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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Mandoleer Starting on mandoline (20) RE: Starting on mandoline 20 Jun 06

Position to hold it: Whatever is comfortable. Depends on the shape of the back of mandolin, and shape of front of player...
When starting to play the tremelo effect - use a softish plec at first. It doesn't bounce so much, and it's quieter too. Harder the plec, harder it is to do, but it's louder. I keep a range for different purposes (that's what that silly little pocket in the front of your jeans is for, keeping plecs in), but have been known to use 5p coins and even polished gem stones on occasion (in desperation, that is...).
Mandolin is primarily a melody instrument. It was used by serenaders who played the tune, while a hired or borrowed guitarist played the chords as backing (in the shadows, just in case the wrong person got fancied). Leave the chords to the guitarists - you have the TUNE.
Don't use continuous tremelo for everything. Use a strong downstroke and pause for some longish notes instead. Adds variety.
Until your fingertips get hardened, you will appreciate why the culinary device has its name, and may wonder which of the two you are actually playing. Tip: DON'T play with damp fingertips. (PAIN...)
Tuning: if no reference available, tune lower of a pair up. It's not hard to knock tuning pegs looser, but more unusual to knock them tighter.
DON'T get a mandolin-banjo unless you like tuning up. Bridge rests on skin (or plastic) head. Tune bottom end - fine. Tune next pair - OK. By the time you've tuned the top end - guess what's happened down below? Yes. Back to the start...
If mandolin is oldish, check fingerboard for straightness. I've seen some old Neapolitan ones that has nearly half an inch action at the 7th fret. If like this - hang it on the wall. Or sell it anonymously...

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