Ummm... hello?

  1. cwilliamson
    Absolute newbie here. I hope this it's the right place to post hellos. I'm so new I don't even own a mandolin yet. LOL

    I've wanted one but found every excuse in the book not to. You don't play the guitars you have now. What makes you think you'll practice the mandolin? You have too many hobbies already. So this has gone on for years, every few months I'll hear a jig, or Battle of Evermore, or something and I start pining for a mandolin.

    This time it feels different. I've spent a week here devouring information and watching YouTube videos, looking at how much I can spend and frankly now I'm stuck with analysis paralysis in deciding what I want. I know I want an f style and I know I'll need to spent more to get something reasonable. So it might be a bit unless I go there Rogue route and do the set up myself.

    I play guitar (barely) and know that having a better instrument made me feel better about playing and practicing.

    Anyone here know of any stores in the north Denver area that has a good selection of mandolins or a luthier to do the setup? I do a fair amount of work on my Gibson SG, I own radius gauges and such so I could probably do there work myself but without knowing what sounds and feels correct I don't know if I'd be doing it right.

    Regards and hello,
  2. SOMorris
    Welcome to the Newbies group, Clark! I am not at all familiar with the Denver area, so no help there. I really enjoy learning to play the mandolin, but the learning curve is steep for me, and I know I don't practice nearly enough. Nevertheless, I keep pecking away hoping one of these days the light will come on.

    My wife inherited an inexpensive mandolin from her Dad that I used to plunk around on with him playing the guitar. When we took it to a shop, they said it wasn't worth fixing. So, I bought a $100 mandolin from the shop. After having the saddle break, using Rob Meldrum's book to get it set up when I replaced the saddle, then having the saddle break again, I decided it was time to spend a little more money and get a better mandolin. No stores around here, so I wound up ordering one from The Mandolin Store. I have been really happy with it.

    Welcome again!
  3. cwilliamson
    SOMorris, thank you for the welcome. I can honestly say that I have wanted to play stringed instruments for a long time. When I was 5-7'ish my parents got me a cheap kiddie guitar from the local Ben Franklin 5 n dime store. I friend of my dad's came out, tuned it showed me a chord or two, gave me a pick and that was it. No lessons, no books, abject set up for failure. Then in middle school my cousin tried to teach me a little but with no guitar at home that failed. in 10-11 grade I wanted to buy myself a electric guitar so my dad brought me to see the same guy who handed me a guitar and taught me row, row, row your boat on the spot and said I was teachable so I was given permission to spend my birthday money on a used Hohner strat clone and a amp. My parents even sprung for lessons from my dad's friend's son. Those went something like. Opens a guitar magazine to some tab. Play this...I don't even know how to read tab. He watches me struggle for a while and absently starts playing a song, half hour passes. Okay, here's a magazine, learn this song. repeat for a month when my parents and I gave up and I sold it to a guy when I was in the military.

    Fast forward to college I took a group guitar class and actually learned some things and continued playing off and on. for my 40th birthday I bought myself a Gibson SG faded and have played it but have never seemed to bond with it. No matter how much I practice I can't seem to memorize music, I just noodle around, play some basic chords, pentatonic scale in different positions which I enjoy but now it's only picked up every 6 months or so. :-(

    so here I am fast approaching 50 and I'm hoping that the mandolin will stick better. I fear buying something cheap and not enjoying it. My SG is plain but pretty and frankly I want something shiny so to speak. I like the look of the Michael Kelly Dragonfly but there are so many negative comments here that I would hate to buy one sight unseen. I've been looking at the The Loar LM310F on The Mandolin Store since it comes with the professional setup. SOMorris, did you have a good experience buying form them? Was the setup good? Sigh, Analysis paralysis.

    Does any of that ramble make sense?

  4. HonketyHank
    I am in Oregon, but I visited Cajon Street Guitars in Colorado Springs and was very impressed. They have since moved to Manitou Springs and are now called Avenue Guitars. Website is . It might not seem all that close to North Denver, but it is a lot closer than most folks have for a decent mandolin selection to try out. I drove there from Oregon. Mandolin I wanted was sold when I got there. Ah, well.

    I have not visited Denver Folklore Center, but they usually have some mandolins that are better than basic starter models. Website is .

    I'll mention that The Mandolin Store is a very reliable dealer and I have directed folks from Boulder there who knew nothing about mandolins except that they wanted one for their son. I knew Dennis would help steer them without taking advantage and they do a good set up on every instrument they sell.

    Since you mentioned Michael Kelly and The Loar, I am sure you have seen threads with recommendations in the main forum. Kentucky and Eastman usually lead the list for a beginner through intermediate 1st mandolin. With the Kentucky, the 150 is the lowest model number with a solid carved top and back, which is important. Any of the Eastmans is good.

    Good luck and let us know what you think of either of the above shops if you do visit. And let us know what you end up with.
  5. cwilliamson
    Hi HonketyHank,

    I have looked at the Selection on Denver Folklore's website and they seem to have Eastman and Kentucky that are outside my price range. I was thinking get the Loar, accessories, books, and what not so that I wouldn't be wanting for supplies once I got it. Folklore is only a 30 minute drive from my house so I might need to save up a bit more and take a drive down there. I'll check out Avenue if I can't find anything at Folklore. Maybe take a drive to visit an old friend and drag him out to check things out. :-) The LM310 with gig bag and setup is only $299 through The Mandolin Store which I thought was a reasonable price though I wonder if it would get whacked about in shipping and need another setup afterwards. Plus there's the whole instant gratification thing for getting it now and then upgrading later. I do want the F style which is the big step up in price. Based on what all the posts say I should just get the A style since I can get better for cheaper and then save for an intermediate but I'm afraid that I won't like playing an A style because of aesthetics...or am I just being wishy-washy?

    I'll keep you posted. I told my wife and she laughed and said I was just like my dad. Always getting worked up over something new and buying stuff but to be fair I haven't bought a new instrument in 10 years.

  6. Ellsdemon
    I'll tell you what I went through. My first mandolin was $99 dollars, I played it for 3 months and then it sat for over a year. My next mandolin when I "started" again was $199 and that was a lot of money to me, that price forced me to play everyday for at least 10 minutes. That justified the cost to not only me, but my wife. I played that $199 mando everyday for 3 years. Then I went big, over $3K! Because I had proven to myself that I love playing the mandolin everyday, and I wanted something that was going to last for a lot longer then 3 years and also get the sound that I was looking for. Because, when I started I couldn't tell the difference between a $500K Gibson or a $99 China knockoff. Then after I grew in experience, my ears also began to grow.
    What I'm getting at is, get something that won't break the bank, because all you're going to be worried about for the next 6 months to a year is how to pick, strum, and play simple fiddle tunes and grow calluses. Don't overthink it, just jump into the cold water. After a year you'll start noticing the differences in tone to start appreciating finer mandolins out there and then that's when you'll prove to yourself (aka significant other) that you should start upgrading.
    This is my opinion and it's worked for me. I freak out now if I don't pick up my Northfield everyday.
    Good luck on your decision and don't be afraid to ask questions here or even post your opinion on subjects. This is a very friendly and helpful group.
  7. MikeZito
    You may not want to listen to a guy who was recently voted 'Worst Mandolin Player Since Dinosaurs Roamed The Earth' - but my simple advice is: 'Just do it.' Don't over-think what mandolin to buy, what songs to practice, do I want to play bluegrass music or Oriental backpacking hymns, etc. - just get a mandolin and get started. There are lots of BEGINNER learning tools, lessons and videos on the internet; (I stress the word 'beginner' because there have been too many occasions where I have seen a beginner jump right in by trying to learn fancy licks by seasoned players, and then wonder why they feel like they are not making any progress).

    In any event - welcome to the world of mandolin. Take it slow, listen, learn, play, have fun and keep us posted.
  8. cwilliamson
    There are Oriental backpacking hymns?!?! (quick, off to YouTube!, I don't see them!!! Are you pulling my leg?) :-) Someday I'll have to post about my struggle to not buy a Okinawan sanshin on my last couple trips there...I wonder if the buffalo horn picks they use would work on a mandolin? Anyways. Thank you for the advise. Just jump in...or wait. It seems to be 50/50 on the opinions here. The desire has been there for a long time.

    Ellsdemon, that's how I sort of was with guitar. I bought a Yamaha dreadnought student guitar. Took the group lesson and practiced, practiced practiced and then saved for the Gibson once I was sure I would continue. Ten years later I don't play as much. Maybe she needs a good tuneup? Maybe my tastes are changing as I get older hard to say. But I will get one sometime soon. The weather is raging so I doubt I'll be going out anywhere today so guess I'll surf the threads and watch videos for a while.

    Also, When I buy one are there any accessories to buy at the same time? Strings(are factory strings that horrible?)?

  9. MikeZito
    Accessories are personal, but simple:

    - Picks; (which can sometimes be more of a study than the mandolin itself)
    - An electronic clip-on tuner
    - A set of new strings; (probably light weight, to help avoid potential neck and bridge problems, if your first mandolin is an inexpensive 'beginner' model')
    - A music stand; (if you plan to read music)
    - Perhaps something to record your practice sessions - so that you can eventually go back and listen to old recordings and hear for yourself that you ARE actually making progress
    . . . and, in my house, I was forced to buy a large box of earplugs so that others would not be driven to near-insanity by my terrible playing!
  10. cwilliamson
    Let's see, I have a regular tuner but have always wanted a clip-on so that sounds like a good investment. What weight strings would be good? I'm seriously wanting to order a The Loar LM-310 F from The Mandolin Store today.

    This leads to another question. So many questions... if I buy a mandolin online and they do a setup on it will the knock about during shipping move the bridge outed anything and cause me to need another one locally?

    We own two music stands, one mine, one my daughter's. Does this mean I need to learn a new cleft?

    Is there a good book that teaches music theory for the mandolin? I've had such a tough time wrapping my mind around music theory in general.

    Why am I feeling so much guilt over buying a new instrument? This is allowance I've been saving up for "something" so it's not like I'm spending household money... anyone else go through this?

  11. HonketyHank
    If you buy from TMS it will come nicely set up. The setup won't be messed up in shipping unless something REALLY bad happens (like a forklift drove over the package).

    You probably should put new strings on it. If you have calluses already, try D'Addario EJ74 (Mediums). If you don't, you might start with D'Addario EJ73 (Lights), then graduate up after you have calluses.

    When you say "music theory", I suspect you mean being able to read music. "Music Theory" is pretty heavy stuff and it won't help you learn to play the mandolin much, if at all. So get just about any beginner mandolin book. It will almost certainly show you the basics of reading music and where the notes are on the mandolin that correspond to the notes you see on paper. Pete Seegar asked an old time player if he reads music and the guy responded "not enough to hurt my playing". Or another guy says "Notes? Hell, they aint no notes to a mandolin. You just play it."

    Lots of good players can't read music. And just about any basic mandolin book will have you playing a simple tune in no time flat. A lot of folks like "Mandolin For Dummies". That book starts with very basic stuff and goes well into intermediate.

    I think you are over thinking this. Like Mike says, Just jump in. Sounds like you are headed toward the The Loar from the Mandolin Store. That is a budget starter model from a reputable dealer. Mandolinning will either grab you or it won't, regardless of which one you get as long as they are not junk. That one is not junk.
  12. cwilliamson
    Well shoot. All y'alls input, my daughter gave me the what for about getting what I can "But you better practice it every day!" and my wife looked me in the eye and said "You do you" and then banished to the basement until I can make it sound pleasant enough to sit on the couch next to her.

    Looks like I have a LM-310, two sets of strings, and some picks inbound. I also have Mandolin for Dummies, Mel Bay's, and Hal Leonard's beginner books on hold at the library so I can figure out what works best for me.

    Thanks for all the input everyone. Time to start saving for the one in a couple years if I can get past the learning curve.

  13. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Good for you!

    I started with the Hal Leonard book and was pleased with it. Lots of styles of music to try. I hope you ordered a few different sizes and shapes of picks. You were asking about clefs—all mandolin parts are written in treble clef, so you'll be fine.
  14. MikeZito
    The Loar LM-310 is most likely a very good choice for you - I had one for a while, and found it very serviceable . . . and with a setup from the good folks at The Mandolin Store, you should be instantly ready to go. Just remember to NOT put a lot of pressure on yourself . . . listen, learn, play and have fun!
  15. cwilliamson
    Louise, TMS was out of a lot of picks so I picked up a dozen The Loar branded ones to have on hand. I have a habit of losing picks, honestly I can walk into a Guitar Center with two in my pocket and they seem to vanish until I walk out. Very perplexing. I look forward to checking that book out. My main goal was to learn some Irish jigs and reels but I discovered a old friend's husband stays in Denver for work during the week and their bandmate who plays mandolin and violin in their country band lives nearby as well so I might be getting some impromptu jam sessions sooner than I thought.
    Mike, I hope so. It will be tough to wait the 24 hours before unboxing it. I was a little worried about the fact that they only had one left in stock (what if it's a piece of junk that they haven't been able to sell? What if it's a display model that's been knocked about), but after seeing the post that they are moving it makes sense as to why their inventors are low. Less to move.

  16. FredK
    A late welcome to you from a former guitar player, as well. What's been said above is all spot-on. I've used TMS and Elderly on my mandolin purchases. Both are Cafe sponsors and both are top-notch in delivery and customer service. They know what they're doing and they pack their products well. I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you open the box. The 24 hour wait can be tough, though. Happy pickin's!
  17. SOMorris
    Dix Bruce has a few mandolin books available from Mel Bay. His books get you playing tunes quickly, which helps with motivation. I also like his teaching style.

    Hopefully, your mandolin has arrived by now. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do mine. I wound up with an A style mandolin, an Eastman MD505 from the Mandolin Store. The one I bought was a blem. Buying a blem saved quite a bit of money, and the blem is not noticeable at all. It included a hard case. You will be pleased with the guys at the Mandolin Store. Very helpful if or when you need to call for advice on which strings, etc. I use a Fender Heavy guitar pick, which I like.

    Enjoy, Clark!
  18. cwilliamson
    Hi FredK, I called them after the fact and they were like "It went out the door 20 minutes ago. No changes!!" LOL, but I was calling them to inquire about humidity levels as such as my house sits at about 12% humidity during the winter and while it hasn't affected any other instruments it was a concern.

    SOMorris, I don't have any of those on hold at the library so I'll look them up. I'm no stranger to blemished goods. My SG was one. I saved $100 on it because of a little ding on the back where no one could ever see it. I've wondered if I should get a hard case since I don't plan on taking it out anytime soon. Mostly for the humidity with the Oasis in so I don't have to refill it so often.

    It's supposed to arrive some time tomorrow. Luckily someone should be home most of the day. The 24 hour wait from there is going to kill me. I've done nothing but watch mandolin videos and worry about if I was making the right decision for a couple weeks. :-)

  19. cwilliamson
    It arrived at 11:04am... and now we wait...
  20. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Are you still waiting, or have you opened it?
  21. MikeZito
    Two Quick Things - from personal experience, in New England, where temperatures and humidity can vary widely and wildly:

    Humidity: 12% is dangerously low - if you keep your instruments out of their case for prolonged periods of time. The two best courses of action to protect instruments are:
    1. Keep them in cases when not in use.
    2. Buy a portable humidifier (probably $50, or so) and keep it running in the room where your instruments are. The general consensus is that optimum humidity is about 46-percent, but I have found that as long as you are getting some moisture in the air, everything should be fine.

    24 Hour Wait: Honestly, I have never heard of this before. I have heard that if your instrument has been exposed to extremes in temperatures during shipping, that you should wait until the package has adjusted to your home before opening it . . . but (in my opinion) 24 hours seems a bit extreme. Usually waiting a couple of hours should be safe, and then proceed by first opening the outer box and allowing the case inside to adapt for a short time. Once the case has adapted, slowly expose the instrument to the air in your home by slightly opening and closing the case at moderate intervals, lifting the lid a bit more each time, until the instrument has also adapted.
  22. cwilliamson
    It's still sitting there waiting. We have parent teacher conferences tonight so there may be even more delay. The world is trying to teach me patience.

    TMS's faq I believe says to wait that long. It was 16F yesterday morning so I'm assuming the FedEx truck it was on had to be cold. Hence my willingness to wait.

    ... yes, here it is under terms
    "Return Policy USA
    In the Fall,Winter, & Spring, its important to leave your instrument sit for 24 hours before you open it to allow it to acclimate. Sudden temperature changes can cause finish checking. Therefore, we offer an 48 hour evaluation period on instruments with the following exceptions: in store sales, international sales, clearance items, special orders, and trades no approval period on these. If an instrument is to be returned you must us advise us at,, and the instrument must be in route back to us the next business day after the initial 48 hours from the time the instrument was delivered."

    It will initially be in the gig bag it came with so I'm assuming it will adjust quickly once it's out of any bubble wrap.

    It's going to be in my basement where I hope I can keep the humidity up. The wife and I have discussed getting one of those big room humidifiers. Hopefully the humidity will drift downstairs. Might have to do it this weekend. I'll be putting a oasis in the gig bag for now.

    Every fall and spring my Gibson SG goes through a phase where I pick it up and all the strings are way out of tune from the change in weather. I tune it and then it's happy until the next big season change.

    I'll let you know how it goes.

  23. FredK
    I waited the 24 hours with my first purchase from TMS because of their disclaimer notice and because I didn't track the package. Since they ship all over the place, it's a safe bet for the purchaser to wait. With my recent acquisition from Elderly, however, I followed tracking through each stop. Elderly's weather was freezing but the couple days drive to Texas warmed up to where it was acclimated when it hit my doorstep. My wife brought it in around noon and I opened it that evening with no problem.
  24. cwilliamson
    Yeah, their location is at 55, 49% humidity today. Dennis said that their store is humidified so my house would probably shock the heck out of it if I took it out right away.

    I dug through the archives and found a long thread about waiting. Maybe for the next one I'll wait and buy it when the temps aren't so extreme.

    My Oasis humidifier and clip on tuner arrived today. The Hal Leonard's mandolin book came in from the library last night.

    It looks like I'm ready to get started tonight.

    I'll post more tonight. Is there a new mandolin thread anywhere? I searched but couldn't find one.

  25. cwilliamson
    So initial thoughts and ramblings.

    I got home yesterday, opened the package, felt inside, yup, perfectly room temp. Unpacked it, unzipped the gig bag, the mandolin was room temp so I left it slightly open and went out to parent-teacher conferences.

    Came home ate, washed my hands, pulled it out, looked it over, ran my nails over the detuned strings which gave a low, out of tune moan and my daughter who played viola through middle school and was first chair all of 8th grade raised her voice and said "Oh God! Tune that thing!" And ran from the room with her fingers in her ears. LOL

    They did a wonderful job of packaging it at TMS. It arrived as expected. The satin finish doesn't have any flaws, it tuned right up with the factory strings. I haven't noticed any buzz or anything. The bridge seems solidly grounded to the top. The sound is good. My only regret is that I bought a dozen of the Loar branded picks. They are the rounded tip kind (I guess I missed that in my haste to order) and I'm not used to that. Might have to start off using one of my thick guitar picks until I get used to it.

    I spent a half hour doing some jig pattern picking drills on open strings and fingering F-G-A on the E string until my fingertips got to tired. I think it will be a long slow slog to become anywhere near proficient with it.

    I showed it to my wife and she said "I thought it would be bigger. It does go with your beard and hair though. ". In November I decided to switch to mutton chops and I'm growing my hair out for a St. Baldricks fundraiser. So I look a bit like some old time musician or something.

    I filled the oasis and clipped it inside the gig bag off to the side and put it in the basement for the night.

    Things I know I'll want soon. A strap. Playing with it on my lap it feels like it should sit higher for proper form.

    More variety of picks to try.

    Maybe a hard case to store it in.

    I kinda wish it had a pick guard/fingerrest or something as I was afraid of scratching the surface of it when I was bracing my right hand against it to pick. That might resolve itself when I get a strap though.

    That's it for now. I'm sure I'll need more advise. It's a long weekend so I should get some more practice in.

    Thanks for all the input so far.

  26. SOMorris
    You go Clark!

    I don't know about you, but for me, the mandolin sits higher than with a guitar. Mine didn't come with a strap, so I made one out of an old braided leather belt I had. It works okay for me. I play mine most of the time sitting and don't use the strap.
  27. cwilliamson
    Thanks SOMorris! I don't think it sits higher than my dreadnought. Maybe my SG. I'm getting used to holding it now so I might not need a strap know...I really need a strap. I should look through my leather scraps and see if I have any longer pieces.

    Tonight I sat down and continued to work on picking and strumming open strings. I then pulled out the music stand and instruction book and did their E string exercises and started trying to move on to the A string and connect the scale together.

    My third and fourth fingers are still trying to figure out who has ownership of the different frets. On guitar it was jumbo frets so they knew where each needed to go. These are so tiny they seem to want to fight between the fourth and fifth.

    It was a fun night and I really enjoy the sounds it makes. My left pointer finger isn't so happy with that first fret of the E string. It wears it out.

    Dumb question. when doing DU picking are you supposed to stick to one string of a pair or down stroke on the top one, up stroke on the bottom one or do both at the same time?

  28. HonketyHank
    Most of us mere mortals always pick through both strings in a pair - up or down. Or that is our intent, anyway.

    Before you get too set in your ways, be sure to look at some of the very basic videos on right and left hand positions and how to arch your fingers and, well, the basics. There are significant important differences between guitar and mandolin. Freebies include and there are good ones from Mike Marshall and Pete Martin (and many others). Those basic videos are important so you can see, not just read about, those simple but hard to get right basics.

    Most important -- have fun!
  29. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    The banner at the top of this site is advertising 30% off all books at Mel Bay. They are an incredible resource, pages upon pages of mandolin music books. Most are available in either paper or pixels.

    You were asking earlier about basic theory. Look at Marilynn Mair's The Complete Mandolinist. She presents scales, arpeggios, exercises for right, left, and both hands, plus a variety of tunes in all sorts of styles.
  30. SOMorris
    I second Marilynn Mair's The Complete Mandolinist. I have Ms. Mair's book and have been (slowly!!) working my way through it. When I started, I knew almost nothing about reading music, but the book has taught me how to read music and how to get my fingers to go to the correct string to make a particular note. I am still working on speed and getting the timing right.
  31. cwilliamson
    HonketyHank, I shall endeavor to be more like the rest of us mortals... :-) The stroke to go through both strings as one would seem to be very strong and percussive. Am I correct in this? I have been watching videos since the MAS really set in regarding the care and feeding of the mandolin and basic playing form. Everyone's advice in the video's seems to be a little different based on what and how they play. Is that normal? I would like to find someone local to sit with. A coworker owns one but he hasn't played it in a couple years. Maybe I can bribe him. For now I focus on my right hand pick grip and keeping my left hand it the right position (though it seems to want to shift for an easier reach sometimes)...

    Louise, SOMorris, that does look like a good book to add to my collection. When I started group guitar lessons my goal was to learn to read music and after a year my fingers went to the correct fret and string in when playing open position with guitar. The muscle memory was working well. The main problem was I couldn't remember what the names of the notes were if someone asked me. Hah! Hopefully I'll get to know the mandolin neck as well but know the notes so I know my keys.

    As my third day comes to a close the mandolin was barely out of tune tonight when I took it out of it's bag. I played for a half hour or so before my fingertips said enough.

    Thank you all for your advice.

  32. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Clark, to learn names of notes play scales while looking at written music, saying aloud the name of each note as you pick it. I know, it sounds stupid and hopelessly elementary but it cements in the name of the note, what it looks like on the page, and where it is on the instrument.
  33. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Hi Clark, from another "long-time newbie" here. I've been evesdropping on this thread a bit from time to time, as I do not tend to post as much in recent times as I have in the past.

    Just wanted to say hello and welcome you, and to let you know that I'm excited about your new mandolin journey. I hope that you're still enjoying your The Loar! I'll try to throw in my tuppence on some of your questions.

    "The stroke to go through both strings as one would seem to be very strong and percussive. Am I correct in this?"

    Well, not necessarily. That would depend on how deeply you "dig in" with the pick. You can use a soft, shallow stroke to move both strings and get a soft tone with low volume, or you can use a very forceful, aggressive stroke to overdrive the string ... or anything in between.

    Picking too hard with your picking hand, and also using too much force with the left hand fingers to fret the strings in playing notes, are tendencies that many of us had to overcome. For now, its just good to understand that you never need to use more force or energy than the minimum required to cleanly sound a note. That will help you toward having relaxed technique, and preventing unnecessary fatigue or health issues.

    "Everyone's advice in the video's seems to be a little different based on what and how they play. Is that normal?"

    Yes, I doubt any two individuals have exactly the same technique or even overall approach on any given instrument. That is entirely normal. We each will develop our own unique style if we stay at it long enough. But as a rank beginner, we need to discover what are the best practices of others, and try them for ourselves. As rank beginners, we do not know enough or have the practical experience to create a unique style - so I would advise that you try to follow the best advice of one, or only a few, books or teachers in the beginning. Check a number of them out, then devote plenty of time to the one(s) whose approach speaks to you. If you can, stick with a course and follow through until you have completed it. But most important, choose one that teaches you to play music you're interested in, and keep it fun

    "For now I focus on my right hand pick grip and keeping my left hand it the right position (though it seems to want to shift for an easier reach sometimes)..."

    It's okay for your left hand to shift for an easier reach sometimes. Pick grip and left hand position is very important, but these things vary from person to person a bit. That's due to differences in physiology as well as personal preference. What's really more important is to remain relaxed in both hands, wrists and arms, etc. So don't sweat it! Most important is to have fun. For the left hand (fretting hand), I believe that keeping the wrist fairly straight and relaxed is most important to prevent injury and to be able to play with ease. Here's a great video about it!

    And here's another:

  34. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Pretty much any accomplished player you watch on YouTube or play with in person will change their hand & thumb positions radically when playing chords! Not so much when picking melodies, but they will certainly shift positions up and down the neck a bit. So when you learn from anyone the "correct hand position" just remember that generalities are being taught, and as important as they may be, it is the exceptions that make the rule ... put simply, too much worry and anxiety about "proper" technique can be worse than just using "improper" technique. So your goal over time should be to remain relaxed, and practice developing efficient technique that doesn't make you tense. Have fun!
  35. bbcee
    Hi Clark, I've also been lurking on this thread. I'll offer a small compliment to what's already been said:

    * I was also a long-time uninspired guitar player. I compensated for my lack of motivation by buying books, downloading YouTube videos, modding the instrument, etc. but never really advancing. When I got bit by the mando bug and realized it was for me, I used it as a way to get out of old habits & create new, good ones. First, I decided to get the basics down really well. I had also bought "Mandolin For Dummies" and went through the whole thing, instead of my usual dropping it in the middle. It's a good & comprehensive book, and you'll learn tons. I was able to apply that knowledge to advance more rapidly than I think I would have otherwise (having said that, I still consider myself a newbie after 5+ years, albeit a very happy one!).

    I don't know if the above applies to you, but take it in the spirit of Cafe helpfulness. Learn your basics - playing guitar helps in many ways, but the mandolin also has important differences. You'll be glad you did. And oh yea - go at your own pace and have fun along the way!!
  36. Groundcoat
    My advise to anyone learning any instrument is this: Get out of the house and play with others. You will NEVER learn the instrument trying to teach yourself alone in the basement. The people you find to play with WILL be ten times better than you but that's who you want to hang with. You'll be amazed at what you'll absorb by just trying to keep up. AND, it's so much more fun playing with others than playing alone. Ever notice during a jam session that at the end of every song, everyone always laughs? They're having a blast. Nobody cares that you suck as they've ALL been in your shoes at one time or another. People will bend over backwards to teach you anything you want to know. Search out and find those people who share your musical interests. I gaurantee they are not in your basement. Making new friends ain't half bad either.
  37. cwilliamson
    Hi everyone. More good input from everyone. Thank you all. I hadn't played for a week or two until last night. I worked through some simple songs on the 1st through 3rd strings for a while telling myself the note names as I read them from the music and placed my fingers on the strings. I then just noodled around until my fingers were too sore to play any more.

    I received my copy of The Complete Mandolinist and am preparing to start on it. Bbcee, I have a copy of Mandolin for Dummies in transit from another library to mine but they just closed the libraries in the area due to Covid-19 concerns. My wife works there so maybe I'll be able to get it yet if it arrives.

    I think it's interesting that even after leaving it sit for a couple weeks it was still in tune. Every guitar I've owned would have been out of tune by now.

    Onward and upwards. I think that I enjoy playing it a lot more than my guitar. When I noodle on my guitar it's hard to make my fingers do anything...I don't know, musical? On the mandolin it just sounds better and I can hear that I'm off a half step and correct it automatically.

    Mark, good videos. I think I'm cranking my wrist. I'll have to look at it.

  38. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Your mandolin is in tune? Cool. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard one in tune before.

    ”You’ll spend half your time tuning it, and the other half playing it out of tune.” - Jethro Burns
  39. cwilliamson
    I see what it is. Everyone says they are out of tune all the time to keep everyone away from buying them and driving the prices up...or maybe I have a broken tuner...

  40. SOMorris
    I think you are right, Clark. Usually when I gett out the tuner, if any strings are sharp or flat, usually they all are off about the same. As long as one is playing alone, hardly noticeable!
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