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Thread: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    I have set myself a goal. I have a few guitar songs, rhythm, that I want to move to mandolin. I know nothing about chord voicings but to me, this will be a good learning exercise. My question is, are there any rules of thumb about moving chords from guitar to mandolin or is it all just developing the ear and chordal vocabulary? Not to be rude I won't be taking anyone up on an offer like that although in advance it is appreciated. I need to figure this out on my own to make some progress. But any advice you could give would be very helpful. Thanks! I am fairly certain this will entirely a lesson in ear training and learning voicings and new chords.

    My initial thought process is to start easy, tunes form America for those of you old enough to remember them and then move onto maybe some Eagles and or CCR nothing too outrageous. In guitar, those are fairly solid chords to learn and shouldn't be too difficult to move over but after that, I am not sure what to tackle that might be a bit more involved without being overwhelming. Any thoughts on that would be appreciated.

    Thanks!
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Watch Zak Borden's series on YouTube. Ain't nothing we can say here he didn't say better.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    +1 for Zak. Having the tool rather than memorizing chords is so powerful.
    Play it like you mean it.

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Perfect thanks! I bookmarked it!
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    I really don't understand the question. An A chord on guitar will correspond to an A chord on the mandolin, as will any and all chords. If you know the chords playing the guitar they are the same playing the mandolin. What you need to know is how to note chords on mandolin, a chord chart would be the easiest but if you want to learn for your self you need to know what notes make what chords. You can figure that out if your theory is lacking by plotting the notes on the guitar then figuring out how to physically get same notes on mandolin. A chart is much easier and will teach you the same thing.

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  9. #6
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Yes, A to A makes sense but what holds me up is they don't always sound the same so I assume a different voicing is used. I was curious is there was a common shift on voicings between guitar chords and mandolin chords or if it just comes down to ear training and or knowing a lot of voicings. Clear as mud still probably but I am trying to get my question across. I like the video it is helping.
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  10. #7

    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Most common guitar chords have the root in the bass, so to achieve anywhere near the same voicing the mando chord should be the same inversion. Still won’t sound to close. But it’s probably useful to match the inversion.

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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    Yes, A to A makes sense but what holds me up is they don't always sound the same so I assume a different voicing is used. I was curious is there was a common shift on voicings between guitar chords and mandolin chords or if it just comes down to ear training and or knowing a lot of voicings. Clear as mud still probably but I am trying to get my question across. I like the video it is helping.
    Ok that makes sense. A good chart is still the easiest way to learn. It should show different shapes for each chord. Also keep in mind that a mandolin will not sound exactly like a guitar and unless you are using a mandolin as the only accompliment it doesn't need to. In fact your mandolin doesn't even need all the notes in the chord, other instruments will pick up what is missing. Just be sure that the chord or shape you play doesn't have a note that doesn't belong.

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    Registered User mmuussiiccaall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Here's a chart that shows about everything you would need.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mandolin M m 7 M7 m7 chords.pdf 
Views:	91 
Size:	57.9 KB 
ID:	179284

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    Yes, A to A makes sense but what holds me up is they don't always sound the same so I assume a different voicing is used. I was curious is there was a common shift on voicings between guitar chords and mandolin chords or if it just comes down to ear training and or knowing a lot of voicings. Clear as mud still probably but I am trying to get my question across. I like the video it is helping.
    What it "comes down to" is the mandolin is an octave higher than guitar, so of course it doesn't sound the same! A tenor singer doesn't sound like a bass singer! What you'll find (if you try) is the 5ths tuning of mandolin family instruments is incredibly intuitive. One you understand how a triad (root, third, fifth) make a chord AND you understand those intervals on the fretboard you'll be making chords. Or just simply use the chord charts. When you understand your keys and scales - i.e. one sharp (F) for G, 2 (F, C) for D, 3 (F, C, G) for A, etc. you'll be on your way, and should be able to improvise.

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  18. #11
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mmuussiiccaall View Post
    Here's a chart that shows about everything you would need.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mandolin M m 7 M7 m7 chords.pdf 
Views:	91 
Size:	57.9 KB 
ID:	179284
    Looks great but I am not certain how to read it yet. I need to get some chords out and see how they line up, that should help me understand it. Thanks!
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    If you want to sound more "guitarish" I would favor chord shapes with either the root or the 5th in the bass. For the key of A (as an example) ->

    2|2|4x (root in bass) and 9|11|12x (5th in bass)

    These same two shapes exist for all keys.

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  21. #13
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Well, one thing I am not shooting for is for the mandolin to sound like a guitar. What I desire is for the chords to sound correct but still like a mandolin. I would like the voicings to be correct so when someone hears it they go hey I know that song. But decidedly mandolin in the end. Probably still not completely clear sorry. But everything so far is helping.
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  22. #14
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    With mmuussiiccaall's and dadsaster's posts I think I understand the chart now.
    Thank's All!
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  23. #15
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    I was wrong I still dont get the chart. How does G go to Gb moving up the neck? Should I assume G is the open string on the chart? Next fret up would be G#? I am confused.
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    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Just so you don’t feel like the dumbest guy in class, John, that chart makes no sense to me, either.

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  26. #17
    Registered User mmuussiiccaall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    This chart is similar to a slide rule:
    Visualize the pitch names as the open strings and anything above it as invisible as in the D pitch example. For clarification, find a chord dictionary and look up any of the 5 chord types in any of the 12 possible pitches and superimpose them onto the chart until it clicks in your mind.

    If you keep pressing thru you will never need a book to figure out chords!

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  28. #18
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mmuussiiccaall View Post
    This chart is similar to a slide rule:
    Visualize the pitch names as the open strings and anything above it as invisible as in the D pitch example. For clarification, find a chord dictionary and look up any of the 5 chord types in any of the 12 possible pitches and superimpose them onto the chart until it clicks in your mind.

    If you keep pressing thru you will never need a book to figure out chords!
    I will give it a shot thanks!
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  29. #19
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Or just learn 3 different chord shapes for each chord you need in a song. Try them and choose the best sounding one.
    Sometimes the closest one turns out to be the most practical.

    Keep it simple.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  30. #20

    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Go back to the Zak video.

    Root in bass key of A, frets 224 ( A, E, C#)
    3rd in bass-677 (C#, A, E)
    5th in bass-9, 11, 12 (E, C#, A)

    Make a minor by flatting the third, make a 7th by raising the fifth (best chord tip I ever learned)

    Add other notes as necessary.
    Repeat for other keys.

    Draw it out on fretboard paper (google is your friend)

    If you get ambitious, move to the top 3 strings, ie, D string as lowest note to have 6 chord positions.
    Play it like you mean it.

  31. #21
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Go back to the Zak video.

    Root in bass key of A, frets 224 ( A, E, C#)
    3rd in bass-677 (C#, A, E)
    5th in bass-9, 11, 12 (E, C#, A)

    Make a minor by flatting the third, make a 7th by raising the fifth (best chord tip I ever learned)

    .....
    Bill,
    Which chord shape do you favor which works best to add the 7th (3 frets above the fifth).
    Is there one of those listed above that works particularly well?

    I tend to look to the root and find the 7th two frets lower; this (counting from the fifth) could add a new way of thinking for me, when needing a quick 7th chord.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  32. #22

    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    I will give it a shot thanks!
    I understand these chord shapes well but that chart is upside down to my eyes. The way I think of it is there are 3 major chord shapes (key of A example):

    Root in Bass -> 2|2|4|x or (Root|5th|3rd)
    3rd in Bass -> 6|7|7|x or (3rd|Root|5th)
    5th in Bass -> 9|11|12|x or (5th|3rd|Root)

    For any key, if you can find a root note, you can find a chord voicing. If the root is on the G string, use the "Root in Bass" shape, if it is on the D string, use "3rd in Bass" and if it's on the A string, use "5th in Bass".

    Once you understand the shapes, you can start seeing how the I|IV|V chords intersect. In the key of A, D is the IV chord and E is the V chord:

    If A => 2|2|4|x (Root in Bass) then D => 2|4|5|x (5th in Bass) and E => 1|2|2|x (3rd in Bass)

    If A = 6|7|7|x (3rd in Bass) then D => 7|9|9|x (Root in Bass) and E => 4|6|7|x (5th in Bass)

    If A = 9|11|12|x (5th in Bass) then D =>11|12|12|x (3rd in Bass) and E => 9|11|11|x (Root in Bass)

    You don't need to use these voicings, but it should illustrate how this different shapes are laid out all over the neck.

  33. #23

    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    ..Which chord shape do you favor which works best to add the 7th (3 frets above the fifth).
    Is there one of those listed above that works particularly well?
    They work equally well, depends on the key and the preceding chord as to which shape to use and where you happen to be on the fingerboard. This rule works extremely well in playing ii-V-I progressions in any key if you're wanting good voice leading. Not usually considerations for bluegrass players as ii-V-I is not typical.
    But 'Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea' uses all three patterns when playing it, typically in F.

    Swing and jazz are built on ii-V-I, so its very useful.

    If only I could play it.........
    Play it like you mean it.

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  35. #24

    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    Bill,
    Which chord shape do you favor which works best to add the 7th (3 frets above the fifth).
    Is there one of those listed above that works particularly well?

    I tend to look to the root and find the 7th two frets lower; this (counting from the fifth) could add a new way of thinking for me, when needing a quick 7th chord.
    There are 3 7th shapes that I use all based off the 3 major chord shapes (example key of D):

    2|4|5|x -> 5|4|5|x
    7|7|9|x -> 5|7|9|x
    11|12|12|x -> 11|10|12|x

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  37. #25

    Default Re: Chords Guitar to Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by dadsaster View Post
    There are 3 7th shapes that I use all based off the 3 major chord shapes (example key of D):

    2|4|5|x -> 5|4|5|x
    7|7|9|x -> 5|7|9|x
    11|12|12|x -> 11|10|12|x
    When you make it look like vector multiplication, it gets my hopes up - maybe I can figure this out....

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