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The EAKLE

How hard to learn Mandolin?

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I've been a guitarist for a while and I've always been big into rootsy sort of music, and stuff with a lot of folk influences. But lately i've been getting more into true folk and bluegrass, and Mandolins seem like they'd be a lot of fun to learn. 

I was talking to a friend of mine after a jam session, and he said he had played one before and that they're pretty easy to learn. He said since i was able to pick up ukulele so quickly mandolin shouldnt be a problem. Thing is, none of the local stores really carry them so i cant find any to try out.

Does anyone have any experience with them? Are they really that easy to learn? 

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It's not hard, but it's not easy either.  First, a mandolin is strung in fifths (like a fiddle, top to bottom GDAE) rather than fourths such as the guitar.  So, you have to learn all the chords shapes all over again.  That said, like the guitar, mandolin playing involves lots of moveable chords shapes and triads, similar to the guitar.  I would start at the Mandolin Cafe, where there are links to lessons.  I started with a chord chart, and started off learning the "two finger chords" and moved on from there.   Some of the full chord shapes are tricky, for example a full "G" chord involves a six fret stretch.  From there, it's not too difficult to learn basic scales, eg blues scale, licks and techniques, such as tremelo strumming etc. 

The frets are much smaller, obviously, which takes some getting used to.  

I fell in love with the instrument. 

 

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Yeah, the one time i did try one i had an issue getting used to the smaller frets. But when i got a ukulele i got used to that pretty quickly, so since then i've started to consider them again.

I've heard a new guitar shop is opening up, so i'm hoping they'll have a wider selection of things and i can try one out more.

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I can't pretend to actually know how to play the mandolin but... I've learned enough for recording my demos. I'm a bassist and a guitarist. I found all the upside down logic many espouse to be a bit confusing for my little brain. I just learned some basic chord shapes first, and figured out how to play a major or minor scale in that key I'm working on, and got comfortable with it for 20 minutes. Bam! And then pretend your mandolin player! Just play around a little bit and it all falls into place.

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I can't pretend to actually know how to play the mandolin but... I've learned enough for recording my demos. I'm a bassist and a guitarist. I found all the upside down logic many espouse to be a bit confusing for my little brain. I just learned some basic chord shapes first' date=' and figured out how to play a major or minor scale in that key I'm working on, and got comfortable with it for 20 minutes. Bam! And then pretend your mandolin player! [b']Just play around a little bit and it all falls into place[/b].

 

I've played guitar with fingers for many years (not with any particular talent) but have never really been able to play it by ear. Neither could I use a pick. Started messing with a banjo (claw hammer - as still couldn't handle a pick) about three years ago and playing mandolin about a year and a half ago. I don't know what it is, but mandolin is the only instrument I can play by ear (picking melody) and I have started to use a pick. Not as good with the chords as I was with the guitar - but that's coming along. The modest little £89 mandolin has served me well up to now but have just picked up a £400.00 Celtic style one. It actually has some sustain that I'm having to get to grips with.

 

So for those thinking of trying one out - get a little cheap one (Rumanian - Hora, Ozark etc) and have a go. Dare I say its a lot more fun than a Uke.

 

Phil

 

 

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I'm thinking of picking up one of those $59 mandolins from GC and stringing it Tommy Tedesco style--double strings from 2 electric guitar light sets tuned DGBE. No learning curve but I can still get that mando sound (as long as I can work up a good tremolo).

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As mentioned aboveI bought a £89 mandolin on line - no problem at all - played it for two years and then bought one more up market. I can't say the sound was the same (why buy the up market otherwise) - the new one has sustain and is decidedly mellow - However the cheapy has more volume. The tremolo isn't that difficult to acquire either.

 

Good luck

 

Phil

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Yeah start at Mandolin Cafe like someone else said. since the mando is tuned to fifths, each string repeats itself every 7 frets instead of every 5 as on a guitar, so you have a little more space for playing scale shapes than you have on the guitar, although the mando's scale is a lot shorter than the guitar's. It's a fun instrument to play!

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I've been playing guitar since the sixties and bought a cheap mando on a whim just a couple of years ago. If you practice, they're easy - just like guitar. The tuning takes some getting used to, but so do alternate tunings on guitar. On the up side, patterns and shapes repeat themselves more obviously on a mando than on a standard-tuned guitar.

 

The hardest thing for me has been making chords on those tiny frets. It CAN be done.

 

It's a lot of fun. The best thing about it is that it's a lot easier to walk from room to room with a mando around your neck than a guitar. No more edging through sideways and bumping chairs. You can answer the phone, look in the fridge, go out on the porch, or sit at your computer with no fuss.

 

And audiences love the things. No one knows why.

 

Weber is the up-and coming company. If that's more than you want to spend, Eldery and Gruhn have nice selections of used mandos. For a beginner, the important thing is how in-tune the set-up is, and the folks at Gruhn and Elderly can tell you if you phone or email them.

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