Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites

  Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Topics

Original articles, lessons plus the "best of the web" by mandolin enthusiast/teacher Bruce Bernhart

New! Tabs for Popular Fiddle Tunes:

"Green Leaf Fancy"
"Dixie Hoedown"

Updated May 26, 2013

In Minnesota, Bruce Bernhart has been a mandolin player/enthusiast since the 1980's

Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites

The Bernhart Mandolin Webpages explore the history of the mandolin, buying and building mandolins, the various makes and models of mandolins available on the market, basic chord structures, different styles of playing, practice exercises and performance.

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Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites

The Bruce Bernhart Websites
First Position Flats and Sharps

Review how to tune the mandolin- EADG.  Use tuner and know the 7th fret method.
Know the major scale on the mandolin-  see illustration #1.
An "interval" is the distance between notes.  Review what a "third" interval is.  As an example, look at where the C note is on your diagram, and move up four frets to the E.  A "third" is actually four frets up.
Bernhart says note the interval pattern of whole notes and half notes on illustration #1.  The major scale always climbs two frets at a time except between the 3rd and 4th notes of the scale and between the 7th and 8th notes of the scale.  Between those two pairs, you climb only a half step (one fret). 
Review your first position major scales for D and A (see the handout).  These two scales include the most number of open strings. 
Know where the "root" note is, both at the start of the scale and at the end of the scale. The root notes are in red.  The circled notes are "bluesy" notes.
That's because they are flatted.  The 3rd, the 5th and 7th notes are all flatted notes or "blue" notes. 
Practice the A and D scales up and down until you can play them smooth.  Make each note clear.  No dead notes!
Practice the tab for Old Joe Clark on the Bernhart tab sheet, part A only. Play slow, make each note clear and clean.
Understanding The Twelve Steps Of Key Construction (

Key construction in its most basic sense is simply to give a name to each one of the chromatics in any chosen key. Since there are twelve chromatics there will be twelve steps in key construction. These twelve steps must be memorized in order, and again there is no way around this. If you look closely at them, you will see a pattern in their order, and this makes them fairly easy to remember.

*note : if you do not know what an "interval" is, refer to the glossary for a definition of the term.

What we have here is a collection of intervals, each with their own name. Every chromatic note in the key we are in will have its own name as well as some type of designation as to what kind of note it is. You'll see that we have some major notes, some minor notes, two are called perfects, and we have one called diminished. The perfect 4th and the perfect 5th ARE major intervals.

The twelve intervals in key construction are as follows:

  • Root
  • Minor 2nd
  • Major 2nd
  • Minor 3rd
  • Major 3rd
  • Perfect 4th
  • Diminished 5th
  • Perfect 5th
  • Minor 6th
  • Major 6th
  • Minor 7th
  • Major 7th
  • Root (octave)

Bernhart on Low Humidity Issues, Affect on Wood.

Fine crafted, solid wood instruments need extra care in regards to humidity and temperature. Acoustic guitar owners should be knowledgeable and aware of the danger of wood shrinkage and cracking with low humidity. We must reserve the right to decline warranty repair involving temperature and humidity damage.

Ideally an instrument in a low humidity environment should be built in that humidity and never leave that environment, but in reality there is quite a range of humidity that a solid wood instrument can safely live in. For our instruments it is between 40% to 80% relative humidity. The lower the guitar goes below 40% the greater probability cracking will occur and that the top and back plates will flatten and even go concave. Humidity of 30% is a bit low for safe storage. The signs of excessively low humidity are: action buzzing, fret end protrusion, fretboard hump at the body joint area, fretboard extension drop off, concave top and back, grain of the wood telegraphing through the finish, and eventually cracks.

Case humidifiers, says Bernhart, are helpful but a dedicated room with a humidifier is by far the best.  When the humidity is low you should purchase and use a room humidifier. Room humidifiers are inexpensive and only cost pennies to run opposed to a de-humidifier, which is like an air conditioner energy wise and used to reduce high humidity Be sure to get a good hygrometer that confirms that the humidity in the room is above 40%. It is entirely conceivable that in some very dry locations a combination of a room humidifier and a case humidifier will be necessary to achieve 40% relative humidity for the instrument.

Maintaining even humidity is as important as keeping it above 40% relative humidity, because wood looses or gains moisture at a very high rate like a sponge.  If you travel with your mandolin, the sound hole and case humidification devices are imperative. Always use a quality hardshell case when traveling by air and never a soft "gig bag".  Airlines are notorious for low humidity at high altitude. If you are traveling by car and the humidity is above 40% a case humidifier is not necessary. Always keep the instrument in its case when not playing and prevent hot/cold shifts. An instrument kept at temperatures of 60 to 90 degrees is a good temperature range. 

Thank you for visiting the Bruce Bernhart mandolin websites!

Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites

Be sure to visit the other Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites:

Bruce Bernhart mandolin rock tabs

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lesson on scales, meter, using a metronome

Bruce Bernhart mandolin purchase tips

Bruce Bernhart mandolin orchestras, tuning

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- chord groups and intervals

Bruce Bernhart on mandolin family history

Bruce Bernhart on string and saddle adjustment

Bruce Bernhart beginning mandolin lessons one and two

Bruce Bernhart on more chord triads, blues patterns, and self-tuning

Bruce Bernhart on the mandolin family tree

Bruce Bernhart mandolin chord diagrams

Bruce Bernhart on temperature considerations

Bruce Bernhart lessson on mandolin flats and sharps

Bruce Bernhart lesson on chromatic scales, circle of 5ths and meter

Bruce Bernhart on mandolin chord theory

Bruce Bernhart mandolin C and G major chord diagrams

Bruce Bernhart on emergence of the modern mandolin

Bruce Bernhart on two finger mandolin chords

Bruce Bernhart on whole and half steps on the mandolin

Bruce Bernhart perpetual motion practice excercises

Bruce Bernhart on playing waltzes on the mandolin

Bruce Bernhart on majors, minors and sevenths

Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites

Also, check out the Bruce Bernhart RV Websites and Blogs:

Solar power for your RV

The care and feeding of your RV battery

The sport of "geocaching" and RV refrigeration basics

The basics of RV power inversion

RV travel tips and tire care

Advanced discussion on power inversion

Tips on buying a house battery and cold weather maintenance

RV Insurance basics

Buying the right generator for your RV and portable power

RV television reception options

Care and maintenance of the RV air conditioner

Top RV destinations

RV long-term supplies and weight considerations

RV Insurance- Road protection and bodily injury coverage

RV battery types and winter charging considerations

Deep cycle battery basics

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