Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

I have been playing mandolin for around two years and I like to think that I have progressed pretty well, but I am a bit stuck on triplets. I can accomplish a triplet buy hammering on or pulling off, but it always lacks volume, and I am afraid that I am not fast enough to pick all the notes in the triplet unless it is in a reasonably slow tune.
Any help or advise on the mater would be greatly appreciated

Re: Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

The first thing to look at is the mechanics of your picking motion. Is it coming more from your wrist, or from your elbow? It should really be mostly from the wrist - if your elbow is involved, then you’d have a difficult time ever getting triplets up to speed.

There are a few different techniques for triplets. I know a couple of players that actually pull the triplet off with a flick of the thumb and forefinger, so that the wrist doesn’t really go through the extra up and down strokes. I tend to do them with a slight twist of my arm, which achieves the same thing.

The one thing that I tell people that works for me, is to think of the triplet as a single thing, instead of three distinct motions. For me, the triplet is kind of like a gesture, instead of multiple motions. And for me, they’re much more difficult to do slowly.

Another thing to mention is that the natural reaction to trying to do triplets faster is to tense up your arm and try to make it move quicker. But in reality, tensing up can inhibit your playing, and make you miss the triplet. Your right arm (assuming you’re right handed) should be rather relaxed.

You can make them happen faster, and if you’re really struggling with it, then maybe think about doing some daily exercises to work on the motion. Those exercises would generally consist of playing scales with triplets. And you can practice both front and back triplets. (So "front side" would be: diddley-dum, diddley-dum. "Back side" would be dum-diddley, dum-diddley. Practice them slowly, and work up in speed. (Boring, I know…)

And one other thing that I would point out is that if you believe that you can’t do it, you probably can’t. If you believe that you’ll never be fast enough, that will most likely be the case. But if you believe that you will be able to achieve that level, it’s much more likely to happen.

So hang in there!

Pete

Re: Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

I would suggest the following exercise with a metrognome,scaleof d and g,practice triplets [down, up, down,every first note of the triplet ,a down,then practice the scale in triplets, down up down , up down up
thefirst [Imo]Is a useful pattern for jigs, the second for tremolo.
Reverend[There are a few different techniques for triplets. I know a couple of players that actually pull the triplet off with a flick of the thumb and forefinger]
do you use just two picks for this the third being a pulloff[itwasnt very clear to me]

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Re: Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

I would say 99% of it is the way you hold the pick, you may be amazed at the speed you can play if you hold the pick as a banjo player would (sorry if you do already!) You may need to relearn the cordination etc, but it will be worth it.

I would suggest experimenting with different pick grips , different picks, and consider your posture too and c what you can come up with.

What and learn to by looking closely at other players (youtube) and see how they do it and try there methods aswell.

Good luck,

Kevin

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Re: Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

If you search the "Celtic etc" section of the message board over at mandolincafe.net there are some excellent and lengthy discussions including some very helpful video links.

The little bend of the thumb described there can make a big difference!

Re: Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

>>> do you use just two picks for this the third being a pulloff

Dick, the "finger flick" technique is really a downstroke with the wrist, and then up and down strokes with the fingers, which keep the wrist rhythm the same.

I don’t really do it that way, although, I think I have a little finger action in there, but my triplet comes from a downstroke with the wrist, and then a slight twist of my arm away from the instrument, which raises the pick up across the string again, and then back down.

I have had a couple of great banjo players tell me to keep the finger motion out of triplets, and do it all with the wrist, but those aren’t comfortable for me.

Luke Plumb actually showed me about 6 different ways to do triplets on mandolin - the crazy b@stard! The ones that I do most often are just the different fingerings with the left hand, even if I’m tripleting a single note (which makes it more like a cran almost). I will also allow my thumb on my right hand to dampen the string a bit sometimes, which gives you a bit of a popping sound, more rhythmic than melodic. And sometimes I’ll damp the string with my left hand for a similar sound. The one that Luke showed me that I haven’t really been able to do very well yet is actually only picked twice, but has a has a left hand string "flick" of a different note in the middle. It’s cool, but I can’t do it at speed.

But as far as Fellenbaum’s question, I think that looking at pick grip, and picking motion is the first place to start.

Pete

Re: Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

reverend , got the idea of the first one thanks,
so, you do the conventional three pick triplet,?do you use ,down up down.sorry to pester you for exact detail.

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Re: Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

Thank you all for your suggestions.
And yes my picking motion does come from my wrist, even though I some times tense up a little bit when I am playing really fast.

By the way, how exactly do banjo players hold their picks, I live way out in the woods and don’t get very many chances to play with any other musicians, much less banjo players.

Re: Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

Banjo pickers ,have varying holds.BarneyMckenna use a bent thumb,as Ibelieve JohnCarty does,others usea straight thumb.
MckennasThumb is bent inwards at first joint.

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Re: Requesting help with triplets on mandolin

>>> so, you do the conventional three pick triplet,?do you use ,down up down.sorry to pester you for exact detail.

Yeah, I pick triplets down up down almost exclusively (I used to try start some triplets on an upstroke, but had a teacher tell me not to worry about it… I kind of regret that now, but it’s OK). So my technique uses a bit of an arm twist instead of the finger movement, but the wrist rhythm stays constant again. (Like I mentioned, there’s some finger movement in my triplet too, I think).

The one thing about my triplets is that they’re very quick, which is useful, but they’re a bit syncopated, whereas someone like John Carty does real even triplets that are slower than mine overall. I think that’s a matter of taste (and the fact that I can’t do the kind that he does very well).

As far as pick grip, I do a pretty standard grip, where my thumb is mostly straight, and my index finger is curled around, facing the opposite way (into the palm), and the pick is gripped between the pad of the thumb and the side of the index finger.

Carty does a similar grip, except that the TIP of his thumb is on the pick. That’s one of the ways he gets such an incredible tone out of his banjos - and my tone improves a lot when I try that grip, but my playing goes to hell, I just can’t seem to do it. But it’s something that I am aware of, and my grip has changed a bit because of it…

Pete