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Mandolin Lessons: Grooving

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So lets talk about the groove.
What is the groove?
How do we get that pocket,
nice swing in our, when we're playing
Couple things come to mind,
you have your internal clock, right?
You have the internal clock, then you have
the external, which is the band playing.
And you're trying to bring those two
things together.
So agreeing on a tempo, obviously, with
whoever you're playing with is number one.
But once you have, then it comes down to
just to a certain degree, confidence.
Just having the confidence to place those
beats right where you
think they should go.
Of course, working with the metronome so
you know, you got solid time is part of
But a lot of it is just having that
attitude and
placing the thing, right where you think
it should be.
I think some players will do is they'll
be floating down the river and letting it
kinda carry them.
And if you do that, you're always kinda
responding to the music
and tend to be on the backside of the beat
as opposed to really,
being the person driving the thing.
And, you know, you wanna think of yourself
as driving the truck
rather than floating down the river, if
that makes any sense.
Anticipating the music and
really placing your notes where you want
them to be is how I think about it.
Not rushing, not pushing people, you know,
you're still in a nice steady pocket.
But you're in charge.
That's what I want you to
be thinking about.
Especially as a mandolin player playing
those back beats, you know,
you're the drummer.
So this is one thing to think about, as
far as grooving goes.
Tone, let's talk about tone, you know, how
do we get that nice,
nice fat sound always.
And usually when the tempo goes up.
Our tone will tend to go south.
[LAUGH] So, again it's a conscientious
You know, if you're.
Making sure you keep your picking
eventhough you are at a very high tempo.
Think about the instrument singing, you
is the face of the mandolin really
speaking, you know.
Or are you just, a lot of times, as the
tempo comes way up,
we get into this thing where we are kind
of playing the strings and
not the body of the instrument anymore.
At a slow tempo.
It's easy to be conscious of that and
really always get a fat tone.
But as soon as the tempo starts surging,
that's the part that'll go away.
So, the other things I like to do if it's
really fast and
I'm really trying to play clean is I have
to play quiet, I have to play softer.
So that means, letting the pick flop a
little bit and
just, just not having the volume.
You're never gonna be loud and fast, full
That's just impossible.
So let the volume come down.
Drag the pick
a little bit out of the string so that
you're not so deep in the string.
You get a lot of resistance when the
pick's really deep in the string.
Think about it, and think about pulling
that out so
you're just grazing the top of it.
It's still gonna speak.
But it we're trying to dig and,
[LAUGH] notice how it gets loud.
Things get stuck.
It gets wild.
I'm missing strings.
I'm hitting two strings at once half the
So those are some things to think about in
the tone department.
Being in tune, you know?
That's gonna affect your tone.
And as soon as I play a little too loud,
something's gonna go out of tune,
usually the A string.
[LAUGH] It seems.
So if you're in tune, the sound's gonna
carry further, more pleasing,
definitely we don't like those outta tune
But there is a thing about energy in a
Everybody gets cranking, things get hot,
you know, you want to be a part of that
intense energy.
But, I remember talking to Tony Rice about
that, where if you keep a lid on it,
it still is sizzling and it's kind of
burning underneath there and
you still have that, the energy is coming
through, it's just focused.
It's not this kind of abandoned energy
as much as it is an intense kind of
focused kind of being.
So, that has to do with, you know,
strumming like this,
or you still staying focused.
The tempo's come up, and it's loud and
intense, but it's not out of control.
You know, always kind of keeping it under
And that will actually create more
intensity a lot of times if
you think about that.
We just talked about a whole lot of
kinda general concepts here, and I'd love
now for
you to send me in something of you
I'd love to see where you're at.
We're now at the advanced level, so I just
wanna hear you play,
hopefully with a group or with at least a
rhythm guitar player, and
hear where you're at with some of these
you know, we talked about groove, I'd love
to hear you play some rhythm with a band,
see how your pocket is tone, how's that
tone coming along?
Creativity, are you coming up with your
own ideas?
Speed, you know, I'm not so focused on
But, but I'd love it to be, to be right at
your edge.
Is it clean?
You know, and then you know we'll use this
as kind
of a benchmark and see how you're
So, good luck with that and we'll see how
you're doing.