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Thread: Producing clean chords

  1. #1

    Default Producing clean chords

    I'm new to the mandolin, but not to music as I play piano, drums, percussion, steel pan and ukulele. I been looking at chord charts on various chords and I've noticed that the chord shapes are way harder to form than on my ukulele. What is your method of getting beautifully sounding chord on the mandolin, especially when play chords with extensions such as 7th,9th, 11th, 7sus, 9sus, 6/9 etc. When I try to play them they end up sounding with chocked, muted or buzzy sounding.

  2. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    Well the easy answer is going to be practice. The double strings and shorter scale length conspire to make it harder to push down. The plus side? When you master mandolin chords you will think the ukulele chords are ridiculously easy.

    Make sure your mandolin is set up properly, action is not too high, bridge is placed right, frets are level, all that stuff. While it takes effort to chord cleanly, it shouldn't take super human effort.

    Another thing to think about is that you don't need to do four finger chords except for bluegrass chopping, and even there you can get away with a lot.

    But mostly its practice.
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    Thanks.

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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    When you make each new chord shape, play each string individually and see if the note rings clearly. If it does not, you need to re-evaluate how you are fingering.

    Get a CLOSE to the fret as possible without going over the top.
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    Setup is key. Besides what jeffD says, you can try lower gauge strings and lower the action at the bridge to make them easier to play (while sacrificing tone)

    Barre chords are tricky. Use side of index finger closest to thumb, pull in with your fretting arm so thumb has to do less work. The one finger mini-barres are even trickier, you have to try lots of angles.
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    Make sure the position of the mandolin relative to your body allows for maximum finger reach and strength. Check out Mike Marshall's videos on YouTube for some relevant instruction. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    This video my master Simon Mayor was posted on another thread but illustrates lots of cleanly executed chords. As another member noted, he supports the mandolin so he doesn't have to support the neck with his left hand. There are some times when you have to angle your fretting hand a bit different for each chord so it is best to keep that flexibility.

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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    It's instructive looking at his hands my fingers would be moving a lot more (assuming I could play this) and a lot of the time the first joint or 2 of Simon's fingers are perpendicular to the fretboard which mine generally aren't -something I can get away with playing melody lines but which is challenging on arpeggios.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post
    Simon's fingers are perpendicular to the fretboard which mine generally aren't
    Something I've struggled with as well, and IMHO definitely something to focus some time and practice on, worth the effort to re-train to get the fingertips as perpendicular as possible.
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    Registered User Pete Braccio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    Learn good technique the first time. This way you don't have to retrain yourself how to do it the right way 5, 10, 20 or 45 years later
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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    This video my master Simon Mayor was posted on another thread but illustrates lots of cleanly executed chords. As another member noted, he supports the mandolin so he doesn't have to support the neck with his left hand. There are some times when you have to angle your fretting hand a bit different for each chord so it is best to keep that flexibility.



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    Still a mandolin fighter Mandophyte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    It's probably a Mike Vanden, of Scotland: www.vanden.co.uk
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    Registered User Toni Schula's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    Quote Originally Posted by Musica View Post
    ...especially when play chords with extensions such as 7th,9th, 11th, 7sus, 9sus, 6/9 etc...
    As you mention more fancy chords, you might want to read this: http://jazzmando.com/mandolin_chord_economics.shtml

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    Registered User Sevelos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    I see lately links to jazzmando.com on the Cafe, but the site seems to be long dead.
    Is it really alive again?
    I am not able to reach it, just get errors.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User Toni Schula's Avatar
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    Default Re: Producing clean chords

    Quote Originally Posted by Sevelos View Post
    I see lately links to jazzmando.com on the Cafe, but the site seems to be long dead.
    Is it really alive again?
    I am not able to reach it, just get errors.
    Latest update I see is from November 2015. But I have no problems to access all the good old stuff there.

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