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Thread: Use of Tremolo on Electric Mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User mandrian's Avatar
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    Default Use of Tremolo on Electric Mandolin

    Hi,

    Wondering whether those who play jazz on both acoustic and electric mandolin would use tremolo in the same fashion on both instruments? That is play the same tune identically on both instruments.

    Iím learning Round Midnight ( Don Stiernberg version ) on acoustic where Don used tremolo quite liberally, but when I transfer it to electric I seem to automatically use less tremolo. Do others find that?

    Regards,

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    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Use of Tremolo on Electric Mandolin

    For me, tremolo on an acoustic compensates for lack of sustain. Since the electric doesn't struggle on that score, I find it less necessary. I also play electric mandolin rather differently than acoustic so YMMV
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Use of Tremolo on Electric Mandolin

    I think there is so much sustain on an emando, that tremolo is not really needed.

    In fact the entire experience of an electric instrument seems to be to limit myself and let the instrument do it.

    I don't play jazz all that much, but I think this applies across all genres.
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    Default Re: Use of Tremolo on Electric Mandolin

    Question for the two previous responders:
    Does your answer regarding tremolo relate to an 8 string electric? I only recently purchased a 8 string solid body electric. I bought it to play unplugged so as to not drive my usually tolerant wife over the edge while I’m learning a new tune and playing it repeatedly until I get it to my satisfaction. After acquiring this inexpensive electric and sinking both time and money to make it playable I am having fun with it plugged. I am playing it no differently than my acoustics but find rock tunes very adaptable. I’m not bending strings as I see and hear people do on a 4 or 5 string electric.
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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Use of Tremolo on Electric Mandolin

    On electric, tremolo is more of an effect, a coloring, a variation of expressiveness, than a means of producing a longer-lasting note.

    It also seems like more of an affectation. And since it's not necessary physically, it seems only natural to use it less.

    As to the 4-string vs 8-string question, I would think that would be decided on a case-by-case basis. I play a 4-string electric, and use tremolo very little with it. I can see how that might change with double strings, but still, I imagine the decision would be driven by aesthetic rather than physical concerns. That is, whether the piece, or passage within a piece, calls for that sound, rather than how to produce a longer note.
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  9. #6
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    Default Re: Use of Tremolo on Electric Mandolin

    The decision as to whether to use tremolo on an electric mandolin and how much is entirely the player's decision to make. If it sounds good to you, then it is good. Listeners, even mandolinists, often mistake the sound of an electric mandolin for an electric guitar. Adapting your approach to other's perception of sounds, styles, and techniques can be counter-productive..

    Other random but somewhat related observations:

    String guage plays a part of course. A four string electric strung light (say a .10 E)is likely to sound a bit tinny or bright when tremoloing

    8 string electrics do lend themselves well to transferring acoustic style tremolo. they do sustain more though, so some adaptation is recommended.
    String bending on the eight string electric can be problematic because it's so easy to knock the pairs out of tune (just like on acoustic)plus the amplification means you hear the out of tune quality right away, and it doesn't go away until you retune. Here again, if you dig that, well....ok

    On five string electrics we tend to use heavier strings, especially on the low C. Single string tremolo on medium to heavy strings can work on out fine. Again you'll have people tell you that's not a mandolin..On my 5 I have 11-16-24-38-50. I think I used to use a bit heavier on the top 3 but dropped back to get some measure of bendability. On this instrument I tend to use tremolo sparingly or very sparingly. Sometimes I'll tremolo comping chords. Or i might do the thing in chord melody playing where the pick travels over a 3 note chord then begins a tremolo on the top note which is usually the melody note..

    always good to check out the playing of Jethro on the Fender 4 string. "Jazz From the Hills" has lots of examples, many including tremolo. Also dig Johnny Gimble on the swingin' Gibson hollow body electric tuned C-G-D-A and Tiny Moore on the Bigsby 5 string and Paul Glasse on the Stevens Paul Glasse Model 5 string

    Keep it fun and remember the way you like it to sound is the correct way. And an electric mandolin sounds like an electric mandolin...

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    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Use of Tremolo on Electric Mandolin

    I play 4 & 5 string electric more than 8 string and I bend the strings on both. I play blues & dabble with jazz but leave bluegrass & traditional to the acoustics. Coming from a guitar background, bending is more natural to me.
    2020 Big Mon
    2016 Skip Kelley A5
    2019 Weber Bitteroot F17
    2011 Weber Gallatin A20
    2013 Colling Mandola
    Richard Beard Celtic Flattop
    And a few electrics

    When learning an instrument, there are no cheat codes, short cuts or crash courses. It's simply a matter of practice! - Mr Jenkins (HS Music Teacher)

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