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Thread: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

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    Default Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    newbie question. Is it easier to learn Octave mandolin first before smaller mandolin and does it transfer since notes are the same.

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    Default Re: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    I don't think it matters but I see the two instruments as having different applications.

    Of course skills will crossover as they are often tuned the same and both are fretted, picked instruments, but I would say play the one you're most drawn to.
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    Default Re: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    I'm thinking its easier to go from mandolin to octave than from octave to mandolin, but that's just me.

    I went from guitar to mandolin to octave to mandocello and mandola pretty much in that order.
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    Default Re: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    Because the frets are farther apart on the octave, certain tunes and chord fingerings will be different from the mandolin fingering. I play both type instruments and I find this to be the case, especially in the first position.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    Playing the two instruments is quite different. My #1 OM is an old Flatiron "bouzouki" with a pretty long scale, so I don't often make four-finger "closed" chords on it -- finger stretches are too long. So there's quite a bit of open strings and two- and three-string voicings. If you get a shorter-scale instrument, and have fairly large hands, you may be able to make more mandolin-like chords.

    One of the common techniques on the mandolin, especially in bluegrass, is the off-beat closed-and-muted-chord "chop." I don't hear anyone trying that on OM, though I haven't heard all the octave players in the world.

    I'd personally start with mandolin, and learn fingerings and picking techniques suitable for that instrument -- then try moving to octave mandolin, and adapting your skills to an instrument that -- while using "the same" chord fingerings, when you can reach them -- often takes a different musical role: more rhythm chording, harmonies and counter-melodies, more open strings.

    There are octave mandolin players who are as fluid, or nearly, as really good mandolin players, but most of the octave mandolin players I've heard have taken a different approach to their music. So, to reiterate, I'd start with mandolin -- but, of course, that's the route I took, so it's the experience I've had.
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    Default Re: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    I don't think it matters but I see the two instruments as having different applications.
    I agree, although I'd call them "overlapping" applications. You can play bluegrass on an OM, but it's easier on a mandolin. You can play power chords (e.g., C5) on mandolin, but they sound more powerful on an OM. So, what kind(s) of music are you planning to play on this new instrument?


    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    I went from guitar to mandolin to octave to mandocello and mandola pretty much in that order.
    Me, too, except after mandocello, I went to cittern instead of mandola. For the reasons that Allen described, I found it pretty easy to learn OM, since it basically takes the mandolin fretboard and applies the guitar's one-fret-per-finger approach to fingering on it.
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    Default Re: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    Marcus CA I did have a Pertersen Cittern - 10 string though I think it was a short scale - like 22 inch or something, so more like a 10 string octave I guess- t had a roundish A shape and an oval hole, I would put that before the mandocello in the order, I also had an electric G.D. Armstrong 10 string, but the neck was pretty much standard guitar.- I have since modified it to an electric mandocello, and it is out on loan somewhere.

    I could not get that bottom course on the Cittern to really work, so I sold it, I think a longer scale may have made the difference on that box. Been completely obsessed with the Mandola the past year or so, I had to force myself to pick up my octave to get ready for Matt's class.
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    Default Re: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    I think the answer is different for each individual. I have a 25" scale octave mandolin. It took a little practice to get used to, but by no stretch of the imagination was the longer scale an obstacle (for me). Others will say the opposite. Some will say the mandolin is difficult because the string spacing is so small and their fingers are large. Some will say the opposite. I would suggest starting with the instrument which you are most drawn to because that 'connection' will reinforce your desire to learn and practice.

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  11. #9

    Default Re: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    Tenor guitar strung GDAE might be another avenue for those who can't compress their fingers to mandolin size chord shapes.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning octave mandolin before regular mandolin

    I've played both mandolin and octave mandolin for a number of years now. While there is some overlap, if you play both of them long enough, you will start to think of them as completely different instruments for different purposes.

    So what do you want to do? Play fast instrumentals like Irish trad, or maybe Bluegrass with improv breaks? Maybe Classical or Jazz? For me, that's a mandolin.

    Do you want to accompany yourself singing, or "milk" the sustain of a longer scale instrument for slower instrumental pieces? For me, that's where the octave mandolin shines.

    If you're coming at this decision completely green, with no experience with either instrument, I think you'll do better to learn on a mandolin first. And then decide if you want to move deeper into the lower-pitched family of mandola, octave, or even a mandocello. They're all designed as extensions of the core instrument: the mandolin.

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