Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 26

Thread: New Player at age 63

  1. #1

    Default New Player at age 63

    Good Morning and Thanks for acceptance to The Mandolin Cafe. At age 63 I play guitar a bit but am new to mandolin. My main question is in regard to purchasing my first mandolin. I have larger than average hands/fingers and am wondering if, being new, would I notice the difference between the standard 1 1/8 and a wide neck 1 3/16 necks.Obviously there is a much wider selection in the 1 1/8 nut width but since I am just beginning to look I might as well try to get it right. Also,i am currently looking at the Northfield Calhoun Wide Neck and Big Muddy but am totally ignorant of the differences in the Eastman,The Loar, and Kentucky brands. I will be playing mostly Traditional,Celtic,and Alt-Country styles of music if that matters. Thanks In Advance for any help,Mike S

  2. #2

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Hi Mike. I'm 73 and have been playing guitar for 50-some years, and mandolin for about 10. Here's my advice, and of course, others may feel differently:
    1. If at all possible, go to a shop or shops in person and try some different instruments in your price range. 2. If you can't go in person, then buy through the mail from a well-regarded dealer (especially important to buy from a shop with a good reputation for setting up mandolins to play well) with a reasonable return policy (at least 48 hours) if you decide it's just not the right instrument for you. 3. Buy the best quality instrument you can afford ("the bitterness of low quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price fades away"). 4. Since you are coming from the guitar, and have large hands, a wide nut mandolin might be a good way to go. This is where trying some different instruments in person could be very helpful in making your decision. 5. A new instrument with a warranty, especially at the lower end of the mandolin $$$ scale (which I would consider $1000 and below), is a good idea. 6. From all I've read here on the Cafe, I think a new Northfield Calhoun with a wide nut (which is the first instrument on your list anyway) is a mandolin well worth your consideration. There are less expensive options out there (you've named some of them), but if you can afford it, that looks like a quality instrument you could live with for quite some time, and if you should ever decide to sell it, there will be a market for it. Those are my opinions, of course, but they are based on some real-life experience and a bit of research, and might help you in your quest.

  3. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to lostsailor For This Useful Post:


  4. #3

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Totally agree with Lost Sailor. I've been playing mandolin 45 years or so. The only other things that I'd add are bring a music friend with you if you're going to a shop. It's nice to have another set of ears. Second, have you considered the tenor banjo? Bigger stretch. Suspect that it might better accommodate large hands.

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


  6. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    East Concord, NY 14055
    Posts
    163

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    I do not have large hands but at 69+ fingers do not bend as easily as they used to. I played a 1 3/32" nut width, v shaped neck, radius fretboard (Eastman) for quite a few years then unknowingly bought a 1 3/16" nut, c shaped neck, flat fretboard and fell in love. So I will tell you that it is not only the nut width but also the neck profile and fretboard that make the difference. I would suggest that you try to play some different ones if you are able but it is unlikely you will be able to play them long enough to notice a difference. Some will say your hands will adjust to whatever you are playing which is likely true but that is not to say you will find one more comfortable than another.
    I guess my best suggestion would be to buy one that you will be able to easily sell if you find another along the way that you like better. I am also drawn to the Calhoun wide nut, as the flat tops have a unique sound, but have a hard time justifying the purchase of a 4th mandolin. I do not think you could go wrong with the Calhoun. I sold a Flatiron 1N when I bought my last Gibson, that was a mistake.

  7. The following members say thank you to Steve Mead for this post:


  8. #5
    Registered User Cheryl Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    St. Augustine, Florida, USA
    Posts
    1,405

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Welcome to the Mandolin Cafe, Mike! I have taught mandolin for over 10 years and it has been my experience that, in general, it is best to get a "wide neck" mandolin if you have large hands, especially if the tips of your fingers are large. This is not true for everyone, of course. I have small hands and started with a 1 13/16" neck on a Rigel and I that worked fine for me probably because I was already a guitar player. I preferred 1 1/8" or even 1 1/16" nuts after I progressed.

    The neck profile matters just as much if not more. This is the shape and size of the neck. Some players prefer a rounder/fuller neck, some prefer a large neck with a slight V, or a slim neck with slight (soft) V, or slim neck with slight V, or a slim neck with no V (often called a C-shape). I would not go with any mandolin with a "radical" neck profile, such as a deep V. A 1 3/16" at the nut with a slight V or C-shape but generally full (but not too "beefy") neck might be a general guess as to what neck would work for you. It is, of course, always best to try out a mandolin in person first, although that is not always possible.

    Set up also matters greatly. This is how the mandolin's action is set with the bridge, nut, and truss rod adjustment. For my beginning students, I have the action set quite low with strings that are light gauge or sometimes medium gauge. Sometimes a student prefers flat wound strings which are very gentle on the fretting hand. We adjust the action a bit higher over time to get more volume.

    Whatever you choose as your first mandolin, it will, most likely, not please you a few years down the road, which is normal, but some of my students hit on it right away and keep their first mandolin for many years.

  9. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Cheryl Watson For This Useful Post:


  10. #6
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC
    Posts
    2,738

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Quote Originally Posted by lostsailor View Post
    ... 73 and have been playing guitar for 50-some years, and mandolin for about 10.
    A common sentiment for many of us! IIRC, a survey quoted way back when found that somewhere around 70% had started on guitar; then maybe banjo, fiddle, piano, high school band ... but well under 10% had actually started on mandolin. A 63 y/o starter is in good company!

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Mead View Post
    ... also the neck profile and fretboard that make the difference.
    You wouldn't expect us all to wear the same size gloves, so be flexible! My personal finding is that we guitarists start off thinking we need a wider fretboard, but the chord fingerings are different enough that it's not a hard rule. Do note that a radiused fretboard allows more "effective" finger space than does a similar-sized flat fretboard. Neither is better, but try them if you can - a matter of feel.

    And don't avoid instruments well above your limit if you can find them - highly educational. From when I got curious in the '00s, I recall one $15K celebrity model that left me flat, and several the $5K area that I still lust after. Even an early-on Eastman 915-something ($2K+ in NYC) is still memorable.
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the knowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

  11. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to EdHanrahan For This Useful Post:


  12. #7
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Forest Grove, Oregon
    Posts
    2,382

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Congratulations! I started at 63 as well.

    Lots of players with large hands play ‘normal’ width mandolins, including Mike Marshall and Adam Steffey. A large hand has advantages and disadvantages. At this stage of ‘playing’, it might be too early to start on a nonstandard size. As mentioned, neck shape and fingerboard radius iare also a important criteria. Take your time in choosing and realize either choice may not be preferable after some time.

    Have fun in the playing and good luck in your choices.
    Not all the clams are at the beach

    Arrow Jazzbo
    Arrow G
    Clark 2 point
    Gibson F5L
    Ratliff CountryBoy A
    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

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


  14. #8
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Augusta, Maine, USA
    Posts
    1,583

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Quote Originally Posted by lostsailor View Post
    Hi Mike. I'm 73 and have been playing guitar for 50-some years, and mandolin for about 10. Here's my advice, and of course, others may feel differently:
    1. If at all possible, go to a shop or shops in person and try some different instruments in your price range. 2. If you can't go in person, then buy through the mail from a well-regarded dealer (especially important to buy from a shop with a good reputation for setting up mandolins to play well) with a reasonable return policy (at least 48 hours) if you decide it's just not the right instrument for you. 3. Buy the best quality instrument you can afford ("the bitterness of low quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price fades away"). 4. Since you are coming from the guitar, and have large hands, a wide nut mandolin might be a good way to go. This is where trying some different instruments in person could be very helpful in making your decision. 5. A new instrument with a warranty, especially at the lower end of the mandolin $$$ scale (which I would consider $1000 and below), is a good idea. 6. From all I've read here on the Cafe, I think a new Northfield Calhoun with a wide nut (which is the first instrument on your list anyway) is a mandolin well worth your consideration. There are less expensive options out there (you've named some of them), but if you can afford it, that looks like a quality instrument you could live with for quite some time, and if you should ever decide to sell it, there will be a market for it. Those are my opinions, of course, but they are based on some real-life experience and a bit of research, and might help you in your quest.
    All good advice. I'm the same profile — old guy, been guit-picking since I was a teen, only been playing mando five or ten years. (Whos' counting?)

    Two additions:

    - Set-up needs to be more precise than it has to be on a guitar. If you get an instrument that hurts or numbs your hand, wrist, or arm, it's fixable. Have a good luthier look at it — especially the nut, the prime suspect.

    - If you're not opposed to a flattop, Big Muddy makes all-solid-wood instruments at down-to-earth prices. I had one for a while. It was great. And I hear Mike's a mensch.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  15. The following members say thank you to Charlie Bernstein for this post:


  16. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    4,453

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    I bought an Eastman 315 as a beater a few years ago, and I noticed the narrower width compared to my 1 and 1/8 main player, but I adjust after a couple of minutes of play time. I really thought 1 and 1/8 was my sweet spot until I bought a Rigel CT-110 to have as a plug and play option. Now I think 1 and 3/16 is my sweet spot, lol. The 1 and 1/4 inch width on my RM-1 is also noticeable at first (like with the Eastman), but I adjust pretty easily there as well. But the 1 and 3/16 is most comfortable for me. That said, I probably notice the differences even more with my picking hand, especially on the RM-1. Iím only 47 and thankfully donít have major arthritis issues yet (knocking on wood), and started on (and still play) guitar as well.

    All that to say you wonít know until you get to try some. A Calhoun in wide nut or standard is a great place to start. Iíve played a couple and theyíre professional quality instruments you wonít quickly outgrow (unless you fall into
    Bluegrass)Ögood luck, and welcome!

  17. The following members say thank you to CES for this post:


  18. #10
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    24,253
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Many folks have a wider necked mandolin, and many folks do not. Both groups contain players with large hands, and small hands, and thin and not so thin fingers. Some find the wider neck essential, some not so much (but prefer some other virtues of the mandolin enough to play it) and some prefer the more narrow neck.

    My own theory, which will be debunked in what follows I am sure, is that many who prefer the wider neck have come from a guitar background, and are just used to that feeling.

    I think there is enough that is awkward and uncomfortable, and maybe downright difficult, in learning a new instrument, that the width of the neck is just one of many things to put up with.

    For me the very hardest thing at the very beginning was the pain in my fingertips before I developed callouses. Mandolin was my first stringed instrument, and it took a lot more than several several weeks, seemingly forever, before it wasn't painful. I gave up twice. Every other difficulty I have ever encountered learning and playing mandolin has been small, almost insignificant, in comparison.

    I think getting to try out various mandolins is crucially important in figuring out what you like and don't like.

    There really is no reason to get a brand new instrument. Of the many and various mandolins I enjoyed over the years, I was the first owner only a handful of times.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

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


  20. #11

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Welcome to the cafe! As you've already seen, this is a great place for good advice and encouragement. I came to the mandolin at 60 after around 50 years of playing guitar. It's a great instrument and you've gotten some solid advice already. I would add that it might be a good idea to take a lesson or two either in person or online (I begin with Peghead nation when I first came to mando). Guitar players tend to have a 'death grip' on the neck with mandolin initially and this can lead to giving it up. Keep at it and post often about your enjoyment of this great instrument.

  21. The following members say thank you to Leester for this post:


  22. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    East Concord, NY 14055
    Posts
    163

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Hmmm, no sign of the original poster. Would be helpful if we knew what area he lived in so we could make suggestions as to where he should look .

  23. The following members say thank you to Steve Mead for this post:


  24. #13

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Sorry for disappearing. Had the Flu😬. I sincerely appreciate all the helpful suggestions. I havenít yet made a purchase but this is a community I look forward to belonging to.

  25. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to mikesellers For This Useful Post:


  26. #14
    Play on FredK's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Irving, TX
    Posts
    189

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Sorry you had the flu. Hope you're on the mend. Hang in there. Lots of good advice here. I've had great experiences with the Cafe sponsors on my purchases. If you see something you like, give them a call. It's time to get playing.
    "If your memories exceed your dreams, you have begun to die." - Anonymous

  27. The following members say thank you to FredK for this post:


  28. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    East Concord, NY 14055
    Posts
    163

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    If you happen to live near me, south of Buffalo NY , I have several wide nuts you could try out. If not, maybe you live near someone else. Steve

  29. The following members say thank you to Steve Mead for this post:


  30. #16

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Been playing guitar since 1979ish, mandolin since 2011. My fingers are long, but my hands aren't large, but as someone who is used to a much bigger scale, I appreciate the extra real estate that 1 3/16 gives you. I've gotten along with 1 1/8, but hit my limit when I bought a great sounding 1 1/16.

    Another vote for trying in person. Where are you located? There are a lot of members just about everywhere, and they are -- we are -- very generous with their former blocks of wood.

    Welcome!

  31. The following members say thank you to blauserk for this post:


  32. #17

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Good Morning,I am located in West Tn.,halfway between Nashville and Memphis. Lots of shops in the Nashville area especially. Once I get over the Flu completely I plan on some road-trips there. My Daughter lives just South of Nashville so thatís an easy option. Thanks

  33. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    374

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    hey Mike, I started mandolin at age 62 after 50 years of playing guitar. Seems to be a somewhat common scenario. I got a wide neck 1 3/16" and it has been great for me. I hit it hard and put in a lot of hours of playing. I also live in Nashville so I have played every mandolin hanging at Carters, Gruhns and other stores. It's amazing how some mandolins just feel more comfortable, just like guitars. Neck width is certainly an important factor.

    Anyway, I've been playing long enough with a wide neck that it seemed that I could also play well on a standard width (is there such a thing?) of 1 1/8", so I bought one for a 2nd mandolin. I'm putting a lot of hours of playing on it and darned if I am finding that I have a slightly more difficult time with it since the strings are closer. I can play cleaner on the wider nut. That's my experience and does not mean it would be yours or any of the other Cafe members. I know it's a tough decision when first getting started on mandolin.

    Sam Bush prefers a wide nut. I asked Sierra Hull and her husband Justin Moses which they preferred, flat or radius fingerboard and wide vs standard nut width, the answer I got was they didn't care. They could play anything you handed to them. But we are not them and we have to find what works for us individually. It could take years as our playing gets better. I think just like pick preference, which mandolin we like best or play best will just evolve over time.

    If you want I will make myself available to you if you come here. You can play on my 2 mandolins if you wish or I would be glad to accompany you to the music store. Now the Mandolin Store is also located here and it is a great environment to play a variety of mandolins. And of course Gruhns or Carters. Carters always has an amazing selection. Sometimes I just go and spend several hours playing them all. Just shoot me a message if you want. I also have a good selection of picks you can try.

  34. The following members say thank you to Nashville for this post:


  35. #19

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Ah yes, picks! I've used a Fender medium my entire life as am electric guitarist, and am indifferent enough with guitar picks that I literally punch them out of old hotel card-keys and credit cards. But I find picks matter way more with acoustics, and suddenly $30 picks make a lot more sense to me.

  36. The following members say thank you to blauserk for this post:


  37. #20
    Every day is a gift. Sheila Lagrand's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Location
    San Tan Valley, Arizona
    Posts
    266

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    You've gotten lots of great advice here from people much better qualified to offer it than I. I would add just one thing, especially as you're planning to shop as a beginner, or relative beginner, to mandolin: Ask the store rep if she or he would play the mandolin (or get another employee to do so, if that's a better choice) so you can hear what it sounds like in the hands of an experienced player. You'll be one of those soon enough! Also, even experienced players like to hear what the mandolin sounds like from the front rather than from behind it as a player.
    Phoebe, my 2021 Collings MT mandolin
    Dolly, my 2021 Ibanez M522 mandolin
    Louise, my 193x SS Maxwell mandolin
    Fiona, My 2021 GSM guitar-bodied octave resonator mandolin
    Charlotte, my 2016 Eastman MDO 305 octave mandolin
    And Giuliana, my 2002 Hans Schuster 505 violin, Nehenehe, my 2021 Aklot concert ukulele,
    Annie, my 2022 Guild M-140 guitar, Joni, my 1963 Harmony 1215 Archtone archtop guitar,
    Yoko, my ca. 1963 Yamaha Dynamic No.15 guitar, and Rich, my 1959 husband.

  38. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Sheila Lagrand For This Useful Post:


  39. #21
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    1,406

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    The only bit of advice I have is it’s not a little guitar. Playing it like a mandolin and not a guitar will help with the hand issue. I have several 60s students snd an 85 year old. It’s never too late. It’s about fun. We play music. We don’t work it.
    JBovier ELS; Epiphone MM-50 VN; Epiphone MM-40L; Gretsch New Yorker G9310; Washburn M1SDLB;

    Fender Nashville Deluxe Telecaster; Squier Modified Vintage Cabronita Telecaster; Gretsch 5420T; Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat: Washburn Banjo B9; Ibanez RB 5string; Ibanez RB 4 string bass

    Pedalboard for ELS: Morley Cry baby Miniwah - Tuner - EHX Soul Food Overdrive - EHX Memory Toy analog Delay
    Fender Blues Jr Tweed; Fender Greta;

  40. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to David Lewis For This Useful Post:


  41. #22
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    4,453

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    The road trip to Nashville is the ticket. Hit Gruhnís and Carterís at a minimum. The Mandolin Store is also there and I think does visits by appointment. Play everything theyíll let you play to experience all the necks/widths/radii/setups you can. Gruhnís has an upstairs room where they keep the really good stuff. Even if thereís no way youíll leave with an Ellis/Collings/1920s Gibson play them for the experience and the education.

    And, hope you get well soon!

  42. The following members say thank you to CES for this post:


  43. #23
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    All the above! But enjoy the journey, once you get going set reasonable goals and just enjoy the very sweet snd special sound of the mandolin. Enjoy!

  44. The following members say thank you to J.C. Bryant for this post:


  45. #24
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Augusta, Maine, USA
    Posts
    1,583

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    The only bit of advice I have is it’s not a little guitar. . . .
    . . . and if you call it one here, they'll jump all over you!

    I've given up on mastering the right-hand monkey clutch, but I've more or less overcome my other guitar-playing habits.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  46. The following members say thank you to Charlie Bernstein for this post:


  47. #25

    Default Re: New Player at age 63

    Thanks to everyone for helping me out. I ended up going with a Northfield Calhoun Widenut. Really enjoying the journey. I definitely plan on getting a Big Muddy Mandola as the builder is a super nice guy. Thanks Again to all.

  48. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to mikesellers For This Useful Post:


Posting Permissions

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