Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

  1. #1

    Question Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    Hello Everyone!

    As the title says- I play the violin, but I want to try the mandolin- it just seems fun and different from my usual without being too foreign.

    I have my eyes on the Eastman MD304 (oval sound hole since I tend to lean towards classical/celtic music), but am certainly open to other suggestions for a good first mandolin.

    Also- do any of you have advice for someone like me coming into this from violin? I sense my left hand will be relatively fine, but my right might be confused .

    Lastly- I purchased my last violin via a rent-to-own program- which allowed me to get a fairly expensive instrument in a very affordable way. I can't seem to find any programs like that for mandolins- do any of you know of any such things? I've attempted to find a mandolin shop (I live in the metro area of Atlanta, GA), but the only thing that comes up is Guitar Center -_-....

    Thank you so much in advance! Looking through the threads you guys seem like a knowledgable, but also very kind and down to earth group that I'm happy to be part of .

  2. #2

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    I have an MD604 sunburst, which is basically a 304 with a gloss finish and a factory-installed pickup. I do love the sustain and dark tone it gets, and use it for my amateur classical stuff. It is my main player actually, had lots of work, but nothing too expensive other than the refret. If you want that kind of sound you are on the right track.

    Since mandolins are so cheap compared to violins, and a lot less common, there isn't much rental industry that I know of.

    The Mandolin Store (tms) is a good mail order shop that many of us swear by, they give you a good setup to start with, which is quite valuable over say Guitar Center.

    A teacher would be a nice help to begin mandolin. Some good internet ones are available that teach live over the internet, and lots of (canned/non-interactive) mandolin lessons are available online too.

    For classical repertoire, most of it is online, and the Calace method books are actually in print, courtesy of Ms Caterina Lichtenberg. Who has a pretty decent online (self-paced) class at artistworks.

    Having played both violin and mandolin (haven't got very far on the violin though), your fingers are going to hurt. :-) I have permanent sensation loss in my left hand fingertips, I only know this because I took 6 months off once, and the feeling never came back fully even after the callouses were gone.

    If you are older be careful to avoid injury, my fingers complain at me (joint pain and stiffness in the morning) if I do too much pickin. And that's despite taller frets and light strings.
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" 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.

  3. #3
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    All your assumptions are spot-on.

    The Eastman should be a great instrument to start with, and for classical and Celtic you will enjoy the oval-hole. I have never heard of a trade-in policy with mandolins like what is offered by any decent violin shop. (If you start asking people around here how many mandolins they own, the answers will surprise you. This may be why the trade-in thing doesn't exist; mandolinists just keep 'em all.)

    Do you have access to a teacher, or will you when we can all leave home again? There are lots of online resources, which I'm sure you will find valuable, but at least a few in-person lessons will serve you well. You are right that the right hand technique will be new.

    Try a bunch of different picks—shapes, thicknesses, materials. See what the local guitar shop has, and also look at the selection at Strings By Mail, Banjo Ben's, or any one of a dozen other mail-order emporia.

  4. #4
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    746

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    Having gone from fiddle to mandolin myself, I can say it's a bit of a process. In many ways, the mandolin is easier physically than fiddle, but, despite the similar tuning, you have to learn to use both hands differently -- the fiddle angle for left hand won't work on mandolin. Also, chording involves a whole new way of experiencing music. Pete Martin, who often gives comments and advice at Mandolin Cafe has a fine series of free videos to get you started on mandolin. Here's the second one. The first is tuning, which you won't need to learn. This video will connect you with others. Good luck.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mDN...nel=PeteMartin

    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  5. The following members say thank you to Ranald for this post:


  6. #5

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    Hello! I'm a violinist (Bachelor's degree in violin performance, half a master's degree) who has gone to mandolin, and now mostly octave mandolin. I also lean to the classical/celtic sound as well (hence why I play an oval hole octave mandolin). Baroque violin music (Bach, Telemann) just sounds amazing on an octave.

    I'm not sure of you're violin-playing level, so I'm shooting in the dark here, but you'll want to start with some basic exercises on the mandolin to get the picking and then also get the left hand down. It's different. So basic one-octave scales, with repeated notes is where I'd start. This will allow you to get both hands used to the mandolin. Also, be prepared for calluses. The calluses you get from mandolin playing are more in line with guitar player calluses-so be prepared for some finger soreness.

    I don't know of any rent to own places, but American Musical Supply does have payment plans-some of the time they have decent mandolins (Not Eastman) in stock.
    Zachary Graft
    Celtic and Christian fiddle and mandolin music
    zacharygraft.com
    facebook.com/zacharygraftmusic
    youtube.com/c/zacharygraft

  7. #6

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    I second the recommendation for Eastman oval holes, as well as the recommendation for trying out a bunch of picks of varying shapes and thicknesses. Strings by Mail lets you purchase picks individually instead of in packs, so that's a good way to build your own sampler set for cheap.

    I'm not a violinist, but I play violin rep on mandolin (currently working on Telemann, and a lot of the Wohlfahrt exercises are easily transferable).
    Eastman MD504
    D'Addario Nickel Bronze, Light
    Dunlop Primetone Triangle, 1.4 mm

    IG: @standing.wav

  8. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,463

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    Watch your scale lengths: violin right around 13 inches, Gibson-styled mandolins about 7/8 inch longer. Notes will be in slightly different places, though the fact that mandolin necks are fretted will allow you to put your fingers "behind" the frets and still get the notes you want.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  9. #8
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    16,260

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    As above.. seek out CF Martin Mandolins, not the Bluegrass favorite , but they build around 13" scale like 4/4 violins ..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  10. #9
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Grass Valley
    Posts
    589

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    Good words above.

    I’ll echo comments about calluses. They are much bigger and harder than any violin players.

    I once gave a workshop on right hand technique. P.m. me and I’ll send it along.

    Billy
    Billy Packard
    Gilchrist A3, 1993
    Stiver Fern, 1990
    Weber Fern, 2007
    Gibson F4 Hybrid #1, D. Harvey 2009
    Gibson 1923 A2
    Numerous wonderful guitars

  11. #10

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    Hey fellow newbie! I came at mandolin from cello. Definitely get a teacher to help you out with pick skills as you start out. But you might be pleasantly surprised that you have a bit of a leg up on other beginners in that aspect-- a lot of good habits from my former instrument carried over, like a relaxed grip and fine motor control, but you won't have to relearn a familiar technique like a guitar player might. Callus-building didn't hurt much, but violin and cello strings are a world apart.

    As for rent-to-own, I sidestepped the issue and got a cheaper instrument! I got a used Mid-Mo M4 (now Big Muddy) for $350- a lovely all-purpose oval hole mandolin. I love it, it plays classical rep just fine, and if I ever decide to get a more expensive instrument I can resell it and put the profits towards a new mandolin. It may be something to consider if you don't want to spend too much at once, though I imagine the resale value will depend on what instrument you start with.

  12. #11
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,447
    Blog Entries
    53

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    I think our initial approach to mandolin is determined by what instrument we came from. So I came from woodwinds, and my first few years of mandolin were all single note melody playing. So for me there was the melody, and harmony and chords was someone else's responsibility. It took me a bit to figure out that mandolin is the whole darn orchestra and that every single note could be 1/4 of an even grander sound. I suspect there may be some of that coming from violin as well.

    Just as, many I know who came from non-classical guitar playing take up mandolin chord and rhythmic mandolinning, hoping the voice or some fiddler will carry the melody. It happens.

    I have taken a bunch of violin lessons and though I will never be a fiddler, the lessons really helped me with mandolin. Especially classical mandolin. Lots of position play, like the violin, first position third position etc. So I am guessing that would be the operational prejudice of a violinist coming to the mandolin. There is a whole other way of envisioning the fret board and getting up the neck, that is under-utilized in violin, in my experience: which is closed form patterns that are independent of key. Look at FFCP techniques. I don't know why violinists tend to use position play and very few if any seem to know what FFCP playing is all about. I suspect it has to do with the lack of frets, and the training and experience it takes to get good intonation up the neck on a fiddle. With something like FFCP on a mandolin one can play melody in any key, just depending on where you place the index finger, and often to my shame I can play breaks and harmonies and really tear up the pea patch without even knowing what key I am in.

    Secondly, I found the violin difficult because it does nothing for you. You have to do it all. It gives no help. I mean, through bowing you determine and are responsible for the start the middle and the end of the played note. While with mandolin you pluck the string and the mandolin does the rest. So I would imagine that might take a little getting used to.

    And lastly, one of the most mandolinny things one can do is tremolo. Mandolins just do that well. And I can't off hand think of an instrument that prepares you for it. So as one wanders into mandolin from somewhere else, the tremolo is not an intuitive idea.

    I hope that is kind of what you are looking for. Welcome to our obsession.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  13. The following members say thank you to JeffD for this post:

    Tony S 

  14. #12
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,447
    Blog Entries
    53

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    As a general rule of thumb, from a thousand miles away, with plenty of exceptions - violins are roughly twice the price of mandolins of comparable quality. (Just as mandolins are roughly twice the price of guitars of comparable quality.) So you are like moving from a New York City housing market to rural western Pennsylvania, or something like that.

    And you will laugh at those of us who complain about paying $35.00 for a mandolin pick.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  15. #13
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Adamstown, MD
    Posts
    156

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    Well, it all depends, doesn't it?, on what kind of music you want to play and how seriously you take your performance. Not to put too fine a point on it, but "simply plucking the string" doesn't begin to cover the territory you need to make listenable music on a mandolin. Remember learning how to bow? You need a teacher to show you how to hold a pick, show you the position of your pick to your strings, show you the position of your hand in relation to the strings and the mandolin. You need a teacher to observe what you are actually doing (something video lessons cannot do) and to explain to you how different your actual practice is from your intended movement. When I began on violin, I had to use a mirror. Beginning on mandolin means getting that mirror out of the closet. Best of luck!

    Joe

  16. #14

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    I'm new to the mandolin (octave mandolin, actually), having come over from guitar. Although I have a violin, I've never been any good at it...I just don't have the ear for unfretted instruments (a lesson I should have learned before I bought a squareneck dobro). I've found mandolessons.com to be a fabulous resource for free lessons. It's published by Baron Collins-Hill, who's also a Mandolin Cafe member.

  17. #15
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    746

    Default Re: Violinist- New to Mandolin- Any Advice?

    I'm not sure whether the OP is still around. There hasn't been a comment since the first post on Nov. 11. Oh well, someone will find this thread useful.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •