Thursday, 11 February 2010

while my mandolin gently weeps

It's been a strange half term so far.  At least there is only one more get-up.  I won't be sorry to say goodbye to this last few weeks.  The snow seems to be on the retreat again, although driving around this morning was a bit dodgy. What with much illness amongst the staff (myself included) and the snow days at the start, it seems that we never really got to grips fully with settling in to teaching and learning.

Still, just for a change I thought I'd think about mandolins instead of guitars.  This one is a Crafter - it looks like an Ovation as it has a plastic bowl back.  I saw it in that funny little music shop in Cambridge behind Waterstones and fell in love with it.

I've owned three mandolins in my life.  The first was more like the type you'd bring home from an Italian holiday - practically unplayable.  A roundback Italianette one that was impossible to tune.  I think I gave it to one of my neices to play with! Quite a few years ago - last Century now - I bought a flatback Antoria which was tunable and, to be perfectly honest quite a reasonable one really.  Anyone after a cheap mando is welcome to it. 

A year or two ago I walked into the Cambridge shop - where incidently, I'd bought an Ozark Resonator the year before - and decided there and then that I had to have it.  It has a nice little Crafter PR-40 pickup as it's an electro-acoustic jobby. I'm sure that the pickup is made by some other firm that supplies loads of companies, but it is quite good - useful for di-ing when recording.  On the top side there's a volume and tone control.  Unfortunately there isn't a tuner, unlike on my electro-acoustic 12-string (okay, so I've got a fetish about buying guitars) but it does tune well.  This is in stark contrast with some instruments I've owned - my first guitar was totally untunable!  The neck is a nice rosewood (of course) but very narrow.  As I have quite big hands (all the better to play the Fylde with, my dear) it can be a little difficult to crowd one's fingers around the very rudimentary chords I play.

There's no prize in guessing what the first song I learnt to play on it was?  No, not Lady Eleanore or Maggie May - When I'm Dead And Gone, of course!  3 chords.  Actually, I don't think I've gone beyond that but I'm still working on Old Fashioned Girl - see previous blog posting.  It might be a crap song but it's MY crap song.

And finally, I haven't mentioned the colour.  Yes, it's green.  It's a nice instrument to play - I recommend Ernie Ball mandolin strings.  In the photo you can see a Hard Rock Cafe/Fender plectrum - quite nice and flexible.  I don't like those tiny teardrop shaped ones - too easy to lose.  A future posting will be about plectra, thumbpicks and the joy of playing bareback.  Another one will be about my fine collection of bottlenecks and slides.

Guitars and me
We go back a good few years
There's nothing better
Than sitting there,
Guitar in hand, and a few cold beers
Going back over the tears

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