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Thread: Why Mandolin?

  1. #51
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    Moved to a small village in Mexico years ago and fell into a jam with a group of ex-pats. Same old story, too many guitars on the porch. The host had an old bowl back mando which had been neglected. I restrung it, learned two finger G C D chords (almost Am) and fell in love with its voice combined with the guitars. One day a guy showed up with an old Stad-o-lin and it had THAT sound, loud, woody chop and better action than the bowl back. Enter MAS, bought a Gibson A-50 learned a couple fiddle tunes and chop chords. Played off and on for a few years. Sold the Gibson to finance an amp or a guitar, or a ukulele, maybe a banjo, possibly a wash tub bass, coulda been a triangle or wood block, who knows?!? Decided to get serious this year, played catch and release for a bit, bought a Northfield, trying to learn a thing or two. I think my guitar misses me, it's been awhile. I agree with what was said earlier, it's better to be a mediocre mando player than a mediocre guitar player. Non musicians are easily impressed with intermediate playing and you tend to be desirable to more musicians since there are less mando nerds out there than there are guitar nerds.

  2. #52
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    Levon helm ru cooder and Ian Anderson and to a smaller extent steve Earle and rem. I took it up thinking it was an extra flavour to my guitar. Then I started playing. I then discovered in this order Sam Bush, Bill Monroe, Chris Thile, Jody strechrr Mike marshall, Mike Compton (who I got lessons from) david grisman, don shirt berg and jethro Burns. I leaned the mandolin wasn’t a flavour but a rich palette.

    I now think I’m a better mandolinist than guitarist.
    Last edited by David Lewis; Sep-26-2020 at 1:06am.
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  3. #53
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    Nickel Creek’s “Ode to a Butterfly.” A DJ for one of the country stations in Charleston, SC, played it in the background as he kicked off the morning show every day. Someone finally called in to ask what it was, and I bought the CD later that day. TBH, the banjo intro initially hooked me, but the more I listened, of course, the more I liked it. Couldn’t afford a banjo or a mando back then, but my father in law loaned me a guitar and I was off. I’m still probably most proficient on guitar, but mando’s my favorite and what I play the most. My wife hates the banjo (not just my playing of it, but the sound in general), so it sits in its gig bag unless she’s not home, lol...
    Chuck

  4. #54
    Sheila's at it again! Round2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    As with a few others here, the violin made me do it.

  5. #55
    Registered User zookster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    I was a guitar player who also performed solo in college. Started playing dulcimer as my interest in Appalachian/old time grew. I inherited an old Rex roundback from a great uncle about the time I graduated, and a good friend of mine, who was a fantastic fiddler, began teaching me old time tunes. After listening to a local band one night, I focused my attention on the mando player and thought later, "I can do that." That was all the technique I needed to see, I was off and running. The scales just made absolute sense to me. I never thought I would wind up building mandolins as well.

  6. #56

    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by randybrown View Post
    . . . What brought you to the mandolin? . . .
    Accident.

    I've been playing guitar since '68. About a dozen years ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to buy a mandolin.

    I said, "No."

    She said, "Fifty dollars."

    I said. "Deal!"

    And what a cool invention! Now I'm on my fourth, and it's the keeper.

    But I've never been able to shake my guitar technique and hold the mando and pick the way the pros do. So a few months ago I just stopped trying.

    No, it's not a little guitar. But holding it like a guitar and using finger picks is the only way I can get comfortable with it.

    So . . . have I really come to mandolin? No. But I've made mandolin come to me!

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  8. #57
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    I was thumbing through the jazz rack of a local record store, if anyone remembers those, and picked up a David Grisman album, Dawg Jazz on one side, Dawg Grass the other. Before that I was just vaguely aware that the instrument existed, but that album piqued my interest enough that shortly after I had one to fumble around on, and a subscription to Mandolin World News, a growing collection of BG and new acoustic, etc..

  9. #58
    Registered User withfoam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    Randomly. I've played guitar since I was 8, was in a ska/punk band for 5 years, etc.

    I got on a "git gud" kick and got into some flatpicking stuff, found Nickel Creek, and really enjoyed the sound of the mandolin.

    I got a nice Eastman MD315 to start and ended up selling it a bit later since I wasn't playing it much. But then I really regretted it. I regretted it for about 6 months and bought a nicer Kentucky KM-1050 (which is what I'm on now). Recently, I got the bug again and I've been playing it daily, learning to read music finally, etc. It's been really great.

    I've told myself if I'm still consistently playing in a year, I'll upgrade to a Pava or Girouard or something equally nice and final (for me...so I say...).

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  11. #59
    Registered User Scott Rucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    I picked up acoustic guitar in college. Early nineties "unplugged" rock created a desire to play rock songs acoustically. Led Zep's frequent use of mandolin their music gave it some rock cred in my mind. The jam band scene at the same time got me interested in listening to more roots music, something I'd been exposed to all my life. Sam Bush was also frequently in the house band on American Music Shop on TNN around the same time. So I got my first mandolin in or around 1992 and have played ever since. Funny thing, I never learned those Zeppelin mandolin parts but can still play a fairly accurate version of the main guitar part in The Ocean.

  12. #60
    Registered User Jean Andreasen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    Learned to play the clarinet (Eb, Bb and contrabass), the piano, the oboe, the guitar, the banjo (5 string). But never really loved them enough to practice on a regular basis. Then, a couple years ago I was having lunch with a musician friend and on a whim said "If I bought a mandolin, would you be willing to give me lessons?" "Sure!"

    Now I own three mandolins and practice almost every day.
    1955 Levin 52
    1993 Flatiron 3MC
    2019 Meredith A5
    Trinity College OM

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  14. #61
    Davor Tomasic
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    My mom played in a mandolin orchestra while in elementary school, in the old country. She took the mandolin with her wherever we moved, but never played it again.
    Entering puberty I wanted to be cool and asked my parents for a guitar, but they did not think I would stick with it, so they would not buy me one. Then I found mom's mandolin in the closet and restrung it like a guitar (don't ask how that is done ). So I played my first guitar licks on a mandolin tuned as a guitar, with 6 unevenly spaced strings. Needless to say, when my parents saw and heard that I soon got my first real guitar and the bastardized six string mando-guitar went back into the closet...

    Fast forward 40 or so years - 4 or so kids later, 1 war later, 1 permanent move across the Atlantic later, 4 jobs later ... I went to Guitar and Mandolin Camp North in Charlton, MA. Brought my guitar and Dobro. Learned some good stuff from Jimmy Heffernan and Stacey Phillips (R.I.P). But then, Saturday night there was Staff concert evening, and I heard Skip Gorman play Timbermash, solo mandolin.

    Yes, I've heard mandolin played before, bluegrass and all, liked it though never obsessively, but this was something else. My childhood memory came back to me after being long forgotten - I simply had to learn how to make such beautiful noise on this small beautiful instrument...

    Four years later, I'm still trying to learn Timbermash, but I must say I'm a much better mandolin player than I ever was guitar or Dobro player.
    There's something about mandolin that feels more natural to me. Also, playing it ineluctably brings joy (at least to my heart, listeners be damned).

    As Skip would say - Howdy, cowboy!

  15. #62

    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    I wanted something guitar-like but easier to play than a guitar and hopefully would contribute something unique and a bit different. Looking back I have no regrets, I am a better mandolin player now than I ever was on guitar, and I'm not that good on mandolin. :-)
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his mandola design), TC octave mandolin.
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  16. #63
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    Both my wife and I grew up in musical families. Although neither of us got the musical talent gene, our relationship is sown with the seeds of love and liberally fertilized with a 15-15-15 mixture of music. In the early aughts, a hurricane came through (Isabelle, I think) and left us with without power for several days, and therefore without music for several days. By about day 3, symptoms of withdrawal were creeping in. We were discussing how quiet it was with no CD player, no venues to go to, and almost simultaneously we came to understand why our ancestors played acoustic instruments. In this ticklish state and with not much else to do, we contemplated a number of options. Piano - too heavy. Woodwinds - too much work. I eventually settled on guitar and if it did not work out, I could give the instrument to my brother who is quite proficient. And Mrs TJ said she would try the mandolin because, at worst, it would look good on the wall. At that time, I was working for a company that was a supplier to CF Martin. The next day I called my contact in product development, and not long after that we were in the Martin warehouse with a 30 year veteran of the company. He played a few D-28s (I was so new and ignorant that I could not play a two-fingered Em) and after some discussion, he held up a HD-28V and we went home with it. I then discovered the Mandolin Cafe, and we bought a Michael Kelly Firefly from Folk of the Wood. We still have those instruments, and of course, a few more.

    Why mandolin? It would look good on the wall.
    those little wires are like cheese cutters.

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  18. #64
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    I had been playing rhythm guitar in a just OK rock band and sometimes my best friend and I would practice our parts in a long unused, beat up camping trailer on his parents' property. Among the junk stored in there was a very old, cheapo mandolin that was just barely playable. I liked to mess around with it and the attraction was visceral. I was just drawn to it. I ignored the attraction for years, even though my ears perked up every time I heard a mandolin on a popular tune, like "Maggie May" and "Back in the High Life."

    Years later, I wound up in a church choir playing one of four six string acoustic guitars in the group, which was pretty redundant. I got a bonus at work and had an impulse to buy a mandolin with it. It was hard to even find one at music shops in my area. I got a cheapo Korean made instrument that was pretty awful in retrospect, but I loved it. I also got Jack Tottle's "Bluegrass Mandolin" book, which was the only mandolin book the shop had.

    Within a year, mandolin was my main instrument and I upgraded to an Alvarez A-800 F-Style that I found at another music store. That was nearly 30 years ago.

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  20. #65
    Summit County, Colorado
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    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    My mother forced me to take piano lessons. Years later I learned the teacher did not like little boys. Piano did not last long. Begging for a different teacher did no good.
    Played tenor sax in high school. The band was so bad the director was happy if we could all finish a tune at the same time.
    Years later I ordered a mandolin because it was small and interesting. Sold it after two years and took up classical guitar. Three years later I got a piano. Sometime later I got a cello and took lessons for two years. I learned that one should start the cello at six, not sixty.
    Meanwhile I had a couple of rotator cuff surgeries.
    Sold the piano and then the cello. Got a banjo. Put that away after a year. Tried harmonica. Nope. Mountain dulcimer was nice for a while. Seemed dull. Got a hammered dulcimer. Nope. Started fiddle. Love the fiddle. Had three more shoulder surgeries. Got a big piano. Found my childhood teacher and mother haunted me after I was on the bench for a while. More banjos. Got a folk harp. Kinda like that sometimes. The fiddle was difficult sometimes because of shoulder trouble and pain. So got my 1947 Gibson mandolin out. Then got a new Collings MT-0.
    It is mando time.
    Last edited by CHASAX; Nov-16-2020 at 8:38pm. Reason: correct error
    Collings MT-0
    1940s Gibson A that needs refretting
    Old bowlback
    Considering a Big Muddy because I still regret
    selling my Mid-Mo

  21. #66

    Default Re: Why Mandolin?

    In the decade-plus I spent learning the cello, I hated performing twelve-minute-long technical solos, hauling my giant instrument around, working on bow technique, and getting yelled at by middle-aged Russian men. I liked folk music, improv, playing in groups, and taking public transport. I'm five feet tall and I have tiny baby hands. Switching to mandolin was an absolute no-brainer.

    ... Then I joined a mandolin orchestra and they made me play the mandocello anyway.

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