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Thread: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

  1. #26
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    You must have been lost to end up in Malone. Hopefully it wasn’t winter
    I went there on purpose. It was the day before Halloween 2004. The directions on his website at the time were great. They said "Go north". That was all. I remember driving up The New York Throughway and seeing the blinking signs for the Canadian border and taking the last exit and heading west. It was an experience.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Apr-07-2021 at 6:20am.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    PS: The Alt code for é is 0233. So now you can impress everyone here by typing Café like a pro.
    As in MandolinCafé?

    I am blaming you for this post, JB. I just HAD to try it out!

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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by M-m-mando View Post
    But I’d like to be able to make more gentle progress without absolutely killing my left hand and my wife’s patience.?
    After reading all the responses, I had a couple of brilliant suggestions that haven't been mentioned. Then I reread your post. What do you mean by "without absolutely killing my left hand?"

  6. #29
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I went there on purpose. It was the day before Halloween 2004. The directions on his website at the time great. They said "Go north". That was all. I remember driving up The New York Throughway and seeing the blinking signs for the Canadian border and taking the last exit and heading west. It was an experience.
    At least you weren't being transported by the state.

    I didn't realize it was Orville's birthplace and resting place either.
    Not all the clams are at the beach

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  8. #30

    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post

    PS: The Alt code for é is 0233. So now you can impress everyone here by typing Café like a pro.

    Well dang it, they should have used 0223 so we could remember it as an e minor

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  10. #31
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Scott View Post
    Yeah, I'm a one finger guy on the phone...... So, I'm old, what can I say. Thanks for the heads up on the cents sign. Unfortunately, I'm on a Mac. No Alt key and the Option/alt key does not work like on a PC from what I can tell. I've kind of always liked the $.02 deal anyway. That being said though, I'm going to play around and see if I can come up with the cents sign somehow......


    Hahahahahaha! The ¢ is the Option/alt 4 or $-makes too much sense
    Did you just say it makes too much cents?!? Or was that two much cents?!?!? Oh, my head!

    I have NOT been able to figure out how to do many things on my Android, including such niceties as this. I imagine they're possible. But it's so easy on my laptop. So is typing, in general.

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    PS: The Alt code for é is 0233. So now you can impress everyone here by typing Café like a pro.
    Quote Originally Posted by NDO View Post
    Well dang it, they should have used 0223 so we could remember it as an e minor
    I "C" what you did there.
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  12. #32
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Dave Nichol's inlay work is legendary. I have two friends who have had banjo necks done that are absolutely beautiful.
    Mike, I'm glad you got out of Northern NY before Winter set in. I've been in Watertown in January. Twenty below Zero must be experienced to be believed!
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    Dave Nichol's inlay work is legendary. I have two friends who have had banjo necks done that are absolutely beautiful.
    Mike, I'm glad you got out of Northern NY before Winter set in. I've been in Watertown in January. Twenty below Zero must be experienced to be believed!
    Yeah. We're always happy when it gets up to 20 below. It means Spring is coming!
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
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  16. #34
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by James Vwaal View Post
    As in MandolinCafé?

    I am blaming you for this post, JB. I just HAD to try it out!
    There is no é in Mandolin Cafe.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  17. #35
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    Dave Nichol's inlay work is legendary. I have two friends who have had banjo necks done that are absolutely beautiful.
    Mike, I'm glad you got out of Northern NY before Winter set in. I've been in Watertown in January. Twenty below Zero must be experienced to be believed!
    Dave is quite the character. It was an enjoyable day we spent there and he did some great work. I got caught in a snow storm on a business trip to Buffalo many years ago. It cured me from going up that way in the winter.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  18. #36
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    There is no é in Mandolin Cafe.
    Technically, no. But there should be. Just as there is no e in résumé, though if one were to resume one's search for proper employment, and want to present a physical compendium of one's work experience and relevant information, one would want two é's in it.

    My overarching desire is for clarity, and if it is not unclear what is meant, one's typing is successful. One could argue there is no need for the accent in "Café," as its pronunciation (usually the main reason for the use of a diacritical mark) is understood. In this context, using the accent may be seen as an affectation. One could also argue that the commonly accepted spelling of the word includes the accent. In this context, NOT using the accent may be seen as an affectation, not the other way around. The ease of typing "é" using the Alt code renders the point moot. IMO. FWIW. YMMV.

    One could argue that such considerations don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

    PS: If one hovers the cursor (finger) over the "e" on one's phone, a selection of possible accented "e's" should appear, from which you can select the desired one.
    Last edited by journeybear; Apr-07-2021 at 8:54am. Reason: being persnickety about persnicketiness
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Through learning several instruments I've come to the conclusion that there are different learning styles that work differently for different folks and for different purposes. For me, the outright fastest way to learn any technique on an instrument is often the hard way. Throwing yourself into hard stuff, with big jumps between exercises so when I start the next exercise it's really hard. Right now, I want to learn basic mandolin accompaniment quickly, and I can't play for too long at any one session because of a shoulder tendon problem. So, I may learn accompaniment the hard way, except I intend to learn 3 string chords 'cos that might short circuit it a bit (see Mandolin for Dummies on that). This may not be much fun initially, and the discomfort of acquiring callouses on your finger tips is just...kinda paying your dues, I suppose (I had some when I played more guitar). I also now need to smooth out and speed up my picking, but I should get there playing through tunes slowly and listening to the noise I make. That's more like 'easy stages', and it's more fun. Many of us have met people on year on year instrument camps who never seem to get any better than playing basic tunes fairly slowly. That's not for me, but they seeem to get a lot of fun out of it, so who am I to say they're doing it wrong?

    There's also the learning style that works for you. I don't think I've ever learned anything in a smooth upward gradient. I've tried, but that doesn't seem to work well for me. I start steep, level off for a while, the light bulb comes on again and I go up some, then flat again, and so on - it's a series of jumps and Eureka moments - like riding a bike, suddenly I find I can do something. The good bit is when the light comes on, the scary bit is that sometimes the jump comes after I haven't played for a while, and I don't know why it happened. Some people just go up a constant gradient smoothly - that's great for them and possibly easier on the temper. I suspect there's no 'right ' way to do it, just what works with what you want to do and how quick you want to do it. I don't have a mandolin teacher just now, and I don't know if there's a good one near here (Guildford UK). However if you can find a really inspired one (that kind of teacher is rare in my experience, in any field), I think they're worth their weight in anything they ask for.

  20. #38

    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Thank y’all so much for all these suggestions. I have a lot to digest. As a very petite woman with small hands and short fingers, I’m afraid I’m always doubtful of my left-hand ergonomics and the angle of the mandolin. I’ve had two different teachers over the years, both men and both great players in their own right. But we never got to a place where I felt comfortable. When I first tried to get into playing mandolin, I thought it would work well since it looks so small. But in other ways it feels bigger than a guitar! If that makes sense.

    I’ve just signed up Sharon Gilchrist’s online course at Peghead Nation and I’m considering actually reaching out to her for a private lesson or two (she is not too awfully far from me).

    I have been picking out some fiddle tunes and other melodies and hoping maybe my body will just relax into the right positioning, but so far it doesn’t feel right. My left hand fingers are always getting in the way and stopping the notes from ringing out, not quite reaching to the correct fret, etc. I have Jack Tottle’s book and I’ve been playing the first few tunes. Also been picking out some easy tunes from the Mandolin Picker’s Fakebook and the Parking Lot Pickers.

    Several times over the years I’ve felt like I should sell the mandolin since I wasn’t playing it, but it’s so lovely and it feels special since I had it custom built. And I’m convinced that some day, some way, I will have a breakthrough.

    Also thanks for the welcome. I was actually on these forums way back, but I’ve forgotten the username and the password and decided to start over. I still need to put up a photo.

  21. #39
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Do you use a strap when you play? I found that using one made a huge difference as far as putting the mandolin in a position that facilitated good playing mechanics. You mention being doubtful of the mechanics of how you're holding your left hand, rightly so since they can play a huge role in influencing whether we press down harder than we need to, or whether we're placing our fingers down at an angle that is less than ideal/less than comfortable. A good instructor should be able to help pick out those details when observing you play - some instructors aren't as focused on the mechanics side of things, and some are, so finding the right match helps.
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    M-m-mando, I was about to jump in and suggest you try playing in 3rd and higher positions where the frets are closer together. After rereading your last comment, though, I say run, not walk, to Sharon for an in-person lesson. I have 2 teachers, my primary being a professional violinist. She's all about proper form, rhythm, holding fingers down, shifting, etc. I must drive a lot further for an actual mandolin lesson, so I go less often and for a 2 to 2-1/2 hour lesson each time. Without this personal instruction, I would have given up years ago. Did that once. Never again.

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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    I mentioned to a more experienced mando player that fretting it feels harder than guitar and he said "me too, that's because it is". He reckons the combination of shorter distance between the frets and higher tension strings makes it easier to get a rattle or misfret on mandolin than guitar. Well, that's good to know, more S-L-O-W practice needed for me.

  24. #42
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    I would also add that pick position is something to think about, both in that it's important to always default to the right spot, and in that playing near the bridge or up above the neck can change tone and even remove some buzzing in my experience.
    Also, having a laptop with neither numpad nor numlock options, I've decided that the best way to spell Mãndölîn Căfæ to maximize moderator annoyance is by pressing the windows key and typing in "charmap". But that's just my ƻ¢.

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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by Reywas View Post
    I would also add that pick position is something to think about, both in that it's important to always default to the right spot, and in that playing near the bridge or up above the neck can change tone and even remove some buzzing in my experience.
    It seems like there's a conflict in mandolin design between having enough frets to play the music you want and and being able to pick the strings in the best sounding place. How many frets do most mandolinists (other than classical players) use regularly?

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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    When playing mandolin the approach with the fingers is different from a guitar or ukulele. It should be more like a violin. Your fingers should be more parallel with the neck and you press more down on the pads of the fingers father than the tips.
    I would suggest the OP listen to Chris Thile explain that this a dangerous misconception rather than adopt this advice. Fingers should be bent, strings fretted with tips, not pads. I don’t mean to contradict you, but bad posture advice to a beginner could ruin her or him.

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  28. #45
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    The best advice I can give about fretting notes is to keep in mind the only part of finger placement that really matters is where your fingertip is in relation to the fret. You have to be close behind the fret, making a good contact between the string and fret. It doesn't matter where the rest of your finger is, as long as it doesn't go over the fret. There is no need whatsoever to try to fit your fingers between the frets. Whatever is going on behind the fret is irrelevant; the vibrating part of the string is between the fret and the bridge.

    I've lost count of the number of times people have come up after a gig and looked at the mandolin, looked at my hands, back and forth, and asked, "How do you fit your fingers into those tiny little frets?" I just tell them, "I don't," and then bits and pieces of the above explanation. It's all worth it when I see a little light bulb go on in their eyes.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    It seems like there's a conflict in mandolin design between having enough frets to play the music you want and and being able to pick the strings in the best sounding place. How many frets do most mandolinists (other than classical players) use regularly?
    So taking the classical players out of the equation, I think there is a progression, where at first and probably for a while one doesn't venture much above the seventh fret, except maybe on the E string for stunning effects. At some point one discovers closed form scales (FFcP or third position or whatever) and closed form chords, and at that point one quickly looks for ways to resolve the reach and awkwardness of some intervals found in fiddle tunes by playing up the neck in third position. Also playing in bands with a strong vocal lead where the vocalist wants to change the key to make it easier to sing, and everyone dutifully figures out a way to play using similar known fingerings, up the neck.

    So my answer is that it depends, but many non-classical players have reasons to play up the neck and frequent the nose bleed seats above the 15 fret.

    So my answer is that one uses regularly as many frets as one can. I don't think, once getting some familiarity up the neck, that the territory is avoided much.


    In classical playing, I have learned, there is another reason for nose bleed competence. Besides the ease with which some phrases and intervals can be fingered - there is the beauty the beauty of a phrase to consider. My goodness a phrase can really sound prettier if you don't change the string, or if you can avoid a transition to (or from) an unwound string in the middle of a phrase.
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  30. #47
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    ... one uses regularly as many frets as one can. I don't think, once getting some familiarity up the neck, that the territory is avoided much.
    Indeed. They're there. Use 'em.

    I likewise rarely delve beyond fret 15 on the E string - aka G. but I've got a couple songs which fade out and also up, into Dreamland, as it were. For instance, one in Am, in which the travelling riff is F-G-Am. For the fade out into the ether, that works its way higher, using inversions, to where things get eerie near the aerie, beyond the nosebleed seats.
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  31. #48

    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    The first "breakthrough" I had was being able to chord the 4 finger G and move it up the neck. After that, it was playing the scales inside that pattern.

    Focus on the goals, not the obstacles.

  32. #49
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    Here's how it's done, and he makes it look so easy. And the 15th fret? I'll see your 15th, and raise you to 17th, at 1:17.

    Clean, high, and sweet. Yes, he's a master, but it can get to be this easy. It should.

    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  33. #50

    Default Re: Where’s the easy-does-it method?

    There are lots of non burly mando players, sierra, sarah, sharon gilchrist readily come to mind.
    But i agree mando can take some muscle, initially. And callouses.
    To temper effort, a good set up is critical. And, there is nothing wrong with light gauage strings until you want something else.

    Small steps are great.

    Id suggest, respectfully, small [B]sessions[B] daily. 10-15 minutes. Practice 2-3-4 finger chords, practice even timing in your alternating picking, practice string skipping, then , as a closer, sing a song as you play. Singing is really important. It will help your timing, fluidity in chord changes, help you to listen while you play, give you reason to play, and, eventually, help you build your breadth of chords. Imho, all else grows from chords.
    Then stop.

    You will:slowly build muscle and muscle memory
    Learn to listen. Personally, i think hearing chord changes is a very important skill. Tab is great too, but imho, chords are the foundation to playing alone and especially with others.

    Avoid frustration. Carol kaye said 30 minutes tops for practice. (CK was/is a top session guitar and bass player).

    Improve. There is nothing more effective, imho, than daily, mindful practice. This will help build muscle memory and strength.

    There is a reason we respect accomplished instrumentalists...it takes work and time.



    I hope this helps.

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