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Thread: Mandolin to Violin

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    Registered User dulcillini's Avatar
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    Default Mandolin to Violin

    Good morning, Cafe, Mates: Have any of you gone from mandolin to violin? Many people seem to be violin players who take up mandolin later. I am simply curious if any of you have done the reverse and I wonder how it went. Thank you.
    Michael A. Harris
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    I acquired my first violin after playing mandolin for a few years. I rarely touch the violin but it is a fun instrument and I think it is always good to try out new paths if you have the means.

    The biggest two differences you will notice are bowing and left finger placement. Picks and frets help tremendously, but also you sacrifice a lot of dynamics this way. Or shall I say it is not a matter of better or worse, just different.

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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    I think it is easier to go to violin after mandolin. It's less to learn on the violin, and you can focus on intonation and bowing.
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    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    What I noticed when I messed around with a violin was how my left hand callous's were broad and hard. I compared fingertips with a super-talented violin (only) player and sure enough her fingers were MUCH less calloused. I don't think the full range available on a violin can be obtained with guitar/mandolin fingertips.

    IK..IK.. there are many talented musicians out there that seem to do fine.

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    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    I would get back into the violin if I didn't have to work but I have too many things on my to-do list already
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    I have been mandolinning since forever. But a few years back I took fiddle lessons, and gave it a good three year try. The bowing was the killer.

    Fiddle doesn't do anything for you: you start the sound, you continue the sound, you stop the sound. The fiddle doesn't help you out.

    I had been playing the mandolin for many years when I started fiddle, and one problem was that I knew what a fiddle sounded like, and it wasn't me. I just did not have the patience. If I had started on fiddle, so that I was learning the instrument at the same time as I was becoming familiar with the sound, I might have done better. Or was still a kid. A kid learning to scratch out a tune is kind of cute. An adult, not so much.

    Mandolin, even played poorly, can at least make some pretty sounds. Fiddle takes about a year to make any kind of sound I would want to listen to.

    My teacher wanted to put me on a mandolin diet, to concentrate on the fiddle. The fiddle is a jealous instrument; it refuses to be your second instrument. If its not number one, I was not going to get halfway decent on it.


    I kind of gave up after that.

    Others may do better. I wish you all luck.
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  10. #7

    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    I've left the mandolin entirely for fiddle. The determining factors (why I play anything) are musical: I no longer play mandolin-'type' music. I used to play with some bluegrass friends, but no longer. If I didn't play accordion for forro, maybe I'd play mndln for choro.

    Here's some prior discussion on the subject:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...596&do=discuss

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    I started on fiddle and mandolin at the same time over 48 years ago. Mandolin was an excellent middleground instrument: I played guitar lots in my youth and was at home with the pick but the mandolin had the same tuning and fingering as the fiddle. I was learning mostly fiddle tunes anyway so it was great to play both and I often switched off. And when I was good enough to play with others and even form bands I could play either. In fact there were two other folks who played fiddle in the embryonic stages of one band so I was the guitarist. Then we added two other folks who both played guitar so I played mostly mandolin and occasional fiddle back then. I have to say it was a good thing for me since I love both instruments.

    I imagine that it would he harder to do mandolin-->fiddle vs. fiddle-->mandolin. If you play fiddle you already know the notes and just have to get cool with the picking hand. Not always easy, of course, but it sure beats working with a bow which is, in itself, an upward climb.
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    I have been learning the violin for about 4 months after several years on guitar/mando/tenor banjo.
    Its totally possible (or millions of people wouldn't play it), and its one one the most expressive instruments around which is very exciting. I'm really enjoying the long notes - when they don't screech
    However its much harder than the other instruments. There is very little reward in the early days; the ear-splitting volume makes you timid about belting out focussed practice; sometimes it sounds sweet and other times it can desert you completely. I'm still no where near happy with my bowing and intonation, but I get the impression that its a lifetimes work.
    The mando experience removes one fairly substantial headache - knowing roughly where the notes are. The main advantage is that you know what's required to learn an instrument step by step. A non-cheap instrument and lessons would help enormously.
    The big dilemma is can I balance it with the other instruments or does it have to take over completely.

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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    Yes! It is a slow process as the fiddle magnifies my mistakes. Still, itís fun. Go for it!

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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    Yes I did try that move and here is what I found. The left hand came quite naturally. No my intonation was not perfect, but I did pretty well with finding the notes. The right hand, however is a different story. The bow can only be tamed with help from forces from the dark side. The bow is a demonic device that comes from the darkest depths of hell and must be avoided at all costs.

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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    Working valiantly on learning fiddle made me a better mandolinner!!
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    What is interesting to me is the influence of each instrument on the way you approach the music. Even a simple tune will be different bowed than plucked but one affects the other. It’s all good!
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    The Devil didn't make the violin, he made the bow.

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    I played mandolin before fiddle. I love both, but I do find the mandolin a lot easier to play decently than the fiddle. GDAE, the strings are tuned the same (at least until you decide to play your fiddle in other popular tunings), but the mandolin and fiddle are such different animals. Without frets, getting each note in tune on a fiddle is a continual challenge - you have to work on intonation the rest of your life. The bow is a wonderful expressive thing, but also something you have to work on forever. Even the rosin can’t be neglected - you don’t want too much or too little, and humidity levels might change which rosin you need. Playing up the neck on the mandolin is no big deal - moving up the neck on a fiddle is a big deal. Need some double stops up the neck on my mandolin - simple. Double stops up the neck on my fiddle is NOT simple. Yes, I can play them, but I can’t just toss them out like I can on a fretted mandolin.

    That being said, I totally love the fiddle and usually practice on it more than my mandolins or any other instruments (well, right now I’m putting a lot of time into clawhammer banjo, but I do tend to do intense deep dives on various instruments).

    Still, after I practice my fiddle, I find myself sounding even better on the mandolin and other instruments! I have a loaner violin that I’ve lent out to friends who wanted to play violin - none have stuck with it. They love the IDEA of playing fiddle, but they can’t commit the time and effort. If you can commit the time and effort, the fiddle is fabulous.
    Doug Brock
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  21. #16
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    I play mandolin and upright bass, and I sometimes bow the upright bass (although I'm not great at it). I came to have a fiddle in my hands and I'm like ... OK, mando tuning and I know how to bow ... but it really didn't work. For me, it was the sightline that was the problem. Looking down the fiddle in that direction was just so different from either the mando or the upright bass. I sounded terrible and I didn't pursue it.

    That doesn't mean you shouldn't! I just know what I can and can't do, and the fiddle wasn't going to happen for me.
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    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    famous Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right,”

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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    Started fiddle three years ago as I thought my many years of experience on mandolin would give me an easier pathway. Worked at it really hard for a year and a half and then stopped for a while (three months) but I am not a quitter, so I bought a much nicer violin and bow and started up again. I have so much respect for accomplished violin players. It is much more physically taxing than the mandolin to play and a different set of muscles need to be built up and trained. Stopping for three months caused a five-month setback so you must keep to your practice routine. I believe violin is the hardest instrument, bowing is the main challenge for me and reading the other posts it seems true for most people. Now I can play a bunch of slow tunes and it is so satisfying to be able to pick up the instrument and play something at all. It is such an aesthetically pleasing instrument, and it feels so good to pick up. I feel the most likely path to success on the violin is to start as a kid and take lessons, but I find it rewarding to progress and that's enough for me.

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    Registered User dulcillini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    Such great advice and commentary. Thanks to all.
    Michael A. Harris
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    Well ... I took up with the fiddle twenty years ago after a couple of decades with a mandolin and a couple of decades with guitar before that starting in the mid 60's. I still play all three instruments and a joyously, at times, still do so. Fiddle is something you either give up on after a few months or are hooked and can't give it up. Dr. Samuel Johnson stated " If I had learned to play fiddle, I would have done nothing else". So, I persevered and learned much with the help of others though it took me several years to play out in public. Bowing is a complete departure from a pick. I still struggle at times with a bow especially when I am playing something I don't really know. To start fiddling you need a well set up instrument and a decent quality bow. After that tune it whenever you pick it up, play daily and buy a mute. Good luck... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    . To start fiddling you need a well set up instrument and a decent quality bow. After that tune it whenever you pick it up, play daily and buy a mute. Good luck... R/
    "Skip the mute" my fiddle teacher said. "You need to hear what volume and tone you are making." I put the mute away and it helped me with my bow control and my goal of creating a pleasing sound.

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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    "Skip the mute" my fiddle teacher said. "You need to hear what volume and tone you are making." I put the mute away and it helped me with my bow control and my goal of creating a pleasing sound.
    Agree. Mutes and/or quiet playing are damaging to technique. You need to find a safe place and blast it out.

  28. #23
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to Violin

    Mutes are not damaging but not helpful in the long run. They just give you a false sense of accomplishment. OTOH if you have to it could help in working on left hand technique practice when you have to use them. Just don’t use them all the time.
    Jim

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