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Mandolin Lessons: Tremolos

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Okay, it's tremolo time.
So, there's many colors
that can happen with this little pick.
And, what I wanna encourage you to do is
just explore all the various
parts of the mandolin, and think of the
tremolo as a bow, you know,
what we're really trying to do is imitate
the violin.
And we all know how beautiful that can be,
depending on the speed of the bow,
the pressure.
There's all that at play.
So we're trying to imitate that sound just
to get it really smooth so
you don't hear the individual clicks.
We talked about this earlier, but I'm
gonna dive in a little bit deeper now.
So, one of the things that comes to mind
is to think about the position of
the mandolin on the body once again, just
come back to that.
I'm using a footstool again.
The mandolin's cradled between the legs,
and this leg is up so
that the mandolin is at an angle.
And that's pretty important to me,
because if the mandolin is like this,
sorta parallel to the ground,
the pick is gonna naturally hit the string
exactly a parallel position.
Soon as you bring the headstock up,
[SOUND] the pick his the string at a
slight angle, such that the.
Pick the front edge of the pick as hitting
the string first, as opposed to the back,
or as opposed to parallel.
So, that really makes the pick go through
the string a little easier.
If you're parallel to it,
it's gonna flop and have a little more
So that slight angle.
You can even exaggerate it, and
you'll hear the scraping of the winding on
the string.
That's actually a special effect that we
will use later.
But it, you know, sometimes we exaggerate
these things,
gives you the feeling of what it is I'm
trying to articulate.
don't hold the pick too hard, you know,
that's a common mistake,
is you grip the pick too hard between the
index and thumb.
And it's just gonna get stuck on the
string and resist it.
Whereas, with a tiny bit of flop in there,
it's gonna go through the string and come
back much easier.
Think also about how deep you're digging
into the string, you know.
If you're really digging that pick in too
deep, again,
it will have too much resistance and it
won't come across it very smoothly.
But if you're just grazing the top of the
You're, you're gonna go through.
The whole thing is about getting that
thing to not get stuck on the string.
Keep in mind that when you pluck a note,
you just have one bit of energy
going into the note, when you're trimming
you're hitting that string multiple times.
So, In general, you can play a lot lighter
your mandolin's still gonna be nice and
So, you don't have to really worry about
volume when you're tremolo.
It's going to be louder even though you
may be feeling like you're holding
the pick really light and barely grazing
A lot of sound still comes out.
So just tremolo with me here.
Open G, A, B.
C and D.
Now the G string, in many ways, is the
easiest to tremolo because
there's no string on this side of it, so
you've got a lot of room.
And I'm not playing parallel to the
strings when I'm on the G string,
I'm kinda using that to an advantage.
The pick is almost going that way as
opposed to this way, if that makes sense.
Then you get over to the G, D string or
the A string,
you've gotta worry a little bit about the
strings on either side of it.
So you can't take quite as big of a swing.
Everything gets sort of just hone down a
little smaller.
Practice that, just the open D strings.
Slow it all the way down so
you can hear the individual notes,
now gradually bring that up, bring that
speed up.
Take the pick out of the string
a little bit so that it'll.
So that it'll come.
So it'll come off the string.
Now go really fast, and of course, you
start to feel that tension back there.
That's totally normal.
But the way you get rid of that tension is
by less, lessening the amount.
Now that you're grib, grabbing the pick.
Lessen your tension on the pick, and go
over to the A string and
do the same thing.
Make sure that pick's flopping.
Now, when we get to the E string, again,
there's no string down here, so
we've got a little more.
We can work with a little bit
more wildness.
This on the E string.
Now let's start to play around with speeds
of tremolo.
You want to have a nice, wide variety of
speeds that you can work with.
If you start with just 16th notes back and
forth, and then gradually build it up.
you can still hear the individual plucking
of each string.
Now bring it up really fast so you no
longer can hear the definition.
Now bring your volume up.
Now you're getting some tension, but
that's okay.
Bring the pick back by the bridge and you
get that, you get that really loud,
aggressive kind of Monroe sound.
It's a special effect.
this will give you a range of tremolos.
Now bring that volume back down.
And as the volume comes down, make the
tremolo go a little bit slower,
right until it turns into 16th notes
So explore that full range of colors on
one string.
Don't even think about the left hand.
After you've got each string to where
you're tremolo pretty smoothly on it,
begin to try and play a simple mellow
melody right out.
Straight up that string.
In whatever scale you choose,
whatever selection of notes you want,
and do that on each string,
shifting positions as you go.
Use all four fingers,
then shift to your first finger.
That's good, use four and four,
use four fingers than shift to your first
finger at the B note.
And do it really quiet and make sure that
pick is flopping.
begin to explore tremeloing two strings at
It takes a wider strum.
It's a little trickier cause you don't
wanna accidentally hit the A string.
And then try to just keep it on those two,
and then walk up the low string.
Just that far, and do that to each pair.
Then, of course, three strings.
It's very tricky.
I find that when I get to three strings, I
really need to let that pick be free.
You know, it's really, it's almost falling
out of my hands in fact.
In fact, I even tell some students to go
ahead and feel what it feels like to
completely let the pick drop because I'm
almost there
when I'm at my loosest, and I'm kind of
known for dropping the pick.
But that's okay, because that gives you
the full range, okay?
If I go any looser, I'm going to drop it,
but at least I know where the edge is.
So that's here.
And then do a 4 string tremolo.
Alternating between G major and G minor.
It's all about smoothness.
My pick is really loose, my hand has now
come off of the bridge.
I'm not touching anywhere, I've got kind
of a bent wrist.
I'm floating in space at that point.
I never touch my pinky fingers down here
for any of these tremolo things either.
All right.