Basic Supplies For Playing A Fretted Instrument


Provided below is a brief description of supplies you will need to consider purchasing:



     mandolin pick      


Two types of picks include (1) fingerpicks and (2) flatpicks.  All picks come in various gauges ranging from light gauge to heavy gauge picks.  The gauge of the pick utilized depends on the type of tone you want to achieve and can also can be a personal preference.  A heavy flatpick, for instance, provides a deeper tone that a light pick.  A light gauge pick, however, offers greater flexibility and may be preferred by a beginner. 



Many years ago an instrument was tuned either manually or tuned to another instrument.  Manual tuning includes tuning the instrument string to sting (i.e. fretted 4th string to open third string).  Today, a new musician has more options, which includes but is not limited to utilizing one of many of the electronic tuners on the market.




There a many types and variety of strings for your instrument.  Strings also are manufactured in different gauges (light to heavy).  Often when you buy an instrument, the manufacturer may recommend a specific gauge string.  After playing for awhile, you will also develop a preference for both a specific brand and gauge of string.  I recommend that you select various brands at first and then settle on a brand and gauge of string that suits your personal taste. 



guitar stirngs  mandolin strings    


Always ensure that you maintain two sets of strings at all times.  The frequency of changing strings will depend on how much you play.  A professional musician may change strings for every performance.  The novice may change strings every two to three months.  Keep in mind that strings actually can go bad if left in a package for an extended period of time.  So, I do not recommend that you buy large quantities in bulk unless you change your strings frequently.




electronic metronome

A metronome is a device that will assist a student to develop the timing and rhythm of the exercises and songs that you will play.  The metronome can be set at slow and fast speeds depending on the skill level that you have developed.  Metronomes can be set to varied beats per minute and by the time desired (such as 2/4, ¾ or 4/4 time). 









Your first introduction to the necessity of having a capo will be when you first play with other musicians or a singer.  If you don’t have a Capo, you will quickly learn how important it is to have one.  A Capo is utilized for a variety of reasons which are explained further in the Classroom studio. In particular, once you begin playing with other individuals, a capo is an essential tool.






If you are a beginner, a strap is useful maintain proper positioning for holding your instrument.  A performer will require a strap when playing on stage while standing up.  It is advised that you purchase a decent strap, especially if you’d like to take good care of your instrument.  There are problems in store for a musician who has an expensive instrument and a cheap strap.  If the strap breaks, so does the instrument if it falls.


music standMusic Stand 

A music stand is a requirement if you plan on practicing, and practicing is a requirement if you plan on learning how to play that new instrument.


 Instrument Stand


instrument stand

There are a variety of instrument stands on the market.  The instrument stand will hold your instrument upright in any room of your house or apartment.  It is my experience that if you have your instrument sitting on a stand in easy access to you, then you are more likely to practice each day.  The instrument that sits in the case within a closet, is likely to stay in the case.  It is amazing how the extra step of taking the instrument out of you case and closet will disrupt you practice routine.


Instructional Materials


There are many good instructional materials on the market.  Some, however are better than others.  I have spent years developing my own instructional books on CD that can be utilized on your computer.  These CDs include a variety of sound files, picture files, charts and text files.  They are organized to provide technique, songs in combination with a theoretical background suitable to learning the instruments.  The CDs are interactive and are standardized for use on PCs and MacIntosh computers. Please check the store for additional information on how to purchase these books on CD.  The following CDs are currently available for purchase:








Guitar For Children

 Basic Guitar Concepts

Introduction to the Mandolin

Introduction to the Five-String Banjo

Performing & Playing Music With Other Musicians (Volume I and II)

Please check back for additional volumes.


Instrument Care & Maintenance


An instrument that is taken care of will last for years.  Proper maintenance includes polishing the wooden parts, the metal parts and the fingerboard. Polishing kits are available at a reasonable price in both sprays a gel forms. In addition, fingerboard oil will clean and protect the fingerboard.




A humidifier and a gauge to measure humidity and temperature will protect an instrument from cracks and other problems encountered when wood from your instrument is exposed to extreme variations in temperature.


Other Accessories


An inexpensive item that will help to develop your hand strength is a gripmaster. This item comes in various gauges.  A light gauge is usually satisfactory for accomplishing this task.  


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