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  #1  
Old 06-15-2019, 10:04 AM
emtsteve emtsteve is offline
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Default Mando newbie questions

So I have 2 mandolins - an Eastman 305 that plays and sounds great and a Mid-Missouri M-2W (the W means wide fretboard) that I picked up recently. It needed some work (new strings, new saddle, fret polish) which I've completed and it plays well and the sound is good.

Here's my question - I am finding I like the wider fretboard on the Mid-Mo and when I play the Eastman I am really cramped. I don't have fat fingers or large hands but I do play guitar primarily. So from those of you who have more experience with mando - is playing on the wider board "bad" in the sense that I'm moving away from the more traditional fretboard width? Also, at this point I play mostly single note melody and fiddle tunes. I haven't really gotten into chordal work yet.

thanks
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Old 06-15-2019, 07:05 PM
archerscreek archerscreek is offline
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Haha, I've had that question periodically floating about my brain during my two weeks of playing mandolin. For me, however, the question pops up when I practice chords.
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Old 06-15-2019, 07:06 PM
LadysSolo LadysSolo is offline
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Some people prefer the wider fretboard, some prefer the narrower, and some can go both ways (much like with guitar.) I have never heard of anyone criticizing others' preferences, just play on!
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Old 06-16-2019, 07:49 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emtsteve View Post
So I have 2 mandolins - an Eastman 305 that plays and sounds great and a Mid-Missouri M-2W (the W means wide fretboard) that I picked up recently. It needed some work (new strings, new saddle, fret polish) which I've completed and it plays well and the sound is good.

Here's my question - I am finding I like the wider fretboard on the Mid-Mo and when I play the Eastman I am really cramped. I don't have fat fingers or large hands but I do play guitar primarily. So from those of you who have more experience with mando - is playing on the wider board "bad" in the sense that I'm moving away from the more traditional fretboard width? Also, at this point I play mostly single note melody and fiddle tunes. I haven't really gotten into chordal work yet.

thanks
You answered your own question! I play mando family instruments and always prefer a slightly wider neck. It may have something to do with individual hand sizes, but it works for me.

I notice that's trending for other instruments other than mandolin; I see more guitars with 1-3/4" (and wider) nut widths and banjo players are slowly migrating to wider neck widths, too. I build open back banjos and don't make anything narrower than 1-5/16", some vintage instruments I've seen are as small as 15/16", and that's a LOT of difference for the 4 strings at the nut of a 5 string banjo.
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Old 06-16-2019, 07:57 AM
emtsteve emtsteve is offline
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Thanks for the insights everyone. I'll just keep playing on and see where that takes me. Incidentally, on guitar I'm fine with 1 11/16" or 1 3/4" and not real picky on neck shape either. Although I'm starting to find I do like the fuller C shape on my J-35 and I also just picked up a new guitar with a Mod V neck, which I wasn't too sure about at first but it's really growing on me.

Thanks again!
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Old 06-17-2019, 03:21 PM
leew3 leew3 is offline
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You also might measure the nut width of the Eastman as in the past there was some variability in their nut width. If you have an older one with a really narrow neck that might explain feeling cramped. More recently Eastman and other PR mandolins seems to have landed on a more standard 1 1/8" nut width. That said, there's a reason wider nut width mandolins are available as many folks prefer 'em!
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Old 06-20-2019, 03:04 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Yeah, itís really a matter of personal preference. Iíve played both wider and narrower mandolin fretboards, and while I can see the appeal of wider fretboards I still tend to gravitate to the standard width.

In recent years the mandolins Iíve been playing the most have been wood-bodied National resonator mandolins. I own three: a pre-WWII original, the modern National RM-1 that I helped design, and the very first modern National prototype that Don Young at National Reso-Phonic built when they embarked on their development process that ended with them coming out with the RM-1.

Unlike the RM-1, the first prototype is basically a beefed-up version of the pre-war instrument I own that inspired the project: bigger neckblock, bigger tailblock, but otherwise much the same design.

And while itís a bit quieter than the RM-1, itís got a sweeter tone to it. So for the past month or so Iíve been using it instead of the RM-1 production prototype thatís been my main workhorse performance mandolin for the past fifteen years or so.

The width at the nut is about the same, but what Iíve found to be the toughest thing to get used to is the flat fingerboard on it! The RM-1 has the arched fingerboard that I recommended to Don when they were developing the model, and boy, is it nice! I miss it.

But the sweeter tone and the lighter overall weight of this first prototype make it worth readjusting to the flat fingerboard on it.

Anyway, sometimes those little details can make a really big difference in an instrumentís playability.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 06-22-2019, 03:49 PM
Spyvito Spyvito is offline
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Default Narrow vs Wide

I found that I became accustomed to the narrow neck on my mandolin fairly quickly. It isnít a guitar and once I got used to holding it and fingering notes it became more comfortable.
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Old 06-24-2019, 04:21 PM
Br1ck Br1ck is offline
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If you are approaching the neck like a guitar, you are on the wrong track. The fingers are slanted at an angle for mandolin, and your guitar callouses will need expanding because you play mandolin more with the tips of your fingers. The left hand placement has more to do with violin than guitar.

I think Mike Marshall has some beginning YouTube videos on this, and mandolessions.com does as well.

Some makers do have wider fretboards available, but they aren't nearly as common as the 1 1/8 norm.
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Old 06-25-2019, 08:11 PM
Spyvito Spyvito is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
If you are approaching the neck like a guitar, you are on the wrong track. The fingers are slanted at an angle for mandolin, and your guitar callouses will need expanding because you play mandolin more with the tips of your fingers. The left hand placement has more to do with violin than guitar.



I think Mike Marshall has some beginning YouTube videos on this, and mandolessions.com does as well.



Some makers do have wider fretboards available, but they aren't nearly as common as the 1 1/8 norm.


Exactly correct.
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:45 AM
Bunnyf Bunnyf is offline
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For me, fretboard width is a tradeoff between room for fingers between strings and reach up the fretboard for closed chop chords. At this point in my playing, I like the narrower neck. It's skinniness allows me to stretch further to upper frets and Iím not bothered by the tight string spacing. I do approach my fretting hand with a violin posture. Perhaps, down the road, when the fingers of my left hand learns to stretch a bit more, Iíll feel differently and Iíll appreciate more space, but doubt it.
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Old 06-26-2019, 01:56 PM
Br1ck Br1ck is offline
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Another thing to consider, there are times when it is beneficial to press two courses of strings with one finger. This is where a narrower string spacing works to your advantage. I have a harder time playing my 1913 Gibson A 1 because of it's wider neck.

Do not think in terms of guitar with your left hand. It will hold you back. Right hand picking will port right over for the most part, except you have to be more compact with your strokes to be precise. Learning this will greatly improve your guitar playing.
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  #13  
Old 06-26-2019, 02:30 PM
PHJim PHJim is offline
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I have a 2005 Eastman 605 with a 1&1/8" nut and it suits me fine. I also have a 1982 Washburn M-7S-BR Country mandolin that has a nut a hair over one inch. I didn't even realise that there was a difference till I measured right now.
They are both quite comfortable to play.
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