Get Trem

Work it!

In this lesson path we will introduce you to the tremolo, the A minor scale, and apply both to a song: Wayfaring Stranger. It is a slow tune with a gorgeous melody. It lends itself very nicely to a study of tremolo. The sound of the tremolo may have been the sound that drew you to the mandolin. It is very much the sonic signature of the instrument. It’s when one or more strings sets are picked repeatedly to create a constant stream of notes, sometimes creating the illusion that it is one drawn out sound, like a violin.

We begin with a tremolo workout on a single string. Each section shows a different way to subdivide notes. The tremolo is never just one speed or volume and it can be played loud, soft, fast or slow and should be adapted to each song and situation. This workout will help you gain control of the timing of your tremolo. Loop each section and play repeatedly and keep a fairly relaxed pick grip. Practice playing lightly, and also loudly. Try and get a pleasing tone.

Know that playing near or over the neck will yield a darker/warmer tone, and playing near the bridge will become bright and even brittle. The angle of your pick shapes tone as well. A flat pick will yield a brighter sound while one with a bit of a forward tilt will darken the sound. Don’t start the exercise too fast, the more we subdivide, the quicker the notes come. A suggested tempo is provided, but trial and error will teach the right speed for you. Some may need to slow it down even more which is a good thing.

Picking hand exhausted. Let's give it a break and learn the A minor scale.