Website for  Beginner/Improver Mandolin Players

Playing Tips

Here are a few tips on playing the mandolin that I have learnt from my teacher and books.

WHAT TYPE OF PLECTRUM?

The mandolin is usually played with a plectrum (otherwise known as a pick). Plectrums come in different shapes, sizes and colours. The most common is the teardrop as shown below.

Plectrum

Plectrums also come is different thicknesses. The thicker the pick the more stiff it is. Mandolin players usually use medium(~0.7mm) to heavy(>1mm) thickness plectrums. The gives you greater control over the pick and a better tone. Plectrums are fairly inexpensive (about 50p in the UK) so as you get more experienced you can experiment with different plectrums.
I personally like DAVA plectrums as they have a tractor grip which stops the plectrum slipping out your hand.

Picture holding pick

PLAYING NOTES

When playing notes the plectrum should start at a very slight angle to the strings. It is a wrist action that actually plays the note as shown below:-

 

It is important that the plectrum comes to rest on the next course of strings as was shown in the video. This helps give a good loud clear sound.
It is important to practice playing notes in this way. This can be done by playing the same note over and over again along to a metronome. A bit boring but worth it in the long run!

As you get better you will start to do down and up strokes.