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Fumbly's thinkin' 'bout a mandolin.....


Fumblyfingers

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I am thinking about getting a mandolin for the studio.......I might ask for it as a gift from the missus and kids.......we are watching finances due to the strike, my being on disability again so reduced income on my end etc etc etc .

 

Can you guys recommend an inexpensive mandolin that will have a half decent tone and playability etc?

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Epi's are the inexpensive alternative to Gibsons, but they're still pricey. Maybe a used one?

 

Kentucky mandolins are pretty good for the price. Worth looking into.

 

Frankly, I think unless you want the throatiest mando sound possible there are few things you could pick up and listen to that you can't immediately know will be okay, given your extensive background on guitar and other stringed instruments.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Thanks Neil...I just know nothing about them....even how to tune one...in fact...never played one.......how sick is that?

 

LOL I see it is tuned in 5ths low to high G, D, A, E.....errrr, can you tune to a guitar tuning and fake it? LOL

 

Yeah I see the Epi's around $130-$169 for a couple models...that is doable.

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I bought a Johnson mando about a year ago for $75., and it's been great. I really love hacking on that thing.

 

You have the tuning right, and it's not as hard to pick up on the right way to play it as you might think. I started making up my own little country ditties right after I got it home.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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I don't know that it matters much, Lister, but I'm a hack player. ;)

 

If you haven't noticed, the tuning (G, D, A, E) is the reverse of a bass or lower four strings of a guitar. This is both helpful and frustrating. On the one hand, you can easily "spell" chords upside down and find some of what you want. On the other hand, thinking that way can confuse the issue as what you think of as the bass note when fingering upside down is now the high note. I've found some interesting chord voicings by altering my fingering in ways that aren't logical on the guitar but make perfect sense on the mando.

 

You're going to have fun!

 

BTW - Bluegrass players will tell you F-Style (Scroll horn) mandos sound best (and I agree), but for us hacks there are plenty of A-style (tear drop) mandos that work fine. Beggars can't be choosers but I've been very happy borrowing two A-style mandos the past year.

 

Another interesting notion to play with is how scales require extra frets to play when crossing strings because of the inverse tuning distance (5ths vs. 4ths on the guitar).

 

So similar yet so different! :D

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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I don't know, but in NYC there are a number of music stores, and I managed to buy my first mandolin for $200. (My next one, which I use onstage, for $700).

 

All I can suggest is to shop around - and nowadays we can do so online also.

 

I wish I could recommend specific brands etc., but I never really thought that way! But you could check out mandolin websites - just click on "mandolin" on the Net and there would be dozens of guys with advice, and that could help you get started and jam with you. And "Acoustic Guitar" magazine has lots of mandolin ads... caveat emptor, but doubtless a lot of them are good!

 

PS My stage mando is a metal resonator Johnson. Very well made, and great for certain genres. A lot louder than my wooden one.

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I played mandolin for a while and you get used to the mandolin chords pretty quickly actually.

 

One thing though, at least back in my day, there was no such thing as a good, cheap mandolin. The cheap ones ALL sounded like crap. That may have changed these days, however.

 

I think it's because the instrument is smaller or something, so construction has to be so much better than on a similar level guitar if you're to avoid a really harsh, tinny sound.

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Alright Lister.....gas can be GOOD!! Do post pics on the Guitar-a-holics Anonymous thread with "the winner".

 

I found a really nice vintage Martin Mando on eBay. I got if for half the book value. It's fun.....although I can't play worth a pinch of crapola!! LOL

 

I've got a instructional book, and learning more mando is on my "things to do on a rainy day" list. They are cool.

 

Check out eBay. You might just find a deal or two.

Don

 

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."

 

 

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I picked up a $30 Rogue mandolin from Musician's Friend, and after putting a different bridge on it, and some decent strings, it sounded and played great.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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I've also been wanting a viola and/or cello...just to mess with.

 

I tried playing viola for a while. I needed to travel and could not afford to take my guitar with me, so I bought a cheap viola.

 

And it wasn't THAT hard to play, actually. I mean, I wouldn't have got a job with the Philharmonic, but after a couple of weeks, I could do simple tunes and not be too out of key. I put thin strips tape across the neck to show where the "frets" were and learned quite quickly.

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Interesting... I'd thought about picking up a violin or viola to go with my banjolin and the borrowed mandolin. I'd really like a cello but I doubt I could find an inexpensive cello that was anything but expensive by comparison with either guitars or mandolins. :freak:

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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OMG! I've got the worst GAS I've had in years!

 

Cello & "free violin" with stand, bow, rosin, extra strings for $219 incl. shipping. :eek: He has another cello listing without the violin for $99 but the shipping goes from $41 on the linked auction to $84... Hmmmm.... Lots of positive feedback though.

 

I'll have to check that Hanukah package my parents sent to see how much they want me to have a cello and violin! They generally send Lilly presents and an envelope for my wife and I ;)

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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You aughtta consider putting together a kit mando from the likes of Stewart-MacDonald. With your experience and background, you should be able to hang with building one from pre-fab, pre-bent, woodworked parts... Waddya think?

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Mandolin is a fun little thing to have. I'm not "cultured" enough yet to insist on playing nothing less than $10k+ models, though. :eek:

 

A nice place to browse (online or in person) is elderly.com. I've shopped there before. At least it can give you an idea of the variety in instruments (and prices!) out there.

 

I have an acoustic A-style. Hopefully I'll have an acoustic/electric soon. "Soon" as in "before tomorrow night" so I can play it at the gig. Otherwise I'm not going to bother trying to mic my acoustic. (It's a last-minute thing so no worries; I'll be playing bass all night.)

 

I've played with a guy that has an F-style acoustic with a pickup installed (probably a Fishman). It probably cost a lot more than my A-style and is probably more resonant. I haven't had a chance to play his, though, so I can't comment on quality of build, playability, etc.

 

For a studio I'd definitely get an acoustic/electric. The solid-body electric mandos, or emandos, do look like fun but I'd think an a/e would be more flexible.

 

In terms of tuning, another way to look at mandolin is that it is tuned like a violin. In fact they also make mandolas and mandocellos. (They used to make mandobasses about 100 years ago but standard string basses seemed to be more popular, even in the mando orchestras.) These were designed to replace their orchestral counterparts. (I played the $2k mandocello at Elderly and if I could afford it and justify it, I'd buy it!)

 

The bouzoukis and octave mandolins are more commonly used for other styles of music.

 

In addition to learning new chord shapes and how to spread 4 fingers over 7 frets instead of the typical 5 for scales, you can have fun perfecting your "tremolo". This isn't an amplifier effect; on mando it means to strum very quickly (and evenly) so long notes don't decay and fall away quickly. It's not used everywhere but it's a nice trick to have in your bag.

 

In the studio the acoustic mandolin gives everything a nice folk flavor, IMO. It doesn't have to be relegated to only bluegrass and C&W; R.E.M. and others have used them in pop/rock. You may also want to check out what John Paul Jones (from Led Zeppelin) can do with a mandolin.

 

Let us know what you get and how you like it!

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I have a 30 year old Harmony Monterey mandolin that belonged to my grandfather. He preferred the other style with the rounded back which was what he must have played back when he was a young man in Italy - years and years ago. He didn't play this one too much and I now have it. Besides family photos, its about the only possession of my grandfather's that I personally have - so its kind of special to me.

 

http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc305/Jnetto1/HarmonyMandolin.jpg

 

 

"Spend all day doing nothing

But we sure do it well" - Huck Johns from 'Oh Yeah'

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As long as we're posting pictures....

 

Here's my 1920's banjolin. It's pretty much a wreck, but I putter on it. I've borrowed a Hondo A-style with f-holes from a friend but my digital camera died. :(

 

http://members.aol.com/neilbergmn/family/banjolin.jpg

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Nice pics you guys......rw2003, how does that Harmony sound?

 

Neil, I had never heard of a Banjolin prior to reading about yours on a previous post a few months ago I think it was.....LOL.......

 

I suppose I have just focused on electric and acoustic 6 strings all my life.

 

It's just silly of me!

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There was a guy who had a double-neck electric mandolin... regular 8-string neck and a 5-string neck (C G D A E) low to high.

 

I can send a picture to anyone who is interested.

 

Single string mandolin, like the 5 string mandolin, sounds a lot like the guitar.... just in a higher range. So it can be used in rock and jazz contexts quite easily. You can certainly play bluegrass and swing on the mando, but it's not limited to that!

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Cool banjolin, Neil! Think it could benefit from some TLC, perhaps a fret-job and a set-up, and be less of a "wreck"? Or is it beyond that, due to its basic quality and the ravages of time?

 

Any idea what brand it is?

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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WAYYYYY beyond that, K.

 

First, I think the entire body needs to be reformed. on edge it now looks more like a crescent moon. :eek: the head is an odd size for which nobody makes what's needed. If it breaks I'm in real trouble.

 

I've owned this instrument for about a decade. Bought it from Gruhn specifically because it was a cheap alternative to learn some mando. Bad idea. Gruhn had said they were selling it so cheap ($125) because it was not restorable without far more investment than they could ever hope to get out of it. It's essentially an unknown brand. Mostly I've kept it as a conversation piece, but I'd like to do some restoration as it has a really neat, balalaika-like sound that works well for Eastern European and some Middle Eastern ethnic music.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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