Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Banjo and Mandolin


As a novice Banjer-picker… I am curious about your take about crossing over from Banjo to Mandolin. Obviously, dexterity and practice are never harmful but…

Can you briefly outline the Pros and Cons of latching on to the Mandolin?

I did look at the basic Mando lessons… and recognize the left hand is probably tangible in similarities to speed and single speed… even with the smaller frets… but the right hand technique is totally different.

Of course, I know you play both amazingly well… and I am a growing fan of your sisters… and I know they switch it up.

I think that is the encouragement I gain… to see that there are no boundaries.

I traded an old Roland Jazz Chorus 120 Amp (way too much a monster for the rock band my son was in)… and when I traded it in… and bought him a smaller 40w Fender Amp… the wattage his teacher recommended.

Anyway, I had money left over from the Trade… and that circumstance led me to decide on my Epiphone MB-100. But… I did consider a basic Mando.

I think I will always prefer banjo… but am soooo curious to try the Mando now - since getting the Bluegrass Fever (I got a FEVAH… and the prescription… is more Bluegrass).

Anyway, in advance… I look forward to your reply…

You’ll love it! It’s a different animal but very addicting. I can’t think of any cons. Some folks say their hands are too big but Mr. Monroe’s hands weren’t small by any means. Pros are that you can learn some basic stuff quickly that sounds pretty good. Plus the strings are all equal intervals apart which makes transposing easier.

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I am going through the list of the excellent Topic…

I’m walking through all the artists mentioned there… and my excitement to get one is growing.

Ben, perhaps you have to get the Eastman Mandos in to comment… or maybe it is a Jake question… but I want to know about getting a “starter set” - meaning is Picks included? A Strap? Is it important to get a leather one - for the same reasons as a Banjo? Will they come with a bag or case? Is there any after-market items I want to consider for Mando setup (presuming Jake does the setup, as I understood)?

If you wish to send an email rather than post - that would be totally great too. :thinking: :wink:

I want to make sure I come out of the gate with a kit… worthy to start. THAT is my point.

As someone who picked up mandolin a few years ago, I can tell you that it takes a little adjustment to play the mandolin, but what pleasure that can be. As for the other stuff, make do. My strap is still baling twine and my pick has been run-of-the-mill (now using a BlueChip from Ben’s store). The only real thing other than the mando itself needed is an electronic tuner (Snark or equivalent $10 or less) . Jump in and enjoy!

I’d give you a like… but I used them all up for today, Dan.

Rather, I’ll just write a few words to express my appreciation for your comments.

I’m starting to get really charged up… but have to consider… a Mando… or the RK. The thing is… I think the RK (or equivalent) Resonator is something I can still hold off on… and probably more expensive.

See, my banjo is a simple Hallowback… so a Resonator is in my future at some point.

I’ve already let Ben know… I want to look at an Eastman… but once he stocks… it will be a matter of picking the model that will be GOOD but suitable for a starter.