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Thread: chop chord synchronization/alternation

  1. #1

    Default chop chord synchronization/alternation

    I registered an account just for this question. I cannot find the answer to it on my own so I really appreciate the help in advance.

    So I have chop chords fingering and transitions down. What I am dying to know the proper technique for is the synchronization of fret-hand pressure and chop strum.

    So if a chop is on the off-beat of a song, the bass line is (typically) on the on beat. I get that. After decades of drumming all that is no issue.

    But through practice I've noticed that when I apply pressure to the chop chord frets BEFORE I strum and let off immediately after the strum, the chop sounds much more prominent. But that requires me to apply pressure to the chop on the on-beat, a whole rest before the strum. When I apply pressure and strum and then throttle off the chords both in the quick second of the on-beat, it doesn't sound like a chop. But when I apply pressure to the chop chord on the on-beat before the strum, I can hear, very quietly, the resonance of me pressing the chord in without the strum.

    The alternation between pressure on the on beat and strum on the off is coming naturally to me. The chords sound good and choppy. But am I doing this right or should I work on pressing down, strumming, and letting off in one note rather than push the frets down before the strum?

  2. #2
    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
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    Default Re: chop chord synchronization/alternation

    For the notes of a chord to ring out properly on any fretted instrument, there is a minimum amount of pressure required. You do not have to increase this pressure in order to play chop chords. You correctly state that chop technique involves releasing the pressure on the fretted strings in order to deaden the chord and allow the staccato/percussive quality of the chop to occur. I would say just fret your chop chords, chop and release and fret them again in time to chop again. I wouldn't overthink precisely when, vis-a-vis the beat you should apply the pressure required to sound the chop chord. I believe you are heading for pressure inducing (pun kind of intended) situation in your playing if you try to micromanage your chop technique. It really isn't rocket science.

    Edit: Just watched my fretting hand while I chopped a few times. It looked to my naked eyes as though I was squeezing the strings simultaneously with chopping the strings. I honestly don't think about it.
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  3. #3
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    May 2006
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    Default Re: chop chord synchronization/alternation

    There is no "perfect chop". The sound of the chop can/should be adapted to the music you are playing.

    There is no magic number of microseconds after the strike of the plectrum when the pressure should be released. The time may vary and is part of making music.

    I agree that my fretting hand presses the string to the fret approximately simultaneously with the strike of the pick and then releases the string from the fret 'very shortly thereafter'.

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  4. #4

    Default Re: chop chord synchronization/alternation

    This is all very helpful. I appreciate it fellas, just gonna relax and explore.

  5. #5
    Registered User ABrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop chord synchronization/alternation

    I know what you’re describing and it’s very similar to my own chop, I fret the chord and apply pressure right on the 1 and strum/release pressure right on the 2. It was very natural for me to do this and requires no extra brain power at all, if anything it keeps my timing more precise. I’ve learned to not apply so much pressure I’m hearing the ghost of the chord before I chop. Also I do abandon this technique naturally for songs that are screaming fast
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  6. #6

    Default Re: chop chord synchronization/alternation

    Yes that's exactly why I did it to start it seems like it gives the chop a little more percussive thwack for me. Thank you

  7. #7
    Registered User
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    Aug 2013

    Default Re: chop chord synchronization/alternation

    Listen to ole Bill and try to sound like him. There should be tone associated with the chop.the fad now is just percussive, no tone,frankly Bill didn't do it that way.

  8. #8
    Registered User Scotter's Avatar
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    Jul 2013
    San Diego, CA

    Default Re: chop chord synchronization/alternation

    I've been playing music for decades and only recently have decided to explore Bluegrass and give it a proper shake. Something so simple as the chop chord has turned out to be trickier than I ever thought and now I have so much more respect for those who can do it well in all of it's varieties. My experiences in trying to learn Bluegrass has lead me to coin the phrase: "Bluegrass: it's so simple that it's hard."

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    Registered User belbein's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop chord synchronization/alternation

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    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop chord synchronization/alternation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    Listen to ole Bill and try to sound like him. There should be tone associated with the chop.the fad now is just percussive, no tone,frankly Bill didn't do it that way.
    I am usually not a fan of the `Bill did it that way' but on this point I hear you.

    I think there is a place for a super dry all-percussive chop, but there is also songs that might use a little of the notes peeking through or even for emphasis letting them ring a slight bit longer.

    I've started trying to pay attention that and consciously work on finding rhythm comping and fills that both fit the song and aren't the same the whole set through. I spent so much time working on distinctive + melody-following solos and improvisation that only lately have I realized that I can make a variety of chop noises and using one for a driving song, another for a mournful song, and a third for a Monroe song better fits the song and at least for me is more interesting to listen to.

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