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Thread: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

  1. #1

    Default How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    I was never much of a flat picker on guitar - campfire chords and the same old moody 90ís indie music for 20 years (My finger style is better but thatís a different story.) I discovered Mandolin about 3 years ago and went full native on traditional music.
    I recently started experimenting with flat picking on the 6 string again. I feel Iíve got a better touch in string selection on chords and my single string accuracy has also improved. However I have put a lot of effort into playing mando from wrist and eliminating arm movement with my palm lightly resting behind the bridge. So now my guitar playing is quite choppy.
    Mando is my absolute priority so I donít want to undo any mando technique.
    Just wondering about your experiences with this and if there is conflict between the 2 instruments.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    I find that the more I play either instrument and spend time honing technique the more I improve or maintain and enjoy playing. Slight changes in technique between the two are not a problem, unless I’m neglecting one or the other for extended periods.
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    Registered User David M.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    First of all, as I learned fiddle tunes on mandolin (and fiddle), I started flatpicking them on guitar which I really hadn't done much prior to that. Mandolin also opened up understanding of the relationship between the guitar strings since the E are consistent on each. I play all of them totally by ear, so it was enlightening to make a breakthrough. I flatpick guitar more like a mandolin player than a cross-picking hot flatpicker, but I'm OK with that I reckon.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    Definitely made more more conscious of the small thing such as pick grip and how I am striking the string, and what pick I am using!
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    I played guitar and violin for over 30 years before picking up mandolin. Because of that background I was off and running on mandolin immediately. Of course I quickly found I wanted a different pick shape and thickness for mandolin than what I had been using for guitar. I started using my thicker mandolin picks on guitar as well and that improved my guitar playing right away.

    I think there is beneficial cross training to be had as a multi-instrumentalist. Almost all the top bluegrass players do it. Not so common in classical, jazz, blues or rock for some reason.

  6. #6
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    Quote Originally Posted by rumpystumpy View Post
    Mando is my absolute priority so I donít want to undo any mando technique.
    Just wondering about your experiences with this and if there is conflict between the 2 instruments.
    My first post above was in answer to this. The question of the thread title is a little different, though.

    Mandolin journey changed my guitar playing mostly like this: I went from 50 years of floppy, medium, nylon, teardrop-shaped picks to thicker and stiffer large triangle-shaped picks. I also changed my pick grip. And, I tend to use tremolo a bit on guitar these days. Otherwise, my guitar technique hasnít changed much. All the flimmydoodles (Nancy Blakeís word) Iíd used on guitar (hammer ons, pull offs, slides, vibrato) were instantly available on mandolin brought over from guitar, as well as muting techniques, but much less so the string bending.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    I gradually stopped practicing flatpicking, then gradually quit playing guitar much at all, so overall, I'd say the effect of mando on my guitar playing has been pretty bad

  8. #8
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Orr View Post
    I gradually stopped practicing flatpicking, then gradually quit playing guitar much at all, so overall, I'd say the effect of mando on my guitar playing has been pretty bad
    Hah! I'm in almost the same boat. I had been playing guitar for 30-odd years when I picked up mandolin. And that led to falling down the rabbit hole into Irish/Scottish traditional music where guitar is a backing instrument at best, and not primary in the music (with some notable exceptions).

    So all that Blues and Jazz fingerstyle stuff got left behind, and now I only occasionally strum chords if there is no other backer in an Irish/Scottish session or home gathering.

    Letting the music guide your instrument choice is dangerous though. It's why I'm playing more "Irish flute" than mandolin these days, although I still play mandolin and octave mandolin on some things. My very nice Santa Cruz acoustic guitar is sitting in the corner and scowling at me right now. "What did I do? I thought you loved me?"

  9. #9

    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    Mine are still at war. I am much faster on the learning curve with mando though.
    Everything just makes sense and of course, still in the honeymoon period though so who knows.

  10. #10

    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    I can't say taking up mandolin has necessarily improved my guitar playing but I do find myself now throwing in little tremolos in my guitar solos!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How did Mando change/improve your guitar flat picking?

    For me, mandolin helped improve my flatpicking for fiddle tunes on the guitar. I dove into mandolin for years before really trying to apply the techniques to guitar. By that time, I had the tunes memorized enough that it was a fun challenge to try them on the guitar.

    Then I found jazz. I played mandolin with a gypsy jazz group for about 8 years before buying a selmer style guitar. The knowledge I gained learning jazz on mandolin was fairly easily transferred to guitar, but in this case many melody passages that seemed complicated on mandolin felt more natural on guitar, especially songs written by guitarists. Also the jazz rhythm and chords I find much more fun on guitar, but I can more easily play faster tempos on the mandolin.

    In short, mandolin playing has constantly evolved and informed my guitar playing, and guitar has equally informed my mandolin, especially with jazz. It is a positive feedback loop!
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