Total Newbie

  1. Don Roon
    Don Roon
    Total newbie here. Just got my mandolin (left handed).Will start by taking lessons from a local teacher. Any comments or tips appreciated.
  2. Chaya
    Hi Don. Nice to have someone here more "newbie" than me.
  3. SOMorris
    Hi Don. Welcome to the Newbies group. The main tip that I can offer is you have to practice a lot! You probably already knew that!
  4. HonketyHank
    Welcome, Don.


    Practice time must include at least some fun stuff but be sure to include an ongoing program of focused practice on a specific skill or technique. No fun and you get discouraged. No focused practice and you don't get better (and still get discouraged).

    Use a metronome.

    Practice your two octave open position G and A scales (with a metronome) till you can do them blindfolded, fast, up and down, different rhythm patterns, by thirds, etc. Those two scales will give you the basic patterns in four commonly used keys in open position.

    Find someone to jam with (this is not the same as practice).

    Ask questions here or in the main forum. You'll get positive answers. There are no flamers on Mandolin Cafe.
  5. Don Roon
    Don Roon
    Thanks everyone for the welcome notes....

    Chaya...yes, always someone younger (newer) and someone older...I guess thats how knowledge is passed along. Thanks

    SOmorris....Good advise...I know you're correct and I think we still need to hear it...Thanks

    Honkety Hank....WOW, really good advise. I already copied it and printed it out. I'll start to use it as I progress along...THANKS , I really appreciate you taking the time to pass along your knowledge !!
  6. Ellsdemon
    At least 10 minutes a day, that's how I started, and I'll bet you'll progress to hours a day if you can. Practice, practice, practice and remember it's a marathon and it's going to take time to see results. Hank gave a good advice, if you don't have a metronome, get one. It took me a long time to start using one and it's helped a great deal, even when I thought I was doing good beforehand.

    Hank and everyone here is a newbie and we have learned from all of us as we've been playing. Don't ever think a silly question won't be answered. We'll always be newbies in someway.
  7. MikeZito
    Welcome to the club Don:

    For my 2-cents (about all my mandolin playing is worth) it is key to listen, learn and practice often - but the single most important part is to relax and ENJOY! Yes, it is sometimes discouraging to seemingly spend countless hours, working on seemingly simple things, while others seemingly advance much more quickly and easily, but just remember that this is not a race or a competition - work at your own style, your own pace and with your own abilities - and everything will be okay.

    Keep us posted.
  8. Don Roon
    Don Roon
    Thanks Ellsdemon and MikeZito

    Ellsdemon...I like the idea of 10 minutes to start then slowly increase and think my calluses (or lack of) will help me figure out how much time I spend each day. Thanks for your input !!

    MikeZito....thanks for your $.02 worth...that's about $.03 more then my playing is worth. I relize it's not a race but I am a bit impatient so this will help me slow down. I am giving myself about a year to see where I'm at. Hopefully with some lessons, practice,possibly a jam or two and help from this forum I will be ok... Thanks again !

  9. SOMorris
    One other comment, Don, for what it is worth: If you can, write down somehow or record where you are now in your playing. When you get discouraged in a couple months or a year, you can go back and see how far you have progressed from where you were when you started. That has helped me keep on keeping on.
  10. Don Roon
    Don Roon
    Somorris...that makes perfect sense to track process as best as right now is easy to chart...I'm really at zero. Never really played any stringed instrument but hope all my years of playing drums and percussion will help with the "CHOPS"..............Thanks again !!
  11. Old Man In
    Old Man In
    Hi Don
    and welcome to the the wonderful world of the Newbie. I've only been playing a year now but by following the advice given here and being fairly strict with myself I feel I'm making pretty good progress. Yes, there's been ups and downs and plateaus but mainly ups and if I don't get at least an hour of practice in a day I feel somehow let down, almost resentful of whatever it is that's caused me to miss out.
    The main piece of advice you'll get from everybody is, "PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!" and it's good advice too, the best you'll get.
    Learning the mando (or anything else) is like walking in the mountains. After a while you can look back and be amazed at how far you've come. Then you look ahead and see how far you've got to go and you can view that either as a deterrent or a challenge. I hope that after a year you'll be like me and want to know, "What's over the next hill?"
    Good luck and don't be afraid to ask questions, there's a lot of wisdom and kindness here, qualities that seem to be sadly lacking in most of the world outside.
  12. Don Roon
    Don Roon
    Old Man In....Thanks for your encouragement. Glad to hear that after a year of ups and downs you are still positive. As I'm just really starting I practice til my fingers start to hurt then I stop for awhile...then back at it. Have you jammed with others yet ?
  13. Old Man In
    Old Man In
    Hi Don,
    Yes, those fingers are going to hurt! (for a while) but good to hear you keep at it.
    I live in Cornwall right down in the South West of the UK where there's a good bit of "Celtic" music so I get to a few sessions playing Irish Traditional stuff and also go to quite a number of folk festivals in what passes for summer over here. At most festivals there's usually an Irish session happening somewhere and they're a good place to listen and learn even if you can't play well enough to keep up. (See my post "One year with the mandolin").
    That reminds me of another piece of good advice I was given, whatever genre of music you want to play, LISTEN.You can read about it, study it but there's no substitute for listening. Listen to its form, shape, the light and shade and think about why it grabs you.
    Listen to all the players you can, you don't have to copy them note for note but listen to what they do. Listen to not so good players too, it's just as educational to think, "I don't want to sound like that. What are they doing that I don't like?"
    Keep at it and you'll end up an addict like me.
  14. Don Roon
    Don Roon
    OLD MAN IN....Yes, I plan on going to as many festivals possible. Northern California has a few but probably not near as many as in Cornwall...(my girlfriend is from Cornwall but when she was young they moved to Watford). The area we now live in (Grass Valley CA) has a big Cornish influence from all the gold mines around here. We can get Cornish pasties from 2 different shops in our little down town and there is even a fish and chips store.I will look up your "One year" post....Thanks again !!
  15. GrammaSherry
    Howdy Don. I, too, am brand new at this. I'm a 77-year-old granny and a bit worried that nerve damage in my fingers may inhibit my new endeavor. After two days of what I'd consider actual practice (not just playing around with my new mandolin), I had to take the third day off, which was so disappointing, because my index and middle fingers were in such pain. (Those two because I'm just working on the two-finger G, C, and D chords.) Now those fingers are numb (like Novocain-numb) but no longer painful--that is until I try to fret ANYTHING. Wow it is hard! It can't be said that I overdid it because I'd been warned not to. So I practiced just a few minutes each time, like five to ten spread out over perhaps two hours both days. Today I'm trying to continue by using those awkward rubber fingertips (which I realize are not recommended--but I need to progress rather than backslide). Even so, my fingertips hurt enough that I think I could almost start building callouses even with them on (ho-ho). My musical background consists of button-box accordion and some piano but no stringed instruments.
  16. SOMorris
    Welcome to the Newbies group, GrammaSherry!

    When you say your fingers are in pain, do you mean the ends of your fingers from fretting the strings, or your finger joints due to arthritis or something like that?

    The sore ends of you fingers will get better, and it would not hurt to take a day or so off to let them heal a little. Take it slow at first, and make sure your mandolin is well set up. Some new mandolins have such high action (there is a big space between the strings and the fretboard) that it is difficult to impossible to put enough pressure on the strings to get them to sound nice and clean. If your mandolin is like that, it needs to be fixed or you will get very discourage.

    At any rate, the most important thing is to have fun!
  17. HonketyHank
    Hi, GrammaSherry. Good to have you with us. I second the good advice from SOMorris.
  18. MrMoe
    Hello Don and welcome. I too am a novice player and also play left handed (upside down on a regular Mandolin) The Mandolin is a fun versatile instrument. Enjoy!
  19. Trubadur
    Hello from yet another lefty newbie. I’m coming from (righty) fiddle, so my brains are fairly scrambled right now and the strings feel very harsh and heavy to me.
  20. HonketyHank
    Welcome, Trubadur. Light or even ultra light strings are a bit easier on the fingers until caluses develop. But most folks move up to mediums or even heavies for tone quality and volume after the fingers toughen up. And it could also be that the action on your mandolin could be improved. You might want to send Rob Meldrum an email with "mandolin setup book" in the "Re" line. He'll send you (free) a copy of his book on mandolin setup using simple, cheap tools and needing minimal luthier skills. Even if you don't choose to try a setup job yourself, I still recommend reading it to learn about all the setup things that make a mandolin easy or hard to play and even sounding good or bad. The BCR (benefit-cost ratio) of that book is infinite.

    Rob's address:
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