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Mandolin help

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Paul 07 Oct 98 - 09:48 AM
Einnor 07 Oct 98 - 09:57 AM
Bert C 07 Oct 98 - 04:13 PM
Chet W. 07 Oct 98 - 05:15 PM
Erlend 08 Oct 98 - 04:11 AM
Frank in the swamps 08 Oct 98 - 07:50 AM
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Subject: Mandolin help
From: Paul
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 09:48 AM

Hi, my name's Paul and I'm a mandolin player .... or I hope to be someday. I've always just played casually, when I didn't feel like playing with my guitars, but I'd like to do more. I can pound out some rough cowboy chords, and pick out a tune, but I have no doubt that my technique sucks.

When I slowly pick the notes of a chord that I'm holding, some of the strings are dead; the only way I can correct this is when I press REALLY hard .... so hard that my wrist hurts .... and I've played guitar for years, so that shouldn't be happening.

Also, when I'm picking a tune, my fingers will quite often damp the string next to the one I'm fretting. Am I supposed to use the absolute tip of my finger, close to the nail? If that's the case, I guess it's time to start building up some new callusses.

Any suggestions on right-hand technique? I can't get anywhere near the speed of the guys who do the "trilling" on one note or chord. I don't know; maybe I'm holding the thing wrong.



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Subject: RE: Mandolin help
From: Einnor
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 09:57 AM

Hi Paul , I am just past you a little. I picked up a few Mel Bay books on mandolin and just slowly at first practiced. If you go to Mandolin Cafe on the internet you will find all kinds of goodies to help there. Building up the old calusses was big for me too.

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Subject: RE: Mandolin help
From: Bert C
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 04:13 PM


The extra pressure you need and the dampening of neighboring strings are typical signs that your action needs to be lowered - probably at the nut. It's not hard to do if you're careful, but if you're not comfortable with cutting the nut down yourself, an instrument repair shop should be able to set up the action for $50 or so.

You do need to get the strings as close to the ends of your fingers as you can, but don't forget you're pressing down twice as many strings as you do on your guitar. Also, since the strings are so short, it takes more pressure to bend 'em - another reason to keep the action as low as possible.

Tremolo is easier with a very soft pick, but the sound might be more mellow than you wish. Most pickers use a fairly stiff pick and develop a grip that allows it some movement without letting it escape. You might want to start with a soft pick and work your way up. Just takes practice.

What kind of mando do you have? I don't have a decent one, but I'm kinda shopping around for an older Gibson. Gotta wait until my longevity pays comes in or I sell my boat.

Good Luck, Bert C.

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Subject: RE: Mandolin help
From: Chet W.
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 05:15 PM

Paul, I don't know what style of music you intend for your mandolining, but I just thought I'd add that there's no substitute for practicing (but not past the point of serious pain), and that one of the best things you can do is go to places where you can play with people who are better than you. It will come slowly at first, but if you try hard you'll soon come to the point where you pick up new things very quickly. Another good piece of advice is to listen to as much mandolin music as you can. Even if it's way beyond your ability now, you have to know what it's supposed to sound like before you can make it sound that way. THEN you can begin to develop your own style. The difficult action may very well be the nut, but you also might try adjusting the bridge (most are adjustable these days by turning two little thumbscrews). Many mandolins also have adjustable truss rods, accessable through a plate on the peghead just behind the nut.If none of this works you may have to have the neck reset, if your mandolin's value warrants that. You should see up close the mandolin that Bill Monroe played. The strings were a good half inch above the fretboard by the time you reached the 8th or 10th fret. Anyone who works on guitars should be able to help you set it up.

Good luck, Chet W.

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Subject: RE: Mandolin help
From: Erlend
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 04:11 AM

Hey Paul! Here are some advices on right hand technique. The plectrum/pick should be fairly stiff, about 0,80 mm +/- depending on what type of plastic it's made of. Hold the index and the thumb very close to the picking edge. You should not hit the strings directly with the flat side of the pick, because this will make a slapping noice. Try to make a few degrees angle between the pick and the strings. The larger the angle is, the easier it is to pick, but you loose some sound. Do also make certain thatt the strings are not too old. You should change the strings at least every second month if you're playing daily, and maybe you should wash your fretboard if it's filled with grease.

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Subject: RE: Mandolin help
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 07:50 AM

Paul, don't hurt yourself. DON'T HURT YOURSELF! DON'T DON'T DON'T!!! Some discomfort while building up callouses, or muscle strength is to be expected, but you describe hurting your wrist, not cool. Something is wrong, whether it's your technique or the mandolins' action, but don't do anything that causes real pain. We had a thread called ...

Musicians injuries: Help! ...

enter it in the filter and look it up (go for 365 days, it was a while back). There are tips & links in there to be taken seriously. Frank i.t.s.

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