View Full Version : smitten with another instrument - mandolin

03-26-2012, 12:31 AM
I have been adding different instruments to our family collection and last week picked up a mandolin. I was originally getting this for my wife to play, but I have been thoroughly enjoying it. The fifths tuning of the mandolin is SO intuitive. Melody lines are so much easier to play (although the strings require MUCH more hand strength). I have invested a lot of my time in learning to play the uke and I have very much enjoyed every part of it. I am feeling the pull of the mandolin. My wife told me last night that she thought the uke was my "gateway instrument". I hope I can find the time to play both.

Has anyone else here had a similar experience? If so how do you keep up practicing/playing several instruments?


03-26-2012, 03:19 AM
Ha ha! I actually was playing the mandolin for a while, and then made a switch to another instrument - the ukulele! The intuitive tuning is really great about the mandolin, and it is super for classical music or celtic reels. But, the ukulele had neither the hand strength requirement or the high pitched drone (which by the way seemed to bother my wife LOL). I am drawn to the ukulele now because I think it is a better instrument for strumming and singing to (for me at least).

But, on the Internet there are so many tabs classical and as I said Celtic that are super to play on mandolin!

03-26-2012, 04:00 AM
I made the switch from woodwind to brass for a time, so that I could march where I wanted to march.. as a woodwind they limit you there, because these corps, while innovative, are extremely small minded about instrumentation and the people marching behind those instruments. It's a bit backwards still. Anyway, the guy who got me up to speed is now a band director himself, so talk about knowing what you want to do when you grow up! :)

I've heard it said of many instruments that "This instrument is a gateway to..." And the truth is most of them are gateways to each other. it doesn't hurt to learn another one, it only makes you better... or at least makes you enjoy the ride. Go with what feels comfortable.

03-26-2012, 04:07 AM
". . . . And the truth is most of them are gateways to each other. it doesn't hurt to learn another one, it only makes you better... or at least makes you enjoy the ride. Go with what feels comfortable.[/QUOTE]

I second that! It's music, and music improves your quality of life.

03-26-2012, 04:41 AM
I seem to have this on-again, off-again infatuation with the guitar. Interestingly, about six months ago I got a used classical, tried it out, and decided it was simply not for me.

Last week I found myself looking at this beater parlor guitar at a garage sale, picked it up for $25, and giving it another go. It's a completely different experience this time, and I am much more open to it.

I still much prefer the 'ukulele and if forced to pick one would give up the guitar without thought. But it's just interesting that this time around I don't have that extremely negative reaction to it.

Anyway, I also totally agree with Plainsong about the 'ukulele being a gateway drug. Not only is it more likely to get you to use other things, it's also much more addicitive than pakalolo (for which the claims of being a gateway drug are really silly).

03-26-2012, 04:48 AM
My wife got me a Mandolin for christmas, and I plink around at it from time to time.

Problem is it's not really good for fingerpicking out songs, mostly strumming it seems, and I'm still learning the chords as my uke knowledge doesn't work on the Mandolin.

Love the sound though, it's really neat to hear, but the metal strings hurt my fingers, so it doesn't get played as much as my 9 ukes!

03-26-2012, 05:09 AM
I actually just sold my mandolin (played for just over a year) so I could start playing uke... I now have two :) I'm a guitar player of 16 years now, so guitar is still my love, but I just bonded with the ukulele more so then the mandolin, the mando has some great music available in all styles, I'd definitely check out the Mandolin Cafe, a great forum with tons of information and lessons.

03-26-2012, 05:26 AM
I've been thinking hard about tuning my tenor guitar into fifths (CGDA though) and getting it out of bari/chicago tuning (DGBE) for instrumental music fun.

(Oddly enough, classical and celtic would be what i'd like to play most, instrumentally)

I would definitely keep my baritone uke for strumming and singing though.

03-26-2012, 05:32 AM
Just a quick aside since more than one person mentioned the mandolin. Could you rearrange the strings of a uke and play it with mandolin tuning? Has anyone tried? Then I could get another uke with mandolin tuning .... ha ha ha.... well just a thought.... can it be done?

03-26-2012, 06:19 AM
Elderly sells sets of strings for that.

03-26-2012, 07:51 AM
Ironically, I bought my first ukulele when a craigslist deal for a used mandolin fell through. I was a clarinet player from third grade through hish school. I was always fascinated with strings, and even tried to learn to play the guitar in college. I became frustrated with the wide spacing between frets and the need to deal with six strings, so I then thought about mandolins, especially after I started listening to Dave Grisman. So one day I decided to look for a used mandolin. When that deal fell through, I did some research and decided that the mandolin would be difficult to fret, bot because of the doubled strings and the tuning -- diagrams of even some simpler chords looked really complicated to me. That's when I bought my first ukulele.

I thought the ukulele might lead me back to guitar, but I'm still frustrated by the additional strings. Recently, though, I bought a tenor guitar that is tuned DGBE, so I can play it without learning different chord shapes. The term "gateway" seems to suggest that the introductory instrument is a stepping stone to the next. I think of learning to play the ukulele more as becoming part of the family of stringed instruments. i'm glad that the ukulele has the same chord shapes as the top four strings of the average guitar, because that gives me access to other instruments without having to learn new chord shapes, but I sstill think of the ukulele as mu primary stringed instrument.

Have fun learning the mandolin! I may actually get brave and try it sometime.

03-26-2012, 08:43 AM
I've received a mandolin a few years ago but I just can't play with it....and this is specially because of the use of the picks!!!! I just can't play with these things!!!

But otherwise, I spend my time switching between ukulele, weissenborn slide, mountain dulcimer and soprano saxophone... Each day, I practice a little bit of these...I have to say, it's quite time consuming for something that is suppose to be a hobby!

03-26-2012, 08:47 AM
Yes! The ukulele led me to my mandolin and made the guitar a lot easier the second time I tried to learn it :) My next venture is the melodica :P

03-26-2012, 08:57 AM
Melody lines are so much easier to play (although the strings require MUCH more hand strength).

A mandolin, properly set up, should be as easy to play as a ukulele, even though it has steel strings. It sounds like the action at the nut is too high. A good set up guy could lower the action down to where it would play a whole lot easier. You shouldn't have to exert a lot of pressure to note the instrument.

03-26-2012, 09:30 AM
Mandolin is one of my main instruments and I love it. The 5ths tuning is great for folk tunes.

Hippie Dribble
03-26-2012, 10:22 AM
just sold my mandolin a couple of months ago. Loved it and played it to bits for a few years. Got reasonably proficient with the melody playing, tremolo work and chopping and all but don't have the connection with it or the deep love that I have for the ukulele. I also agree with Tim, the action just needs addressing on that mando mentioned above, it's clearly not right. You could also try a lighter gauge set of strings on it.

And as for K's comment that "All instruments are gateways to each other". Comment of the year so far. Never a truer word spoken. Get out there Eric and enjoy em all brother. Really happy for you you've latched onto another lovely instrument like the mandolin mate. Especially with your love for old time folk and fiddle tunes, it's so perfect. Way to go mate.

03-26-2012, 12:36 PM
Thanks for the responses everyone.

As far as setup, I should clarify...I bought the uke from a reputable mandolin shop that does setups. The hand strength comment came from the fact that my wife and kids have a much harder time with the two courses of metal strings on the mandolin versus the nylon on the uke. My hands are pretty calloused up so I can play for a while without a problem, that isn't the case for the wife and kiddos.

03-27-2012, 03:05 AM
Thanks! I'm not up for the experiment just now, but I know where to look when am.