How Is A Mandolin Compared To A Guitar?


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iEatBabies666
07-02-2010, 11:31 PM
I'm thinking about buying a mandolin (this might not be the right forum, but I thought people here would know better then anywhere else, and it IS sort of a guitar), and was wondering if anyone can tell me the similarities and differences between playing mandolins and guitars.

pwrmax
07-02-2010, 11:36 PM
Scale is much smaller

guitarsftw
07-02-2010, 11:40 PM
It's tuned to fifths with doubled strings as opposed to a guitar being MOSTLY tuned to 4ths. The scale is much shorter and the strings are much tighter. The feel is very different, aside from the way you hold it when you play.

swarley
07-02-2010, 11:43 PM
It's different, but if you're a decent guitarist, you'll pick up the basic chords rather quickly. Chop chords are another story.

Just make sure you get a decent one. The first one I got had ridiculously high action that made it almost impossible to play.

clayonfire
07-03-2010, 12:24 AM
Differences:
Four sets of double strings.
tuned G-D-A-E (fifths)
Smaller Scale
Tune using the 7th fret instead of the 5th (see tuning).
...it's a mandolin haah

Similarities:
Both fretted plucked string instruments (thus making it easier for you)
strings plucked with a plectrum
Held in a similar way.

If you play guitar, and you put some time into it, You'll be able to learn it a lot faster than someone with zero strings background. And a mandolin is a mandolin. A guitar is a guitar. It's kinda more like a fretted plucked violin than a guitar (similar scale/tuning I think).

PS I'm thinking of getting one soon too haha. And if you have never listened to Nickel Creek or Punch Brothers (or anything with Chris Thile in it)...do it. You'll be glad you did.

Bikewer
07-03-2010, 11:44 AM
Among the instruments I've built is a mandola, tuned a fifth lower than the mandolin and with a longer scale. Somewhat easier to play as the frets are spaced more widely, but the traditional "chop" (4-string rhythm) chords are damn near impossible...

Playing these double-stringed instruments in proper tremolo style will improve your flatpicking.....

pbankey
07-03-2010, 12:36 PM
It's a violin with frets. I started with violin when I was 12 years old, and 9 years later I tried a mandolin and it was a very easy transition to play one.

iEatBabies666
07-03-2010, 01:30 PM
Thanks for the help guys, but do any of you know of a good brand or model to get started with? nothing too expensive though, maybe around $500 or less would be good for now

Bright Light
07-03-2010, 05:53 PM
with your budget you could get a pretty nice Kentucky mandolin. Go to musician's friend and type in Kentucky mandolin into the search bar there and a lot of really nice choices in your budget pop up on the first page.

LeftyDave
07-04-2010, 09:03 AM
I second the Kentucky mando's for their price and quality. Pretty decent for the price. I own one and it's not too bad once I made a few changes to it. I'm a lefty(thus the name) and got a right hand mando for cheap, $50, and changed it over to lefty. Made a new saddle, bought a new lefty nut, flipped the pickguard over to the other side and slapped on a new set of tuners. It's nice, but as someone else said, that short scale combined with the doubled up strings under more tension than an acoustic guitar makes for some tough fret work. Only thing I can say is to make damn sure that the action is AS LOW AS IT CAN GO without fretbuzz. If it's high, it's gonna kill your fingers, guaranteed.
On the plus side, there's some simple 2 finger chords that can be played instantly, and they're even the same shape and position, just different strings. Chop chords take more time go get down, as do the triplets and trem picking. It's not all that difficult tho.

iEatBabies666
07-04-2010, 01:00 PM
Thanks, I checked out the Kentucky ones, and they are very cheap and good looking. I want to get one that would be able to pull of the Jimmy Page sound on 'Going to California', but his is a really old Gibson I think, and cost a ton. Would the Kentucky ones be able to pull that kind of sound off, or maybe even something like Spinal Tap's 'Stonehenge'. Something less country and more Celtic sounding

LeftyDave
07-06-2010, 08:19 AM
Thanks, I checked out the Kentucky ones, and they are very cheap and good looking. I want to get one that would be able to pull of the Jimmy Page sound on 'Going to California', but his is a really old Gibson I think, and cost a ton. Would the Kentucky ones be able to pull that kind of sound off, or maybe even something like Spinal Tap's 'Stonehenge'. Something less country and more Celtic sounding


JPJ(John Paul Jones) is playing mando on that one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luDgb5vVHuA

But to answer your question, yes, you can get that tone with a kentucky mando, just need the right setup is all. Looks he's got his mic'ed, then is processed thru their main soundboard, probably with a touch of chorus to fill in the sound. Not sure. It could be purely clean too, just amplified.