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Author Topic: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?  (Read 8724 times)

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Offline hummingbird

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mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« on: Aug 01, 2006, 04:31:31 AM »
Hi everyone,

Just started playing fiddle fairly recently (I've been playing bagpipe for a while, and played fretted strings when I was younger), and I was thinking about getting a mandolin.  I've always liked the sound, and when I picked up one the other day in a store, it was neat to be able to play all my fiddle tunes (not that I have that many yet, but you know what i mean...).  I was wondering if playing mandolin would help with my intonation on fiddle, since that's the hardest part of fiddle for me right now.  I have no problem hearing whether a note is in tune or not, but hitting it consistently is hard.  Would mandolin help develop that muscle memory, or would it just be a fun, easier thing to play?  Lastly, are there any other low or midpriced mandolins other than mid-mo that come in violin scale length?

Offline bwzuk

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #1 on: Aug 01, 2006, 08:10:57 AM »
To be honest I don't think it would. With a fretted instrument you don't need any accuracy with your finger placement, apart from having them fall somewhere in between the frets. Its a lot more unforgiving on the violin.

Where a mandolin is useful however is for learning tunes. I find it great for picking out tunes while I'm watching tv or other times when I really don't fancy getting my violin out. I also find it useful when transcribing tunes. When I move the tune on to the violin I've pretty much got the fingering sorted so I can concentrate on the bowing without any distractions.

Offline Hypertension Kid

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #2 on: Aug 01, 2006, 09:33:50 AM »
I found the mandolin quite useful for learning the fiddle at first. However I agree with bwzuk it is very good for learning new tunes while doing things like watching TV or sitting in front of your PC looking up and trying out tunes on the internet. Anyway the mandolin is really a very nice instrument and, dare I say it, some tunes even sound better on it.

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #3 on: Aug 01, 2006, 10:57:42 AM »
I've not found the slightly longer normal mandolin scale to be a problem in switching back and forth.  Of the low end imports, the Rover is the cheapest that seems to work.  Then the low end Kentucky/Johnson etc.  Then the Eastman seems more responsive to me than the MM and MK types.  Once one hits $1500 things open up more in variety.

Offline martyn

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #4 on: Aug 01, 2006, 04:28:08 PM »
Yep! I'm with bwzuk on this one. The mandolin is a great instrument in its own right and many fiddlers play mando as well.

Offline madmat

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #5 on: Aug 01, 2006, 08:43:14 PM »
If you put a Fiddle Fretter (stick on rubbery-plastic "fretboard") on your violin, it will help greatly with at least your fingerings. For it to help with your *unfretted* fiddle intonation... sorry pal, you've actually got to LISTEN while you're playing. :)

The mando (assuming it and your fiddle are properly tuned) will at least acclimate your ear (and your "Mind's Ear") as to how a tune *should* sound when played in tune.

Then of course, there is the issue of your right hand and arm doing totally different things.

I got my first mando (one of the Rogue models from Musician's Friend for $39) after playing fiddle for 20 years and guitar for 25... it is REALLY nice to be able to take an instrument out of its box, tune it up, and IMMEDIATELY be able to shred on it! :)
Not your mama, or Yo-yo Ma!

Offline foose4string

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #6 on: Aug 01, 2006, 08:52:30 PM »
While I can pick up a mando and not look like a COMPLETE fool,  there was still a big adjustment going from a fiddle to mando. I still struggle with it when I haven't picked the mando up for a while.   I can't imagine going from the mando to the fiddle would be any easier, has to be more difficult in my estimation.  Longer neck on a mando too.  To get good on any given instrument, seems to me you want to be playing THAT instrument.

Offline Graham Clark

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #7 on: Aug 01, 2006, 08:53:14 PM »
ANY reliance on any kind of fret (mando or fiddle-fretter) will stunt your ability to find the note without frets.

Use your ears, and the sensitivity of your fingers.

gc

Offline foose4string

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #8 on: Aug 01, 2006, 08:57:45 PM »
ANY reliance on any kind of fret (mando or fiddle-fretter) will stunt your ability to find the note without frets.

Use your ears, and the sensitivity of your fingers.

gc

I agree. Use tape to get started, it has worked for several decades(did for me anyway).

Offline Graham Clark

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #9 on: Aug 01, 2006, 09:07:36 PM »
I don't even think tape is good.

g HARD CORE c

Offline Worldfiddler

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #10 on: Aug 01, 2006, 09:37:53 PM »
I'm with Graham on this one totally. I think there may be two problems here - finding the notes you want, then playing them accurately. I would recommend getting familiar with a fiddle fingerboard chart (even use the mando to help with this). When you are 100% sure of the notes you are aiming for, then you can concentrate entirely on playing the fiddle notes in tune.

I've got a chart here : http://www.worldfiddlemusic.co.uk/guest/fingerboard-chart-01.pdf

Jim

Offline foose4string

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #11 on: Aug 01, 2006, 09:51:54 PM »
Quote
g HARD CORE c
:laugh: :laugh: ;)

Offline susiakasinead

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #12 on: Aug 06, 2006, 03:12:11 AM »
It will help you learn the left hand fingering, but not the intonation. The distances between notes isn't the same on the mandolin as on the fiddle, it's quite different even if it's the same fingering. But, getting a mandolin will do good for your fiddling anyway and you will have fun with it.

Offline beeswing

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #13 on: Aug 06, 2006, 05:24:34 AM »
Oh, I don't know about all that intonation stuff... the nearest mandolin has a playing length of 355 mm, give or take a half mm or so, each course being separately compensated. Not enormously different from a fiddle. But then, I let my fingers find their way on the instrument of the moment. My main choice these days is a 16.5" viola, and if all I could get my hands on was a half size fiddle, I'd play that. Probably down on my arm like a kit or pochette, not straying from first position, and sounding like squawk, but that's what it would be.

What a mandolin will do, in my view, is teach your left hand to dance, and to grab double stops without waiting around for permission. I totally agree it "will do good for your fiddling anyway and you will have fun with it."
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Offline nhfiddler

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #14 on: Aug 06, 2006, 12:58:22 PM »
As far as getting a handle on "unfretted" intonation, try playing songs you are really familiar with.  I started w/Christmas carols because I KNOW how they should sound.  It helped me to make the adjustments I needed to make to get the intonation right.  I still make adjustments when working on new material...but that's why it's called practice. ;)

I like mandolins too, but one challenge at a time for me, thanks. :)

Offline Svento

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #15 on: Aug 06, 2006, 09:28:07 PM »
Frets or not -- a mandolin is tuned like a violin. You will definitly learn some fingering from playing mandolin. I played mandolin a few months to prepare myself for fiddle and it changed everything. I had tried to play some fiddle before and all I got was noise. Controling the bow while trying to find the proper tones was a nightmare, but after having played some mandolin and learnt some tunes, I could concentrate on the bowing. I strongly recommend this.

Offline apollonike

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #16 on: Aug 06, 2006, 10:47:28 PM »
I don't even think tape is good.

g HARD CORE c

The way I learned, and teach, is a tape on 1 and 3, they have to find the 2nd finger.  And when the tapes fall off, too bad!  They're off.  Then I clean the residue off, so they can't cheat :)

Offline David M.

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #17 on: Aug 10, 2006, 02:29:23 PM »
When first starting the fiddle, the mando scale length may throw you off some because it's longer.  But this is only until you get used to the fiddle noting.

The mandolin is great and these tunes translate so well for each, though some sound better on fiddle, and some on mandolin.  Depends on the tune.

Offline ApK

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #18 on: Aug 17, 2006, 06:19:43 PM »
Frets or not -- a mandolin is tuned like a violin. You will definitly learn some fingering from playing mandolin.
The open strings are tuned like a violin, but putting your finger in the same place on both, even correcting for scale length, will not give you the same note.
Those bothersome frets are in the way on the mando, so you have to put your finger back somewhere where it would sound terribly flat on a fiddle.  For working on learning tunes once you have good intonation on the fiddle, I see the usefulness, but if you're trying to learn to intonate on the fiddle, I'd think that would do more harm than good.
Quote
I had tried to play some fiddle before and all I got was noise. Controling the bow while trying to find the proper tones was a nightmare, but after having played some mandolin and learnt some tunes, I could concentrate on the bowing. I strongly recommend this.
I'd imagine some fiddle teachers would say you should have just practiced the tunes on the fiddle pizzacato instead?

ApK

Offline Svento

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #19 on: Aug 17, 2006, 08:35:15 PM »
Any way: I learned playing fiddle by practicing mandolin. Let teachers say whatever they want. No teacher has ever taught me anything useful about anything.

Offline sreizes

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #20 on: Aug 17, 2006, 09:20:16 PM »
No teacher has ever taught me anything useful about anything.
That's why I study with a Violinist instead!  :)

I got a mando to try to learn to play it as a more "social" instrument than violin, however, it has just ended up in the corner lately. 

WRT to the topic, I have to agree, that if you can already hear the notes, than the mando won't help outside of fingerings.  It might help for ear training, though I think not for finger training.

Offline pyrotech

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #21 on: Aug 19, 2006, 10:01:47 PM »
I've been playing a fair bit of mando recently, and it really helps in conceptualizing double stops and chord fragments, as well as learning tunes. But it doesn't do a thing for intonation - there's the frets, and my hand naturally falls into different postions when holding it up on a fiddle neck rather than down on a mando neck.

Some mandos actaully do have a fiddle-size string length. Others are slightly longer to compensate for the frets. There's also a variety of neck widths, from Gibson's 1 1/16" to Breedlove's 1 3/16", which makes a big difference when you have big fingertips like mine.

Offline diddle

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #22 on: Aug 20, 2006, 11:38:52 AM »
(pardon my interruption...) but... pyrotech...  your "av" is really annoying!   >:D ;D ;D

Oh, and yes... My vote is that yes mandolin is helpful for learning fiddle intonation.
« Last Edit: Aug 20, 2006, 11:51:42 AM by diddle »

Offline diddle

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #23 on: Aug 20, 2006, 11:59:43 AM »
  It might help for ear training, though I think not for finger training.

My old friend is an expert mandolin player.  When he visited me a couple of months ago, he picked up my fiddle and whaled on it.  With dropped jaw, I didn't even have to ask...  He said something to the affect of, "knowing where the fingers go is no problem!  It's the bowing that screws me up..."

Offline ApK

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Re: mandolin helpful for learning fiddle intonation?
« Reply #24 on: Aug 20, 2006, 03:16:16 PM »
For all those that are saying mando can help learn fiddle intonation, can you offer some idea how?  Is it just by learning what a note is supposed to sound like so that you'll know it when your fingers find it or is it some thing else?

 




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