View Full Version : Chopping

Jul-28-2005, 1:55pm
I've only been playing Mandolin just over a year so i'm relatively a begginner. One thing i've had trouble with is chopping and which chord structures to do it with. I can't seem to get that perfect sound.

Jul-28-2005, 2:27pm
A good place to start, if you haven't seen it already, is right here on MC:

Jul-29-2005, 10:04am
The trick is that the chop isn't really supposed to sound like a chord in the same way a guitar does. You get the chord but it's quickly damped; all in the left hand. The idea is to drive the band.

Jul-29-2005, 11:49am
On many recordings you can't hear the notes of the chord at all, just the percussive chop like a snare drum.

Aug-24-2005, 12:46pm
On many recordings you can't hear the notes of the chord at all, just the percussive chop like a snare drum.
it's true when i was first learning how to play (taught myself) i was listening to some old recordings of mandolins and thought that the way to chop was to just dampen the strings and strum away.... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif i found out though after my first festival that this is not the correct way.... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Peter Hackman
Aug-25-2005, 6:26am
Do we need it?

Aug-25-2005, 8:02am
Well said, San Rafael.

My fave choppers:

me http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Aug-25-2005, 11:05am
A good chopping mandolin helps...

I've lately been getting into the sound of a chopping F4, which is totally different deal that an F5....

Also, (in moderation!), I've been using chopping seventh chords, especially behind a driving banjo solo or the like...

In the key of G, fret the A string on the second fret, D string on the 3rd, and G string on the 4th fret, muting the E string....
Move the whole shebang down one fret for your C 4 chord, and up one fret for your 5 chord (D).

So-ooo, within 3 frets you have your 1-4-5 seventh chords that will really underpin a driving solo...

It's also effective in blues playing...

Again, use in moderation..... #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Aug-25-2005, 12:01pm
AlanN -
My fave choppers:

I like Dawg's chop/comping. He amazed me with the way he mixes it up when I first started listening to him in the late '70s. I love his timing with chopping rhythm for a couple measures followed by a well placed ringing chord. He wrote an article in the early or mid '80s for his column in Frets magazine about comping that I need to reread. To my ear he drives the music as well as anybody and better than most, regardless of whether it's Bluegrass, Old Timey, Jazz, or whatever. I'm sure his style isn't for everybody but I think he provides a good example of using different techniques in moderation.

Paul Doubek

Pete Martin
Aug-26-2005, 8:05am
A lot of the sound is where the right hand is placed during a chop. #You get most of the "woof" out of the G and D strings when playing the typical chop major chord forms. #

One should snap their wrist on the right hand, not keep the wrist stiff and use the forearm. #By finding out where the most powerful part of the wrist snap is and centering this over the G and D strings, most folks get a very good chop sound.

Best of luck.

Aug-27-2005, 2:07am
Spruce! Whoah, daddio! Cool tip! I'm diggin' it! (Not quite sure how to "mute" a string...) but... oh well! It still sounds good to me! Thanks for the inspiration... YOU ROCK!

Aug-27-2005, 11:27am
"Not quite sure how to "mute" a string..."

Just keep the E string out of the picture....
Your fingers will usually do this automatically...

Playing those chord-shapes are usually pretty obnoxious when you're playing them by yourself, but when you're backing a crazy soloist they really come to life and help to give the soloist a lift....

And "chop" the chords so that the notes are implied, maybe letting them ring on the first beat of the 4 and 5 chord....

Deadly effective....
And good chords to practice chopping on....

Aug-27-2005, 12:50pm
You get most of the "woof" out of the G and D strings when playing the typical chop major chord forms.
While this tends to be true with many mandolins, I think it varies with the mandolin. When a well balanced mandolin has a good chop, it doesn't seem to be centered anywhere in particular. You chop all the strings and - there it is!

Some mandolins have a weak G chop, and much stronger A, B etc.

Probably the best chop I've experienced came out of a Loar that a friend brought by the other day. I could sit on my front porch and hold a G chord with my left hand and chop hard and listen to it echo of the mountain across the hollow, or just lightly chop the chord, and it was just as full and round sounding. Of coarse, all the other chords were there too.
If all mandolins were like that, chopping would be easy!

Chris Baird
Aug-27-2005, 3:46pm
I think when you are in a jam that using all four strings helps alot. The "bark" from the treble end helps cut through. I also like the chops that sound each note out almost individually. I think some folks get used to the very quick chop and still use that quick stroke even on slow songs. I like to hear as full a chop as possible for the tempo with the muting taking place rigtht at the last moment in the beat.
I know he ain't straight up but I think Sam Bush has taken "chopping" to a level no one else has. It is fun just trying to figure out what he is doing with the rhythm.