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"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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March 27, 2014 | Mandolin Perspective

Those who intensely devour mandolin news and participate in mandolin discussion boards, let alone invest hours into practicing the mandolin probably have a slightly distorted perception of how significant the instrument is in the world of music. The following graphic is a picture that tells a thousand words about our place.

Click for closeup

The information is from US trade industry data (MI Sales Trak) on how fretted instrument sales are broken down by instrument, electric & acoustic guitar, banjo, uke, mandolin, and "other." Note our little 8-string wonder is a paltry 1% of the entire market. We see this as good news/bad news.

First the bad. All the wallowing in self-pity about the lack of option for niche product like our desire for flatwound strings for lower mandolin family instruments (dola, octave, etc.) and cheap mandola cases. This is why. With electric guitar sales a 45 times the mandolin, why wouldn't their be 45 times the choice? Simple market economics.

And all the feelings of oppression when our "little guitar" is mistaken for any number of other instruments, when the guitar is 83 times a popular in sales, we should rejoice at recognition and expect the masses to not know what's in that little violin-shaped case.

Now the good news. Growth. Simple opportunity. If you show up at a jam with a dozen guitar players, there is an attraction to a sound that is unique.

Many of us a former frustrated guitar players, and we're drawn to the mandolin simply because the field was less crowded. There's a lot of room for growth out there, jazz (duh), pop music, praise band, but we have to think the instrument differently. We need to do what it does better than other instruments, fret mobility, tremolo, cross picking, chop, and run with it.

Guitar to mandolin
Complements of you...
Plays Well With Others...
A common mistake. Clacky, clacky...
What's a mandolin sound like?

Posted by Ted at March 27, 2014 9:01 AM

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