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Life with a Mandolin

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I have so many wonderful contacts and friends that I associate with here on the Mandolin Cafe! Thank you Scott and to all for making this platform what it is. The fact is, it is the means by which I have become a serous student of the mandolin and thus my life has been greatly enhanced.

I am a retired fellow, though at 63, I am a bit young to be so. I am disabled due to a neurodegenerative brain disease and the mandolin is a great friend, comfort and therapy. I have been able to keep using my hands, though my abilities are threatened by a movement disorder which takes movements away gradually and insidiously. For a good many years, I kept playing out, as a member of the church band-- vocally and instrumentally. Also, I was doing my folk/country singer guitarist thing for 5-1/2 years at the nursing homes in our area 1 time each week. We have now had to discontinue. All the more reason to play the mandolin more and more!

My taste for fiddle tunes, Irish songs, traditional songs and blue grass has been growing more and more. Baron at Free Mandolin Lessons Online has been a great help to me. Memorizing as many of those classic songs as possible has expanded my repertoire as well as giving me a means to practice picking and finger patterns essential to growing in technique and improving strength.

As a life-long performer and guitarist, I have had to relearn the use of a pick and the posture and positioning of the instrument as so much is different. I realize this more and more.

I just love the form and sound of a mandolin. I fell in love first with my old Gibson A, whose sister instrument, a second Gibson A "Teens", that had been in the family has now come to me. The second was better than the first-- louder, more resonant, a wider nut and great action. Weirdly, this 1912 has a 1940's Gibson decal on the headstock. The serial is clearly teens and legit, so I assume some factory work was done at some point more than 75 years ago! In addition, I loved the F5 instruments and found my 2001 Nashville Flatiron Festival after a long search and trying a variety of instruments. It is the consummate blue grass mandolin in the under $3,000 price range-- not to compare because I am sure others have great love for their own F5!

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Finally, the A5 style has become my favorite shape and feel for an all purpose mandolin. I have owned a few, and my friends have teased me for going through a lot of mandolins. My other hobby is buying, intonating, polishing guitars and mandolins and selling them. My road has come to an end for a variety of reasons on that hobby-- I am now very content with my old 1976 Guild D55 I have owned since she was new, and my National M-2 Resonator that my first cousin Don Young, National-Resophonic President and Co-Founder, built and set up for me several years before he passed. He was a good and humble man, full of humanity! I miss you old pal!

My A5 is a Collings MT with a wide nut, a gloss top and white top binding. The headstock on those is also glossed, which is a feature I really like and it is a subtle but noticeable difference. The wide nut really serves me with my big hands or "large paws" as my friend Pat Heffernan refers to them. The action and feel of the wide radiused fretboard with the soft V shaped neck is a great combination for improved speed and accuracy. The frets respond so well to my D'Addario Monel 11-40 strings. The Blue Chip CT pick is not a necessity, but this combination has become my rig that has replaced most of my guitar playing (not all, not ever) with daily mandolin practice which runs 2-3 hours.

Thanks Scott for the MC! Thanks friends and mandolin heroes! Thank you for the many contributors to the mandolin tab section which I have gleaned much from and thank you Baron at Free Mando Lessons for the instruction.

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Updated Nov-02-2018 at 5:57pm by lflngpicker



  1. Mark Wilson's Avatar
    Retirement does leave some sweet time for mandolin. I'm happy to hear you're taking advantage of the blessing of time and health to do it. Savor it my friend! Wish you were close by - would love to pick some tunes with you! Mark

    ps: I'm gonna go way out on a short limb and say MAS is not done with either of us!
  2. lflngpicker's Avatar
    True Mark! MAS is persisting!! Also, I would love to sing and pick with you, as well. I am trying so hard to be strong and hold on to the Flatiron since it hasn't gotten much play time since I received the MT. You're a great MC pal, Mark!
    Updated Nov-02-2018 at 6:04pm by lflngpicker (grammar)