, F, and G. (you can transpose it later if you want.)

Playing along with the loop is a great way of hearing the mandolin with a full band context.

I use this a LOT with my students, and personally I've used it to practice scales, runs etc. in weird keys. (I only play limited piano, so I transpose quite a lot)

Believe me it's the best investment I've made in years.

Rick


11 Apr 01 - 11:35 AM (#438109)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Gypsy

gotta get friends to play together. We have a mando support group weekly.


11 Apr 01 - 11:40 AM (#438113)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Jon Freeman

Some instruments do sound more lonely than others. I find the problem mentioned above far worse with the tenor banjo than I do with the mandolin.

Jon


11 Apr 01 - 12:14 PM (#438141)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: RichM

Get hold of an octave mandolin. it has a deeper thrummy tone, yet the stringing is identical. Mine is a Trinity College, and has a 20 /12 scale--thus,most mandolin fingerings are possible.
So in a sense, you *are* practicing mando, but with a fuller sound.

And it's an excuse to get yet another acquisition!

Folk of the Wood and Elderly both carry Trinity College 8mandos, for about 400 eaglebucks.

Rich


11 Apr 01 - 12:40 PM (#438173)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Bedubya

Jon: Total agreement on the tenor banjo. At least the mando makes it out of the case every now and then. My tenor makes a real nice wall decoration.

Gypsy: I hear ya on the playing with other folks. Unfortunately, it seems like every time I get to play in a session I'm the "in demand" rhythm guitarist and there's always a hotshot mandolinist or two who I could never hold a candle to. Maybe a support group for mandolin wannabes.

Rick: Sounds like an excellent suggestion. I'll borrow a friend's keyboard and try it out.

Spaw: You would have come to this epiphany on your own given enough time, boredom and mind-altering substances.

Thanks for everybody's comments.

Bruce


11 Apr 01 - 12:55 PM (#438183)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Bedubya

Rich: Had a Trinity College octave mando for a couple of years before I gave it back to the friend I had borrowed it from. Loved it. Played it in AADDAADD Bouzouki tuning more often than standard, but it sounded good either way. It's on the next-to-buy short-list right after the upright bass the wife wants. (Never thought I'd hear her ask me to buy an instrument instead of giving me Hell about the one I did buy!)

Bruce


11 Apr 01 - 01:06 PM (#438198)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Jon Freeman

Bruce, when I started learning tenor banjo, I wanted to play it more than any other instrument which I guess helped a lot. I also used to play along with recordings which helped.

I let my music slip quite a lot over the last 4 years but I have recently moved and found a great session. This to me, provides the biggest incentive of all. I love playing with others, so even though I'm not to fond of my own instrument on its own, I'm back to just wanting to play...

To follow on from Rick's suggestion, it would also be possible to set up tracks on your computer using Midi and there may even be some ready made ones that you could find.

Jon


11 Apr 01 - 02:11 PM (#438276)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Peter T.

I always had the same problem with the recorder. Never could stand the sound of that instrument. I got a tenor recorder, and that helped a little, but not much. A friend suggested (this was 20 years ago) that I play with a group. Have you ever heard a group (bunch? Flock? consort?) of recorders playing badly together? I barely survived the evening. I can see why everyone went into Beethoven (joke).

yours, Peter T.


11 Apr 01 - 02:13 PM (#438279)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: mousethief

Wooden recorders sound 1000000% better than plastic ones -- maybe that was your problem, Peter T? Most beginners buy plastic ones because they're cheaper.

Alex


11 Apr 01 - 02:22 PM (#438295)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Bernard

'Ere, 'ang on a mo'!!

Most computers have soundcards, and therefore can reproduce MIDI files.

So why don't those of us wot can produce 'backing MIDI' files for those of us wot can't?

Let's make the technology work, for gawd's sake!!


11 Apr 01 - 02:50 PM (#438320)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Jon Freeman

That would help Bernard but as I suggested in my previous post, there are probably a lot MIDIs already done. Harmony Central looks like a good starting point.

Here is one site that has some bluegrass backing tracks.

Jon


11 Apr 01 - 02:52 PM (#438323)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Metchosin

and because I'm absolutely shameless about putting in plugs, try playing along with my brother Russ, Rick Van Krugel and Mike Brooks here


11 Apr 01 - 03:57 PM (#438390)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Willie-O

I've had this experience for years. And years.

I think of it as "chipmunk syndrome".

Even the low notes on a mandolin are pretty high. But on a really good old Gibson or something, they growl in a quite acceptable manner.

The other thing about practicing mando is it's not the most comfortable for your fingers. It's hard to play quietly--the dynamic range is not there.

But it's fun and, hey, get a guitar in the room and you will be glad of the mando. Made for each other.

Willie-O


11 Apr 01 - 04:36 PM (#438429)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: BRG

I've been playing mandolin for years and somehow I'm able to mess with it for hours - until all those fiddle tunes become one in my addled brain. (Drives my family nuts, though)

What I can't do to my satisfaction (and to my family's dire consternation) is make those same tunes come alive on my fiddle. I sometimes get it right but still often manage to create truly atrocious sounds.

Bruce G - mando player with fiddling aspirations


11 Apr 01 - 04:46 PM (#438433)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: pattyClink

RichM makes a good point, you could trade it for a bigger deeper instrument like an octave mandolin. The beauty of the mandolin/violin families is there are several instruments that use those 4 strings, so you could transfer your fingering knowledge easily.

I like listening to fiddle players but the high tone of it would drive me starkers if I ever made it my instrument. I like playing mandolin but the high pressure needed on the strings is rough on fingers. Some day hope to have time to experiment with bass-er critters like bouzoukis and cellos....


11 Apr 01 - 04:54 PM (#438441)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Bedubya

I think maybe some of us are just naturally more attuned to and are more responsive to higher frequencies. Others prefer midrange and, still others, bass. Maybe that's why Norman Blake is one of my favorite guitarists. Much of his best licks are done on the lower frets of the guitar's wound strings. Dan Crary, who I greatly respect but have never desired to emulate, plays much of his stuff way up the neck on the high strings.

Of course, Norman's a Helluva mandolinist and fiddler too, isn't he?

Bruce


11 Apr 01 - 05:49 PM (#438500)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Peter T.

You may be right, Bruce, but I personally prefer the sound of the tin whistle to the sound of the (wooden/plastic) recorder. I have no idea why. It may be because if you are used to an instrument, like the flute, it wrecks you for nearby instruments, but one that is in another category in your mind doesn't appear to be "wrong".

yours, Peter T.


11 Apr 01 - 05:58 PM (#438506)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: sophocleese

Well maybe I need to learn mandolin. I play recorder (Peter T. I prefer the sound of sopranino recorder to tin whistle), and like to sing a cappella. Funnily enough, a friend and I are working on a piece to do at an open stage next week which features recorder, mandolin and both of us singing. Then again I'm not that fond of a lot of twiddling around at the upper end of the guitar. Hmm. maybe I'll just keep looking at basses abd cellos.


11 Apr 01 - 06:36 PM (#438535)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: RichM

Bruce (Bedubya) says he wants an 8mando, right after he buys his wife an upright bass.
I totally approve of your wife's choice!
We have 2 uprights in the house: His and Hers!

Both my wife, Sue and I play upright bass, she in an irish band, and me in a bluegrass band.

Great instrument!


11 Apr 01 - 07:18 PM (#438567)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: John Hardly

...you mean there's another bass besides "upright"?


11 Apr 01 - 07:22 PM (#438570)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: John Hardly

Actually, it's the same sound quality that I like in an upright bass that makes me tend to agree with the original premise of this thread--rapid decay--short sustain.




...hey wait, that sounds alot like me.


11 Apr 01 - 07:28 PM (#438573)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: Seamus Kennedy

Bedub, you're absolutely right. Give up playing the mandolin, sell the Flatiron to me, and buy a mandola with the money. There. Now everybody's happy! Glad to help.

Seamus


11 Apr 01 - 07:56 PM (#438595)
Subject: RE: I'll Never Learn Mandolin Because.....
From: GUEST,Knicke

Bedub, another less technical suggestion (for those of us unversed in MIDI lore) is to put on tape (either yourself, or utilize your favorite guitarist) a WHOLE bunch of breaks in a row. Just the backup for the same tune over and over and over and over...:) Hope you can find a guitar player who's nice enough to do this for you. If you know a couple chords and can strum, you can do this yourself. I am a fiddle player and while I like the sound of my instrument, I really needed the practice of having to keep up with someone else...even though it was a recording. Actually, I found that keeping up with the recording made it a LOT easier to play with real musicians...real people can skip ahead and cover your mistakes for you. :)