holding the mandolin - sitting position

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holding the mandolin - sitting position

Postby atticus » Tue May 02, 2017 10:41 am

This may be a silly question, but here goes ...

I am right handed. When I play, I have found that the best position for me is to sit with the left leg on a small footrest, say 3 inches off the ground. I rest the mandolin on my left thigh.

I have noticed that in photos of right handed mandolin players, they always seem to rest the body of the instrument on their right leg. I have tried this, but just cannot make it work.

Is it me?

Does it matter?
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Re: holding the mandolin - sitting position

Postby Dave Hanson » Tue May 02, 2017 11:30 am

I nearly always play with a strap to hold up my mandolin even when sitting down, but I do favour resting it on my right thigh, I can also just as easily play with it on the left.

I think whichever position suits you best is the correct position for you.

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Re: holding the mandolin - sitting position

Postby Ray(T) » Tue May 02, 2017 1:28 pm

I'd agree with Dave that it really doesn't matter although the "left leg up" technique suggests that you might be being influenced by the classical guitar. I'm not sure what classical mandolin players do - I graduated away from the bowl back jobbies in the mid to late 20th Century.

I also use a strap when sitting down but there are those who don't - Simon Mayor being a prime example. .... which takes us to the question of whether a strap should go round your neck or just over one shoulder? Each method has its proponents which only serves to reinforce my view that you should simply do what you're comfortable with.

You could always buy a "F" style mandolin. These come with a convenient point to dig into your right leg to stop it slipping off!

I believe that you can also get a device which attaches to the bottom of a classical guitar to stop it slipping off your knee. My Steinberger electric bass, which would otherwise be impossible to play sitting down without a strap, has a hinged "knee" bracket. So, no, it's not a silly question!
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Re: holding the mandolin - sitting position

Postby atticus » Tue May 02, 2017 2:33 pm

Thank you both.

I don't think I'm influenced by anything* - it's more a case of trial and error over the last few years finding something that seems to work for me. I was wondering whether somehow this position might have an adverse effect on technique that I have yet to find out as I learn to play mandolin.

Slipping off the knee is not a problem.

I suppose that beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. I do find the f-style mandolins unattractive, particularly that big clunky headstock. I may be mad, but I have ordered a Breedlove KF, because I love the look!

* I have no previous musical experience.
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Re: holding the mandolin - sitting position

Postby Ray(T) » Tue May 02, 2017 3:20 pm

Not all F style headstocks are the same and some are bigger and clunkier than others. Some of it is also a matter of optical illusion as the percieved size depends on the inlay and length of the neck. Personally, its the sound I go for which is why I have several F styles, several A styles and even a few others. Do remember that the F style has remained popular for over 100 years.
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Re: holding the mandolin - sitting position

Postby colirv » Wed May 03, 2017 9:00 am

The important thing is that the mandolin should be reasonably stable when unsupported by the left hand, so that the left hand is largely free to move up and down the neck without moving the mandolin. How you get there doesn't really matter as long as you're comfortable!

As for the round the shoulder/neck strap debate, my understanding was that the shoulder method was necessitated by wearing Stetsons. I find round the neck more comfortable and stable.
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Re: holding the mandolin - sitting position

Postby Daniel » Wed May 03, 2017 9:46 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmagoBQunZI
Mike Marshall's quick tips is a great place to start.
Left leg up, mando point (or where the point would be) on left leg, end pin on right leg.
If I don't have a foot stool I use my case or my right foot as a footrest for my left foot.

On the other hand, Mike Compton does not use a foot stool and rests the mandolin on his right leg. He sits straight up and relaxes his shoulders.

Radim Zenkl uses a massive strap that keeps his mandolin in position whether he is standing or sitting.

There are lots of ways to tackle this. My advice to students is figure out where you're most comfortable and least likely to be inhibited in your playing. Then stick to it.

best,
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Re: holding the mandolin - sitting position

Postby atticus » Wed May 03, 2017 12:52 pm

Great. Thanks for those further comments and links.
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