Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Time's A Comin'

Here's an old Bill Monroe Christmas hit, written by Tex Logan. I made my own arrangement based on several I have heard. In the vocal version there is an extra half-bar of B in the middle section which is often left out when playing breaks or doing an instrumental version (I guess for obvious reasons), so I left it out too. I've embedded Bill's version below too so you can see how the full thing works out. Here's the tab for my version.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jingle Bells

Here is my arrangement of Jingle Bells, you can download the tab here. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mandolin Sound Bad? Could Be Good News

A few weeks ago I was doing some recording and I started to notice there were some things I really didn't like about how my mandolin sounded. I wondered what the cause was. After all, I used to like the way it sounded, so what had changed? I thought at first maybe it was a setup issue, but couldn't find a real problem there. Maybe it was the way I was playing, or maybe I just needed a better mandolin? Fortunately, as you may know I've been doing quite a lot of recording, so I was able to go back and listen to recordings I made at a time when I felt quite satisfied with this mandolin's sound. Now I didn't really like the tone on those older recordings either.

I started to realize then that it was my ears that had changed. Gradually over the next couple of weeks I began to find my pick grip evolved very subtly, and without really consciously trying to do it, I was improving the tone and making it fit more closely to what I wanted to hear. I guess subconsciously I gradually fixed the problem, because it sounds a lot better to me now on new recordings, while I still don't like the sound on the older recordings.

So, if you notice your mandolin doesn't sound quite how you want it to, it could be a sign that you're about to make an improvement. It's an optimistic way of looking at it, at least.

Note: do bear in mind that in some cases if your mando sounds wrong it could well be a setup issue - I have found I usually need to make minor setup adjustments every 6 months or so. If you're handy you can do a lot of this yourself, but if you have any doubts at all, always take it to a luthier. Oh, or it might just be time for some new strings.