Here's Why the Mandolin is Badass

Everyone from Win Butler to Jack White has wielded this plucky powerhouse.

Everybody wants to be the guitar player because they get to stand in front. If they don't want to be the guitar player, they want to be the drummer because they can to bang on things. But in our new column, Unsung Gearoes, we aim to finally give some of our favorite overlooked instruments the attention they deserve. This week: the mandolin.

Chris Thile

Here is Chris Thile, who (despite popular belief) is not Jude Law and is also one of the few young souls famous for being a "mandolinist," which he is pretty damn good at being. He's in a band called Punch Brothers and has been featured on NPR playing alongside Yo-Yo Ma. In this video, Thile absolutely smokes on the mandolin, and talks about why it's his favorite instrument.

Arcade Fire Uses One

Arcade Fire has become one of the most praised independent rock bands of the past decade through seemingly limitless commercial and critical success, scoring movie soundtracks, working with Terry Gilliam and—oh yeah—" target="_blank">winning a Grammy. They also use a metric butt-load of instruments including violins, harps, something called a "hurdy gurdy," and—most importantly—a mandolin. Check out this live performance of "Keep the Car Running," where Win Butler leads the band wielding a mandolin.

Nash the Slash Used One

We don't really expect you to know Nash the Slash, or even really how to explain who he is and what he does. All you need to know is that he was an obscure musician from the 70s Canadian band FM who usually wore bandages around his face and a white top hat and is know for playing a wide range of instruments, mostly electric violin and mandolin. Anyways, here are nine minutes of Nash making the mandolin into one of the heaviest instruments you have ever heard.

Hall & Oats Used One

If there were two people that were advocates for feathered hair and sensuality in the 70s, it was Hall & Oats. Little did they know that they were also unsung champions for the mandolin. In addition to making hits and sweet, sweet love, they also rocked the mandolin on a few of their most popular tracks. Check them out here as they funk up the mandolin in "Lady Rain."

Two Words: Jack White

And finally, here is Jack White making the mandolin his little bluegrass bitch.