mandolins are acoustic. right?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by µ¿ z3®ø™, Jul 10, 2006.

  1. µ¿ z3®ø™

    µ¿ z3®ø™ Member

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    [​IMG]

    i've been picking around the mandolin for a few years now. never owned one, but like the idea of adding instruments to my 'palette'.
    about a year ago i was at the 12th fret up here in t-dot and danged if i didn't see this larger mandolin on the wall. i picked it up and felt much more comfortable w/ the 22" scale than the regular mandolin. i have huge hands.
    well, i found out it was an 'octave' mandolin. every time i would go to the fret i would pick one up and play it for a bit. they are quite acceptable instruments that are made in korea but are made out of solid wood and have hand carved tops, altho' the back (as i understand it) is pressed and not hand carved.
    as a belated birthday present to myself i purchased one this past weekend. needless to say, i've been having a riot all weekend long. i actually think that the range of the octave mandolin suits my voice better (when playing unaccompanied) and suits my morphology better. does anyone ever notice that mandolin players are not 6'4" and 200 lbs.?
    any other 'closet' mandolin players here?
     
  2. teleking36

    teleking36 Supporting Member

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    i've been playing mandolin for about 5 years. as mainly a guitar player, i havent spent too much time on the instrument, but after a few years of steady practice, i would consider myself on the low end of an intermediate player. i can play some bluegrass stuff, but i can't pick like chris thile, sam bush, or david grisman. my dad, who has been a guitar player for around 25 years or so, picked up the mandolin around '96, and has since become an incredible mandolinist. but then again, anything he picks up, he masters!

    the mandolin is an incredibly fun instrument. i'm in the process of having Eastman Mandolins build me one of their 615 models, but with block inlays a la the Gibson Sam Bush model. it'll be exciting the day that arrives, and can anticipate spending more time on the mando once i have a decent instrument to play.
     
  3. googoobaby

    googoobaby Member

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    I started on mandolin and added guitar later as a relatively easy transition. I actually ended up selling my custom octave mandolin and buying a Tom Anderson Atom with the proceeds. The best part of going from mandolin to guitar is how affordable guitars seem...:)
     
  4. µ¿ z3®ø™

    µ¿ z3®ø™ Member

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    i have no aspirations of becoming a great mandolinist (is that a word?). i love grissman and bush and really respect that type of artistry. i'm a decent 'faker', tho'. i pick up instruments rather quickly and have no problem playing 'inside' my ability. the other side of it is that i know several really good mandolin players up here in toronto. i'm not about to try and make incursions into their territory.
    i am more than pleased w/ the sound of the michael kelley octave mandolin. i picked this one up and knew straight away that it would suit my voice very well. the price is quite reasonable for them as well. there are no real signs of cutting corners and the workmanship is quite good. not bill collings type artisanship, but certainly 'blueridge' type quality of work.
    i'm also digging the tuned in fifths thing. i tend to think about tunings when i'm away from the instrument. so i've been groking the 'fifths' for about a year now. because of the linearity, i find it a lot more intuitive than alternate tunings for the guitar.
     
  5. Flying Panda

    Flying Panda Member

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    What, so now I have to quit? Dangit!

    [​IMG]

    Well, actually it's more like 6'2" and 220...so maybe I can stick with it.:)
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I'm harbor a secret desire to play mandolin as well as to be 6'4".

    I was poking around several shops at one time and also found the Michael Kelly mandos to be an excellent value. I liked Eastman too, but something about the tone of Kellys appealed to me more. They were more open, is how I remember it, more "vocal," if that makes sense. I thought they sounded great, much better than many selling for twice the price or more.

    I ended up getting a Tacoma Papoose instead, not as a substitute but because it seemed very cool.

    That octave mando sounds like a good personal fit for you, so enjoy!
     
  7. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    I am here as you are here as you are me and we are
    I have a couple of mandos, a Kentucky KM-1500 and a KM-675, both made in Japan in the 80's/90s.

    For me, mandos are great for quiet times, and the small size just lends itself to strumming away on the couch watching TV or on sitting on the deck, or any other time I can't seem to have a full-size acoustic or electric handy.

    I'm a mando strummer, not a picker, as I have enough trouble just bending my brain around to mando tuning for chords, much less lead lines. But thankfully mando is a perfect rhythm instrument, blending in with lots of music styles.


    And this may be old news to everyone, but one of the best internet resources is www.mandolincafe.com (they have a great forum there, too).
     
  8. cvansickle

    cvansickle Supporting Member

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    I started playing mandolin in 1998, taught myself. I found it very intuitive to learn and play. The way a mando is tuned, the notes are right where your fingers just naturally want to go.

    I was playing guitar in a church folk group at the time, and I wanted to add a little variety to my repertoire. A few times I did a duet with a violinist, where we doubled the melody lines and it sounded massive!

    I started with an Epi, but quickly upgraded to a Tacoma. I installed a contact pickup in it and it's very loud when amplified.
     
  9. µ¿ z3®ø™

    µ¿ z3®ø™ Member

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    OK, so my mom was a huge influence on me when i was growing up and playing music and singing in choirs. i always got new outfits when i had a gig and she would always tell me to smile and look like i was having a good time. that carried over to starting to play in front of the mirror as a young teen. heck, i had a telecaster and i thought it was beautiful. why not stand in front of the full length mirror when i played?
    i just had the vision in my mind of this rather, um, large(ish) person (me) playing this rather miniscule instrument. now tell me, what would the girls think? so thanx for posting the pic. i must say, U do look a lot taller than 6'2". U've gotta be pushin' 8 feet there, no? and that humungous, ginormous daphne blue strat looks interesting.
    all kidding aside, be thankful that U're blessed w/ little pickers that can navigate the wee confines of the mandolin. i haven't spent a lot of time on the mandolin, but it became clear to me very early on that the relative size of my hand was not gonna be to my advantage. the octave mandolin felt much more natural and easy for me and when i stand in front of the mirror w/ my michael kelley octave mandolin. i can now play w/ impunity with the knowledge that when i am ready to play in public (probably fairly soon w/ my 'acoustic' band) that the girls will approve.

    man, when i picked this particular mando up it was as if the skies parted and i had been 'chosen' by the instrument. it takes me forever to find a flat top because, altho' i can find rather good sounding acoustic guitars, it's very important to me to find one that will compliment my voice. bill collings often works, santa cruz not so often. both are superb instruments. but my mandolin and my voice are a match made in heaven and it sounds like they have been together for a long, long time. please don't read ego into this, it's more just youthful excitement that i've found something that enhances my voice and vice versa.

    well gosh, golly thanx. it sure does and i couldn't be happier.

    i've always messed around w/ alternate tunings on the guitar. it's not that much of a stretch for me for the mandolin. i was already capable of playing scales before i got the darned thing and now that i've been pickin' away at it all weekend, i can play scales all the way up and down the neck. it's actually a lot more linear than the guitar. i love the way it's so easy to transition from rhythm to single notes and double stops. i got the mandolin in particular because one of my bands is an acoustic band and one of the other fellows goes back and forth between guitar and dobro. i really wanted to pick up a new instrument and it seemed like a no brainer to me that the mandolin was a decent choice. and i can't stress enough how a new instrument gets the creative juices flowing. i already hear some new songs wanting to burst forth.

    great, that's all i need. here i am, happy w/ my $1200.00 piece of korean crap and now i'm gonna find out that i really should have spent the extra three grand to have an elf of european ancestry build me an octave mandolin that would make me play like grissom and make my voice sound like vince gill.
    kidding.
    i'll check that out.
    i bet they'll be happy to accept me into their community and then subtly, over time, conspire to make me buy a mandolin made by one of their 'brothers'.
     
  10. Flying Panda

    Flying Panda Member

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    Not even. Look closely...big, fat hands & the subsequent big, fat fingers. I just don't play too fast (and probably not too well.) But, it's fun, it's interesting and I like it. Mine is a Mid-Missouri Mandolin, handmade, great sound and absolutely NO appointments or frills. They make all their models available as a "W" with slightly wider fingerboards...I'll probably go that route when I feel the need to upgrade. But I bought this used and cheap, and it's a pure Mando tone machine, and that'll do for now.:AOK
     
  11. µ¿ z3®ø™

    µ¿ z3®ø™ Member

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    well certainly U've been playing some time then?
    please say yes....
    that wide fingerboard thing sounds cool.
    fast???
    me neither.
    not on the guitar.
    not gonna go there on the mandolin either.
     
  12. µ¿ z3®ø™

    µ¿ z3®ø™ Member

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    can i ask what pickup system U use?
    i have a fishman on my flat tops and it's not bad.
    i'm not even aware of what the good stuff would be for a mandolin. i don't need the volume control or any of that other stuff. just a pickup.
     
  13. Brion

    Brion Supporting Member

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    Those Michael Kellys have a good rep. I had one on order once, but did not follow through and buy it as I had found a cheaper one locally. I messed around with it, but ultimately sold it as I'm 6'3" and have large hands as well. I have a hard enough time finding the time to play guitar much less pick up and learn another instrument so I gave it up.
     
  14. µ¿ z3®ø™

    µ¿ z3®ø™ Member

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    ah the perils of being a musical whore.
    for me it's always the other way around. i have a hard time finding opportunities to do the laundry/sit down with 'the books'/go on 'dates'/watch films and sporting events/etc., etc..
    but music, my life is filled w/ music.
    at one time i would have never considered an instrument from korea. but i have to say, it's mighty fine.
     
  15. Flying Panda

    Flying Panda Member

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    I've got a K&K on my Mid-Mo; it works well and sounds good...it's the 'Big Shot', I think...cheap, too (only around $40).

    http://www.kksound.com
     
  16. µ¿ z3®ø™

    µ¿ z3®ø™ Member

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    cool man, thanx.
    a buddy uses a K&K system for his slap bass.
    i'm lookin' at the 'mandolin twin' which is also quite affordable.
    i guess i should also talk to the guys at the fret.
     
  17. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    I have a little Fender mando with a single coil pickup that I bought used for $115.00, complete with case, strap, and extra strings, as shipped to my door, which I've been gigging weekly since its arrival. I've played enough quality mandos to know that it's not end-game, but the intonation and playability truly are up to snuff.

    My beef is with that pickup, but given my logistical circumstances, I'm still not sure how to move. I play mando maybe 20% of the time, with two acoustic projects, and with two full band outfits (pop rock; alt.country/R & B). Sometimes I'm DI'ed, and sometimes my only default choice is to run through the guitar rig (which hopefully has enough headroom to deal). With the band situations, I'm absolutely dependent on the instrument's volume and tone knobs, which as I understand it, are a monkey wrench in the gears with some of the more popular mando pickup schemes. Mic'ing is certainly not an option. Every time I bring up my particular brand of circumstances among knowledgeable folk, they sort of toss their hands in the air. I've discussed this with my guitar tech, and while he's not partial to the tone of a single coil replacement pickup, he feels that it might be the best compromise for my sitch. Question is, which one, or is there such? I'm not warm and fuzzy with EMG's, but I've heard rumblings of that company offering a very clean sounding mando single coil, although a search turned up empty for me.

    As for approach. I adore bluegrass music, but I've gravitated (stumbled) toward the instrument in more of a textural way. Davey Johnstone and John Paul Jones are my personal benchmarks. I just try to write mando parts that work for the tunes, as my improv remains borderline lame.
     
  18. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    No, you're not kidding!
    Oh, you haven't had GAS until you spend a few months over there.

    Then one Saturday you'll spend an entire day looking at all the cool mando dealers' and builders' websites, and you hear that cursed little guy on your shoulder saying, "You know, $5k is not really that much for a nice vintage mando. Of course, there's lots of great new mandolins you can get for that price, too."





    I logged off and haven't been over there since.....
    :D
     
  19. µ¿ z3®ø™

    µ¿ z3®ø™ Member

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    i started playing bluegrass (we didn't know it was called that back then. when pressed, it was called 'string band' music) with my uncles when i was a wee lad. they had a radio show (live, of course) and performed at barn dances and church socials and such. of course when i moved into the city and discovered hendrix and zep and sabbath all that 'hokey' music pretty well stopped. it wasn't until the eighties that i went back to that kinda music, which at that point was called 'roots music'. this was some time before uncle tupelo and the joke in our circles is that WE invented alt. country.
    there are some fine, fine young bluegrass bands in toronto that really rip it up. the backstabbers, foggy hogtown boys, crazy strings are the cream of the crop. i'm too old and eccentric now to pigeon hole myself into any single genre, but i'd be a liar if i didn't admit that some of what i do w/ acoustic music is derivative of old-timey stringband music. but any singer/songwriter of any merit borrows freely from whatever genre they feel like. so there's also celtic, protest, gospel, hillbilly and 'folk' music in there as well.
    my acoustic band has done a number of shows w/ a single condenser that we do the 'dance' around and another mic for the upright bass. playing in a club is an entirely different thing and it's far simpler to have a pickup of some sort particularly when U're changing instruments (three guitars in different tunings and now the mandolin).
    i'm having a great time w/ the mando. it really does gel w/ my voice in a very flattering way. i've actually cracked the book open and am having a bit harder time practicing that just sitting around pickin'. but after playing guitar for, um, 43 years i still like to go thru periods where i devote myself to practice.

    well, i have been lurking over there some. haven't signed up yet and i'm thinkin' that maybe i shouldn't. i didn't sign up at BaM until TGP went down and now i want a mccarty rosewood. there's a pattern there.
     
  20. hemlock

    hemlock Guest

    I've been hacking around on the mando for 3-4years now. It's actually my favorite instrument to play and I wish I had started playing it a long time ago. I spend what little time I spend parcticing on guitar, though since that's what I play when we play out.
     

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