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Mandolin as a fiddle learning tool
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April 27, 2014 - 9:29 pm
Member Since: March 14, 2012
Forum Posts: 1756
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As some of you know, I took up the mandolin last fall. A number of other Fiddlerman.com members also play the mandolin, which is not surprising; since the mandolin is tuned the same as a violin it's very easy to make the transition from one to the other.

For me, the mando is turning out to be a great tool in learning fiddle tunes and learning to play the fiddle in general. Here's why:

I'm pretty comfortable playing the mandolin as I've played the guitar for many years and the right hand techniques are similar. I think that's why I'm finding it easy to learn a tune by ear by picking it out on the mando first, then once I have it down, I can transfer it to the fiddle. At that point, I can focus on bowing and intonation and not on learning the tune, since I already know it.

I've discovered that when I know a tune well and feel confident playing it, problems like bow bounce and hitting adjacent strings decrease significantly. So, playing the mando is expediting improvement in those areas.

Just putting this out there as something that might help other guitar players, at least. Don't know if would help non-guitarists. I'd be interested in hearing whether anyone else has found playing the mandolin helpful, guitarist or not.

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

Honorary tenured advisor

April 28, 2014 - 10:30 am
Member Since: January 19, 2014
Forum Posts: 973
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@kindascratchy, that's good to know. I didn't know they were tuned the same. That does seem like a great way to add another instrument without having to learn a completely different fingering system. I'll have to look into that. I can also see how it could help one learn the violin fingerboard easier as well, particularly in the higher positions.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright


April 28, 2014 - 11:40 am
Member Since: June 30, 2011
Forum Posts: 2680
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I played the mandolin for a while as well. I also have a long guitar background so I found it pretty easy to pick up, but its not exactly the same because its fretted and for someone just learning fiddle it may actually cause them problems with finger spacings.

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

fiddle chick

April 28, 2014 - 5:13 pm
Member Since: November 24, 2013
Forum Posts: 253
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Yes, I also use the mando sometimes to pick out the tunes I'm trying to learn. I wouldn't say I'm very proficient on it, but I do know where the notes are and how to make chords. I mostly use it for learning tunes for the fiddle, but occasionally I'll just do some strumming to accompany the boyfriend on his guitar.

Let the bow flow.

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