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Author Topic: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?  (Read 7568 times)

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Offline Brokenstring

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Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« on: Dec 15, 2004, 04:23:58 PM »
I'm contemplating the purchase of a mandolin. Not to replace the fiddle, but just as a supplement. Sometimes I just like to strum along instead of being focused on fiddling, just to take a break duiring long sessions. I can play guitar, but they're tough on the fingers and it seems too awkward after playing the fiddle. A mandolin player who picked up the fiddle a couple years ago tells me that playing the mandolin helps his fiddling. Is that true for others who play both?

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #1 on: Dec 15, 2004, 04:25:45 PM »
Gives a broader viewpoint.  Mandolin is nice to play. 

The best performance at a low price comes from Eastman.

Below that, the Kentucky KM380S A model can be quite decent.

If you want to hear these I have both in stock.

Steve 866 884 6546

Offline mainefiddle

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #2 on: Dec 15, 2004, 06:45:00 PM »
I play both, and I find that the mandolin really helps keep my left hand strength up and it is great for learning jazz and chordal stuff. Also good for performance, to break up a set to avoid repetive motion injuries. I agreee about the Eastman mando's, all their stuff is great for the price.

Offline farmerjones

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #3 on: Dec 15, 2004, 07:13:56 PM »
M2C:
ya just as well get a mandolin.
The fiddle's my first mistress, but the mando is next.
What if it turns out (parish the thought)you like the mandolin more than the fiddle? You wouldn't know until you get one.

Offline Lllizard

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 15, 2004, 07:29:32 PM »
Brokenstring, I'm starting to feel like you.  I'm sure it would help learn cords, and it would be nice to play rhythm with other violins.  The Eastmans on Giannaviolins' web site are very pretty, esp the ones that show a wood grain;  I had only ever seen them with a sunburst finish.

Offline Steve_W

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #5 on: Dec 15, 2004, 08:21:12 PM »
I didn't find that mandolin helped my fiddling as much as more fiddling did, but it didn't hurt, except that it kept me from the fiddle!  You should find the transition pretty easy; I played both guitar and fiddle before I picked up a mandolin and was playing fiddle tunes within about 5 minutes.  I'm lazy though; I played it like a fiddle (i.e., mostly single-string and double-stops) and never did discipline myself to learn all the chords.  It's nice for a change but I prefer fiddle! -Steve W.

Offline soundboot

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #6 on: Dec 15, 2004, 09:25:19 PM »
Personally I found the mandolin great for strengthening fingers and hardening the skin. Also great for learning where chords sit on GDAE tuning.

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #7 on: Dec 15, 2004, 09:34:00 PM »
Mandolin is also easy to play lightly while sitting in the living room without scaring the cat and annoying the fish.

Steve

Offline Graham Clark

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #8 on: Dec 16, 2004, 12:06:43 AM »
mandolin  playing detracts from fiddle playing because:-

it has no frets, so you don't learn how to play in tune.

double strings!!!

no bow

an hour spent on mandolin is an hour away from the fiddle

can't think of how it might help, unless you are thinking of chord shapes, and you can do them on a fiddle just as well

gc

Offline Alan Kroeger

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #9 on: Dec 16, 2004, 12:16:55 AM »
Doesn't strike me as that helpful to the violin unless you actually like playing mandolin. I have lots of bad guitar player habits that detract from good violin playing that I have yet to get rid of this would seem to reinforce those bad habits rather then help eliminate them. Fortunately the book basics has good recomendation that should help remedy those problems but, as the fellow above said playing violin teaches you violin not playing mandolin.
« Last Edit: Dec 16, 2004, 12:29:02 AM by Alan Kroeger »
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Offline sreizes

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #10 on: Dec 16, 2004, 01:42:21 AM »
I've thought about this on occasion myself.  I play classical style, but have some interest in learning some style of fiddle - I need more exposure first.  Back to Mandolin...

I took some guitar in college and enjoyed it but never really got into it and have forgotten most of what I learned.  Not having tried it, I figure mandolin could be sort of a cross between guitar and violin, same keys and fingerings, just strummed or plucked instead.  One failing of the violin I have noticed is that as a "social" instrument, it lacks ease.  That is, unlike with with a guitar, you can't just take it out and strum along softly, violin is somewhat more of a production.

Do I make sense? ???

Offline Alan Kroeger

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #11 on: Dec 16, 2004, 02:22:18 AM »
Sorta Steve

Yes the violin is less of a casual instrument you have to handle it with more care then the average guitar plus you need a certain amount of room to use a bow. When I still played guitar and when I was dog tired at least I could lay down and still do some productive practice not so, with the violin. At the very least you have to sit up and have some room to move the bow and the left arm can't be restricted to much either. With a guitar I used to watch the news and noodle on the instrument with the violin not so. Still I think your practice is more productive because of this as you have to focus more on what you are doing. ;D
« Last Edit: Dec 16, 2004, 02:23:47 AM by Alan Kroeger »
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Offline fiddlefour

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #12 on: Dec 16, 2004, 03:32:06 AM »
The mandolin is a nice transition instrument leading to playing the fiddle.  For many people I know this holds to be true but occasionally some fiddlers learn the mandolin.  Many bluegrass fiddlers also play the mandolin and it makes a nice change of pace in a band to switch between the two instruments.  As far as being easier to fret than a guitar I don't think so unless you have increadably low action like a Chris Thelie would.  Most bluegrass mandolins fret as painfully as a bluegrass guitar.

As far as whether or not the mandolin detracts from fiddle playing I agree with Grahm Clark, every hour with the mandolin is an hour taken away from the fiddle.

Offline Keeso

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #13 on: Dec 16, 2004, 08:27:20 AM »
Also good for performance, to break up a set to avoid repetive motion injuries.

Hadn't thought of that, but what a good point. I have a tendency to push myself with practice time (hours), so switching instruments often felt good for my hands, but I wasn't really thinking of long-term problems. I thought it was more for change of pace, but maybe my hands were saying: "Something else, please!" ...

The mandolin is a nice transition instrument leading to playing the fiddle.

This was most definitely the case for me, but may not be, for some folks.

Mandolin is also easy to play lightly while sitting in the living room without scaring the cat and annoying the fish.

Most definitely true ... just that slight "tinkle, tinkle, tinkle" strum that sounds happy and offends no one ... unless you lean your pick into something obtuse, abstract, dissonant, and strange ... in which case, the fish (and perhaps the wife) will be annoyed.

And Steve is right about those mando choices -- a good starting point for those who want a decent instrument you won't tire of quickly, but won't break the bank like a Gibson F-5 or something ...


Offline Svento

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #14 on: Dec 16, 2004, 10:35:12 AM »
If the mandolin wasn't invented I'd invented it myself for practicing. Without mandolin I'd probably never learnt any fiddling.

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #15 on: Dec 16, 2004, 02:42:20 PM »
I didn't think we used shoulder rests with mandolins.

I have a trade-in MD605 Eastman for $725.  Good deal.

Steve

Offline David M.

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #16 on: Dec 16, 2004, 03:49:03 PM »
Mandolin is a VERY powerful instrument in Bluegrass and I don't think enough credit has been given here in these posts to point that out.  What Bill Monroe did with this instrument changed a genre of music and created a new style.  It is rhythmic, melodic, percussive (listen to Sam Bush), solo or with a band.  It IS the time-keeper, the snare drum of the bluegrass band (along w/bass) and fiddle tunes translate EXTREMELY well on the mando.  You have to modify the style a bit since there's no long bow to use -- tremolo w/the pick is the common method for this.

Mandolin CAN help fiddle by making some string crossings easier and may help attack them differently.  I find some string crossings easier on fiddle, and some easier on mandolin  The mandolin has a 14 inch scale, slightly longer than fiddle, so that may be the only difference in feel other than building up callouses.  Mandolin style is a bit different, so you may pick up some new licks to translate into fiddle.  It will also help your timing since the mandolin can be such a percussive time-keeper.  I personally don't think it'll detract at all and will be valuable time spent broadening your musical talents.  Depends on what you want to do and be.

Mandolin WILL help your guitar playing.  Let's say you're strictly a rhythm strummer on guitar.  When you start playing notes and taking breaks on the mando, it will translate into your guitar style and help understand it better, making it easier to take breaks on the guitar.

To enhance the tone of the mandolin, there's a device called Tone-Gard, which fits on the back of the mando and spaces it slightly from one's body while playing.  It prevents the vibrations from getting muffled AND helps protect against button and belt scratches.  I use one on my Weber Yellowstone F style and it makes an incredible difference in TONE.  Some folks have used viola shoulder rests to space the instrument from the body, but I would get the Tone-Gard down the road since it's made for mandolins.

Also, use a heavy or extra heavy pick (or thicker), not a thin.  A thin pick won't draw the best tone out of the mando and will make it sound thin and weak.

The action on a mando can be adjusted to suit playing style and the player's preference.  I think it's a misconception to assume they all have high, cumbersome action.  My Yellowstone plays very nicely without "cheesegrater" action.

Enjoy your mando!  You'll LOVE this versitile instrument.
« Last Edit: Dec 16, 2004, 04:48:20 PM by David M. »

Offline giannaviolins

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #17 on: Dec 16, 2004, 05:07:54 PM »
I suspect there's less liability.  More difficult to poke out eyes, one doesn't tend to wander around knocking off delicate things.  People don't flinch or run when they see the case, possibly suffering emotional distress.  The mandolin doesn't have the well-earned reputation of being demonic.  >:D There don't seem to be nearly as many 12 step recovery programs for mandolin. 

Functionally, a mandolin is much easier to play when intoxicated or otherwise stupid.  One can grin and play quietly.  All the girls still think you're cool.   ;D One can play in a chair, couch, hammock.  One can be past the point of walking and still pull it off.  :P

Something to keep in mind is that the mandolin seems to be played by the biggest guy in the band.  The short female is the one standing on a box playing the doghouse bass.  (The instrument, not the fish, and it really isn't a doghouse!). 

Just remember, it's all fun and games until someone brings out the blankety blank fiddle! 8)
« Last Edit: Dec 16, 2004, 06:53:43 PM by giannaviolins »

Offline madfiddler

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #18 on: Dec 16, 2004, 05:49:51 PM »
I recommend you getting a decent make though. Carver? I've got a 150 electro acoustic mandolin, and I thought that I was completely rubbish at playing it, until I tried playing someone elses instrument. Basically the setup on mine is terrible and really hinders me playing. And there was me just thinking it was me...
 
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Offline David M.

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #19 on: Dec 16, 2004, 06:20:00 PM »
<<<...the mandolin seems to be played by the biggest guy in the bad.  The short female is the one standing on a box playing the doghouse bass.  >>>   :D :D

I'm 6'4", so I reckon I'd apply....

<<<All the girls still think you're cool..>>>  ;D ;D ;D

Offline susiakasinead

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #20 on: Dec 16, 2004, 06:47:54 PM »
I'm contemplating the purchase of a mandolin. Not to replace the fiddle, but just as a supplement. Sometimes I just like to strum along instead of being focused on fiddling, just to take a break duiring long sessions. I can play guitar, but they're tough on the fingers and it seems too awkward after playing the fiddle. A mandolin player who picked up the fiddle a couple years ago tells me that playing the mandolin helps his fiddling. Is that true for others who play both?

OH yes, oh yes, oh yes.
I've learned the fiddle pretty fast, and I blame it all on the mandolin. Not that I'm some kind of expert fiddler, not at all, my bowing sucks, for example, but I have quite ok intonation and I can learn tunes pretty fast on the fiddle because I know the fingering from the mandolin. Actually, I'd recommend that everyone who wants to learn to play fiddle also learns the mandolin, it makes it so much easier. Sure, you still need to learn the bowing, but you won't have a hard time with the left hand, which is great.

Offline Pete Hartley

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #21 on: Dec 16, 2004, 10:14:07 PM »
I love playing mandolin, but after about 4 numbers I run out of ideas so its time to go back to the fiddle. I don't think it improves my fiddle playing - except alowing my arms to change position and brain to change gear. I play a fylde mandolin, made on the Fylde coast UK which has a realy sweet sound.
What pick-up for a mandolin??-- thats another story!!
I also have a custon made mandocaster, and at one time had a double neck telecaster and mandercaster.

Pete

Offline sreizes

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #22 on: Dec 17, 2004, 01:53:02 AM »
I am a firm believer in "there are no stupid questions". 

So here's my stupid question:  Are all mandolins 8 stringed, or are there 4 string versions?

Offline fidla

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #23 on: Dec 17, 2004, 02:27:49 AM »
I am a firm believer in "there are no stupid questions".

So here's my stupid question: Are all mandolins 8 stringed, or are there 4 string versions?

I agree.  No question is ever stupid :)

Yes.  Some mandolins (electric) are 4 stringed.  Acoustic mandolins are always 8 strings (or more).  The problem with mandolins is twofold: volume and sustain.  With 4 strings and such a short neck, it's next to impossible to achieve significant volume or sustain without doubling up on the strings.

Offline Keeso

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #24 on: Dec 17, 2004, 02:30:25 AM »
I am a firm believer in "there are no stupid questions". 

So here's my stupid question:  Are all mandolins 8 stringed, or are there 4 string versions?

Actually, yes ... although most that I've seen (4-strings) are electrics. And I saw Sam Bush play a dobro-mandolin that had four strings (he played with a bottleneck and it sounded rather cool).

Also, at this moment, I'm looking at a "Tiny Moore Method" (country/Western swing/jazz) mandolin instruction book that features a cover pic of him holding a custom five-string electric (with a HUGE "Fender Strat from the 70's" style peghead). As for me, I prefer the mandolin as a double-course instrument (two strings tuned in unison or in octaves), but that's just me -- I like to tune for twice as long a time in loud settings ... ;D

The mandolin doesn't have the well-earned reputation of being demonic.

Funny ... also, true.

Functionally, a mandolin is much easier to play when intoxicated or otherwise stupid.  One can grin and play quietly.

Yikes, where was that camera? "Guilty, your honor ... on at least a few occasions; but in my defense, I never dropped my pick inside the instrument."

Not sure about the girls thinking I was still cool ...

Offline fidla

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #25 on: Dec 17, 2004, 02:42:44 AM »
I didn't think we used shoulder rests with mandolins.

I have a trade-in MD605 Eastman for $725. Good deal.

Steve

You mean this is yours that you paid for?  Or this is one you have for sale?  
Tell me about the Eastman mandolins.  How are they constructed?  How do they sound?  That seems like a high price to pay for a Chinese-made instrument.  For example, I have Rally mandolins (made by Korean company Dae Won, constructed in Dalian, China) for well under $500 including HSC.  

The Rally DFM-90 is a beautiful F5 style.  Top : Carved Solid Spruce Back & Side : Solid Flame Maple Neck : Flame Maple Fingerboard : Ebony & MOP dot inlay

Bridge: Adjustable Rosewood Machine Head : Gold Plated Color : AV.  Prices and more descriptions are available through my website.

Offline Pete Hartley

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #26 on: Dec 17, 2004, 11:11:38 AM »


Custom 5 string mandocaster on left, Fylde mandolin on right.

Playing a mandolin, doesn't detract from playing fiddle, I think of them  as variations of the same instrument . It pleases me and the punters (audience).
If we were painters it would be like having extra colors to paint with.
« Last Edit: Dec 17, 2004, 11:17:09 AM by fiddlin Pete »

Offline Pilgrum

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #27 on: Jun 09, 2005, 01:17:04 AM »
Hello fiddle friends,

Now is a Irish Bouzouki part of the IRA's plot to re-win Ireland or...just a large overgrown mandolin?
I have one and wonder why the neck is so long, the frets so wide apart, and the strings are so cheap to buy?

If anyone wants to come to NM and give me a week worth of lessons in exchange for a years supply of green chili, I'm up for the company and the lessons.

Pilgrum.



Offline Roymin

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #28 on: Jun 09, 2005, 11:38:55 AM »
I suspect there's less liability.  More difficult to poke out eyes, one doesn't tend to wander around knocking off delicate things.  People don't flinch or run when they see the case, possibly suffering emotional distress.  The mandolin doesn't have the well-earned reputation of being demonic.  >:D There don't seem to be nearly as many 12 step recovery programs for mandolin. 

Functionally, a mandolin is much easier to play when intoxicated or otherwise stupid.  One can grin and play quietly.  All the girls still think you're cool.   ;D One can play in a chair, couch, hammock.  One can be past the point of walking and still pull it off. 


Well said! I was a fiddler first, mandolin helps and definitely doesn't detract as a good tune is a good tune on any instrument and the way of playing (twanging) for me helps me concentrate on rythym which in turn helps my fiddling.


Offline Tabasco

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #29 on: Jun 10, 2005, 03:12:56 AM »
FWIW, when I took up fiddle I thought it would make me a better mandolinist. I'd only dabbled at mandolin and still had to get my brain around strings in fifths instead of guitar fourths and the third.

It only sorta worked.

When I play fiddle, I'm concentrating on getting the left hand fingers in the exact location whereas on mandolin, even though it's good to play close to the fret, exact placement is not critical. I found my brain didn't recognise "between this fret and that fret" on mando as the same thing as "put finger exactly there" on fiddle.  I'm not going to buy a fretless mandolin  :o  but let's just say I suddenly understood why some people would want to play a fretless bass guitar.

Offline Svento

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #30 on: Jun 10, 2005, 11:16:31 AM »

Custom 5 string mandocaster on left, Fylde mandolin on right.

Playing a mandolin, doesn't detract from playing fiddle, I think of them  as variations of the same instrument . It pleases me and the punters (audience).
If we were painters it would be like having extra colors to paint with.
Where did you find that five string tailpiece?

Offline skip

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Re: Would a mandolin detract from fiddle?
« Reply #31 on: Jun 10, 2005, 09:03:48 PM »
it's all one instrument...

i played mando for years before i picked up the fiddle, it just seems really obvious to me that of course they feed off each other and playing both can only be a good thing, but maybe that's just me. one of the acts i play in, all i do is mando and fiddle with a guitar player, and primarily we do country blues...if you're near DC come see us next thursday at staccato, 8:30...

skip

 




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