View Full Version : chord voicings

Mike VB
Jan-21-2004, 3:16pm
I'm a longtime guitar player who still has trouble with rhythm on the mando. I can pretty much "git it" on lead/melody playing, but my chopping and other rhythm ability leave a lot to be desired.

I can play most of the major chop chords and stuff, but when I try to play it doesn't sound right to my ear. Is it because I'm used to hearing the chords from an HD-28?

I wonder if someone could say provide what chord voicings are most commonly used in a bluegrass context on Blackberry Blossom?

That's a great example of my duality of being able to sound like an advanced lead player and a beginning rhythm player on the same tune.


John Flynn
Jan-21-2004, 3:26pm
I started on guitar also, BTW. One thing one of my mando teachers impressed on me is that a mando player need not and, perhaps should not, play all the notes in a chord all the time. Full chords played continuously in hard, driving fashion can sound shrill on even the best of mandos. Many players prefer to play a double-stop on the two bass courses and only hit the full chord, using the treble strings, for occasional emphasis.

Jan-31-2004, 1:54pm
When playing chords along with someone who is playing lead it really depends on the tempo of the song and what you are trying to get out of it. If you are playing a hard driving song and you want chops I would go with the standard four and three finger chords. You can use just a double stop, but remeber to mute the strings you are not playing so when you chop they don't ring. Remeber, when you chop you really shouldn't hear any clear notes unless that's what you are trying to get at. Listen to any bluegrass album with mando and all you hear is a nice "woody" chop which is played on the off beats..2 and 4 if you're playing in 4/4. Now if you are playing something slow or you want the effect of your chords really enhancing what the lead player is playing then let your chords ring out a little or do whatever sounds good. Probably one of the best at playing rhythm other than Sam Bush is Chris Thile. Listen to the slower songs and try to pick up what he is playing. It is really amazing what he can do with chords. And like Mando Johnny said, you don't have to play all notes in a chord. If you take normal three finger chords like a C or D you are only playing 1 and 3. If you don't know what that refers to, it is the notes in a chord. A standard chord has three notes. Take a C, it has a C,E and a G. Those are the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes in a C scale. So when you play a three fingered C you are only playing a C and an E...the 1 and 3. Ok, that enough music theory for now. But as far as chords go, just play whatever sounds good to you. If you really want to make your chords sound good and follow the lead, then add different notes that aren't in the real chord, but in the scale key. Chris Thile does this a lot. What it does is it allows you to follow the lead with your chords, making it sound closer to what is being played by whom ever is playing lead.