"Slide" into Summertime Apr 21, 2021

Sliding into and out of notes is an essential part of your mandolin musical toolbox.  

I was first aware of slides as part of that cool song intro you hear at bluegrass jams (I'd later learn that this 4-bar intro has a strange name, which I promise I'm not making up, "the...

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Harmonics - They're "Something" Else Apr 15, 2021

Harmonics!  They're like a magic trick available to you on all stringed instruments. 

If you’re familiar with Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” then you have heard harmonics - those heavenly chimes at the top of each verse are 12th fret harmonics across several...

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Tremolo: The Mandolin's Secret Weapon godfather krech nino rota right hand technique tremolo Apr 08, 2021

"Leave the Mandolin, Take the Cannoli."

It's hard to remember which came first for me, the mandolin or The Godfather (1972).

The two seem intertwined: the mandolin-soaked mafia masterpiece; the haunting melodies that, without fail, elicit spirited Marlon Brando impressions from audience...

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Fingerpicking For the Mandolin bob dylan don't think twice fingerpicking fingerstyle fleetwood mac mississippi john hurt right hand technique Mar 30, 2021

You are probably familiar with "fingerstyle" guitar playing or "fingerpicking."  A famous example from pop music is Kansas' "Dust in the Wind."  For the roots music aficionado, just think of Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotten or Chet Atkins.

In fingerstyle...

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From Bach to Buck: "Drone Strings" Throughout Musical History Mar 26, 2021

Photo: Johann Sebastian Bach (L), Peter Buck (R).  Both played LOTS of Drones.


By the 1720's Johann Sebastian Bach had clearly stumbled on a basic principle of stringed instruments:

"Drone strings sound COOL!!"

Bach used an open E string drone most famously in the Violin Partita...

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"Ripple" Your Way Beyond the 12th Fret Mar 17, 2021

Besides being a great feel-good tune, the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" also features a recognizable tremolo double-stop mandolin part at the top of the chorus, performed by David Grisman. 

When I sat down to figure out the notes, I was surprised to see how high up the neck David...

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Make Scale Practice FUN (And More Musical) Mar 13, 2021

Scales - you know you're supposed to learn them...  

But it is so BORING to just walk up and down the notes in order!


I like to practice a new scale over an interesting harmony and rhythm - a chord progression played by a groovy band.  Or, since beggars can't be choosers, on a...

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What's That Mandolin? Jan 12, 2021

My mandolin is an Arrow mandolin, hand made by Paul Lestock of Mosier, Oregon.  It's his "G" Model mandolin.  The top is traditional spruce tone wood.  The back and sides are Oregon myrtle wood.  This has been my only mandolin for the past ten years.

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Shift Your Tone on Tremolos Jan 12, 2021

One of my favorite effects is the EQ Shift.  It really only works in conjunction with Tremolo (another of my favorite dynamic effects!)  In the video I demonstrate the tonal difference you can achieve by picking in the so-called "sweet spot" where we usually play in contrast to the...

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