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Thread: New to Mandolin...What next?

  1. #1
    Shawn Brentham
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    Apr 2022
    Bedford Tx

    Default New to Mandolin...What next?

    I love this sight, and am looking for some advice, for where to go next in my training. I am new to the Playing the mandolin although I am a life long fan of the instrument. I am an average rhythm guitar player, and have decided to really spend the next few years focusing on the Mandolin. I have no asperations of playin in a band but love to go to Jams and pick and sing. I would hope to be able to play Mandolin well enough to feel confident enough to play rhythm and add few solos now and then. I really love all types of music, bluegrass, folk, Traditional, and blues.

    I am currently practicing out of three books- "Mandolin for Beginners" from Alfred by Jim Dalton, "Modes on Mandolin" By Todd Collins, and "Standard Notation for the Tab-Addicted Mandolinist" by Debora Chen. Both "Modes on Mandolin" and "Standard Notation" have tons to work on, which I am going through slowly and meticulously, and I consider them supplemental compared to "Mandolin for Beginners" which I consider my main practice book.

    So finally here is my question: I am coming to the end of "Mandolin for Beginners" and am looking for my next main resource for Mandolin Education. I am a public teacher and not sure I can afford full time lessons at this point so really looking for a book or video series which could help.

    Thanks for any help you can send my way!

  2. #2
    Registered User tjmangum's Avatar
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    Oct 2019
    ORE-uh-g’n - PNW

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    I'm a beginner, coming from guitar, and has been doing the Artistworks video series with Sierra Hull the last 6 months. It's broken down in small, incremental steps that build on each other. I'm progressing and enjoying it a lot. Sierra has a lot of enthusiasm and it flows nicely. And you can send in videos for her to evaluate and send a video back with her critique. Mike Marshall is also on too. Very affordable for what you get and they seem to almost always be having a promotion or discount.
    " Give me some words I can dance to and a melody that rhymes" - Steve Goodman

  3. #3
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Mar 2020
    New Hampshire

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    I'm a novice who started from scratch with the mandolin. I've explored, bought a stack of books, signed up for Mike M on Artistworks, and taken a group online course with Matt Flinner. All have been good in their own way, especially Matt's class. The thing about ArtistWorks is after your subscription ends, you lose access to everything. Matt lets you download everything and you have it to work on later. Just recently I decided to invest in Brad Laird's " Mandolin Treasure Chest". Just over $100 with a coupon code, and there's a ton of videos and ebooks you download to your hard drive that start and the beginning and go pretty far. I'd listened to quite a few of his "Grass Talk Radio" podcasts, and exchanged a few emails with him. Really nice guy, smart and practical. I like the way he explains things and tells stories. He's not a superstar, but he is an accomplished working musician. His website is a bit of a maze.

    Here at the Cafe, there's a dormant social group, "The Woodshed Study Group", for working on his Mandolin Master Class, a book that is included in the package.

    I am also impressed with some of the things I have seen Matt Bruno post here and on his website.
    Last edited by Sue Rieter; Jul-26-2022 at 7:59am.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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  5. #4
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    Connecticut, USA

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    I'll put in a suggestion to play with others, even if you don't feel you're ready. Attend the local jam, get familiar with the local tunes, with the good (and not-so-good) players, with the way things are run. You might find someone who can give you a few tips in person for free, you'll get connected with the local music scene and you'll expand your friend group. Take a look at how the mandolin is used compared with the guitar you already know. You don't say whether you play rhythm guitar out in public, but the place of the guitar and the place of the mandolin in live music is slightly different, depending on genre. If you have a chance to attend a workshop, go for that as well. Music is a live sport. Take the plunge!
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  7. #5
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    South of Fort Worth, Texas

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    A few things here ...

    First, I invite you to check out this article from my website, "Advice For Mandolin Beginners"

    Second, the best very low cost place to begin learning a bunch of tunes that show up in jams is at - which has already been mentioned above, and also mentioned in my article above. That's merely my own opinion, but I think it's a great way to learn a lot of material and technique at no charge, you may contribute to his efforts financially when and if you're able, there is never a charge for any of his video lessons.

    Third ... when you're ready to purchase lessons, there are many ways to go besides finding a local teacher. I've used Homespun videos, Bradley Laird videos, Banjo Ben Clark lessons and others. Pete Martin's books and videos are great, I've used them and support Pete. There is a world of help out there now, too much to enumerate, Don Julin, Artistworks, Peghead Nation, etc. etc.

    Finally, I'm also located in the DFW metro area ... actually, a bit in the country to the southwest. At any rate, there are contact methods here and on the websites in my signature, so feel free to shout out at any time whether you have questions, or a desire to meet up and pick.

    Welcome to the cafe!
    Coming Soon: New site, The Amateur Mandolinist
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    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Blues Mando
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

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  9. #6

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    Sharon Gilchrist's online video course on Bluegrass Mandolin Fingerboard Method is great for gaining comfort taking solos at jams.

  10. #7
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    Portland, OR

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    +1 on both and Sharon Gilchrist's Fingerboard course on Peghead Nation

    And for print, don't forget Don Julin's 'Mandolin For Dummies' books
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  11. #8

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    If you are a guitar rhythm player then you already should have a handle on how music works and you mentioned you go to jams and such so listen to some of the tunes you know the local jam plays and get familiar with the melody. You don't have to have a blazing fast, notey solo to have fun and contribute.

    My advice would be forget the canned one way series for now, put the paper away, start listening, and spend the money you plan on spending on books on a lesson or two - most teachers charge $50-$75 an hour and give discounts for multiple sessions.

    There are lots of free resources right here on the Cafe - scroll thru the song a week social group and YT has an endless supply of videos. MandoLessons is free and his offerings would keep one busy for years.

    Maybe you'll end up with ArtistWorks or some other offering but when beginning I think instant - in the moment - feedback is extremely important.
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  12. #9
    Registered User
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    Jan 2008
    Gainesville, FL

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    Jack Tottle's "Bluegrass Mandolin" really helped me. Also, learning some simple fiddle tunes or melodies like Old Joe Clark, Wildwood Flower, etc. Another great resource for bluegrass mandolin is the Scaggs and Rice album. Good luck.

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  14. #10
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
    Aberdeen, Scotland

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny Gies View Post
    Jack Tottle's "Bluegrass Mandolin" really helped me.
    Amen to that. Many other mandolinists, not just bluegrass, learned from that book, and from what I've seen since , it's never been bettered.

    There are still copies available.

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  16. #11
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    May 2012
    Seattle WA

    Default Re: New to Mandolin...What next?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abilene69 View Post
    I am an average rhythm guitar player, and have decided to really spend the next few years focusing on the Mandolin. I have no asperations of playin in a band but love to go to Jams and pick and sing. I would hope to be able to play Mandolin well enough to feel confident enough to play rhythm and add few solos now and then. I really love all types of music, bluegrass, folk, Traditional, and blues.
    If the goal is to just be able to jam with folks and you can't afford an in person teacher, a few points:

    Learn a few tunes. I would suggest targeting 5 fiddle tunes and 5 vocal tunes. Pick easier tunes that are commonly played at the jams you want to go to. On the fiddle tune side, I'd recommend Salt Creek, Cherokee Shuffle, Whiskey Before Breakfast, Big Sciota, and Old Joe Clark. On the vocal tunes, perhaps Old Home Place, Roll in my sweet baby's arms, Angeline the Baker (doubles as a fiddle tune), Long Journey Home, and Kentucky Girl. I have a list of charts for vocal tunes and mandolin sheet music for fiddle tunes you can get here - (all free)

    Learning those songs, you'll need to learn some chords and how to "chop" which is important for rhythm. For the fiddle tunes you'll also learn scales (generally major scales) since the melodies for most are heavily scale based. So, in addition to learning the tunes, practice the basic 2 octave major scales for the tunes you want to learn. I would suggest practicing the scales as a warm up to playing the tunes etc.

    Here's a few basic chord shapes that you can use

    Here's some basic scales and practices too

    When you go to the jam, look for a mandolin player that seems to know what they are doing and just watch / copy them as much as you can. Ask some questions too (usually jams are super friendly).

    If you have any pain in your hands - likely you're gripping the mandolin and/or pick too hard which is a super common issue for new players.

    If you're interested, I host free 15 minute lessons to help new players get past the basic stuff. Usually we can get a high level review of 1 or 2 topics. LMK if you're interested.
    Information on lessons, gigs, and misc musical stuff:
    Weekly free Mandolin Lessons:
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