HOWTO: Mandolin & Plectrum

Hoe de mandoline vasthouden en het plectrum vastjouden? (Methode van Silvio Ranieri)

How to hold the mandolin and plectrum? (Method of Silvio Ranieri)

 Modo di tenere il mandolino e il plettro (secondo il metodo del grande maestro Silvio Ranieri)

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Design of the ROMAN PLECTRUM, model Embergher-Ranieri

The thickness of these plectrums, originally made of tortoiseshell, can vary between c. 0,8mm – 1,8mm (0.031″ – 0.071″), depending on the instrument (mandolin, mandola, …) and the preference of the player. However, the thickest point of the plectrum should be in the middle. On both sides, the surface of the plectrum is to be rounded towards the edges in order to make a thin edge all around, and two points. These plectrums are more difficult to play with, but after enough practising, using the correct technique, the result is a more rich and full yet clear sound and a much better balanced tremolo, enabled by the plectrum’s shape and length (c. 65mm (2.56″) when new).

Silvio Ranieri
with an Embergher model N° 5b, 1915, holding a Roman Plectrum (see detail)

Ralf Leenen