View Full Version : G to D chop chords

Feb-15-2004, 12:14am
When moving back and forth between the four-finger G and D chop chords, are you suppossed to keep your pinky planted on the 7th fret and just move the other three fingers? If so, any suggestions on how? So far, if I keep the pinky down, I have a devil of a time controlling my index and ring fingers. And if I pick up the pinky, it's easy to loose track of the whole chord shape.

Am I missing something, or should I just give up on the pinky and make do with three-finger chords?

Coy Wylie
Feb-15-2004, 12:23am
I don't think you are missing anything. I had a hard time getting that transition at first too. Just keep practicing going back and forth between those two chords with your pinky firmly planted and muscle memory will soon take over. You'll get it. Stay with it.

Feb-15-2004, 12:32am
That particular change will probably be the hardest to learn and master. It's the longest stretch and if you keep practicing on keeping the pinky planted and moving the other three, it'll start coming to you automatically. This actually took me many, many, months to get where I felt comfortable with it.


Feb-15-2004, 3:17am
On this topic... With the chop of these two chords.. I am just starting to develop a chop:) Any suggestions... A friend that plays mentioned trad. bluegrass keep to the down beats... any suggestions on this? I went to my first bluegrass fest and felt outta place cause i didn't know how to do a good chop/rhythm to keep for everyone else....Hope to hear some good suggestions!

Feb-15-2004, 9:53am
Developing a good chop can take a little time, but what doesn't? I would suggest taking your standard fiddle tunes at first like eight of january, bill cheatum, blackberry blossum and such and using those chord progressions. A chop is to be played on the off beats, which are 2 and 4 if you are playing in common time or "4/4". I would suggest that you listen to some recordings of people playing. The bass take the beats of 1 and 3 so your chops will be in between that. So when you are counting out the beats in your head or out loud it will go....1 chop 3 chop 1 chop 3 chop and so on. Now a good way and probably the best way to practice this is practicing with a metronome. I practice everyday with one, even while I'm playing lead, if you do this every day it will make a BIG difference in your playing and timing. Next time you go to a jam session or festival you might not have the best chop in the world but your timeing will be there and that's all that counts. Now producing a good strong chop...well it is done many ways if you watch all the great players. The way I do it is I have a real lose wrist at all times, then I make whatever chord I want then give it a good pop and at the same time release the pressue on the strings. This will allow for no ringing of the strings and will give you a good solid chop. Just experiment, and play a long with recording. Who cares that you are not playing the right chords to the recordings, just get the rhthym down. I hope this helps some.

Feb-15-2004, 11:35am
Keep dat der pinky planted. Like most everything else, it gets easier the more you do it.

Feb-15-2004, 1:31pm
I was at a David Grisman workshop and someone asked him this question too. He said what he always does is move to the D chop with just fingers 1,2 and 3 -- not playing the E string at all.

Works for me http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif


Feb-15-2004, 11:50pm
For the first 8 months or so that I played, I picked up my pinky finger to make that change, mostly because I was too lazy to put the work into keeping it down.

Then one night at a jam, another mandolin player said "you don't need to move your pinky to make that change, keep it down." I replied that I knew that but I couldn't do it without lifting it. He said "yes you can, work on it."

So I did and low and behold about two weeks later I was making that change without lifting the pinky.

If the general chord shape is still a struggle for you it might take awhile to get comfortable with it, but if you're like me and just hadn't gone that extra bit of effort to make your pinky behave, I think it'll be hard at first and then easier and then sooner than you expect no effort at all.

Pete Martin
Feb-16-2004, 3:36am

Feb-16-2004, 6:50am
What value is the E string in a chop chord? From the things I've read a chop chord is sort of a tonal clunk, the lower the better.

Would a chop chord consiting of b/g/b (three fingers), be an invalid chord? Or, is there some reason the d has to be on the bottom?

Keith Wallen
Feb-16-2004, 9:15am
LEUllman - I find it easier if I give my index finger somewhere to go, maybe because I am concentrating on it instead of the pinky, and place it on the first string second fret when making the D chord leaving the pinky where its at from the G. I don't note the E string I just use it to dead the string that way I can chop all the way through the strings. Just the way it works for me....

Feb-16-2004, 9:21am
What value is the E string in a chop chord? From the things I've read a chop chord is sort of a tonal clunk, the lower the better.

Would a chop chord consiting of b/g/b (three fingers), be an invalid chord? Or, is there some reason the d has to be on the bottom?
Maybe not a question of "valid" so much as "sounds good." #Major chords sound complete, full, and satisfying when they have all three of their chord tones, and somewhat balanced. #A G-major chord with two b's and a g will sound very third heavy (b) and will be missing it's fifth (d). #There could be situations where this is exactly the sound you want*, but if you're just looking for a general aproach to playing a g-major chord, that voicing wouldn't be ideal.

*If you're going from a g chord to a c chord, the bass might tend to play a b note along the way, so you might color your accompaniment by putting this b-heavy voicing in between. #When you listen to the pros - and I'm not talking about just bluegrass - they rarely just hang with one voicing of the same chord for several bars. #They vary them.

Another reason you might #use an especially b-heavy g chord might be at a time when there is a very prominent d in the melody.

Feb-16-2004, 11:29am
thanks for your thoughts. Makes sense.

Feb-17-2004, 8:07pm
Thanks to all of you for the great feedback. I'll work on keeping the pinky planted. Hmmm, maybe a dab of superglue will help ;-)

Christopher Howard-Williams
Feb-18-2004, 3:16am
That may work. The only thing I ever managed to stick with superglue were my fingers http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Feb-19-2004, 12:26pm
A good thread on a very difficult task for a newbie. That pinky does present some problems. Good information.

Feb-19-2004, 2:04pm
Hey Gang,

For the d-shape chop chord, the note on the E string is F#, which is already played in the chord on the D string -- the D chop shape is only a 2-note chord however you slice it. To me it works better to ignore the E string for this chord, and have my pinky available for doing chordal runs or fills.


John in T-ride
Feb-19-2004, 2:38pm
Hi I like playing a D chop with the note on the G string being fretted on the second fret or an "A" note.The D string fourth fret(F#),A string fifth fret(D) and E string second fret(F#). You can either bar the second fret with your index finger, or play the G string with index finger and the E string with your second finger.I think that putting the "A" note on the bottom gives it a little fatter sound. You might try it and see if you like it? this shape is handy to move up and play an E or F chop as well.Have a (sally) goodin'

Feb-21-2004, 1:17am
for a chop I dont see the point behind trying to use the E strings, Im looking for the bottom end...not to say that you dont need to know how to play a D in 3-4 different ways, you should learn as many fingerings of every chord that you can...but I actually play the D chop with 3 fingers and mute the Es with my index...and it keeps your fingers moving instead of holding one string down for multiple chords....for me thats a bit boring and also tends to cause me a bit of pain if Im not lifting off the string often enough...Trip

#Stranger String Band (http://www.strangerstringband.com)

Feb-21-2004, 9:15am
You know - this is something I ought to work on. For now, if I'm chopping a "G" (or any G-shape chord up the neck...), and I move to a "C", I just move up a string and play the same shape for a 3-finger C chord. I can't let that E-string ring though. I can do the switch properly but Oh so painfully slowly.

I guess it's one of those things I should really master now.

Jack Roberts
Feb-21-2004, 11:40am
I play alot with a couple of banjo players, so a lot of what they play is G-C-D progressions. Since the C-D transition is easiest made my just sliding up the frets, I never bothered to learn how to plant my pinky in the D chord...until this thread.

I'm working on it. After a week, and maybe a hundred reps so far, I can keep the pinky planted, but I have trouble smoothly shifting the other fingers. It looks like it's worth doing.