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  #1  
Old 10-20-2020, 01:36 PM
LJOHNS LJOHNS is offline
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Default Mandolin

I recently picked up a minty Breedlove Am OF mandolin I found on my local Craigslist. Something to work on this coming winter! So far it is a lot of fun. Anyone else learning mandolin?
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Old 10-20-2020, 01:47 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Hi, I've been learning mandolin since the '70s.

Here's me and my wonderful Lebeda F5.



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Old 10-20-2020, 05:51 PM
Norsepicker Norsepicker is offline
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Default New to it as well

Just got one -then one for the wife - then a bowl back for Italian music. Whole new world. Same motivation, get through the winter - but I had no idea they would be so intuitive and so much fun. The sound is so beautiful.
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Old 10-20-2020, 06:11 PM
LJOHNS LJOHNS is offline
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I agree. It’s a lot of fun. I have been watching a lot of mandolin videos on YouTube also. I have been playing guitar for 25 years so the picking comes easy for me. Already have a few tunes down.
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Old 10-20-2020, 10:32 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I started on violin 47 years ago. Added guitar 44 years ago. For some inexplicable reason I waited until 12 years ago to start mandolin.

Its now my main instrument. Lots of fun, very intuitive (especially for a violin player) and there are about 1000 guitar players for every mandolin player - meaning there are a lot more opportunities for a mediocre mandolin player than for a mediocre guitar player.
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Old 10-21-2020, 05:58 AM
leew3 leew3 is offline
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Yes, it's a great fun. We've added a significant number of tunes for mandolin to our regular set list. In addition to my Breedlove legacy OF acoustic I've recently added an Eastman electric mandolin. I'm not quite sure what to do with the Eastman just yet but am enjoying plugging in and wailing away!
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Old 10-21-2020, 06:48 AM
JimH JimH is offline
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40 year guitar player, I just bought an Eastman F model a month ago. Love it except my chubby fingers and the small frets are the only issue I am having. Didn't take long to get a few songs down. For the first time in a long time I have to think while I am playing as I learn chords, runs, etc. What is intuitive on guitar will take a while on the mandolin.
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Old 10-21-2020, 09:30 AM
rdeane rdeane is offline
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I learned to play guitar when I was 15 years old, still playing and now I've been retired for 10 years (you do the math). About 3 years ago I decided to learn mandolin and I've been taking lessons since then. I love the mandolin and most days I play more of it than my guitars. Now I'm learning fingerstyle guitar after a lifetime of flatpicking. You're never too old to learn something new!
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:02 PM
Br1ck Br1ck is offline
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Four and a half years in. Didn't start until I was 65. Wonderful little addictive instrument. Mandolessons.com is a great free site. Lots of instruction and easy fiddle tunes.

My main issue is they cost so much. And you can really hear and feel the difference. The F style that many would say is fantastic for the price is the Northfield F 5S, and it's $3300, which is reasonable really. Eastman makes a decent mandolin, but not in the same league. But if you avoid the scroll bug, you can get a nice used A style for $1500ish plus or minus a couple hundred.

A good setup is about three times more important than for guitar. And forget all you know from your fretting hand guitar experience.
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Old 10-21-2020, 03:27 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is online now
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Br1ck wrote:

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Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
A good setup (on mandolin) is about three times more important than for guitar. And forget all you know from your fretting hand guitar experience.
I agree, even though I feel that any prior stringed instrument experience makes learning other stringed instruments easier.

But, yes, because everything on a mandolin is so small, any slight change in the string height and bridge placement has an outsized effect on the instrument's tone and playability. When I was using my "Sumi-era" Kentucky KM-604 A model mandolin onstage, I used to get it dialed in and re-intonated every six months: when the snow came to stay here up in Alaska, then six months later when the snow was gone to stay.

It makes a big difference, because the crown of an arched top mandolin will get higher when the wood swells a little bit from the humidity of spring and summer, and lower when the humidity of winter dries things out a little bit.

That not only affects the playing action, but it also changes the tone to a remarkable degree.

LJ, I actually starting learning mandolin considerably earlier than I did guitar. My first instrument was mountain dulcimer, and once I started getting good on that I took up mandolin, with a crappy all-plywood Harmony mandolin factory reject that I put some hardware on and strung up. Then my godmother gave me the Larson Brothers mandolin she had bought new as a teenager in Joliet, Illinois in the late 1920's, and that was a much more rewarding instrument to learn on, as you might imagine.

I was starting to get fairly good on mandolin when I went to see an outdoor concert put on by the Kansas City Parks & Recreation department, in my hometown of KC. It was the Lester Flatt bluegrass band, with a juvenile Marty Stuart playing mandolin:





Marty Stuart playing with Lester Flatt

He was twelve but he's so small (and still is small) that he looked like he was about seven. And he totally tore up that mandolin fretboard.

I saw that and saw no hope that I could ever be even as remotely as good as he was, and that was so discouraging that I put the mandolin away and didn't touch it again for three or four years.

Which was stupid of me, but budding musicians can easily get discouraged at times.

But because my godmother had given me the mandolin and it was, in that sense, a family heirloom, I held onto it and eventually returned to playing it. Thank goodness I held onto it, because when I was ready to return to mandolin it was ready and waiting.

I won't bore you with my further mandolin acquisitions, but around the year 2000 or 2001 I was given another mandolin that proved to be life-changing - it turned out to be an extremely rare National wood-bodied resonator mandolin made a year or two before WWII.

It didn't have any brand name on the headstock, but it clearly had National hardware on it. When I talked to Don Young, the then-president and co-owner of National Reso-Phonic Guitars, he got very excited and told me that the mandolin I was having restored was an extremely rare model, one of only about a dozen ever made.

He then asked me that once the restoration was finished whether I'd be willing to send it down to them at the National factory so they could study it, because they had been wanting to market a mandolin. "We'll give you one of the new ones if we end up yours as the basis for the new model," he said.

So to make a long story short, I became the primary consultant on their mandolin development process, and a convert to playing resonator mandolins instead of the wooden archtop mandolins I used to use onstage and still own and play at home.

Here's the mandolin that National and I came up with:



National Reso-Phonic RM-1 Mandolin

I'm the primary reason that it has a strong Art Deco aesthetic to it. Don and Mac, the two owners of the company, were going another direction with its appearance when I said: "National was making all these great Art Deco-inspired instruments, especially in the 1930's. That's the look you should be using." They realized that I'd made a good point, and that's why the RM-1 looks the way it does.

These current resonator mandolins are not only loud, but have a beautiful tone when they're in a wooden body (as opposed to the metal body resonator mandolins, which in my opinion sound like a galvanized steel trashcan being kicked down six flights of stairs...)

The coolest thing about my National mandolins, I feel, is the slight reverb effect and the sustain on them, which lasts far longer than it can on archtop mandolins. Since I lead a church music group, this gives me the ability to phrase the melodies of the songs we sing in a very vocal-like way.

So that's the road less traveled, but it's a useful one for those of us who aren't strictly playing bluegrass music and need those qualities I've just described.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #11  
Old 10-22-2020, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LJOHNS View Post
I recently picked up a minty Breedlove Am OF mandolin I found on my local Craigslist. Something to work on this coming winter! So far it is a lot of fun. Anyone else learning mandolin?
Oh, yes, what a lovely instrument the mandolin is. It has a voice all its own. I've played one for 15 years and I love the instrument now more than ever. Congratulations on the beginning of your new journey!
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Old 10-22-2020, 01:41 PM
Br1ck Br1ck is offline
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Another huge bonus with mandolins is when you show up at a jam, there is one less guitar player. And there will be fewer people better on mandolin too. The only deal better than that is playing bass, where you stand a great chance of being the best at it.
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Old 10-29-2020, 01:04 AM
stevo58 stevo58 is offline
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The only deal better than that is playing bass, where you stand a great chance of being the best at it.
Off-topic:

When my son was in the fourth grade, he decided he wanted to learn to play the electric bass. Fine, I thought, you can always get a gig. We bought him a bass and he started lessons with a good teacher.

In Germany, you switch schools in the fifth grade. In the new school, early in the year, there was a day in which all the school clubs and organizations presented themselves, and the students could sign up for them. My son went to the Jazz Band presentation.

The conversation with the director went like this:

Director: “So you want to play in the jazz band. How long have you been playing your instrument?”
Son: “One year.”
D: “Oh, I’m sorry; we have a strict rule you must have at least two years on your instrument. What do you play?”
S: “Bass.”
D: “Oh! Of course, the rule doesn’t apply to bass players.”

He played bass in the band all eight years of his schooling.
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Old 10-29-2020, 04:55 AM
CarolD CarolD is offline
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I would absolutely LOVE to try an octave mandolin. Why are they so gosh darned expensive??? The least pricey one is the new Eastman, and at $750, still more than I spent on either of my two beginner guitars. Oy.
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Old 10-29-2020, 02:16 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I would absolutely LOVE to try an octave mandolin. Why are they so gosh darned expensive??? The least pricey one is the new Eastman, and at $750, still more than I spent on either of my two beginner guitars. Oy.
There are roughly 1000 guitar players for every mandolin player. There are about 500 mandolin players for every octave mandolin player. So OM's are simply not in demand; no economy of scale. Much less competition.

Second, most mandolin-family instruments have a carved graduated soundboard and back. A lot more work goes into building one.

The mandolin equivalent of a $500 guitar will cost you $1000 and up.

That said you can still get less expensive OM's from Hora, Trinity College, Johnson Gold Tone and others, but they will likely be in need of a setup.

There are also many people who convert guitars to OM's or mandocello by adding a couple tuners, replacing the nut and saddle.
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