Newbie from Pennsylvania saying hello . . .

  1. Lufbery
    Hello all,

    I'm brand new to mandolins and brand new to stringed instruments. As a bit of background, my father passed away this past March. He was a fantastic guitar player, having started guitar before I was born. He tried to show my how to play a few times, but I gravitated to the clarinet and singing tenor, which I did all the way through college.

    Due to Covid, we weren’t able to lay my father’s ashes to rest until August 1st. My brother came in from Colorado and we sorted through my father’s guitars. My father owned several guitars and one mandolin, a Gretsch New Yorker. My brother took two guitars, we gave two to friends, and sold the rest; I kept the mandolin. There was something about it that intrigued me — Rod Stewart’s Maggie Mae, Led Zeppelin’s Battle of Evermore and Going to California, etc.

    I found that weekend and I've been playing and practicing every day since.

    I haven't played the clarinet for quite a while, but I still sing. I can read music, but I also like to play by ear. Still, stringed instruments are kind of wild. I'm used to there being only (sometimes two) ways to produce a note, but with mandolin, the seventh fret plays the next string's note! I love the variety of fingerings for the same chord, and . . . well it's different from how I've made music before, but I'm having fun.

    In addition to, I've also got a book and DVD set "Alfred's Teach Yourself to Play Mandolin" by Dan Fox, and I've got Brad Laird's web site bookmarked for future study.

    I'll be 47 in December, and I'm enjoying being an absolute beginner at something.

  2. bbcee
    Hello Drew, welcome to the friendliest place on the Internet! You'll find your questions get answered here without agenda by nice people. Looks like you've got good resources lined up.

    I noticed that it seems the original shipping paper is still under the bridge. The instrument will sound markedly better if you loosen the strings and remove it so that the wood of the bridge foot directly contacts the wood of the top. Make sure to note where the bridge is positioned, you'll want to return it to the same place.

    As well, if you're a bit handy, search on the site for "Rob Meldrum". He's written an excellent how-to-set-up-your-mandolin ebook using minimal tools and cash. Many here swear by it, and it can make your instrument easy to play and in tune all the way up the neck. Enjoy the journey!
  3. Trav'linmando
    Welcome to the cafe. I started out with a New Yorker also. It was a great learning instrument and as BBCEE pointed out will benefit from a bit of tinkering or what we call a setup. Rob Meldrum's guide will explain in detail what should be done. Make sure that you replace the bridge exactly where it was. Marking it with blue painters tape works well for me and it will not damage the finish of your instrument.
  4. HonketyHank
    Hi, Drew, and welcome! Gretsch is a grand old name. I also throw in a recommendation for Rob Meldrum's free ebook on mando setup. Even if you don't want to do the work yourself, I think everyone should know what makes his or her instrument sound and play at its best.
  5. Reywas
    That's a beautiful mandolin. I hope you grow into it quickly!
  6. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Nice story, and I'll bet it would make your dad happy that you not only took it home, but are playing it every day.
  7. Lufbery
    Hi everyone, and thanks for the kind welcome!

    I e-mailed Rob Meldrum for the setup book. Thanks for the recommendation. This mandolin does need a good setup. As I've been practicing, and reading/watching videos, I've learned about what it means to set up a mandolin. The things that I've noticed are that the strings on the first fret are harder to press than the others, and it goes sharp as I move up the neck. I notice it when I play the seventh fret notes.

    A friend referred me to a luthier about half an hour from my home. I reached out to him and he sounds friendly, experienced, and happy to do the work. The price seems reasonable too. We just settled on a new house yesterday and we're trying to pack and move, but I plan to drop my mandolin off with him as soon as we're done moving.
  8. SOMorris
    Welcome to the Newbie's group, Drew. I hope you get your mandolin set up well and enjoy the learning experience.
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