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Thread: What makes Chop?

  1. #1

    Default What makes Chop?

    Does the overall flavor of a mandolin's chop mirror the tonal character of the mandolin? I've only played a few Gibsons, and my recollection is they all had the Gibson signature chop. Then I read about the dry woody midrange Gibson's have. Makes perfect sense. My Silverangel has the best chop of all my mandolins, though it is deeper.

    If I were strictly a bluegrass player, I'd want a Gibson. That chop had me in seconds.

    Heck, I want a Gibson anyway.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    My opinion
    Chop?
    Chop is no kind or part of music.
    YMMV

  3. #3

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    I suppose since a good chunk of the sound of a chop is percussive, one has to taken into account the atonal characteristics of the instrument too... Fun to think about.

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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Chop no part of music? Why that is pure heresy.

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    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    To me, a good chop is about what you are NOT playing, meaning it should be mostly a percussive crack with just enough hint of the tonality of the chord that is fits with what is going one with everyone else. It shouldn't have big fruity notes behind it. It is just a hint of the chord surrounded by a thwack.
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    With a 4 finger chord especially, the simultaneous release of the pressure required to apply the chord with the left hand(but leaving the fingers on the strings in position as if muting) just as you strike it with the plectrum of the right hand.
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  8. #7

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    But like a drum, it must be designed into the instrument, isn't it? All I know is that among other things, Gibson's chop just sounds right, and nothing else I've played does that as good. But I've only played thirty or so mandolins.
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    My opinion
    Chop?
    Chop is no kind or part of music.
    YMMV
    Just like a drummer in no musician, right?

  10. #9
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    Just like a drummer in no musician, right?
    After attending a Bluegrass festival last summer at the urging of my son and nephew I left feeling like a chop has it's place. Just not in anything I like to play or spend a lot of time listening to.
    Adding that I was much impressed with the quality of musicianship I was exposed to (especially the Billy Strings Band) while gaining a new appreciation or should I say understanding of how the chop can fit into a genre of music I had never given much attention to having spent my life listening to rock & roll, 40s/50s country and rockabilly.
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  11. #10

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    My opinion
    Chop?
    Chop is no kind or part of music.
    YMMV
    You're right on one count... My Mileage Does Vary
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

  12. #11

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Jerry Rosa was discussing the first mandolin he made and how his uncle, who was a player of some note- had dismissed it as it lacked "chop." Despite being very downcast by the dismissal of his instrument's qualities by the lack of this essential ingredient, he went ahead and played it nonetheless at the festival. Later on, his uncle returned and said he was completely wrong, the instrument had a definite and good chop sound and was now given a glowing testimonial! So, "there you go friends" as Jerry might say, have chop, will travel.

  13. #12
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Pork or Lamb?

    I know, to my corner!
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Mandolin chop … a technique involving a swift strike to the strings with a preferably stiff plectrum while almost simultaneously letting the pressure off the strings being noted with the other hand. The fingers are left in contact with the strings in a relaxed state to mute the formerly noted strings. Grass players mostly do this while playing usually a four tone chord though a three tone chord will work. As with all mandolins any tone achieved depends on the instrument and the player. Where's my coffee …..
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  17. #14
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Bill View Post
    After attending a Bluegrass festival last summer at the urging of my son and nephew I left feeling like a chop has it's place. Just not in anything I like to play or spend a lot of time listening to.
    Adding that I was much impressed with the quality of musicianship I was exposed to (especially the Billy Strings Band) while gaining a new appreciation or should I say understanding of how the chop can fit into a genre of music I had never given much attention to having spent my life listening to rock & roll, 40s/50s country and rockabilly.
    Most people don't pay attention to the off beat drumming in rock, country, or rockabilly....but take it away and see if you miss it.
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  19. #15
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Not that I'm a grasser, I can comment as a musician. Trad Bluegrass groups have no percussionist so the mando chop on top of the indistinct (vague) upright bass downbeat musically fills the place of the bass drum and snare during some sections.

    MontanaMatt summed it up well. But, as a drummer I do analyze those parts more than most and as I also play other instruments I can shift my attention to what the other parts are doing. I find it a great way to get more out of music and make sure what I play fits into the overall event.

  20. #16

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    ...As with all mandolins any tone achieved depends on the instrument and the player. Where's my coffee …..

  21. #17

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    I think Brick is speaking specifically of the tonal characteristics in the build of a mandolin. Perhaps some builders will chime in or you could repost in the builder section.

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  22. #18

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    Mandolin chop … a technique involving a swift strike to the strings with a preferably stiff plectrum while almost simultaneously letting the pressure off the strings being noted with the other hand. The fingers are left in contact with the strings in a relaxed state to mute the formerly noted strings. Grass players mostly do this while playing usually a four tone chord though a three tone chord will work. As with all mandolins any tone achieved depends on the instrument and the player. Where's my coffee …..
    A similar approach is often used with electric guitar for percussive effect, Hendrix in r'n'r, for example, I also heard this in 70's funk, add a little wah wah, you know........groovy!

  23. #19

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Collins-Hill View Post
    I think Brick is speaking specifically of the tonal characteristics in the build of a mandolin. Perhaps some builders will chime in or you could repost in the builder section.

    Thanks
    Baron
    Yes, but the context of a band it is part of the discussion. It sticks in my mind that the first Gibson I played, an F 9 at The Mandolin Store, when I hit that first G chop chord, I just said to myself, now that's a bluegrass tone. I had just played a Northfield. I would be interested to hear from builders too. All variables must be a compromise.

    I've got to go to TMS again now I've got another couple of years experience. I've also developed more expensive tastes, so it would be dangerous. Not suggesting you can't chop on anything, you can. But like snare drums,biome will sound better than others to your ear.

    Also listen to the recently posted trio video with Mr. Walsh's use of dampening strings for his rhythm parts. Masterful.
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  24. #20

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    My entree into mandolin/BG was delayed many years, for when I went into my local acoustic instrument retailer to buy my first mndln, the guy played his best one (Kentucky, likely a lower-end deal) and I was unimpressed. I kept saying "yeah but I don't hear that chop.."
    (I had just seen Sam Bush perform). I wound up not buying, and not acquiring a mndln for some 8 or 10 years later as I got off into other things...

  25. #21
    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Yep, listen to Sam Bush for the pinnacle of modern chopping.

    Of the newer players that I have worked with, I think Zack Arnold with ClayBank has what I consider to be a very tasteful blend of chop and fills when he is playing rhythm --



    Steve

    PS - This video also shows the best way to successfully record a bluegrass jam --from behind the bass and banjo players facing towards the singer, guitar, and mandolin. The result is a balance that is usually lost when recording facing toward the banjo and bass.
    Last edited by Steve Sorensen; Apr-18-2019 at 2:09pm.

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  27. #22
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    OK, builder here:
    What is chop? It's the technique, mentioned and described several times above, of quickly striking a 4-string chord (or 3-string) and immediately releasing the fretting hand to damp the strings. The picking hand can strike very quickly of not so quickly, letting the player adjust his/her chop to the situation. The fretting hand technique can vary also; holding the chord for more or less time so that the chop can be anywhere from a quick, loud "thwak!" to a warm, throbbing "woof".
    What is it about the mandolin that allows a chop? Coupling! The same thing that contributes to loudness and "tone".
    If you spend much time reading posts in the builders section you have surely read about coupling between the top and back plates and the air volume in the mandolin. It all gets a little more complicated than I care to get into here, but the coupling of two carved arched plates (top and back) as well as the presence of f-holes (it is not the "F" shape that is important, it is the position to the sides of center) are important things for a "traditional" Bluegrass chop.
    (Yes, Jimmy Martin had his mandolin players play his F-4. Yes, Jimmy Martin played Bluegrass. No, the mandolin did not have the usual chop that we associate with bluegrass music in general.)

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  29. #23
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    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    OK, builder here:
    What is chop? It's the technique, mentioned and described several times above, of quickly striking a 4-string chord (or 3-string) and immediately releasing the fretting hand to damp the strings. The picking hand can strike very quickly of not so quickly, letting the player adjust his/her chop to the situation. The fretting hand technique can vary also; holding the chord for more or less time so that the chop can be anywhere from a quick, loud "thwak!" to a warm, throbbing "woof".
    What is it about the mandolin that allows a chop? Coupling! The same thing that contributes to loudness and "tone".
    If you spend much time reading posts in the builders section you have surely read about coupling between the top and back plates and the air volume in the mandolin. It all gets a little more complicated than I care to get into here, but the coupling of two carved arched plates (top and back) as well as the presence of f-holes (it is not the "F" shape that is important, it is the position to the sides of center) are important things for a "traditional" Bluegrass chop.
    (Yes, Jimmy Martin had his mandolin players play his F-4. Yes, Jimmy Martin played Bluegrass. No, the mandolin did not have the usual chop that we associate with bluegrass music in general.)
    Interesting!
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    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Current campfire tool)
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  30. #24

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Wind on the water. Bumps on the bottom give you whitecaps, too.

  31. #25

    Default Re: What makes Chop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny Gies View Post
    Chop no part of music? Why that is pure heresy.
    If not hearsay!

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