fast playing stringed instruments

fast playing stringed instruments

hello everybody.
i play guitar but i want to play another stringed instrument. i want something that i can play fast on, but i haven’t played very many instruments so i dont know what. my friends dad has an old round back mandolin, but the strings are ridiculasly (sorry about the spelling) hard to press down. are they all that way. any suggestions? thank you all.

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

Welcome, sonofodin. Fiddle is what you want.

Just learn to play it well, before you try to play it fast. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

thank you.

fiddle huh? thats a good possiblity. my friend has one he never plays, so he’d probably sell it to me rather cheap. would i have to take lessons to play? i’m fairly good with music, can read it and i know some theory, but its much different than what i know. i but i was kind of thinking more along the lines of lute or something though.

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

I was kidding you a little bit, because I’m a fiddler. A properly set up mandolin is a lot easier to play than a crummy one, and there are some really fast mandolin players out there. But fiddle strings are easier to press down. And you can play a lot of notes on one bow stroke, so it’s easier to play fast.

Tenor banjo might do, if it has to be a plectrum (plucked) instrument. Some people play bouzouki, but it’s not considered a speedy instrument, I don’t think. I advise you to stay away from the lute—a fine instrument, I’m sure, but not very popular (unless you’re Sting, I guess).

Yes, a few basic lessons (either fiddle or violin lessons, it’s the same instrument) would be a big help. There are some good video clips of basic violin technique out there, to give you an idea of what’s involved. See
http://www.youtube.com/user/professorV

The same advice holds, though, for any instrument: Quality first, then speed.

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yes, i’m very bad at play quality first. always try to play too fast.

what about a balalaika? or a sitar?

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

I don’t know much about balalaika or sitar, although I think sitars are pretty expensive. In Irish music, the fast strings are fiddle, tenor banjo, and mandolin.

But hey, play what you want, it’s your funeral. ;>}

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🙂 are mandolas the same string tension as mandolins? in other words, how hard is it to frett them?

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I’m pretty sure that playing a mandola is very similar to playing a mandolin—like violin and viola.

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Isn’t the mandola named after that Nelson guy??

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

As a guitar player, Mandolin is easy to learn, and A great way to get used to playing in 5ths. No, a quality mandolin…even some cheap ones are usually very easy to play. Most mandos that have been left in disrepair are not that much fun to play…but usually you play what you have. I know I’ve had to…

Mandola’s are similar to Mandolins….the big differances are that the are tuned a 5th down, and the cale is a bit larger to compensate for that.

Good luck! And enjoy the journey.

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

I meant to say Scale… ;)

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

"sonofodin", eh?

Couldn’t your own Dad help? I mean, they must have instruments lying around in Asgard, haven’t they? Mind you, I suppose he’d be more interested in something like the War Pipes.

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Re: fast playing stringed instruments

Seriously, though, mickray’s right - your best bet, I would think, would be fiddle, mandolin or tenor banjo if you want to play Irish tunes. If you pick either mandolin or tenor banjo, you’ll have a head start with fiddle if you want to pick that up later, because the strings are tuned the same. With any of them, I would suggest that you’d be best off having some lessons - it’ll pay dividends in years to come.

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Re: fast playing stringed instruments

I wish someone had said to me when I was 16 "Learn the fiddle". You won’t regret it.

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I can - or could - play guitar just like that, kennedy, don’t bother with it anymore, but I’d have considered the fiddling was a lot more difficult ?

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Well, I’m impressed, wolfbird! I know a lot of people think fiddle is one of the most difficult instruments, but I kind of think playing any instrument at such a high level is going to be tough. But yes, fiddle is probably harder. You have the intonation thing, and then there’s the tone issue, and the bowing is an art in itself. The nice thing about fiddle is it gives you a lot of options. It’s a primary ingredient of many different traditions, but even just in Irish music, it sings lovely slow airs, plays drones for its own accompaniment, and works as a one-piece rhythm section on the dance pieces. So as a player you aim to be versatile enough to handle all those roles.

I still think if sonofodin’s main desire is speed, he should go for bluegrass. There’s the flash element in that genre that seems like it would fit what he wants.

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

Nice to know I’ve impressed someone on this board, hahaha, 😉
feardearg accused me of trying to impress - and yes, there is that ‘show off’ aspect to bluegrass. I’m not saying playing like that is *easy*, but I think it’s easier than Irish music. You’ve just got a basic simple chord sequence as a background, and the changes become automatic after a while, and it’s all going so fast that nobody notices a few mistakes. It’s a lot easier to play those fast runs when someone else is thumping out the chords, than it is to flatpick alone, when you’re trying to strum chords and play lead at the same time. And it needs the right tool for the job. A lot of guitars have thick necks, high action, and slow response time, not much good for that style…. I used to have all the Flatt and Scruggs, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, etc. LP’s and use to play along with those to learn the riffs.

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wow, you guys are so helpful. 🙂 a thousand thanks.
i suppose i should have said this earlier, but its not just speed i’m looking for. i love playing slow songs too, but i just want the option to play fast.

i wish i could watch all those videos your posting, but i have dial-up internet.

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sonofodin, if you really want to play super-fast, my suggestion would be to buy John McLaughlin’s tuition dvd. It’s expensive, but it’s something that you can spend several years working through.

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i know i must sound like a noob asking all these questions, but whats the difference between a mandola and a bazouki? i heard that a bazouki is longer, but does that would make the strings tighter, wouldn’t it?

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

Bouzoukis are longer than mandola, but string gauge affects the tension as well as scale length, so different gauge strings would provide the same note at different tensions.

And mandolas are usually tuned CGDA, bouzoukis are usually tuned GDAD/E.

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

Unless you’re talking to someone in Europe, where a mandola is like a short-scale bouzouki, usually tuned GDAE an octave below a standard mandolin (and called an "Octave Mandolin" in North America)

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Re: fast playing stringed instruments

As a fellow 16 year old, fellow Californian (Fresno), and fellow guitar convert, I would definitely advise you to pick up the mandolin. It is a great instrument for beginning to pick up Irish music and learning the tunes. Its low volume level makes it non-intrusive in sessions (which you should definitely take part in in order to learn The Music). As a young person, you would definitely be welcomed at the sessions as a beginner. I am incredibly glad that I picked up the mandolin and showed up at a session one day about a year ago. It’s been a great journey for me.

Once you have the mandolin under your thumb, it opens up a world of possibilities. Tenor banjo, bouzouki, tenor guitar, Octave mandolin, and (dare I say it) fiddle. All are GDAE tuned and make an easy transition from mandolin, so you can specialize later.

In your future, I would definitely recommend tenor banjo. It has a sharp, clean sound, and is very fulfilling to play. It is a ton of fun. Though I just wrote a paragraph about the mandolin being so great, my mandolin is often left alone at home now, and I take my banjo to sessions. It is a noble instrument (and I am being serious, banjo-haters).

Hope that I provided some help for you

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yes thank you. i think i will probably get a mandolin, or something close to that. now i just need the money.

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Good luck to you. It’s probably okay for you to start out with something cheap from Ebay. That’s what I did.
Also, are you planning on taking this up just as a new instrment, or because you want to learn to play Irish music?

Re: fast playing stringed instruments

*instrument*, sorry

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well, i love irish and celtic folk music, and i just can’t decide what to play. every time i hear someone play something, i want to learn whatever they play. i guess i need to learn that some things i can play, and others i just need to admire. but i still can’t decide what to play. maybe bagpipes………………

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I play hammered dulcimer at the pub occasionally and am pretty good at it. Ok, good enough not to annoy. I took up the mandolin getting a cheap one for Christmas. It was somewhat difficult to force myself to spend the money and send it in to Elderlys for setup but seeing as the bridge was cracked I just handed it to them saying "fix it will ya?" I got the thing back a few days later and was totally surprised at how easy the thing felt, sounded and played. Long story short is that a bad or no setup for a new mandolin probably screwed up a lot of potential players. Go ahead and get your fiddle or mandolin but get it set up by a pro.