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Thread: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

  1. #26
    Registered User Carl23's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    How I am working on chords (and scales for that matter)

    I have a file which shows the fret-board out to 12th fret (I've done computer design, so its an Illustrator type program, you could print out the same kind of thing and do it by hand)

    So, I mark every note of the chord on all strings (in this case B D# F#)
    All possible voicing will be represented in the graph, pick playable chord shapes and have at! (it will also help you learn the full fret-board)

    I've added an attachment, hopefully you can see it!

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	smaller fingerboard.pdf 
Views:	153 
Size:	232.0 KB 
ID:	171974

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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Jonas View Post
    4-4-6-7 (or indeed simply 4-4-6) is one of my favourite chord shapes, because it's moveable and has the root in the bass. That means it works for every major chord and can use any note on the lower two strings as the root. Takes the pain out of remembering specific chord shapes. Its companion shapes are 4-4-5-7 (or 4-4-5) for minor chords and 4-4-6-5 for seventh chords.

    Martin
    "root in the bass"? The mandolin is a soprano instrument. The low b in the 4-4-6-* corresponds to the open second string on the guitar. The bass is handled by someone else and I see no particular advantage to having the root note at the bottom of the chord. In fact, when chords get more complicated the first note to leave out is either the root or the fifth. For a B7 I would probably pick 2-1-2-* (no F#) or 2-4-6-* (no B). But, really, this s something the individual player has to work out on his own, to find out what fits his particular instrument or this particular song or the rest of the band.

  4. #28

    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    "root in the bass"? The mandolin is a soprano instrument. The low b in the 4-4-6-* corresponds to the open second string on the guitar. The bass is handled by someone else and I see no particular advantage to having the root note at the bottom of the chord. In fact, when chords get more complicated the first note to leave out is either the root or the fifth. For a B7 I would probably pick 2-1-2-* (no F#) or 2-4-6-* (no B). But, really, this s something the individual player has to work out on his own, to find out what fits his particular instrument or this particular song or the rest of the band.
    I call it "root in the bass" or "root on bottom" too. When I play with my wife (guitarist) I do the mandolin version of the boom-chuck when she solos, which benefits from have the root or 5th in the bass. There are also tons of common "bass-struma-struma" patterns for mandolin.

  5. #29
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by dadsaster View Post
    I call it "root in the bass" or "root on bottom" too. When I play with my wife (guitarist) I do the mandolin version of the boom-chuck when she solos, which benefits from have the root or 5th in the bass. There are also tons of common "bass-struma-struma" patterns for mandolin.
    Ralph makes a good point about frequencies, but I'm with you. The mandolin can be approached as having two "bass" strings and two "treble" strings because musical terms can be approached relatively, at least from a "musical philosophy" sense. Also, people can "pooh-pooh" the value of the mandolin as a solo, vocal accompaniment instrument all they want; I find myself in a different camp. I understand the inclination to normally consider it as belonging to an ensemble, but that doesn't always have to be the case. When playing solo vocal accompaniment, something that is new to me as is playing the mandolin at all, I find two approaches so far that I'm working on, one is to use "bass runs" following a chord structure, and the other is to use muting for a percussive effect. Add melodic fills between the lines and you have a lot of potential for this type of solo playing.

    Root on the bottom can be called "root in the bass" from this point of view, and a persoan can be well understood by most musicians using that terminology, IMO.
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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    In chord melody playing you might want a moving bass line using chord inversions including rootless ones. That would be a component of good voice leading, although in chord melody the melody is typically played on the highest string used. For a solo player, moving the bass and melody lines would provide an interesting contrapuntal movement not normally seen in bluegrass��

    So correct shape is just a matter of context and intent. YMMV
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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl23 View Post
    How I am working on chords (and scales for that matter)

    I have a file which shows the fret-board out to 12th fret (I've done computer design, so its an Illustrator type program, you could print out the same kind of thing and do it by hand)

    So, I mark every note of the chord on all strings (in this case B D# F#)
    All possible voicing will be represented in the graph, pick playable chord shapes and have at! (it will also help you learn the full fret-board)

    I've added an attachment, hopefully you can see it!

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	smaller fingerboard.pdf 
Views:	153 
Size:	232.0 KB 
ID:	171974
    Ahhhh... this is a wonderful idea! I'm just learning mandolin and have been building my own chord shape diagrams in Excel. I really want to be able to mess around with as many variants as possible so I get a better feel for the sounds. At this stage, I don't need as many variations as you show on your PDF file, but I really like the concept.

  10. #32

    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    That 4-1-2-2 form is used a lot. If you move it up a half fret - that would be the standard C chop form. But the secret is that most people only sound the G D and A strings when playing this chord. The E string is muted. So you might try this using your middle finger to fret the A string and use part of your middle finger to touch the E string just enough to mute it.

  11. #33
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    Depends on what you’re playing - context is important. In solo blues in E or Em, that B shape with its dom7 cousin at 2-1-2-2 is very useful sometimes. But I agree with Scott and others, the main go to for me for the B shape is 4-4-6-7
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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    When I was an innocent young guitar player 55ish years ago, and couldn't wait to learn a bunch of (besides the Beatles) Peter, Paul & Mary stuff, I was suckered into thinking that I had to use the chord formations shown in the songbooks. Stupid me didn't yet realize that real life people either used capos -or- went further up the neck to get a chord, while far too many of the music publishers felt the need, and still do, to show everything as close to open strings / 1st position as possible, which I assume(d) was to not scare off potential buyers by going "up the neck".

    And THAT was my first thought when I ran into your "now-favorite" B-chord that is rarely, if ever, used by actual humans.

    Oh, please let me finish the rant! Does any guitarist really play Eb as xx1343, as per my early PP&M books? I happily do it now as x65343, but you probably won't see that in a book. And yes, it IS real close to the beloved G-chop formation... on guitar!
    There are several ways of fingering that voicing, e.g., x6x
    343 and x6888x. It all depends on what comes before and after. You almost never need more than four notes.

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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    If you are playing with a guitar, the mandolin can be the window dressing over what the guitar is playing so your combinations may be things you don't even consider to be a chord form, it could he a doublestop. There is more to think about than we may have thought about, and experimentation is the key to success.

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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    My preferred quick-grab B chord is x-4-2-x. If I need more notes, the full "chord" is 4-4-2-2. I can leave off or mute either the G strings or E strings to make it easier. I often prefer the 3rd-less voice, since other instruments usually have it.

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    Default Re: Proper form for playing B major shape chords on mandolin

    Looking back on this thread I'm reminded of the principle I arrived at as a beginner more than 50 years ago: don't use charts, work out the chords and various ways of using and connecting them on your own. I still remember that the first chord I found was the G chop chord, next were various ways of fretting and voicing the D and D7 chords, which led to discovering other G forms. I don't recall when I abandoned the G chop, preferring 7-8-10-X or 4-5-5-X depending on the context, e.g., if it's followed by a G7 do I want the f note low or high? The first of these has exactly the same range as the G chop, without unnecessary doubling.

    For B the first consideration is whether the chord appears as a tonic, subdominant, or dominant (in the last case I will probably prefer a rootless B7 form). Mandolin Cafe rules out the 4-4-2-2 form and gives a very good explanation why. I fail to see the bluesy character of that form (as tonic) -- In that case I want some B7 form.

    My main objection to chord charts is that they often are poorly conceived without any practical considerations. That also (in many cases) is one of my objections to tabs. Very often they do not display the ideal fingering, e.g., suggesting open notes where 7th fret notes or may be more appropriate.

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