Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Working on my chop

  1. #1
    Registered User ABrown's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    NE Iowa
    Posts
    65

    Default Working on my chop

    I had the good fortune recently of playing with some high caliber bluegrass musicians, it was a good experience and for the most part I felt I held my own all the while being the obvious weakest link in the group. There was some talk about making it a regular thing and maybe putting some shows together to see how it went over. After playing I asked the guys to offer up any and all criticism they could think of to help me get to work on all that I need to improve, the unanimous consensus was my chop. Now I've always felt my chop was decent enough to get through most jams but I wasn't surprised to hear I was wrong, according to a couple people whose opinion I respect a lot, my chop is lacking the drive and the warmth that they want to hear in a BG group. I asked if it was a timing thing and the answer was a "not really", I know there is way more to the chop than just playing on the off beat, there's a right and left hand technique I must be missing along the way that is denying me the sound that is ideal to a lot of players. I'm wondering if this is part technique as well as part equipment, I am playing a 2017 Fern that I feel is still opening up and wonder if maybe it's holding my chop back? This critique came from a couple guys who are not mandolin players but have been playing bluegrass music professionally on and off for many years so I have no choice but to accept my shortcoming and do what I have to do to correct it. I've read everything I could find here on the chop and haven't seen anything posted that is what I'm looking for, I listen to all the classic BG stuff the rest of you probably do and feel like I have a good frame of reference to draw from. Hopefully this makes enough sense to garner a little advice from you all, thanks!
    2017 Gibson F5L
    2016 Weber Gallatin A
    Martin D-18
    Martin-D28

    "Too dumb for New York, too ugly for L.A."

  2. #2
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    1,413

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    Have you considered getting a few lessons? Sometimes that is the most efficient way forward, especially when there is one specific problem you are trying to overcome. Maybe even as little as one or two would do it. Could be in person or online, as long as you find the right teacher and are very specific about your goals. Good luck!
    Purr more, hiss less.

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Bob Clark For This Useful Post:

    ABrownMarkus 

  4. #3
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    918

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    Who’s chop do you want to sound like?
    Are you playing hard driving bluegrass?
    Sam Bush has one of my favorite chops, many consider him one of the gold standard rhythm players. Part of it is how consistent he is. He chops right up until his break, then drops into his solo or fill, then he is right back on the off beat. Even one less chop before your solo can be noticed...

    A 2017 Fern shouldn’t be holding you back any.

    The timing of the press/release of the left hand with the downstroke of the right hand and getting resonance without letting the fretted notes ring was something I sat around and practiced a lot.

    I know you said it doesn’t seem to be a timing issue but practicing with a metronome can give you an opportunity to really listen to yourself while in time.

    I am in Omaha NE, if you ever make it this way and want to pick PM me!

    Dan
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

  5. The following members say thank you to dang for this post:

    ABrown 

  6. #4
    Registered User gfury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    Quote Originally Posted by ABrown View Post
    ... my chop is lacking the drive and the warmth that they want to hear in a BG group. ...
    What chord voicings are you using? Are you hitting the low strings consistently?

    I'm trying to develop my chop as well. Sometimes I can get that clean, deep driving sound, and sometimes I can't.

    I think I get sloppy or tired. Then I don't release cleanly (buzz) or just hit the higher strings (shrill sounding).
    Greg Fury

  7. #5
    Registered User ABrown's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    NE Iowa
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Have you considered getting a few lessons? Sometimes that is the most efficient way forward, especially when there is one specific problem you are trying to overcome. Maybe even as little as one or two would do it. Could be in person or online, as long as you find the right teacher and are very specific about your goals. Good luck!
    I did take lessons for a while a few years ago until my instructor moved away, I’ve always felt my chop was satisfactory until lately. I do agree a few lessons would be very beneficial right now but there’s no one around my area that could give me the kind of lessons I think I need. I will be looking into online lessons perhaps.
    2017 Gibson F5L
    2016 Weber Gallatin A
    Martin D-18
    Martin-D28

    "Too dumb for New York, too ugly for L.A."

  8. #6
    Registered User ABrown's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    NE Iowa
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    Quote Originally Posted by dang View Post
    Who’s chop do you want to sound like?
    Are you playing hard driving bluegrass?
    Sam Bush has one of my favorite chops, many consider him one of the gold standard rhythm players. Part of it is how consistent he is. He chops right up until his break, then drops into his solo or fill, then he is right back on the off beat. Even one less chop before your solo can be noticed...

    A 2017 Fern shouldn’t be holding you back any.

    The timing of the press/release of the left hand with the downstroke of the right hand and getting resonance without letting the fretted notes ring was something I sat around and practiced a lot.

    I know you said it doesn’t seem to be a timing issue but practicing with a metronome can give you an opportunity to really listen to yourself while in time.

    I am in Omaha NE, if you ever make it this way and want to pick PM me!

    Dan
    Honestly I’m just trying to sound like myself! I really like Adam Steffey’s chop, Alan Bibey, and obviously Bush. I’d love to sound like any of those guys but ultimately I’m wanting to develop my own style that also agrees with what’s a standard and accepted method. I think there’s a lot of real good players that get lost in trying to sound like their idols, but in the same way that’s how we honor the guys that blazed the path. I think I’d like to be somewhere in the middle

    I used to get to Omaha quite a bit when I had some family there, it’s been a while though! It’s a real fun drive lol!
    2017 Gibson F5L
    2016 Weber Gallatin A
    Martin D-18
    Martin-D28

    "Too dumb for New York, too ugly for L.A."

  9. #7

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    From the description these are the possibilities that occur to me:

    1) D string is getting muffled
    2) You are using lighter strings on the G and D than your bluegrass idols
    3) Pick attack / angle is off
    4) Try a rounded pick or heavier pick
    5) You need to hit that sucker harder (speed times mass equals force)
    Last edited by Greg P. Stone; Apr-02-2019 at 8:17am.

  10. The following members say thank you to Greg P. Stone for this post:

    ABrown 

  11. #8
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,054
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    OK …… Here's my take. Use four tone / string voicings when you are able. When you are unable use three tone / string voicings on the lower ie. G-D-A strings. There is a timing "thing" going on between the pick hand and the noting hand. Striking the string with the pick momentarily before releasing the tension on the strings is what yields that rhythmic pop. A heavy pick 1.2 mm or above helps get that tone. Striking the strings with energy, Monroe said "Whip it like a mule", makes a difference too. Where you are striking the strings with the pick makes a tonal difference also, not to close to the bridge. Lastly check out a medium heavy set of strings..... .41-.115 D'Addario or Curt Mangan. I played a Bozeman Fern for years and went back and forth on my string gauges. Patient practice will reward your efforts. Play On! R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  12. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to UsuallyPickin For This Useful Post:

    ABrowngfury 

  13. #9
    Registered User ABrown's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    NE Iowa
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    Thanks for the advice. I do use 4 string shapes almost exclusively. I use monel j74s with a SR60 bluechip. It sounds like I might be unknowingly slowing my right hand down instead of chopping through the strings.
    2017 Gibson F5L
    2016 Weber Gallatin A
    Martin D-18
    Martin-D28

    "Too dumb for New York, too ugly for L.A."

  14. #10

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    Have you tried making a video and/or audio recording? I always find areas of my playing to improve when I listen back to recordings. Maybe try chopping a few different ways, i.e., pick angle, force, speed, etc., and see how they sound to you when you listen back.
    Last edited by AwesomeDaws; Apr-02-2019 at 11:55am.
    Chris Dawson

    2008 Weber A5 Yellowstone
    2009 Martin HD-28

  15. #11

    Default Re: Working on my chop

    I'd post a video.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •