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Thread: A mandolin beginnerís journey.

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Murray, UT

    Default A mandolin beginnerís journey.

    Since a young boy, I have been fascinated by mandolins, violins and other stringed instruments. Inspired by the folk music artists of the early 60’s I started on guitar and became reasonably proficient on it. I have wanted to learn the mandolin for 20 years and have purchased several - Two of them ( Washburn and TDK) were quite satisfactory but the others were junk or unusable. On occasion, when in financial straits, and since I wasn’t really using the better mandolins, I sold the good ones.

    This year, once again, I wanted to try again. First I established criteria for what I wanted in the mandolin; I wanted an F-style, reputable maker& warranty, all solid wood .And one other thing; I wanted some nice flamed maple back wood I know that is a minor consideration but I grew up looking at violins my father played and even the inexpensive ones all had nice flamed back wood - I’ve never understood why they don’t seem to include a nice back wood except on higher priced mandolins. Nevertheless, those were my criteria and of course a resonable price. Well, I finally found a mandolin that met all those criteria AND I really liked the lighter color. The manufacturer is Ibanez and model 700AVS and I got a great price on it. When I got the mandolin the tuners were junk and simply did not work, perhaps this was why the price was so low, but after calling Ibanez Customer service, they said they would send me new tuners. Growing impatient, I ordered new Grover tuners and really improved the tuning ability. I used it for a while and in reading on Mandolin Cafe, I realized it would benefit from professional set up. I took it to Local Music in Salt Lake City, UT, my friend Tom’s place and he did a substantial set up. When he handed me the set up Mando (Which I had named “Jethro”). I strummed one chord and the instrument started to SING - wow! What an improvement in tone and playability. I was really grateful for the suggestin I found here.

    As I played the instrument i started noticing it would not stay in tune and a few of the notes sounded “muddy.” Once again consulting Mandolin Cafe I saw several suggestions; change the strings, carefully set the intonation and put a tiny bit of graphite on the nut slots. I did those and used lighter D’Addario EJ73 strings. After I got everything set up and used a pencil to lubricate the nut slots again, everything changed; tone improves dramatically, intonation is perfect, easier to play and stays in tune.

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	209436Once again I have Mandolin Cafe to thank! I am now learning songs and working on my favorite piece my father used to play on the violin; “Meditation” by Massenet and making good progress. Thanks for letting me tell my story and thank you everyone on this site for the great advice and help. Hello my son
    Last edited by Ralf Czerny; Sep-18-2023 at 11:46am.

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  3. #2
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Connecticut, USA

    Default Re: A mandolin beginnerís journey.

    The people on this site are really a treasure -- their experience and helpfulness are without parallel!
    1920 Lyon & Healy bowlback
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    1952 Strad-o-lin
    1983 Giannini ABSM1 bandolim
    2009 Giannini GBSM3 bandolim
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  5. #3
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002

    Default Re: A mandolin beginnerís journey.

    I’m glad things are working out for you on the mandolin. It’s good to have you here.

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  7. #4

    Default Re: A mandolin beginnerís journey.

    A lot of people will tell you that you shouldn’t focus on the aesthetics and other things that appeal to you, which you disregarded, clearly; and good for you! A beautiful instrument that appeals to you is going to be more played than one that you are less enthusiastic about holding. I’m a firm believer that if you wonder if your instrument would be more if …. Is a fool’s errand, and you should get what you want. I bought a mandolin (or 3) out of my class in my playing time, and I never regretted it for a minute - though that target is ever moving for the number 2; I found my “forever” mandolin at approximately 6 mos in - yet I’m aware that tastes change. That idea that you should settle for less than your ideal is the opposite of my experience - My great grandfather said, “a man should buy good tools - buy once, cry once. Buy good tools.” Why that shouldn’t apply to musical tools would be beyond me.

    I’m glad you bought what you wanted, and am glad to have you as a brother (or sister, if I misassociated) on this journey! It’s a magical instrument!

  8. #5
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    South of Cleburne, North of Hillsboro, Texas

    Default Re: A mandolin beginnerís journey.

    Ralph, it is so awesome to have an instrument that is properly setup in a way that suits you personally. I'm happy to hear that you got that sorted, and I hope you continue to be thrilled to play it and enjoy your journey,

    Keep on picking
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN

    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

  9. #6
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: A mandolin beginnerís journey.

    Enjoy the journey R.C. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  10. #7
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: A mandolin beginnerís journey.

    Welcome and enjoy!

    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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