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Mandolin Tutorial - Lesson 2.2



WHEN YOU STRIKE the mandolin strings, that's called a stroke. When you strike downwards it's called a downstroke, and with an upwards movement it's called an upstroke. For the moment, just concentrate on the downstroke.

Hold your plectrum in a loose manner and strike the fourth string (the G string). The motion is coming from the wrist rather than the arm. Play the string several times with a smooth motion. Do the same with all four strings. Experiment by holding the pick at varying degrees of looseness, and see how loose you can hold the pick before it flies out of your hand.

Now strike the top two strings (the A and the E strings) together. Make the stroke sharp and crisp, so that both pairs of strings sound at the one time. Repeat this action until it sounds smooth. Now try it on the middle two strings, then the bottom two (G and D). Play a scale in D, trying to play each double string cleanly and smoothly.

Pick Direction

Pick direction means the "up" and "down" motion of the pick when playing tunes. If you were to play a scale fairly slowly, the likelihood would that all the strokes would be "down". When tunes speed up, however, it is better to use an alternate up-and-down method; it makes your playing more fluid. There is a general rule about pick direction: use downstrokes on the beat and upstrokes between the beat.

Another way of explaining: a 4/4 time signature means four beats to the bar. If these notes are quarter notes (as in the scales examples), they would sound like ONE - TWO - THREE - FOUR. All these notes would be played with a downstroke. If the bar consisted of eighth notes, there would be eight in a bar, and it would sound like ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR and. The notes on the beat (ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR) would be played with downstrokes, and all the "ands" would be played with an upstroke. It very soon becomes second nature.

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