First Casualty of the Season

Wood arrows die with honor. Others just break.

-Robert Carter

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For the Love of a Taut String

I bought a mandolin the other day. It wasn’t my first and won’t be my last, but I happened into a music store, spotted it on the stand, and couldn’t help myself. I’ve always been drawn to the silly things and after squeaking around on inferior versions for several years with very little progress, picked this one up and was able to produce tolerable sounds out of it.

The fact I didn’t have to scheme my way into it or hide the purchase from my wife made the situation that much sweeter. I put the mando down, called Jessica, and laid my cards on the table: “Honey, my mandolin is terrible, can I buy a new one if I sell this one for a fraction of the cost?”

An upbeat “Sure!” echoed back and I was sure I imagined it. Nevertheless, the sun suddenly seemed warmer, the sky bluer, and people less annoying. I ran back inside to relay the news…

“Holy crap Pete, she said ‘yes’! Ring me up quick before she realizes what she’s done!”

I haven’t put it down since, which is how you know you’ve got a good one. I’ve been smitten with the little thing and frantically learning songs for the upcoming archery season. There were campfires to sit at and those campfires needed entertainers – even mediocre ones. I had never been a performer aside from a brief stint in high school as a mediocre drummer. Now I could be a mediocre mandolin player and entertain the MLA masses.

Regardless, the purchase inspired me to reach out to the L&L Facebook crowd and ask if there were pickers among them. I received the following within moments:

It’s a parallel activity, isn’t it? Both involve an understanding of a taut string. – Andrew Rickards Reeve

What a wonderful thought. Two hobbies, two passions, connected by something as simple as a taught string. Both make art when placed into motion by a capable hand. Both captivate large groups of people. And both have the power to lift you up or break your heart.

Now that is interesting.

The mandolin pictured is my new BreedLove Crossover, which is an absolute bargain at $399. I’d been playing a Rogue, Danville, and Rover prior to and can tell you that the BreedLove was a breath of fresh air in comparison. It plays well and it sounds great, especially for the money. After buying that $155 Rover I swore I wouldn’t buy another mandolin under $1,000 because there wouldn’t be enough of a difference in quality. My BreedLove defied that in three chords.

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